Resolution J704-2013

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

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  • Mar 7, 2013: ADOPTED
  • Mar 7, 2013: REPORTED TO CALENDAR FOR CONSIDERATION
  • Mar 1, 2013: REFERRED TO FINANCE

Text

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.

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