270 Spring Valley Road
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was built in 1880 on an acre donated by John Myers, a local farmer who owned the land around it. For years the church was a focal point for the black community who worked on the area farms. As the congregation moved away for better jobs before and after the war, the congregation declined and the church was closed in the 1980’s. The building was then vacant for many years, and subjected to vandalism and unwanted visitors.
In late 1997, the church was sold to a local developer who intended to restore it for a non-denominational church. Two weeks later, it was on fire, which was determined to be arson. The church was repaired and sat unattended, waiting for the right buyer. The township purchased the property as part of its open space program, and will be moving the church to the Pierce-Willits location at 659 Smithbridge Road.
The AME Church is listed on the Concord Township Historic Resources Inventory as Resource #132, and as such is covered under the Concord Township Historic Preservation Ordinance. The church is a Class 2, meaning it is historically significant to our local history, being the only black church in our township, and a fairly extant example of this type of architecture for a simple country church.
The AME church was organized by people of African descent but is open to all races. It was founded by Rev. Richard Allen in 1816 in Philadelphia in responseto racial discrimination, but continues with the Methodist doctrine.
It operates under the Episcopal form of church government.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique history, as it is the first major religious denomination in the western world that developed because of sociological rather than theological differences. It was also the first African-American denomination organized and incorporated in the United States.
The World of Churches estimates the membership of the AME Church at around 2,500,000.
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