Question of the Week
The Young People's Interracial Fellowship of Philadelphia, founded in 1931, operates today under what name?
Answer: Fellowship Farm
Marjorie Penney founded what is now Fellowship Farm in 1931 to bring Christians of different denominations together for worship and fellowship. At first called the Young People’s Interracial Fellowship, it included monthly worship services with two pastors (one black and one white) and an interracial choir. In 1941, the organization was incorporated under the name Fellowship House. In the 1940s Jews joined the Fellowship with a rabbi also speaking from the pulpit. But the house served as more than just a meeting place. In the 1930s the group helped propose a national anti-lynching law. It also worked with the influential Morris Milgram on open housing in Philadelphia.
With the money from the Philadelphia Award, which was awarded to Penney and her partner Maurice Fagan in 1946, she purchased Fellowship Farm in Montgomery County in 1951. The Farm hosted summer camps and weekend conferences and provided training for non-violent protests during the Civil Rights movement and advocated for integrated housing and the general community desegregation. Rosa Parks was honored by Fellowship House in the late 1960s.
Over time, the Fellowship House’s mission also evolved. In the 1970s Fellowship House took on homophobia, sexism and discrimination against those with handicaps. The Farm was also regular meeting place for the Grey Panthers. Fellowship House left the City in 1973, moving its headquarters to its Farm operations. Fellowship farm continues its work today with area youth and families.
HSP has many collections that cover community organizations and initiatives. For more information on Marjorie Penny, see the Philadelphia Award records (Collection 3081).
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.