Temple University, B.A., History, 2007; Villanova University, M.A., U.S. History, 2009.
“Building Bethel: The Creation of the AME Church In Philadelphia and Baltimore, 1790-1860”
My dissertation focuses on the development of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) from 1790-1860. I seek to complicate the way we understand the black church and the black independent church movement by retelling a familiar history from a new perspective. My dissertation focuses on two congregations, one located in Philadelphia and one located in Baltimore, and their journeys to become “Bethels” within the larger AME church. While Philadelphia functioned as a black capital of sorts and a beacon of freedom, Baltimore was the home of a fasting growing black community made up of both free and enslaved blacks. This selection allows me to bridge the divide between the ways that scholars have studied the religion of free blacks compared to the study of enslaved blacks. Comparing these two congregations, I focus on how issues of geography, legal status, class and gender shaped the development of each congregation. Although both of these churches would eventually become part of the larger AME, the paths that they took to get there differed.