Black Churches in America
Courtesy of Library Company of Philadelphia.
The Bethel Church was founded in 1794 by Richard Allen and eleven like-minded Methodists who wanted to create an independent black church where they would be free of the prejudice they had experienced at the racially mixed St. George's Parish. The site of the church was originally an old blacksmith shop, but the group soon moved to the building on the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia that is shown here. Allen, the church's first preacher and later deacon, led Bethel to join with five other black Methodist congregations in 1816, resulting in the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This image was drawn in 1829 by William L. Breton.