Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations – Psalm 90:1
Any time we recount the history of the church, we can trace the roots back pretty far. It’s in the fourth chapter of the Bible, thousands of years before any of us were alive, that we first read of people gathering to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen 4:26). Before the coming of Christ, the church took shape as a nation called Israel. When Jesus came, He promised to build His church (Matt 16:18). The members of that church were filled with His Spirit at Pentecost over 2000 years ago (Acts 2), and since then the gospel has gone forth, and people have been gathered by faith in it into churches. Just as many blades of grass share a common root system, we trace our roots back to the (capital-C) Church, which always consisted of those who have been saved by Jesus.
Nonetheless, you’re probably on this website because you want to learn more about this blade of grass, Citylight Church Center City. Our most recent parentage comes from Citylight Church in Manayunk, which began as a Bible study in 2011. Its original members were mostly recent Penn State graduates, who had been sent by a church in State College to start a new church in Philadelphia. It was led by Matt Cohen, who still serves as its lead pastor at the time of this writing. People in that Bible study began proclaiming the gospel, and as people were converted to faith in Christ and other Christians found the group, it grew from a Bible study to a worship gathering to a church.
When Matt and the rest of the team began Citylight Church, their vision was never to just have one big church in Northwest Philadelphia. Rather, they wanted from the beginning to be a church that helps plant new churches. So in 2014, they brought a member of their church, Mike Anderson, on staff as a church planting resident. Mike’s job was to take a team of current Citylight members and start a new church. In 2015, for 6 months Mike and a team of 40 Citylight members began meeting and praying about what it would like to become the kind of community they’d be excited to invite their unbelieving neighbors into. On October 4, 2015, Citylight Center City gathered for its first worship service.
Citylight Center City continued gathering under the umbrella of Citylight Church, but the final goal was to complete the church planting process and become a new church. As the membership grew and new elders were appointed at Citylight Center City, in 2022, the elders began leading them to form an Elder-led Congregational Church. On July 16, 2022, 88 members covenanted together to do just that, and that is the church you now know as Citylight Church Center City! We now continue to work with the other Citylight churches as we seek to plant more churches in the future. If you’d like to learn more about what our church believes and how we function, visit our beliefs page!