First African Presbyterian Church
First African Presbyterian Church was established in 1807 by the former slave, Reverend John Gloucester. First African Presbyterian Church was the first African American Presbyterian Congregation in America. Founded as First Colored Presbyterian, the congregation has been known as First African Presbyterian Church since 1966 and has worshipped at this building on Girard Avenue since 1957.
Backstory and Context
First African Presbyterian Church was established in 1807 by the former slave, Reverend John Gloucester. Gloucester was likely born into slavery in Tennessee in the year 1776. After receiving his freedom around the turn of the 19th century by his owner, Presbyterian minister Gideon Blackburn, Gloucester was commissioned by a Presbyterian Assembly in Lexington to preach the Christian faith to African African Americans. Gloucester later relocated to Philadelphia and began a career as a preacher, minister, and evangelist. Over the next few years, Gloucester's ministry grew leading to the foundation of First African Presbyterian Church. After preaching to local residents in 1807 and growing what would become his congregation, Gloucester preached sermons to over 120 people by 1811. Gloucester continued to work as a minister at First African Presbyterian Church until his death in 1822
The congregation first met at a building on the corner of 7th and Bainbridge Street. From 1879 to 1891, First African Presbyterian Church worshiped at 7th and Shippen. After selling that building and meeting at several temporary quarters, the church acquired a new sanctuary at 17th and Fitzwater Street. In 1943, the congregation acquired the former Tabor Presbyterian Church building at 18th and Christian Street. FAPC would eventually settle in its current location on Girard Avenue in 1957.
Caust-Ellenbogen, Celia. The Home of African American Presbyterianism. Historical Society of Pennsylvania. March 31, 2014. Accessed October 30, 2018. https://hsp.org/blogs/archival-adventures-in-small-repositories/the-home-of-african-american-presbyterianism.
Nielsen, Euell A.. First African Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1807- ). Black Past.Org. . . https://blackpast.org/aah/first-african-presbyterian-church-philadelphia-pennsylvania-1807.
First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.) records. First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.) records. . Accessed October 30, 2018. http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/pacscl/detail.html?id=PACSCL_HSP_JGS01.