Mother Bethel AME Church

Church in Old City & Society Hill

This major historical building is the birthplace of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church and is the oldest piece of real estate continually owned by African Americans in the US. The present church, the fourth on the site, dates from 1889 and features gargoyles on its bell tower. The main chapel on the 2nd floor has beautiful stained-glass windows and magnificent woodwork.

The original church was founded by two local freed slaves – Richard Allen and Absalom Jones – in 1787. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and among the first white revolutionaries to speak out against slavery, was an initial supporter. It later became a stop on the Underground Railroad when Pastor Allen (entombed in the church) hid hundreds of fugitive slaves prior to the Civil War. There's a small museum in the church dedicated to Allen and a statue of him stands outside.


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