Our History


It was in the latter part of the nineteenth century that there came to the city of Philadelphia a man who was not known or recognized by any of its millions of inhabitants. He was not attired in the latest style of clothing and of course he was hardly noticed by anyone. No one knew his mission and no one seemed to care.

Prophet William Saunders Crowdy

But while the various denominational churches was carrying on their meetings and indulging in all kinds of sensational revivals, there was a growth of crimes and evils still prevailing in this great city of “Brotherly Love.” The negro churches were appealing for a union among its race and the one great question before them was how could this be done. It had been openly declared that no one could lead this obstinate race to success and prosperity. Prof. Booker T. Washington, of the great Industrial School at Tuskegee, Ala., was at that time doing a great work among the Negroes and he was the idol of a great many and a foe to others who were prejudiced at his great success and ability to gain the friendship of the leading white citizens of the country.

The general situation was very perplexing and it looked as though the race would go heedlessly onward without anyone brave and courageous enough to come forth and point out the true way to its salvation. But the All-Wise God who shapes all of our destinies and who gave us our freedom knew that it was time to send unto us one who He had promised and He did according to His holy scriptures. This obscure man whom we have mentioned above came from the far west where he had received information from on high while at work as a cook on the Santa Fe Railroad. It came in the form of a vision and the laws which were handed down to him were written in the form of a book according to Rev. 10:10 “And I took a little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter.” It was called the Seven Keys, or the revelation of the Holy Bible. He at once started out on his God-given mission and he established many churches in the Western States bearing the name of the Church of God and Saints of Christ, the only church that is mentioned in the Bible according to 1 Corinthians 1:1-2. The Seven Keys were the only guide that he gave unto the people to go by which was the plan of salvation and if they searched the scriptures according to its direction they would not go astray and their blinding eyes would be opened to the marvelous light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

After having accomplished this great work in the west, he turned his head to the east and straightway he came to Philadelphia as we have stated above. He commenced his mission on Broad St., the principal thoroughfare, and each night he could be found delivering the message to hundreds of people who congregated and listened with utter surprise and curiosity at his peculiar teachings and among his hearers were some of our learned divines, both black and white. His utterances were so difficult to any that they had every heard as to arouse them to anger and they could not refrain from interfering and challenging him to a discussion which only resulted in them departing weaker, but much wiser as to the revelation of the Holy Scriptures. He was declared by many to be crazy and some thought that he should be placed in jail, but not having committed any crime the law was helpless and they could not restrain him from speaking the real truth.

This man came by himself and he was without any assistance for some time, but he did not grow impatient, as he knew the word of the Lord must be fulfilled. As he continued to herald this doctrine on Broad Street the eyes of many of his people were finally opened and they began to surround him. In his public teachings he declared that he came to reprove the world of sin and he had started to establish the Church of God and Saints of Christ at Philadelphia, which is according to the Holy Bible, Rev. 8:17: “and to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, “and it was useless to prevail against him as he had been sent by God. The unbelievers said that he was only a puff of wind and he would soon blow away. When he had gathered a few followers who believed in him, he secured the old O’Neill Hall, Lombard Street near Broad, and for a long time they worshiped God in spirit and in truth in this place. The mode of worship and their custom soon aroused the people and they gathered in multitudes to see and listen, and as he kept adding to the fold, this hall became too small to accommodate this increase, so he secured the Quaker City Hall, Broad and Fitzwater Streets, it was here that he began to open wide the eyes of the unbelievers by his wonderful accomplishments.

The membership of the church had grown rapidly and as he saw wherein his people could be benefited in a business way he at once opened up this avenue by establishing a Cash Grocery Store bearing the name of the church and it proved a great success being patronized by the saints and also many of the outside world. His next ventures was the advent of a restaurant and café and a Noah’s Ark Daughters of Jerusalem Store where furnishings of all kinds were kept for men, women and children. His next movement was also very important one in the history of the church. This was the launching out of a printing office where he had in view the publication of an official organ of church, a mouth-piece, and he succeeded in his effort naming it the Weekly Prophet. It was not a paying investment that he looked for when he established it, but it was to help to further the interests of the true gospel to all. A barber shop was also added to the list of these business enterprises. This man brought all of the above accomplishments forth in a few years of labor and all of them were located on one street, which is Fitzwater where the Tabernacle is located.

These wonderful achievements caused the outside world much worriment and much has been said and written of them by both white and black journalists, some being complimentary and others full of criticism and ridicule, but in no way have they returned their progress and we can truly say that they have been made famous and are known to exist far and wide. While he was engaged in mixing business with the true gospel he was not forsaking the doctrine but he was installing it in the minds of the masses the various phases of the Seven Keys and also impressing upon their minds the things necessary for them to inherit eternal life. Other important duties that he said must be enforced was that you must be buried in baptism and that wine must not be drank for Christ’s blood. Many other teachings that have appeared in these columns has he taught and he has ceased many of the mutterings of the learned ones. He was called the originator of the “Kissing Bugs and Foot-washers” but none of these slang phrases have hurt him any in the least. During three years of existence at Philadelphia he established a great many churches throughout the Southland and also in the East.

The man whom we have been writing about who was responsible for all of these wonderful achievements was Prophet William S. Crowdy, Elijah in the spirit.