The Bethel Church of Morristown is the first church to be established by African Americans in Morris County. The founders were former members of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. These founding members, led by Mrs. Frances Jane Freeman Ray, withdrew their membership from the Presbyterian Church in 1840 when the church split into two congregation. Bethel was incorporated in 1843 under the jurisdiction of the African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination, which was founded in 1816 by Bishop Richard Allen in the City of Philadelphia. Bishop Willis Nazery was appointed as Bethel’s first pastor in 1845.
In 1850, Morris Township established legal precedent for segregation in public schools, by the passage of an act to provide for the segregated education of colored children in the township of Morris, in the county of Morris. Bethel responded by allowing the church to also serve as a school house for all children. In 1874, Bethel moved to its present location and constructed a new sanctuary with the assistance of Mr. George T. Cobb (first mayor of Morristown) and Mrs. Mary Ann Cobb. The Cobbs were also members of the United Methodist Church of Morristown (formerly the Methodist Episcopal Church). In 1970, the current sanctuary was designed by William M. Brown Jr. and constructed under the leadership of Rev. A. Lewis Williams.
Of Special Note: