Monthly Archives: February 2011

The church in African American history (Part two)

Richard Allen was born a slave in Germantown, Pa.(now  a section of Philadelphia, Pa) on Feb.14,1760. He was born on the estate of Benjamin Chew who served as a Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of Pa from 1774 until 1777. Allen was later sold to Mr. Stokley Sturgis of Delaware (near Dover) and at the age of 17 began preaching. In 1785 he and Absalom Jones were licensed to preach by  St.George’s  Methodist Church in Philadelphia. In 1786, Richard Allen began preaching there although he was only permitted to preach early mornings (5am). Allen had gained a congregation of about fifty when the church enforced segregation of its African- American members. It was then that Richard Allen and Absalom Jones decided to leave St. George’s church  and  worship within the confines of the  Free African Society(1787), which they had formed to meet specific needs of  African-Americans.

In 1792, Absalom Jones broke away and established the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas. In 1794 Allen completed the conversion of a blacksmith shop (located at Sixth and Lombard Streets) into the  Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church The four churches; Historic Christ Church(1695) (Absalom Jones),Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church(1769), Historic Mother Bethel AME Church and Historic African Episcopal Church of  St Thomas(1792),  have been in continuous service and have taken steps to heal their relationships.



The church in African American history

The church has always been the center of the African-American community. During the antebellum era in America, slaves stole away to a secret place answering the call to gathering. Through song and dance they expressed their appreciation to the Lord for making it through another day. Giving encouragement and strength to one another they made plans for the future while worshiping in the hush harbor.

         “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”                                                                                                         -Jer.29:11

By God’s grace Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Box Brown were three able to forge a way for us to inherit the privileges we enjoy today.

There were domestic workers, Pullman Porters,meat packers and factory workers who, on Sunday morning,  in the cradling arms of the church, were transformed into the deacons, pastor and choir members of myriads of African-American churches established during the Second Great Awakening. 

The church, with its amoeba-like movement, has been the voice that calls for justice and peace, the driving force of the civil rights movement.

The church; the social hub, political theater, healing center, music hall, classroom, filling station and reconstruction site for the African-American community.