Greater Bethel AME Church

Greater Bethel AME Church

The Greater Bethel AME Church is a historic church in Miami, Florida. The church was built in 1927.

On March 12, 1896, an acorn for the establishment of Bethel Church was planted, when a small group of concerned Black Christians living in the area that would soon become Miami, gathered at the home of Alex. Lightburn for the purpose of organizing an African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bethel A.M.E. was organized under the leadership of Bishop James Crawford Embry and Presiding Elder L.T. Long at that time. The services were held in Lightburn’s home for several months. As membership grew, the home became too small.

A tent, donated by Mrs. Cora B. Anderson, was set across the street from the first meeting site. The first church was a little frame structure with a dirt floor located on Tenth Street and Avenue H. The structure was known as “Little Bethel.”

In 1899, just three years after its organization, the little wooden church was placed on a horse drawn wagon and moved to Bethel’s present site at Eighth Street between Second and Third Avenues.

Very soon after the relocation, the new pastor, Rev. Fields, began planning for the construction of what would be called “Bigger Bethel.” The frame church and parsonage, located on the new site, were complete under the leadership of Rev. J.W.B. Jackson.

As Overtown grew and flourished, Bethel was moving towards the completion of the first phase of its present site. Under Rev. R.B. Sutton’s leadership, the foundation was laid for its present structure.

On February 12, 1958 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech at the church, "Launching Of The SCLC Crusade For Citizenship."

On April 17, 1992, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.