Bethel Home Page
Bethel Home Page
contributed by Albert Witcher
Today we celebrate the 189th Anniversary of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Pennington, NJ.
Bethel was founded in the year of our Lord 1816, was built in 1847, and later rebuilt in 1876. Remodeled and enlarged in 1950, by the late Reverend Frederic O. Kelly. Again remodeled and enlarged in 1997, to include new bathrooms and a handicap access ramp, under the leadership of Reverend Tom Hills.
The Church ground was purchased from Mr. Jonathan Bunn, a sympathetic friend of the charter members. This small group held their services in their homes until the first church was built 31 years later.
In 1847 the first Church was built by these faithful members, the Reverend Elijah Hammit, was Pastor and remained until the Church was nearly cleared of debt.
In 1863, the Rev. Archibald Campbell was Pastor, he later became a Bishop. In 1865 the Church was used as a Day School for Colored Children. Mr. William Boyer, Veteran of The Civil War, was School Master. Mrs. Margaret Johnson, the Mother of Church Historian, Sarah Hoagland, writer of this history, clearly remembered her school days in the Church.
In 1867, the Church was rebuilt. The "high back" seats were removed. The Church enlarged and remained the same until renovation was started in 1949, and completed in 1950.
The two collection boxes from the "Original Church" are prized possessions.
Editor's Note: Albert Witcher was a fine, hard-working person. He spent many hours as a volunteer taking care of the Pennington African Cemetery off Main Street. He knew so much about Pennington. He gave me a lot of help with my Pennington website.
page created July 2007