Ethical Society of Philadelphia
Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 South Rittenhouse Square, (215) 735-3456,
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Ethical Culture Movement?
The Ethical Culture Movement was founded in 1876 by Felix Adler. Our Movement established the country's first Settlement Houses and the Visiting Nurses Association. We helped initiate free legal aid for the poor and served as a sanctuary to European refugees during World War II. The Ethical Society of Philadelphia was founded in 1885 and was, in turn, a founding member of our national organization, the American Ethical Union. With chapters from Boston to Los Angeles, our guiding principle remains the primacy o f ethics in daily life.
What do Ethical Humanists believe?
Ethical Humanists believe in the dignity and worth of each person. Each person is unique and can foster uniqueness in others.

Humankind is a part of nature. By paying respect to all that surrounds us, we create the feelings that are called religious, sacred and holy. We understand that the welfare of the natural community depends upon responsible human effort.

Ethical Humanists have faith in the transformation of the human condition through personal and community effort. We believe that a good person is a person learning to become more sensitive to the joy and suffering of others. Members join together in the struggle for social reform, a healthy environment, and peaceful world.

Ethical Humanists believe that meaning and purpose are found through the process of redefining values and through acts of loving kindness. Comfort, solace and support are ultimately found on this earth, in community.

See the Eight Commitments of Ethical Culture.
Is the Ethical Society a religion?
Yes, but without formal ritual or creed. We are religious in character and style.

Some members consider Ethical Humanism their religion and others their philosophy of life.

We are a living religion that encourages each of us to develop a personal religious ideal.

Life is an ethical experience.

We elicit the best in ourselves when actively bringing out the best in those around us.

Our love and dedication to others is sacred to us.
What are the advantages of membership?
We share your search for a meaningful life. Our forums and classes encourage open, thoughtful discussion and provide the tools to make this a better world. Our road to happiness is one of honest involvement with those around us.

We also enjoy many social events. Most activities take place at our spacious building on beautiful Rittenhouse Square. Camp Linden, by the Brandywine River in Chester County, is our country home for picnics, workshops, and programs for children.
What are the obligations of membership?
The Society is a democratic, self-supporting community. We receive income from an endowment fund and from rentals, but that does not fully cover our financial obligations: a paid religious Leader, Office Manager, building upkeep and program expenses.

Members are expected to contribute annual dues and support fund-raising events, but exceptions are made when necessary. All contributions are tax-deductible. Members also serve on committees and the Board of Trustees and participate in out-reach efforts.
How do I become a member?
Get to know us. Come to our Sunday Platforms. Make new friends at the coffee hour. Learn about our history and philosophy through introductory courses.

When you are ready to join, complete an application and meet with our Leader Richard Kiniry.

As a member, you will find new opportunities for fellowship, growth, and service.
Do you perform wedding and other ceremonies?
For weddings, commitment services, memorial services, baby namings (baby welcomings), and other such ceremonies, we have officiants available. Please call the office at (215) 735-3456 for further information.
What are some links to similar organizations?
Related or relevant organizations and web sites:
  • American Ethical Union
    The Philadelphia Society and 20+ other Ethical Societies and fellowships belong to the American Ethical Union, a federation of Ethical Societies.
  • International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
    International affiliation of the Ethical Society of Philadelphia, through the membership in the IHEU of the American Ethical Union (AEU).
  • American Humanist Association
    Find out more about humanism from this organization with some overlapping interests.
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
    Our religious "neighbors" though there are differences in emphasis and philosophy.
Are facilities available to others?
The facilities of the Ethical Society of Philadelphia are available for rental for Parties, Weddings, Lectures and Concerts.

Please contact the office (215) 735-3456 for details.
How can I contact the Ethical Society?
You may reach us through our contact form or through the below contact info.

Ethical Society of Philadelphia
1906 S. Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 735-3456

Where are you located?
The Ethical Society of Philadelphia is located on the extreme South Western corner of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rittenhouse Square is located between 18th and 20th Streets and Walnut and Pine Streets.
Affiliated with the American Ethical Union

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