The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than three-fourths of the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it more or less each month. We welcome and solicit all corrections, contributions and suggestions from our visitors.

Spencer Union American Episcopal Church

South Woodstown, Salem County
Bailey Street
founded 1818, built 1842

Like the Mt. Zion A.U.M.P church in Marshalltown, the Spencer U.A.E church is one of a small group of "Spencer" churches, so called because of their connection to Peter Spencer of Wilmington, Delaware. He and a number of other blacks broke away from the parent Methodist organization in 1813, apparently in the desire to establish a stronger sense of autonomy. The organization was initially known as the Union Church of Africans, then the African Union Church, the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church, and finally as the African Union Methodist Protestant Church. It was the first incorporated, fully autonomous African church in the county. This congregation is probably the descendent of a congregation in Baileytown (south Woodstown).
Jaquett says this church "is claimed to be the first Negro church in the territory," erected about 1818, but that date is doubtful; the shape of the windows are from a much later architectural idiom. Clearly, the church at some point was jacked up and a new basement built, almost certainly for Sunday school and other meetings. The tower at one time was about six feet taller and was topped by an open belfry with a tall pyramidal roof.