Around Mother Bethel
Yes. There are several restaurants and eateries located within walking distance on South Street and within a short driving distance of the church.
Yes, the church is accessible by SEPTA bus. The closest SEPTA subway stops are located at 8th & Market Streets and 10th & Pine Streets. SEPTA routes 40, 12 (East and West), 47 and 57 (North and South) are within walking distance of the church.
Yes. The City of Philadelphia boasts multiple historic sites, including landmarks, museums, and more.
- Bethel Burial Grounds
- The Liberty Bell Center
- Independence Hall and Congress Hall
- The Betsy Ross House
- Elfreth's Alley
- The President's House
- Museum of the American Revolution
- National Constitution Center
- National Museum of American Jewish History
- Benjamin Franklin Museum
- Christ Church and Christ Church Burial Ground
- The African American Museum of Philadelphia
- Carpenters’ Hall
- Second Bank of the United States
- Powell House and Hill Physick House
- Declaration (Graff) House
- American Philosophical Society Museum
- Franklin Square
About the facility
The first floor of the building has a wheelchair ramp which gives wheelchair bound and individuals with other ambulatory challenges access to our first floor. Members and visitors can access the sanctuary by using the “chair lift” on the first floor. On the other hand, Mother Bethel does have some access limitations: bathrooms, found on the first floor, are small and may prove challenging for some.
Yes. We share the School Yard of The General George E. McCall School located at 325 S. 7th St on Sundays and certain other occasions.
No. During very hot weather, our services are often relocated to the fellowship hall, which is air-conditioned.
Do I need tickets or a reservation to visit the museum and tour the church, which is a historic site?
Tickets and reservations are not required to visit the Museum or tour the church after Sunday worship; however, Sundays tours and visits are limited to individuals who attended worship on that particular Sunday. Mother Bethel provides tours Tuesday - Saturday between 10am - 3pm by appointment. Please contact the church office to make your reservation. While there are no fees for individuals and small groups to visit the museum or tour the church, donations are accepted and welcomed. Groups of 15 or more persons are asked to donate a suggested amount of $2.50 per person.
Church Services, Protocols, and Policies
Yes; however, flash photography is prohibited in the Galleries located in the Museum
Yes, and the adult class meets on Sundays at 8am. Our services for children take place during our traditional worship service (The invitation to children’s service is made at an appointed time during our worship service. It is at that time that children leave the sanctuary, if they and their parents choose to do).
We have two Bible Study classes each week. They take place on Tuesdays at 7pm and Wednesdays at 11am.
Yes. If you are interested in having your wedding take place at Mother Bethel, please contact the church offices for more information. Our wedding calendar is available from October through May.
Yes. If you are interested in having an event take place at Mother Bethel, please contact the church offices for more information.
No, we do not have a nursery; however, we do have a Children’s Church.
Yes, members of the LGBTQIAA community are welcome to visit and become members of Mother Bethel.
Church Organization & AME History
Our original name was Bethel Church. “Mother” represents the fact that “Bethel” church is the birth place of the AME denomination.
No. It is believed that First African Baptist Church, founded in 1773 and officially recognized in 1788, in Savannah, Georgia, is the oldest black church in the United States; however, this claim is challenged by Silver Bluff Baptist Church of Silver Bluff, South Carolina, and First Baptist Church of Petersburg, Virginia. The Mother Bethel congregation, initially called Bethel AME, held its first official service on July 29, 1794; however, the property that it rests on was purchased in 1787 and is the oldest parcel of property continuously owned by African Americans in the US.
A.M.E. stands for African Methodist Episcopal. The denomination was incorporated in 1816 by Richard Allen, a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He incorporated Mother Bethel after he and Absalom Jones, also a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, were forcibly removed while praying at the alter of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church. They were removed because St. George’s leaders were attempting to implement segregation into its worship services. Nevertheless, Allen wanted to continue in the Methodist Episcopal Church and formed Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church. The Methodist Church appointed clergy to Allen’s new congregation who failed to empathize with their needs. Enslaved and freed Africans across the United States were experiencing similar discrimination in all houses of worship. Consequentially, Allen and other clergy began fighting for their independence as individual congregations. Their combined efforts lead them to seek authorization from the State of Pennsylvania to operate as an independent body, marking the birth of the A.M.E. denomination.
The Mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ’s liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, serve the needy through advocacy, and our commitment to providing direct assistance to resources to:
- Preach the gospel;
- Develop knowledge and challenging intellect;
- Feed the hungry;
- Provide clothing;
- House the homeless;
- Cheer the fallen;
- Provide jobs for the jobless;
- Administer to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums, mental institutions, and senior citizens’ homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in and the mentally and socially disturbed; and
- Encourage thrift and economic development.
Pastor Tyler’s intimate involvement, along with an increasing number of Mother Bethel congregants, with POWER (an inter-faith, social justice, advocacy organization) is an example of one of the many ways our church aims to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the Philadelphia community. The Mother Bethel Gospel Choir contributes its talents and time to various cultural events across the City of Philadelphia. Our congregation supports various holiday giving programs to make sure as many Philadelphians as possible eat and are warm. Our leaders and members are frequent collaborators with various organizations that also work to meet the needs of the community. The existence and narrative of Mother Bethel AME Church provides an often overlooked perspective to the irrefutable history of the City of Philadelphia, the United States, and their relationship with free and enslaved Africans in America. Our building, museum, artifacts, and burial grounds reflect the integral role of Africans in every aspect in the development of the country.
It depends on the nature of the gift. If the gift is monetary, gifts made be made through our online giving channels (see digital bulletin for giving apps) as well as by check. If your gift is of a different nature, please contact the church offices.
When you join an AME Church, you are joining that specific (local) church and the entire denominational organization. New member classes are provided to insure that all members understand the structure and traditions of the AME Church.
Can persons not of African descent worship or join since the denomoniation is the "African" Methodist Church?
While the AME Church is steeped in African American heritage, it does not mean the church or denomination only permits people of African descent. Rather, our style of worship is an acknowledgement of our history and a symbol of our cultural traditions.
Holy Communion takes place on the first Sunday of every month. Congregants and visitors are invited to participate. Each participant is served the Elements of Communion by clergy.
We host 4,500 to 5,000 per year.