Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Image Credit:
Bethel AME Church (Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Collection, Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mahomet, IL

401 E. Park Street, Champaign, IL

Located at 401 E. Park Street in Champaign, Bethel A.M.E. Church is the oldest African American led church in Champaign County. It was organized in 1863 and predates the establishment of the University of Illinois. During the early part of the century when segregation was a fact of life, Bethel established a library and had a church orchestra. The church served as a meeting place for Black students attending the University of Illinois, establishing monthly lyceum meetings where students and members of the congregation came together for lectures, discussions, debates, and musical performances. In 1915 it was the site of the founding of the Twin Cities Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Spiritual, community and educational development have continued to be a mission for the church. 📍

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The Central Illinois Gazette wrote on December 1, 1865, that “…the Colored population are negotiating for a house to be used by them as a place of worship. People of Champaign now have seven churches…”

Decade:

1860-1869

Location(s):

  • Champaign, Illinois

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