AME Emanuel Church

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, often referred to as Mother Emanuel was founded in 1817. Emanuel AME is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States.

Learn more about the church at its website.
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Hours of operation

Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm
Sun 9am – 1pm

Brief history of the church

One Sunday morning at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the fall of 1787, upon refusing to be a further victim of racial discrimination, the Reverend Richard Allen withdrew from St. George’s. He purchased an old, dilapidated blacksmith shop. He moved it to a lot that he had purchased on Sixth and Lombard Streets, where he founded a separate Methodist Church, which became Bethel.

He associated it with the non-sectarian Free African Society that he established the year before to encourage moral character and to assist members in times of need. When he founded the church, it was a Methodist Church for Africans. Because the Methodist Church sought to control the church that Allen had founded, he separated from the Methodist Church and, on May 9, 1816, founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Morris Brown, who later became the second bishop of the AME Church, and other African- American ministers and laymen, seceded from the Methodist Church in Charleston due to the cancellation of the few privileges they were given within the church. Brown and about 1,000 followers became the core of Charleston’s African Church movement. He then sought to have it affiliated with the Reverend Allen’s African Church movement in Philadelphia.

On July 15, 1818, he connected his Charleston church with Richard Allen’s African Methodist Episcopal. Charlestonians organized several meeting houses. Eventually, they built a church in the Hampstead suburb of Charleston at Reid and Hanover Streets.

Read the full history on the church’s website.

Mailing Address

Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 242
Charleston, SC 29403

Visiting Address

Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation
110 Calhoun St
Charleston, SC 29401

Legal Information

EIN: 82-1776426