Intercessors in Pennsylvania and across the country have seen a stunning victory. The Biden administration announced after only 24 hours that it had reversed a decision by the National Park Service to remove a statue of William Penn, a replica of Penn’s house, and a timeline of Penn’s life from Welcome Park, in Philadelphia.
The park located on the site of William Penn’s first home, the Slate Roof House. Welcome Park is named for the ship, Welcome, that transported Penn to Philadelphia in 1682. The decision to dramatically alter the site — by removing all references to William Penn and his legacy — was announced on Jan. 7. It was revoked by the evening of Jan. 8!
News, Prayer, and Action
I remember hearing a story several years ago about a man who gained great fame in a small American town. The townsfolk got together and erected a statue in his honor. When it was time to carve the plinth, they decided not to write anything, choosing instead to boast that this man was so well known that he had no need for his name to be recorded in stone. After several generations, the town ran a competition: Name the Unknown Statue. That statue was promptly removed to the town dump. The moral is obvious.
Although the statue of William Penn is carefully inscribed with his name, and a timeline of his life is carved in the flagstones, the principle is the same. And though his statue cannot have a perfect equivalence to the stones that Israel was told to stack up in the Jordan River as a remembrance for succeeding generations, again, the principle remains the same. We erect statues, carve flagstones, and preserve historic buildings to commemorate our history and what God has done among us. Any culture or people that loses its history and testimony of how God has historically moved will itself be lost.
When the decision to alter the park was first announced, thousands of intercessors and intercessory networks nationwide were alerted. The National Park Service website declared that “comments were welcome,” so intercessors took action.
So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19).
An Attempt to Erase Penn’s Legacy
The initial proposal was for a complete overhaul of the park, located in a historic section of Philadelphia. The Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service, is headed by Biden appointee Deb Haaland, a radical progressive and the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. The proposed rehabilitation was described as including “expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia developed in consultation with representatives of several of the indigenous nations.” The proposal was described as a “more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors,” according to the NPS webpage. Certain aspects of the original design from 1982 were to be retained, but a “ceremonial gathering space with circular benches” and newly planted buffers on three sides would be added. The Penn statue and Slate Roof House model would be removed.
Dr. Abby Abildness, executive director of Healing Tree International and executive producer of the documentary Penn’s Seed: The Awakening, responded thus to the proposal: “Removing Penn’s statue is an attempt to erase Pennsylvania’s history of peaceful coexistence between Penn, his colonists, and the Native Lenape tribes, who were the first people of the land. Penn honored and befriended the Lenape people, which is evident in the peace treaty he wrote in order to preserve good faith and good will with them. When the King said Penn needed an army to protect him from the native Americans, he rejected that idea and instead said, ‘Let’s see what love will do.’ Penn pioneered a new model of government built upon diplomacy and democracy rather than the tyrannical rulership he had experienced in Europe.”
Once it was clear that the proposal would not go forward, Dr. Abildness posted this warning: “We rejoice that the people’s prayers and protests averted this plan, but there is evidence that [the Biden administration] have additional ‘development’ plans to remove Pennsbury Manor … and other historical artifacts. We see the impact of the people rising up who know and cherish our nation’s birthplace and founding freedoms. We must remain vigilant to protect the righteous root in Philadelphia, named to be the City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia, birthplace of the nation and home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as well as many other historical sites, is getting ready for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in 2026.
Once the plan was forestalled, this statement was released on the National Park website:
“Independence National Historical Park has withdrawn the review of a draft proposal to rehabilitate Welcome Park. The preliminary draft proposal which had been released prematurely and not been subject to a complete internal agency review, is being retracted. … The National Historic Park of Pennsylvania looks forward to engaging in a robust public process to consider options for refurbishing the park in the coming years.”
May it be so!
So why this sudden desire to make the park more “welcoming, accurate and inclusive”?
Pennsylvania Sen. Chris Dush, a passionate follower of Christ and a William Penn historian, had this to say: “Prayer and petitions to God are what helped motivate people to call, e-mail … publicize and ultimately win this battle. This also presents us [intercessors and activists] with ammunition going forward. Penn doesn’t have baggage [negative history] with the First Nations peoples. Quite the opposite! We need to keep this attempt front and center and highlight the error in their thinking.”
What is Senator Dush referring to?
This proposal is just the latest in an ongoing series of removals or renamings of historic structures, part of a larger pattern nationwide to erase, or attempt to erase, and rewrite our history. Across the nation, historical statues and monuments have been removed, and streets, towns, schools, and sports teams renamed. Panels laying out a timeline of Penn’s life would also have been removed, and visitors would have been treated to “an expanded interpretation of Native American history of Philadelphia,” which appears to be no more than progressive-speak for removing all references to God and His sovereign hand in the founding of our nation.
William Penn is a foundational and righteous figure in American history. While imprisoned for his faith, Penn had a vision from God and was told that he would “set captives free.” He then bought passage for hundreds of religious prisoners of many backgrounds and brought them to this land to live in religious freedom. His “Holy Experiment” — the seed of a nation — laid the foundation for the religious liberties now enshrined in our Constitution. His legal training and language undergird much of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, our third president and the writer of the Declaration of Independence, duly recognized William Penn’s indelible influence upon the nation and stated that he was “without doubt the greatest lawgiver the world has produced.”
Penn came to our shores to birth a colony steeped in religious freedom. Penn lived by this motto: “Let us then try what love will do: for if men did once see that we love them, we should soon find that they would not harm us.”
This principle shaped his interactions with the Native American peoples he encountered and secured a legacy of deep friendship and honor with indigenous leaders. He paid tribal leaders for lands “granted” to him by the Crown. His treaties, adhered to sacrificially during his lifetime, were rooted in true friendship with tribal leaders. For this reason alone, the proposed alterations to Welcome Park are incomprehensible.
Praise the Lord that this battle in the war to alter the history of our nation was won — and won swiftly! But the war rages on. Winston Churchill said that any people who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. God said that we must rehearse His mighty acts in the earth and His faithfulness to His people (see Psalm 78:5–7). May we who know Him and are called to be watchmen on the wall of America remain ever vigilant to pray with great hope as we face the progressive agenda in all the seven mountains. We serve a God who hears and responds to the prayers of His people!
Father, we give You thanks for the swift answer to the prayers for the preservation of the Penn legacy in Welcome Park. Keep us rooted and grounded in hope in the God who is shaking all things that are not His kingdom! Grant us grace to pray and act from love and compassion and truth in these cultural battles. To You alone be the glory and the honor forever. Amen.
For further study on William Penn and his role in our nation’s founding:
- IFA’s Inspired People
- Penn’s Seed: The Awakening documentary (Healing Tree International and Redeem TV)
“ … that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever … that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever” (Joshua 4:6–7,24).
Intercessors acted, and God moved! Share your prayers of thanksgiving below!
Lori Meed is a leader on IFA’s Headline Prayer Live and an IFA contributing writer. In 2004, God moved her family from Canada to the U.S., imparting to them His heart for this country and for revival. Having walked out her own journey of freedom after being radically born again in 1992, Lori has a heart to see others set free to walk fully in their destiny. She is also passionate about teaching on aliyah (“going up,” the return of the Jews to the land of Israel), the feasts of the Lord, and the rich connections of the gentile churches to Israel.Photo Credit: Reading Tom from Reading, UK – Statue of William Penn – Philadelphia, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.