Bishop James A. Shorter
Bishop James A. Shorter
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Rev. Jeremiah H. Pierce
Rev. Jeremiah H. Pierce
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THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH

When the Negroes of Atlantic City were ready to have their religious society (as it was then called), the city was twenty-one years old and the New Jersey Conference but three.  Coming as they did each city from progressive inland cities, they had the vision of a future for Atlantic City. 

 

Although there were no telephones, nor telegraph systems in common usage, nor radios nor televisions sets to inspire them, they had that something within which gave them courage to proceed.  They, therefore, called on Bishop James A. Shorter to organize them in 1875.  He, in turn, sent a young man, recently received in the Philadelphia Conference, to Atlantic City to organize the group.  He was the Rev. Jeremiah H. Pierce, father of Mrs. Hannah P. Lowe, a loyal member of St. James, who wrote the church history.

 

The organizational ceremony took place in the old Union Church on Delaware Avenue between Arctic and Baltic. This new organization was called Bethel A.M.E. Church of Atlantic City, the first African American Church in the City.  After this service the parishioners worshipped in the dining room of the Ocean House at the corner of Maryland and Arctic Avenues until Annual Conference. Because the season had a yearly ending each fall, it is possible that the church did not worship on a year-round basis until three years later.