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Thu, 03.10.1836

Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church is Founded

Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church

*Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church was founded on this date in 1836. It is located in Princeton, New Jersey.

The church was formed after the Nassau Presbyterian Church allowed former Black members to form their church after a fire had devastated the Nassau church. The church is among New Jersey's oldest African American Presbyterian congregations. The sanctuary was built in 1840 in the Greek Revival style.

The recessed entrance was a new and common design feature in the religious architecture of the time. The church was called the "First Presbyterian Church of Color of Princeton” but reported to the General Assembly in 1845 as the "Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church."  Betsey Stockton, one of the first Black Presbyterian missionaries in the U.S., helped found the church after she returned to Princeton in 1835 from her work as a missionary in Hawaii. The church was on the same block as the Witherspoon School for the Colored.

Reverend William Drew Robeson led the church as pastor from 1879. Reverend Robeson was a former slave, and as such, he preached racial equality, which eventually led to his forced resignation in 1901 for being "too radical."   In 2018 the church installed a pastor, Reverend Lukata Mjumbe, a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Your door is shut against my tightened face, And I am sharp as steel with discontent; But I possess the courage and the grace To bear my anger proudly... THE WHITE HOUSE by Claude McKay.
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