Who We Are… The Beginning
It was under the influence of great stewards of African Methodism that the historic Asbury Chapel was organized on the northwest corner of Fourth and Liberty Streets. When 4th Street became a commercial district, it became necessary for Asbury Chapel members to seek a new location of worship. It was then that the Litegrantz Lodge allowed the congregation to use the building on Ninth Street between Walnut (now known as Muhammad Ali Blvd) and Cedar Street. During this same period, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, met in Louisville, KY to organize as a separate Methodist body after a heated debate during the 1844 general conference over the propriety of a direct episcopal connection to slaveholding. The northern majority demanded that the bishop, James O. Andrew (who became a slave owner through marriage to a woman that owned slaves), cease exercising the functions of his office until this impediment was removed, and that led to an impasse with the southern conferences. The final result was a Plan of Separation which provided for two Methodist Episcopal Churches, North and South. It is unknown if this had a direct affect on the African American members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but in 1845 the African American members of Asbury Chapel united with the Missouri Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Previous to this point, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the only Louisville church in the connection.
The church was named in recognition of Bishop Francis Asbury, one of the first of two American Methodist Bishops and the bishop who ordained the first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Richard Allen.
This historic landmark in Kentucky was organized twenty years before President Abraham Lincoln signed the famous Emancipation Proclamation. Asbury Chapel was also the first African American congregation in Kentucky to own a pipe organ; Professor Harper was the organist.
Two other Louisville congregations were once a part of the Asbury Chapel congregation; St. James A.M.E. Church (otherwise known as Greater St. James A.M.E. Church) and Spillman Memorial Church.
In 1939, the Louisville Housing Authority purchased our property and again we were forced to relocate. Under the pastorate of the late Reverend W. E. Spillman, we purchased the present location.
Our Proud Legacy
We also note with pride, five A.M.E. Bishops that have pastured Asbury Chapel: Bishop John Mifflin Brown (1857) (elevated to the bishopric in 1868), Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner (elevated to the bishopric in 1888), Bishop Evans Tyree (elevated to the bishopric in 1900), Bishop Frank Madison Reed, Sr. (elevated to the bishopric in 1940), who pastored Asbury Chapel fulfilling the unexpired term of the Reverend William Young and Bishop Richard Allen Chapelle, Sr., 1978-79 (elevated to the bishopric in 1988).