After the founding of Ezion in 1805 and the African Union Methodist denomination in 1813, black churches gradually spread throughout Delaware. Each new church represented a community coming together to express its faith and build an institution that strengthened its freedom. In many places, churches were the only place where blacks could gather freely, so they served many functions.
For 70 years, all of Delaware’s known African American churches were Methodist, reflecting Methodism’s strength in the state. Indeed, in 1839, The Colored American said of Wilmington, “One thing I cannot but find fault with—they have three Methodist churches. They need but one, for the greater good of the whole.”
Denominational diversity arrived with the founding of Shiloh Baptist Church in Wilmington in the mid 1870s. Since then, the number and variety of black houses of worship has grown. The state had over 200 by the mid 1940s, and others have been founded since then, including some non-Christian groups. Black Muslims joined the faith community in the late 1950s. This section presents only a small sampling of Delaware’s many diverse African American congregations.
Nearly 30 black churches in Delaware, some no longer active, trace their founding to 1850 or before. They represent the first generations of Delaware’s Africans using their freedom to develop independent faith communities where they could worship God in their own way.
Corrections or additions to this list are welcome.
New Castle County
Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church, Wilmington, 1805
Mother African Union Church, Wilmington, 1813
Mt. Pisgah U.A.M.E. Church, Middletown, 1813
Bethany U.A.M.E. Church, New Castle, 1818
Old Fort U.A.M.E. Church, Christiana, 1819
St. Thomas A.U.M.P. Church, Glasgow, 1827
Zion A.M.E. Church, Port Penn, 1834
Wesleyan Union African Church, Wilmington, 1838
St. Daniel’s A.M.E. Church, Newark/Iron Hill, 1838
Simpson United Methodist Church, Newport, 1842
Zoar Methodist Episcopal Church, Odessa, 1845
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Wilmington, 1846
Bethel A.M.E. Church, Wilmington, 1846
Mt. Salem U.A.M.E. Church, Delaware City, 1846
St. John’s A.U.M.P. Church, Newark, 1850
Manship A.M.E. Church, Bishop’s Corner, 1830
Lockwood A.M.E. Church, 6 mi. southwest of Kenton, ca. 1830
John Wesley A.M.E. Church, near Thompsonville, 1847
Bethel A.M.E. Church, Smyrna, 1849
Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Blanco, 1849
Carlisle Methodist Episcopal Church, west of Dover, 1849
Little Union Church, DuPont Station, 1850
Harmony Methodist Episcopal Church, Sussex, 1818 (2 ½ miles west of Friendship Church, which was 2 ½ miles southwest of Fairmount)
Siloam A.M.E. Church, Slaughter Neck, 1827
Bethel A.M.E. Church, Milton, 1827
St. James Methodist Episcopal Church, Georgetown, 1840
Old Forge A.M.E. Church, Sussex, 1848 (beside James’ Branch a short distance southwest of the old Broad Creek Bridge)