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Sun, 07.17.1791

Bethel AME Church formed

On this date in 1791, the groundbreaking for the Bethel AME Church of Philadelphia occurred. Mother Bethel Church (as it is called) was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Bethel AME is the second-oldest Black congregation (after St. Thomas in Philadelphia) in the country.

The ground on which Mother Bethel stands is the oldest parcel of real estate continuously owned by African-Americans in the United States. The second, Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, was founded there. Lucretia Mott, abolitionist and women's rights advocate, abolitionist and journalist Frederick Douglass, and William Still, a moving force behind the Underground Railroad, were among those who spoke from the rostrum at Mother Bethel.

Ben Franklin contributed money to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. A female Mother Bethel preacher, Jarena Lee, was one of first black women to speak out publicly against slavery. Breaking ground that day were Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.

Reference:
The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0

The AME Church

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