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.