Bethel AME Church History  

Bethel A.M.E. Church History
Pennington NJ

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Bethel History
Rev. Battle
Rev. Smith
Sallie Hoagland
Thelma Parks
Florence Adams
Donald Jennings
Albert Witcher
Pastor List
Bethel Home Page

A.M.E. History
James Kiefer
Richard Allen
Absalom Jones
Bethel Home Page

Written in 2015 as part of the 125th anniversary of Pennington Borough, this page is part of a much larger history of all of the churches in Pennington.


Bethel A.M.E. History
by Rev. Gregory Smith

early Bethel building Bethel A.M.E. Church founded in 1816, originally built in 1847, and rebuilt in 1876, holds the proud distinction as the third oldest organized church in Pennington and the oldest established church of African descent. For 31 years they held their services in their respective homes with the Rev. Elijah Hammitt serving as the first pastor. The grounds were purchased by Jonathan Bunn, a sympathetic friend of the first members. Rev. Hammit remained as pastor until the church was nearly cleared of debt. He was succeeded in 1863 by Rev. Archibald Campbell who later became a bishop in the A.M.E. Church. In 1865 the church was used as a Day Care for children of color under the direction of Civil War veteran William Boyer. In 1867 the church was enlarged and in 1950 the current edifice was built within the old church walls. Bethel also has original offering plates, dating from the 1800's among its most cherished artifacts.

Bethel building 2015Over the years nearly 30 pastors have served and made vast contributions to the spiritual, social and economic development of the Pennington community. Among those distinguished pastors includes I.W.A. Roundtree who was a graduate of Oxford University in England and served twice as pastor. The Rev. Dr. Tom Hills served the longest pastorate, having served 17 years between 1992 and 2009. Under his leadership a new addition was added which included a ramp for the access of physically impaired members and two additional bathrooms. The Rev. Bertha Williams followed Dr. Hills, serving as the first female pastor in Bethel's history. In June of 2013 The Rev. Gregory S. Smith was assigned to Bethel. Due to significant changes in the African American Community, Bethel's membership had decreased. Under Rev. Smith's leadership the church has seen a resurgence of young people. The church re-established youth Sunday school, Junior church, a youth choir and now has a youth and teen praise dance ministry. There are additional plans to organize an evangelism team. Rev. Smith has also been instrumental in re-establishing a connection with Pennington's Ecumenical and civic community, serving as co-chair of Pennington's 125 Ecumenical Service. Bethel continues to work progressively as a longstanding and vital force within the Pennington community. Instilling the A.M.E. church's motto "God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit our Comforter and Humankind our Family". Bethel's personal motto from Genesis 28:19 "Bethel - The place where Dreams are made"!

The Plan to Salvation
Salvation is the most important aspect of Christian faith. The key to our Christian experience. Click the link to read what "you must do to be saved!"

by Rev. Gregory Smith

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