MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A historic former church that dates back to 18-68 in Stroudsburg, Monroe County is moving ahead with plans to become a museum
The Historical Association that oversees the building is ready to take the next step in their 17-year journey to reach their goal
Photojournalist Tom Gregory takes us to the Little Bethel A.M.E. Church
“Well, Little Bethel Church is a church that has been in this area since 1868. The purpose as I understand was to have a place of worship for minorities explains Wayne Bolt, President, Little Bethel Historical Association.
Bolt adds “The minority or African American soldiers had no churches to go to and they weren’t allowed to go to certain churches. So, this was built for them to come to”.
“It seems like they’re assuming their own direction and leadership but at the same time, it’s segregation too. The members of Little Bethel were inner related families” noted Jeffrey Wright, Board Member, Little Bethel Historical Association.
“I understand that some of the bodyguards for Lincoln were part of this church. We’re trying to restore it so it can be a museum and people can have a social event here” said Bolt.
“Before we took it over it was sitting there idle. Parts of the roof was falling in it was leaking in” Wright notes.
“Because it had fallen into disuse there was not pastor it had been empty for a period of time” adds Wes Niemoczynski, Board Member, Little Bethel Historical Association.
Wes Niemoczynski explains “A large number of water and sewer bills had accrued to the borough of Stroudsburg and it was in danger of being taken over on account of those unpaid bills and that was 2002. This is the main building that had been built back in 1868 and the parsonage had been attached afterward and the whole building was decrepit, so a decision had to made about saving the main church, so the parsonage was then torn down. Because there wasn’t enough funding to do it all at once, it’s been bits and pieces.
“It’s been cleaned up and we’ve had several functions. If there’s people out there that have things that are history to this church we’d love them to send it to us, get in touch with us” notes Bolt.
“To have it open for historical and cultural things relating to the things in the African-American community” notes Wright.
“We hope we can get more people involved. This is a good project! It’s part of history! It’s part of Monroe County! It’s part of Stroudsburg! It’s part of America!” stresses Wayne Bolt.
Since 2003 The Little Bethel Historical Association has spent about $50,000 in grants and donations restoring the building.
They are always looking for donations and volunteers
More information http://www.little-bethel.org/