Asbury United Methodist Church

Asbury United Methodist Church (HM1C02)

Location: Washington, DC 20005
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 54.152', W 77° 1.636'

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Civil War to Civil Rights

— Downtown Heritage Trail —

Stories of slavery and freedom, of struggle and achievement are woven through the history of this African American congregation. Founded in 1836, by the time of the Civil War Asbury United Methodist Church was the preeminent Black church in the city, its membership of 600 making it the largest of 11 African American congregations in Washington. Today, Asbury counts among its members descendants of District slaves who tried a dramatic escape to freedom in 1848 aboard the ship Pearl.

Churches were centers of life for African Americans, who had represented more than one-quarter of the population of the nation's capital since 1800. By 1830, a majority had gained their freedom. Despite "Black Codes" that severely restricted their movements and activities, free African Americans practiced a variety of trades, ran their own businesses and set up schools. By 1860, free Blacks owned property in every quadrant of the city.

Asbury United Methodist is the oldest Black congregation in the District of Columbia on its original site. The current sanctuary dates from 1915. Since its founding, Asbury members have played leading roles in the life of the city, and its spiritual, educational, and humanitarian activities have symbolized the efforts of Black congregations throughout Washington, D.C., to attain equality for the city's many African American communities.

" yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen... Teach them to your children and to their children and to their children after them." (Deuteronomy 4:9)

[Photo captions:]

Asbury United Methodist Church as it looked when members Mary Jane and Emily Catherine Edmonson tried to flee slavery on the ship Pearl in 1848.

Notable African American photographer Addison Scurlock captured the Asbury congregation on its front steps in 1931.
HM NumberHM1C02
Series This marker is part of the Civil War to Civil Rights series
Marker NumberW.3
Placed ByTourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 1:43pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 324207 N 4307914
Decimal Degrees38.90253333, -77.02726667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 54.152', W 77° 1.636'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 54' 9.12" N, 77° 1' 38.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1101 K St NW, Washington DC 20005, US
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