“Oldest African American Church in Clark County”
Bethel A. M. E. Church, Jeffersonville, was organized in 1842 in Claysburg, where a settlement of African American people had gathered. Preaching had been held for several years prior to this in private houses, before a church was formed. The first house of worship was a log building. The name Bethel is biblical in origin. “And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city was Luz at first.”
Bethel A. M. E. Church was on a circuit with Charlestown and New Albany and was referred to as the “Paul Quinn Circuit.” The second house of worship was a frame building located around 8th and Wall Streets. The congregation lived within walking distance of the church. This building was burned, as was the third building which was built near Warder Park. The church building on West Court Avenue near Ohio Avenue was purchased in 1881 or 1882. The old deed had two dates on it. The flood of 1883 destroyed the records of Bethel A. M. E. Church up to that time and the flood of 1937 made a clean sweep of all records up to that time period.
On November 2, 1969, the members of Bethel A. M. E. Church celebrated their “Going In” Service, as the Pastor, Rev. Robert Kirk, and members walked from the Court Avenue Church to it's new location at 200 West Park Place. The property on Court Avenue was taken as part of the urban renewal project.
The church has been under the leadership of many great pastors, and it October 2007 Bishop Phillip R. Cousin, Sr. appointed Rev. Dr. Sheiler Stokes, as its first female Pastor in 165 years. In 2009, under her direction we established the Augustus F. Hawkins Literacy Center, an after school program designed to enable you to attain higher reading and math scores. In 2010 we received funds from the Clark County Trustees Office, and with many volunteer hours donated, were able to construct a commercial kitchen. In the summer of 2010 the Church became a sponsor for the USDA Summer Feeding Program, preparing and serving thousands of meals each year. In 2014 the church hosted the Prime Minister of Niger, his delegation, and the U.S. Ambassador. This was the first time the Prime Minister had worshiped in a Christian Church.
In 2020 the church sold its building located at 200 W Park Place and purchased 4+ acres which housed the old Maple Elementary School. The building was renamed the Mildred Clift/Port Fulton Education Center and houses Maple Leaf Academy, an early childhood development center specializing in STEAM education for children 6wks - 5 yrs.
The A. M. E. Church has expanded the social gospel of Wesley by being very active in Civil Rights and protest movements which aim to bring justice and equality to all people. The A. M. E. Church, through its efforts, from the very beginning, has attempted to unite the whole community (Black and White) in a common concern for all members of that community. It is our prayer that we at Bethel A. M. E. Church will continue to hold our torches high and be about the work of the Lord. We have come a mighty long way but the road ahead may be difficult to achieve but not impossible to attain if we continue to work together.
Phone: (812) 283-0624
Come worship with us!
201West Charlestown Avenue, Jeffersonville, IN
9:30am - Sunday School | 10:30am - Breakfast
11:00am - Worship Service
Wednesdays - via Zoom
7:00-7:15pm - Prayer | 7:15pm - Bible Study