Churches play a crucial role in the African American culture as a whole. When I say crucial, churches are just as important in the life of a Black Southern Belle as cornbread dressing on Thanksgiving day. The reason as to why the church is so important in the lives of African Americans is because of its roles during history. The historic Black Church did not only serve as a base for important events,but these churches also helped to mold and develop the Black culture, today, as we know it.
1. Emanuel A.M.E. was established in 1816 and it is located in Charleston, S.C. Mother Emanuel is one of the oldest black churches of the south and it also served great tragedy on June 17, 2015 after performing their Godlike duty of being accepting of everyone. This tragedy came to be named as the “Emanuel Nine” where nine brothers and sisters encountered a murdered inside of the church after Bible Study.
2. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, established in 1883 in Montgomery, Al aka Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who took major part in organizing the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in the church’s basement. This church became a National Historic Landmark in 1974 due to Dr. King’s affiliations with the church.
3. Ebenezer Baptist Church came to existence in the year 1855 in our “southern capital” of Atlanta, Ga. This church is the family church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is where he was baptized as a child, where his father “Daddy” King preached, and where at 19 years old, Dr. King was ordained minister and held his position up until his death. This is also the church in which Dr. King’s home-going service was held.
4. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church was founded in 1838 and is the oldest Baptist congregation in the city of Jacksonville, Fl. Although the congregation came much earlier than the building (1904), this Church grew to be known and historic due to the fact that many slaves got day passes to attend. This church became a National Historic Landmark was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 6, 1978.
5. Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church established in 1790 located in Lexington, Ky, is indeed on of the oldest [if not the oldest] African American congregation that has been passed down over the years… and STILL standing!
6. St. Augustine Catholic Church was established in 1841 in New Orleans, La as a place of worship for free and enslaved Blacks, and with it still accepting every one with open arms, this church is now a National Historic Landmark.
7. Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church was formed in 1854 in Natchez, Ms and has the organized Black Baptist congregation in Mississippi, and the oldest African American church in Natchez. The church was a part of the Civil War scene that actually resulted in the Union destroying the Rose Hill 12-acre estate, which is where the name may be derived from.
8. First Baptist Church that was established in 1817 in St. Louis, Mo served as the guidelines for mostly all of the African American Baptist churches in the city. This church was also the first Protestant congregation established for African Americans in St. Louis.
9. St. Philips Moravian Church was founded in 1822 in Winston-Salem N.C. and was formed around the African and African-American culture. The first congregation started worshiping in a log church from 1823-1861, and this church is the only historic African-American Moravian congregation in the country.
10. Church of God in Christ of 1907 in Memphis, Tn was formed out of dedication to preach the gospel by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason after being “denied the right hand of fellowship with the Church in 1907” due to difference in teachings on certain subjects. This motivated Bishop Mason to form his own church. With many “temples” of congregation, not only is the Mason Temple (headquarters) special and historic because this is where Dr. King’s “Mountain Top” speech was delivered, but the Faith Temple (Harlem, NY) is where the funeral of Malcolm X was held.