ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS, SERIES 3, PART 3
Allen Chapel named for AME founder
by Susie Sansom-Piper
Rockdale Reporter - February 18, 2010
In the beginning the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church did not start off as a
It began as a protest in a Sunday morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1786.
The custom in St. George Methodist Episcopal church was for whites to sit down front and
blacks in the balcony.
On this particular Sunday morning, Rchard Allen and Absalom Jones were kneeling in prayer
in the “wrong” section of the church and were asked to move.
There was some commotion, and passing of words and then, resolutely, these two black
preachers led some black worshippers across the street and decided to never again worship
in a church where they were not accepted as equal citizens and brothers and sisters in
After many efforts to get the Methodist Episcopal Church to recognize their protest,
Allen, Jones and the others were forced to organize their own church so they could
worship in an atmosphere of freedom.
They purchased a blacksmith shop and began building their own “Zion.”
In 1816 the African Methodist Church became incorporated and Allen became the first
bishop and was consecrated by Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury.
The first AME church was named “Bethel” and was started in Philadelphia in 1787.
Rockdale’s AME church, named for Richard Allen, is the second oldest church in the
It was organized in the home of Brother Henry McFadden in 1875.
Rev. J. H. Connor was the organizer and later became the first pastor.
In 1876 the International & Great Northern Railroad donated a parcel of land—Lot 9, Block
C, City of Rockdale—to the church.
Within a couple of years the first church was erected on this property.
In 1957 a new building, under the leadership of Rev. T. A. Harris, was built.
In 1972 pastor Rev. J. A. Peterson initiated a building program.
In 1990 the building was demolished and the current edifice was completed under the
pastoral service of Rev. James Green.
The year 2000 brought new history to Allen Chapel when Bishop McKinley Young appointed
Rev. Pamela Rivera as pastor.
She was the first female to pastor Allen Chapel.
History continued in 2002 when the Linwood Acres Garden Club named Allen Chapel as yard
of the month.
In December, 2002, the church was awarded first place in the Eastside Christmas
Decorating Contest’s church category.
History continued to write outstanding chapters at Allen Chapel. In May, 2006, under the
leadership of Rev. Benita K. Hill, the church celebrated a note burning with Bishop G. M.
Over the past 125 years Allen Chapel has been blessed with outstanding leadership from 55
Currently it is under the leadership of Rev. George W. Morgan St. and First Lady Dr. Joy
Liberty Hill church
Ten miles west of Rockdale on FM 908 is the once lively community of Liberty Hill.
Home owners included the Dykes, Scotts, Robbs, Wilborns, Whittingtons, Gipsons, Craytons,
Claytons, Smiths, Mobleys, Johnsons, Malones, Colemans, Herahs, Goffs, Nobles, Alfords,
Washingtons, Sanfords, Bradfords, Crawfords, Haynes and Rhems.
These families were all subsistence farmers and the church and school were in the midst
of these settlements.
Springfield Baptist Church of Liberty Hill was organized in 1888 in an old log house
which was built for these community people to worship in.
The “first welcome” address was given by Mrs. Lucinda Goff Haynes in 1900. She was the
congregations’s oldest member.
The church was rebuilt in the late 1960s and was mysteriously destroyed by fire in
(Information from notes by Mrs. Willie M. Dykes and Milam County records.)