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Great Falls in Cascade County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

 
 
Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 19, 2019
1. Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Marker
Inscription.  At the center of the African American community in Great Falls for more than a century, the Union Bethel AME Church began holding regular services in the first fire station in 1890. The following year African American residents gathered with white supporters to lay the cornerstone of their new building. Built on swampy ground on donated land, the building was hard to maintain, and by 1915 the wooden church had fallen into disrepair. Substantial contributions from its forty-member congregation as well as donations from sympathetic whites—gathered in a door-to-door campaign conducted by the church’s women—allowed the congregation to rebuild. Completed in 1917, the new Gothic style edifice incorporated the cornerstone of the original structure. Like many African American churches, the wood-frame, brick-veneer building served as both a religious and cultural center. Black secular organizations, like the Dunbar Art and Study Club, were rooted in the church, while pastors promoted the church as a source of wholesome entertainment for Great Falls’ black youth—akin to the YMCA for whites. As importantly, the church offered institutional
Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 19, 2019
2. Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Marker
support for its members, many of whom took leading roles in the fight against segregation in Great Falls. With opening access to other churches and institutions, membership in Union Bethel declined, and the church lost its resident minister in the 1970s. By 2000, however, a full-time minister once again served the church, whose interracial congregation draws members from both long-time Great Falls residents and personnel from nearby Malmstrom Air Force Base.
 
Erected by The Montana National Register Sign Program.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Montana National Register Sign Program marker series.
 
Location. 47° 29.976′ N, 111° 17.467′ W. Marker is in Great Falls, Montana, in Cascade County. Marker is on 5th Avenue South near 9th Street South, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 916 5th Avenue South, Great Falls MT 59405, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Masonic Temple (approx. 0.4 miles away); Lemon Boarding House (approx. half a mile away); Dubbs Block (approx. half a mile away); Great Falls Central Business Historic District (approx. half a mile away); F.W. Woolworth Building (approx. half a mile away); Bus Depot and Garage
Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 19, 2019
3. Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
(approx. 0.6 miles away); S.H. Kress and Company (approx. 0.6 miles away); First United Methodist Church Parsonage (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Great Falls.
 
Also see . . .  Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church -- National Park Service. ...Paris Gibson, for the Great Falls Water Power and Townsite Company, sold the lot on which the current AME church stands to Ed Simms, William Morgan and A.W. Raym, trustees of the Great Falls AME. The original one-story wood frame building was built in 1891 with a parsonage adjoining the south side of the building. The Rev. Joel Childress led the drive to raise money for the original church. (Submitted on December 24, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
Categories. Churches & ReligionNotable Buildings
 

More. Search the internet for Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 24, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 24, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 24, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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