Places that Matter

Bridge Street AWME Church

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Stained Glass, Jennifer Scott
Stained Glass, Jennifer Scott
Jennifer Scott
Jennifer Scott
Jennifer Scott
The oldest African-American congregation in Brooklyn
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Established in 1818, the Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal (AWME) Church is home to the oldest African-American congregation in Brooklyn. Long a refuge and a resource in its neighborhood, the church now also has a community development affiliate organization, the Bridge Street Development Corporation.

Originally known simply as the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal (AWME) Church, the Bridge Street AWME Church was founded in downtown Brooklyn and moved to Bridge Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1854. In 1938, it moved for the final time to its current location in a gothic-style church on Stuyvesant Avenue.

The church's early history as a community resource includes the establishment in 1827 of an African Free School called Colored School No. 1, and its purported role as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It also served as a refuge for Blacks fleeing the 1863 draft riots in Manhattan.

In 1995, the church's then-pastor Rev. Fred A. Lewis led the drive to create the Bridge Street Development Corporation. This community development organization was designed to be the economic development arm of the church, similar in structure to the Abyssian Development Corporation in Harlem. As of 2004, both the church and the development corporation continue to serve the spiritual and practical needs of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.


Citzens Committee for New York City. The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.