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Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Cardinal Greenway

Black History Religion

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1854.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

This beautiful red-brick building has been the home of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church since 1868. [1] It is the oldest Black church in the state of Indiana, and it is an enduring connection to Richmond’s history of welcoming free Black people. [2]

Established in 1806 by members of the Quaker faith, who were abolitionists, the city of Richmond was a welcoming place for free Black families to settle. [3] In 1840, the U.S. Census counted 624 free People of Color in Wayne County—54 of whom had become the first members of the Bethel AME congregation when it was founded by Bishop William Paul Quinn in 1836. Quinn is now commemorated on a historical marker outside the church building. [4] In its early years, the congregation met in a two-story frame warehouse building, with a meeting area on the first floor and a school on the second. (Public schools in Indiana excluded Black youth at that time.) In 1868, the congregation moved into this church building, which was originally built by a German Methodist congregation, and it has served as the center of Richmond’s Black community for over 150 years. [5]

 

  • [1] National Register of Historic Places, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Richmond, Indiana, National Register #75000032. Hereafter NRHP.
  • [2] Casey Graham, "Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richmond, Indiana (1836- ),” 2014. Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/bethel-african-methodist-episcopal-church-richmond-indiana-1836/.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] NRHP; Social Explorer Dataset(SE), Census 1840, Digitally transcribed by Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Edited, verified by Michael Haines. Compiled, edited and verified by Social Explorer.
  • [5] NRHP.
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