Peter Spencer
image of Peter Spencer

Our organization’s founder, Peter Spencer, was born around 1779 in Kent County, Maryland. At a young age, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware, and became a member of Asbury M.E. Church located at Third and Walnut Streets in Wilmington. Due to his above-average intelligence and leadership qualities, he quickly rose to prominence within the church.

In 1805, forty-two black members of Asbury M.E. Church were repeatedly denied the sacraments of the Church and could not seek legal redress. Peter Spencer and the forty-two members withdrew from the church with these challenges. They organized their worship spaces in houses and groves until 1812 to maintain peace and harmony.

That year, they constructed a church at Ninth and French Streets, now known as Ezion M.E. Church. It is important to note that their intention was not to form a new denomination but to remain loyal and law-abiding members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. However, they reserved the right to reject any preachers the M.E. Conference had denied. Unfortunately, Rev. Spencer and his followers were told they had no choice but to obey, which they adamantly refused to do. As a result, they severed all ties with the M.E. Church.

Subsequently, they purchased a plot of land at Eighth and French Streets and built their church. At this location in September 1813, they established the first independent black church, with Rev. Peter Spencer and other prominent members acting as Incorporate Trustees. The names of the trustees were Rev. Peter Spencer, Scotland Hill, David Smith, Jacob March, Benjamin Webb, John Simmons, and John Kelly.

Rev. Peter Spencer went on to organize thirty-one churches and erected a schoolhouse for each church. His dedicated work continued until his passing on July 25, 1843, when he entered into eternal rest.