Who We Are
Metropolitan A.M.E. Church is shrouded in the unique
history of the parent A.M.E. denomination. The
denomination, founded by
in 1787, was established in protest against segregated
worship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The A.M.E.
denomination, the first African American
independent religious body in the United States, was
organized in 1816.
Metropolitan was founded in 1838, in the District of Columbia. It is the oldest A.M.E. Church in Washington, DC, the nation's capital. The church represents the 1870's merger of two A.M.E. congregations, Israel Bethel (1821) and Union Bethel (1838), a stop on the Underground Railroad. The name "Metropolitan" was officially designated and recognized by the general A.M.E. Church in 1872.
The cornerstone for the current Metropolitan edifice was laid in 1881, and the church was completed in 1886. African Methodist Episcopal members throughout the United States contributed funding to build the edifice. These sacrificial gifts were memorialized in Metropolitan's priceless and majestic stained glass windows, which document the growth of the A.M.E. denomination from 1816-1896.
The Report of the General Trustees of the Metropolitan A. M. E. Church to the Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, May, 1900, Columbus, Ohio
We, the members and friends of Union Bethel
A. M. E. Church, Washington, D. C., being the oldest organized body of Christian men and women in the District of Columbia of the
A. M. E. Connection, beg leave most respectfully to inform your most reverend body that we have projected and commenced to build a Connectional Metropolitan Church upon a piece or lot of ground fronting north on the south side of M street North, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets West. The brick and stone work is completed, the slate roof is on the building. The work so far has cost $30,000, which has been paid. This does not include the cost of ground, the assessed value of which is $25,000. The church building is 80 by 120 feet, with sub-basement for domestic purposes, a basement story above grade containing Lecture, Sunday School, Library and Class-rooms. Seating capacity 3,000. The building contains all the modern improvements--ventilation, heat, light and water. The cost, ground not included, $70,000, $30,000 of which has been paid, leaving a balance of $40,000, $15,000 of which must be raised, per contract, to complete the building.
We most respectfully submit for your inspection
the accompanying photograph, a fac simile of the
building as it now stands.
We, your petitioners, most humbly pray your
reverend body to take such action as your Godly judgment
may suggest for our aid and assistance in the
prosecution and completion of this, our good, and we
trust, praiseworthy undertaking.
And for which we will ever pray. Read more. . .
Lessons of the Hour
On January 9, 1894, the Honorable Frederick Douglass delivered his last speech at Metropolitan AMEThe Lessons of the Hour on the "the so-called, but mis-called, negro problem." He was introduced by former Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first elected African American senator to serve a full term.
The address was later distributed in pamphlet form and may be read here. Douglass concludes, "Put away your race prejudice. Banish the idea that one class must rule over another. Recognize that the rights of the humblest citizen are as worthy of protection as are those of the highest, and your problem will be solved; and whatever may be in store for it in the future, whether prosperity, or adversity; whether it shall have foes without, or foes within, whether there, shall be peace, or war; based upon the eternal principles of truth, justice and humanity, and with no class having any cause of complaint or grievance, your Republic will stand and flourish forever."
Metropolitan AME Church also hosted the Bethel Literary and Historical Society, "an African American learned society that met from 1881-1913 at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church at 1518 M Street NW in Washington, DC. The Bethel Literary was a large, formal group that regularly attracted hundreds, who would listen to a presentation by an invited speaker, then participate in an open public discussion." Read more. . .
Photo: Program for an address by the Rev. Francis J. Grimke on "Religion and Race Elevation," from the Moreland-Spingarn Collections, Howard University Libraries. Source: The Bethel Literary and Historical Society by Kim Roberts
Inaugural Prayer Services
President William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton held the official pre-Inaugural prayer services at Metropolitan in 1993 and 1997.
Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, located in downtown Washington, DC is the oldest continuously black-owned property that remains in the original ten-mile parcel of the District of Columbia. Read more about our history.