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Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church facts for kids

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Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
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Location 419 S. 6th St.,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Built 1890
Architectural style Romanesque
NRHP reference No. 72001166
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Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 16, 1972

The Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a historic church and congregation at 419 South 6th Street in Center City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The congregation, founded in 1794, is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal congregation in the nation. Its present church, completed in 1890, is the oldest church property in the United States to be continuously owned by African Americans. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.

History of the congregation

The church was organized by African-American members of St. George's Methodist Church who walked out due to racial segregation in the worship services. Mother Bethel was one of the first African-American churches in the United States, dedicated July 29, 1794, by Bishop Francis Asbury. On October 12, 1794, Reverend Robert Blackwell announced that the congregation was received in full fellowship in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1816 Rev Richard Allen brought together other black Methodist congregations from the region to organize the new African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination. He was elected bishop of this denomination. After the American Civil War, its missionaries went to the South to help freedmen and planted many new churches in the region.

In 1838, the building was damaged during the riots that followed the destruction of Pennsylvania Hall.

Allen and his wife, Sarah Allen are both buried in the present church's crypt. The current church building was constructed in 1888-1890, and it has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Building history

The property was acquired for the new congregation in 1794. Its first building was a frame structure originally used as a blacksmith's shop, which was hauled to the site. This building was later replaced by frame structures in 1805 and 1841. The 1841 church was reported to have a tunnel connecting it with a nearby Quaker meetinghouse to facilitate the movements of fugitive slaves. The present building, completed in 1890, is a three-story masonry structure with Romanesque styling. Its large round-arch windows are adorned with stained glass from Germany.

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