Ezion-Mount Carmel United Methodist Church
History of Ezion-Mt. Carmel
The Ezion-Mt. Carmel- Mount Carmel Church edifice represents the union of two separate and dynamic churches, formerly known as Ezion-Mt. Carmel Methodist Episcopal Church and Mount Carmel Methodist Episcopal Church.
Since most of Hoosier's preaching was along the Atlantic Coast, it is reasonable to assume that it was his influence which effected the historic event in 1789 small chapel at Third and Walnut Streets in Wilmington, Delaware. This was Asbury Methodist Church, named for Bishop Asbury. Bishop Asbury delivered the dedicatory address at Old Asbury in 1789. The nineteen black members participating in this ceremony were seated in the balcony. The social climate even during these pre-emancipation days challenged the dignity and the spiritual backbone of the blacks and to a lesser degree, the white women who were required to sit separately from the men. It was not until 1845 that the men and women were allowed to sit together. Despite the insults which motivated Peter Spencer and William Anderson to lead many blacks out of Asbury in 1805, some blacks remained and continued to join Old Asbury. By 1838 Asbury's membership had increased to 420 white and 110 colored.
It was a Methodist practice to hold classes for converts to the faith before they were admitted to full membership. The black converts, who were taught separately from the whites, were deeply offended when the membership in 1805 adopted a resolution, whereas, in consequences of meeting the classes of the black people on the lower seats of this church, a number of benches have been broken and the house so defiled by dirt, ect. As to render it unfit to meet in Resolve that no black classes shall hereafter meet on the lower floor of Asbury Church."
The respectability and equal recognition which would be expected among all of God's children became less evident as the number of black members increased. Prior to the resolution concerning worship in the gallery, a regulation was adopted requiring black people to wait for communion until after the whites had been served. Apparently, even the ordeals and struggles of slavery could not destroy the self respect, pride and dignity which our forefathers had brought here from Africa. Signs of discontent with a dehumanizing type of worship were evident as early as 1800. Some blacks began to meet separately and autonomously in their homes. On February 6, 1805, the following notice appeared in the Mirror of Times, a Wilmington newspaper:
The people of color, of this Borough being desirous of building a house
of worship, but not possessing funds sufficient, contemplate soliciting
donations to assist them in the undertaking. For this purpose subscription
papers will be shortly presented to the public whose generous aid they
respectfully solicit to enable them to accomplish this laudable purpose.
Spencer and Anderson later described this event in words which perfectly expressed their courage and careful defiance:
"In the year 1805, we the colored members of the Methodist church in Wilmington, thought that we might have more satisfaction of mind than we then had if we united together and build a house for ourselves, which we did in the same year. The Lord gave us the favor and the good will of all religious denominations, and they all did freely lend us help, and by their good graces we got a house to worship the Lord in."
The stone meeting
house was located on Ninth and French Streets. They selected the name
"Ezion-Mt. Carmel" from Ezion-Mt. Carmel Gaber, a town in
the land of Edom, where Solomon's vessels were built.Father Jacob Pindergrass
was licensed as a local pastor and placed as a sub-pastor over the flock.
of Ezion-Mt. Carmel grew as they undertook a ministry among the poor
blacks, establishing Sunday schools in regions of the city that were
described by black Methodist leaders as "notorious for gamblers,
drunkards, and low women."
Historic Ezion-Mt. Carmel remained on the site where it was built in 1805 until 1971, one year after the congregation unwillingly sold to make room for the urban renewal program.
Mount Carmel Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1920 in a house located on Forrest Street, Wilmington by a group who migrated from the Clarksville- Frankford, Delaware area. The church was organized under the leadership of the late Rev. G.B. Coleman, whose successor, Rev. J.E. McBride, moved the church to 14th and Claymont Streets. During the pastorate of Rev. J.T. Ayers, the Epworth M.E. Church was purchase for the sum of $18,600 and on September 20, 1942, the congregation marched from the old church to the new church. The burning of the mortgage was on September 26, 1958.
In 1965, the Old
Delaware Conference (Black jurisdiction) merged with the Peninsula Conference.
Eventually, the conference made the two churches the Ezion-Mt. Carmel
Charge. The appointment of the Reverend Felton E. May as pastor of these
churches occasioned cooperative projects which developed an affinity
that ultimately led to a merger. A Charge Conference was held at both
churches on Sunday, January 31, 1971, to review the resolution on merger.