Proclamation by Mayor and Council of Pennington Borough
Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Bethel AME Church

Whereas, Bethel AME Church, founded in 1816, originally built in 1847 and rebuilt in 1876 is the third oldest church in Pennington and is the oldest church of African descent. For 31 years services were held in the homes of congregation members with the Rev. Elijah Hammitt serving as the first pastor; and,

Whereas, the church grounds were purchased by Jonathan Bunn with Rev. Hammett as pastor until the church was nearly debt free. He was succeeded in 1863 by the Rev. Archibald Campbell who became an AME Church bishop; and,

Whereas, in 1865 the church was used as a Day Care for children of color under the direction of Civil War veteran William Boyer with the church being enlarged in 1867 and in 1950 the church edifice was built within the old church; and,

Whereas, over the years nearly 30 pastors have served while contributing to the spiritual, social, and economic development of the Pennington community. Among them Oxford University graduate the Rev. I.W.A. Roundtree who served twice, the longest serving pastor of 17 years the Rev. Dr. Tom Hills (1992-2009) followed by the first female pastor the Rev. Bertha Williams; and,

Whereas, the Rev. Gregory Smith arrived to lead a resurgence of young people to spark the dwindled membership establishing youth Sunday, a Junior Church School, a youth choir, and a teen praise youth dance ministry. Rev. Smith established a connection with Pennington’s ecumenical and civic community as co-chair with Beverly Mills of Pennington 125th Anniversary Celebration Ecumenical Service and first ever tour of all Pennington’s churches; and,

Whereas, Bethel AME Church and the Pennington community welcome the Rev. Dr. Angela Battle as pastor to lead the congregation in an ecumenical celebration of the church’s historic milestone 200th Anniversary celebration.

Now, Therefore, Be It Proclaimed that the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Pennington officially welcome the Rev. Dr. Angela Battle and recognize and honor the accomplishments and connection of Bethel AME Church and of its congregation to Pennington on the occasion of this 200th Anniversary Celebration.

By Order of the The Mayor
Anthony J. Persichilli

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