Gloucester, John  
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Time Period
1776  - 1822
John Gloucester was born a slave in Kentucky who was purchased by a Tennessee Presbyterian minister, Gideon Blackburn. Sensing his capabilities, Blackburn changed his name to John Gloucester and prepared him to minister to "the African slaves."

At the 1807 General Assembly, Gloucester and Blackburn met Archibald Alexander, a pastor who wished to plant an African-American Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Gloucester became the primary means to accomplish this goal, as Blackburn agreed to free him so that he could serve as an evangelist to blacks in Philadelphia. After preaching in houses, street corners, and schoolhouses, Gloucester organized the First Colored Presbyterian Church (later renamed First African Presbyterian Church) with 22 members in May 1807. This was the first black Presbyterian church.

Gloucester eventually became an ordained minister in 1810, one of the first ordained black Presbyterian ministers.
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


John Gloucester portrait- New York Public Library Digital Collections
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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