J704

Commemorating the 247th Anniversary of the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, New York

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J704


LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION commemorating the 247th Anniversary of the Afri-
can Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, New York

WHEREAS, Religious institutions, and the many spiritual, social and
educational benefits they confer, play a vital role in the development
of the moral fabric of a responsible citizenry; and
WHEREAS, It is the tradition of this Legislative Body to pay tribute
to those enduring places of worship within the State of New York whose
spiritual mission and longevity have formed a bedrock of faith and
inspiration for generations of their communities; and
WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern, and in full accord with its long-
standing traditions, this Legislative Body is justly proud to commem-
orate the 247th Anniversary of the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal
Church of Brooklyn, New York, celebrated on Sunday, February 24, 2013;
and
WHEREAS, The African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, also known
as Bridge Street AWME Church, is the oldest continuing black congre-
gation in the Brooklyn/Long Island area; located in the heart of
Bedford-Stuyvesant, this abiding congregation has stood fast through
nearly three centuries of tremendous cultural, social and political
change, always staying true to its missionary origins and its commitment
to equality for African Americans; and
WHEREAS, Organized in 1766 and incorporated in 1818, the African
Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church began with open-air services in
downtown Brooklyn led by British Captain Thomas Webb; and
WHEREAS, In 1794 the mixed congregation of Caucasians, free Negroes
and ex-slaves purchased land from wealthy landowner Joshua Sands and
built a small church which was named the Sand Street Wesleyan Metho-
dist-Episcopal Church; by 1810 the congregation had swelled to 1500
worshippers, resulting in the construction of a larger new church, the
First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn; and
WHEREAS, Between 1810 and 1817, black membership had increased so
rapidly in the church that relations between white and black worshippers
deteriorated; when white church officials charged people of African
descent a fee to worship in the galleries, the black parishioners with-
drew from the church, held religious services in their homes and made
plans to build a church of their own; and
WHEREAS, Fueled with determination, vision and a fierce desire for
independence, the male church founders chose trustees and sent a deleg-
ation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African
Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), to seek recognition in the African
Methodist Episcopal Church body and a minister for the new congregation;
and
WHEREAS, The first African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church (AWME)
was incorporated in the Village of Brooklyn, State of New York, on
February 7, 1818; the new congregation raised enough money by 1819 to
purchase land on High Street and build its first church; in 1827, the
men of the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church augmented its
spiritual purpose with an educational endeavor, setting up an educa-
tional system for black children, and laying the cornerstone of The
African Free School, known as Colored School No. 1; and
WHEREAS, This extraordinary congregation changed its name to Bridge
Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church in 1854 when it moved
to 309 Bridge Street in Brooklyn; in that location, Bridge Street AWME
Church continued its exalted work and played its part in historical
events, including hosting Harriet Tubman and her Underground Railroad;

the congregation worshipped in that location until 1938, when it
purchased its present home at 277 Stuyvesant Avenue; and
WHEREAS, The venerable pulpit of the African Wesleyan Methodist Epis-
copal Church -- from Sand Street to High Street to Bridge Street to
Stuyvesant Avenue -- has played host to some of the greatest preachers
and orators of the last 200+ years, who have all championed the right of
African Americans to exist as children of God and equal to all others;
and
WHEREAS, Each year during the month of February, the African Wesleyan
Methodist Episcopal Church pauses to celebrate its missionary origins;
to offer thanks and praise for its rich and storied life; and, in honor
of its founders, pay tribute to the members of the church and community
who have made significant contributions to this unique black congre-
gation in the Borough of Brooklyn, State of New York; and
WHEREAS, It is the custom of this Legislative Body to take note of
enduring religious institutions and to bring such institutions to the
attention of the people of this Empire State; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
commemorate the 247th Anniversary of the African Wesleyan Methodist
Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, New York, fully confident that this
commemoration reflects the belief in those values which enhance the
dignity and purpose of life; and be it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church.

actions

  • 01 / Mar / 2013
    • REFERRED TO FINANCE
  • 07 / Mar / 2013
    • REPORTED TO CALENDAR FOR CONSIDERATION
  • 07 / Mar / 2013
    • ADOPTED

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative

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