The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has outlived slavery, both world wars and segregation under Jim Crow. Our church is located at 3 Waterworks Road in Freehold, NJ and has been serving the community since 1848. Bethel was official established and incorporated as a member of the A.M.E. Church denomination in1867. A new structure was completed in 1988 and the Church was relocated to its present location.
Many in Freehold Borough recognize Bethel as the church on the hill on Waterworks Road. But its history dates back to the 1690s, when free blacks formed a village called Squirrel Town. Bethel offered a safe space for black worshipers who were excluded from predominantly white churches for Sunday services and who, decades later, encountered racism in the borough's slowly desegregating schools.
"I've been alive a long time, and I've endured a lot of things that have gone on. I guess that's one of the reasons why the church really appealed to us," said Bigerton "Buddy" Lewis, 93, a World War II veteran. "It's the one place where we could find sanctuary. We could be equal."
Preserving that legacy hasn't always been easy. Over time, church members have moved out of state for work or college, making participation a struggle with each new generation. Church leaders have discussed ways to "move beyond the walls" of Bethel and attract more congregants of all backgrounds. We are part of a global denomination and our Church is evolving everyday.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church is divided in 19 Episcopal districts. It is a worldwide church denomination with congregations in South America, Europe, Africa, Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean Islands and the United States. Founded in 1787 by Rev. Richard Allen, the first leader who was a former slave.
We are proud to be part of such a rich history and heritage and welcome others to join us in carrying on this tremendous legacy.
- Our mission is move beyond the walls of the church to serve the community by meeting the spiritual, social, emotional and physical needs of the community.
- Encourage the spiritual formation through worship, study of God’s Word and living out the teaching of Jesus Christ
- To encourage the growth and development of youth and young adults to live out the plan an purpose of their lives.
- To Exercise our stewardship through the giving of our tithes and offering, gifts and graces.