Big Bethel AME Church

220 Auburn Avenue
Atlanta, GA

Built 1880s/1920s 

Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest African American church in Atlanta. A congregation of enslaved African Americans formed the church in 1847 after they were prohibited from worshipping with white parishioners at Union Church. After the Civil War, the congregation joined the African Methodist Episcopal denomination and moved to Auburn Avenue. The church has occupied its current site at 220 Auburn Ave. since the late 1880s. In 1923, a fire famously ravaged the property one day after its insurance had lapsed. The church was later rebuilt thanks to the vigorous fundraising efforts of its members. Over the years, Big Bethel shared its space with Gate City Colored School, the first public school for African Americans, Morris Brown College, and several benevolent societies. During the Civil Rights Era, the church allowed its space to be used for meetings and rallies