The Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 2015 Broadway in Galveston, is the parent church in Texas of that denomination, which in turn separated from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1848 the split between North and South of several communions, a split exacerbated by the increasing moral debate over slavery, caused the White congregation of Galveston's Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to decide to separate its Black and White members. On March 18, 1848, the property on which the present Reedy Chapel stands was purchased by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Soon the church and parsonage were erected and "given to the Slaves as the Negro Methodist Episcopal Church South." After the Civil War the church was reorganized as a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. M. M. Clark presided over the process. On March 18, 1867, the Methodist Episcopal trustees officially recognized the change. Upon Clark's retirement in 1870, Rev. Houston Reedy became the pastor. In recognition of his service the congregation renamed the church Reedy Chapel. In 1867 Reedy Chapel was honored when the AME convention chose it to host the first annual conference held in Texas. Rev. T. W. Stringer presided as the representative for Bishop Campbell in 1867. The second Texas AME conference, on October 22, 1868, presided over by Bishop James A. Shorter, was the "first body of Men of Color, Methodists, that ever assembled in the State of Texas to transact their own business, presided over by a Black man." In 1870 the Reedy Chapel AME Church was involved in a lawsuit when the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, took possession of the chapel. Unable to worship at Reedy Chapel, the congregation rented an old soap factory for fifteen dollars a month. Finally after a four-year battle the courts ruled in favor of the AME Church, and Reedy Chapel was restored to them. In 1885 the structure was destroyed by fire. The replacement church, built the next year under the direction of Rev. J. E. Edwards, still stood in 1991. In the early 1900s the church added to its sanctuary an eighteen-foot-tall, Gothic-styled pipe organ, built of ash with carved walnut trim in 1872 by E. and G. G. Hook and Hastings of New York. The organ was donated to Reedy Chapel by the Trinity Episcopal Church of Galveston. During the last 100 years Reedy Chapel has been buffeted by the storms and hurricanes common to Texas coastal areas, causing surface and structural damage. Twice-in 1947 under the leadership of Rev. R. C. Walker and in 1977 during Rev. M. E. Rice's tenure-the church had to be remodeled. Reedy Chapel has had thirty-seven pastors during its history. In 1991 it was under the leadership of Rev. Robert Louis Jeffries.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Carolyn Henley, "Reedy Chapel, the Oldest Negro A.M.E. Church in Texas," Junior Historian, January 1966.
Churches and Synagogues
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 03, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 19, 2021
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: