First African Presbyterian Church Organized
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Founder
John Gloucester
Time Period
1807
Description
There was no African American Presbyterian Church at the start of the 19th century, despite desires for one. In 1806, Archibald Alexander, a Presbyterian pastor in Philadelphia, established the Evangelical Society with hope of evangelizing blacks, but he still desired an African American Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

His hopes started to come to fruition when he met a Presbyterian pastor by the name of Gideon Blackburn and his slave, John Gloucester, at the 1807 General Assembly in Kentucky. Blackburn and Gideon came to the General Assembly with hope of getting Gloucester licensed as a minister. After Archibald Alexander met Blackburn and Gloucester, they returned together to Philadelphia and agreed upon freeing Gloucester so he could work as a missionary to blacks.

After preaching in houses, street corners, and schoolhouses, Gloucester organized First Colored Presbyterian (later renamed First African Presbyterian Church) with 22 members in May 1807. The church created its own meetinghouse in 1811.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Presbyterian-Reformed Family: Other ARDA Links

Photographs

First African Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia- Hathi Trust- from The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia by William P. White and William H. Scott

John Gloucester portrait- New York Public Library Digital Collections

Archibald Alexander portrait- Internet Archive- from The Life of Archibald Alexander by James W. Alexander

Gideon Blackburn portrait- Hathi Trust- from History of the Presbyterian Church in the State of Illinois, vol 1 by A. T. Norton
Book/Journal Source(s)
Murphy, Larry, J. Gordon Melton, and Gary Ward, 1993. Encyclopedia of African American Religions. New York: Garland.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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