Ebenezer U.M. Church

Location

409 North Poplar Street
Madison, Indiana

Category

M.E. - Methodist Episcopal

Description

In the early days of the Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in Madison, whites and blacks worshipped together. Sometime after 1831, the "colored people" were given seats in the gallery at the south end of the church. In 1840, Wesley Chapel established the Walnut Street Mission for its 78 black members, thus creating the forerunner of the first all-black M.E. congregation in Indiana. Both churches, by now members of the Indiana Conference, shared the same minister for each of the next few years.

In 1852, Walnut Street became a member of the Southeast Indiana Conference, but there were no named appointments for 1852-1866. At last, in 1867, Rev. Peter Boothe's name was paired with the black church, now to be known as Ebenezer.

In that year and 1868 the Ebenezer congregation purchased an old brick carpenter's shop on the site of the present church and, with the help of the Freedmen's Bureau, fitted it up as a church and school.

Then black churches across the region experienced a dramatic change. The Methodist Episcopal Church created what was called the Lexington Conference for its African-American congregations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. Organized at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in March of 1869, it was formed by dividing the Kentucky Conference along racial lines. Its first appointee in the state of Indiana was Rev. Andrew Bryant, and his church was Ebenezer in Madison.

Both Peter Boothe and Bryant are credited as the founders of Ebenezer UMC. Boothe was the first to preach there and was instrumental in raising the money for its first building, the small brick house on Poplar Street, and Bryant, who came next, furthered the work.

Almost a decade later, in 1878, the congregation tore down the carpenter's shop and erected a handsome new brick church, in the Greek Revival style, at the same location. When the Lexington Conference was abolished, ninety years later, in 1968, Ebenezer was integrated into the South Indiana Conference. After over a century and a half of faithful service, the church finally closed its doors in 2006, and the building is now used for professional offices.

GPS: 38 44 13.39, -085 22 54.69

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