The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Davenport is celebrating their 150th birthday!
The November 30, 1865 issue of the Davenport Daily Gazette published the first of many articles focused on the church. The note said that a group of African Methodists met and organized a new religious society. The minister in charge was Rev. John B. Dawson of Chicago — already an ordained preacher for the Methodist Episcopal Church. The group elected Trustees E. M. Franklin, P. C. Cooper, H. Simmons and W. M. Van Duzee; and Stewards P. C. Cooper, John W. Sawyers, and Henry Simons.
At first, the church held their meetings in a small wooden structure located on Fourth Street between Gaines and Western Avenue, but by 1875 the congregation had outgrown its home. Property was purchased in the McIntosh, Second Addition at the southeast corner of 11th and Ripley for the amount of $1,800. The building of the church was a group affair started in 1903; young and old worked together to carry and place bricks, mix mortar, and anything else that needed doing. On July 30, 1908 the property was paid in full and the Trustees received the deed. It was also at this time that the congregation voted to change their name from African Methodist Episcopal Church to the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The first service in the new and completed building was held on August 1, 1909.
Throughout its history, the congregation of the Bethel A.M.E. Church has truly been a community. Picnics, events, conferences with other local black churches, and of course worship services were regular events. And that hasn’t changed in 150 years. Join us in saying, “Happy birthday, Bethel A.M.E.!” and be sure to checkout all the events over the next week. Tonight marks the start of the celebration with a welcome reception and program. Rev. Dr. Melvin L. Grimes will speak following the 4:30- 6:00 reception.
(posted by Jessica)