Churches that Split over Race to Worship in Philadelphia

More than two centuries after racial divisions sparked the birth of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the black and white congregations at the center of the split will worship together for the first time in late October in Philadelphia.

In the late 1700s, lay preacher Richard Allen and other members walked out of Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church and started their own congregation, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. They had been forced to worship in segregated seating at St. George’s and racial tensions were increasing within the congregation. On Oct. 25, the two congregations will meet for a joint Sunday worship service for the first time since their split, though they have previously held ceremonial exchanges.

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