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Grant Chapel AME Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1883- )

GrantChapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was the first black church in NewMexico and was organized during the state’s territorial period.   Although New Mexico Territory had a few slavesbefore the Civil War, African Americans began arriving in the region insignificant numbers after the conflict.   By the 1870s several Buffalo Soldier units werestationed in the Territory.  By the 1880sthey were joined by coal miners, ranch hands, and settlers who had establisheda foothold around Albuquerque.

In1882 William Slaughter, Allen Carter, and Edward Clark organized the New MexicoColored Religious Society which the following year became the Colored MethodistMission.  The Mission was located in asmall wood - frame structure at the rear of the lot at 201 1stStreet, SW.  Later that year (1883) theNew Mexico Township donated land to the Mission and church congregants movedtheir small structure to the two donated lots in W est Albuquerque at thecorner of Coal Avenue and Third Street. The Mission was renamed the Coal AvenueMethodist Church.  The ReverendSpotworth Rice served as the first minister.  In 1892 a brick church was built under theleadership of Reverend Matthew Jones.

InJuly 1905 the name of the church was changed to Grant Chapel African MethodistEpiscopal Church in honor of Bishop Alexander Grant, a former Florida slave whoescaped and joined the Union Army and then returned to Florida after the CivilWar to preach and teach.   After serving at churches in Texas,Grant was named an AME Bishop in 1888 and served in that capacity until 1911.

Earlymember Rena Paris-Bendaw attended the church during its years on Coal Avenue.   She recalled the church as being like an extended family; her mother, one of the ushers, encouraged her to becomean usher herself and to “greet worshipers with a smile to set the tone.”

Withthe years the church grew in membership and community outreach.  In 1952 the church moved to 409 Santa Fe SE.   During the civilrights era, the Albuquerque branch of the NAACP

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