The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than half the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month. We welcome and solicit all contributions and suggestions from our visitors.

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   Photographic Inventory

Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church
Eatontown, Burlington County

It is not clear whether we are looking at an 1845 church or a much later rebuilding of that original church. Until proven otherwise, we’ll assume the present building follows closely the plan of the 1845 church. It is a basic meetinghouse with a projecting tower. The original church lacked the basement, which would have been added anytime after the 1860s to accommodate a Sunday School and other meetings. The round arch windows now have stained glass, but originally would have been clear. The brackets and slight flare to the base of the pyramidal spire can also be attributed to
the later rebuilding as they are uncharacteristic of the 1840s. Eatontown apparently had a substantial black population in the mid-nineteenth century, although firm data on black numbers is difficult to find. Ellis and other nineteenth-century historians often take scant notice of black congregations. In the late eighteenth century few blacks, slave or free, were
Christians, but by the time this congregation was organized there were more than 125,000 black Methodists and Baptists in the country. Nathan Hatch’s superb book, The Democritization of American Christianity, points out that in the decades leading up to the Civil War “increasingly suppressed in white congregations, black preachers seized every opportunity to organize distinct African- American communities.” This congregation certainly represents
one such example, apparently the first in the county, but almost 30 years after the initial AME churches in the state were founded in Burlington county. And that’s rather curious.




Copyright (c) 2005 Frank L. Greenagel