The Historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States. The congregation was established in 1871, which makes this the oldest African-American church in the Cedar Rapids area. We have had 23 pastors since our inception in 1928, which follows the African Methodist Episcopal Church's practice of having itinerant pastors. The congregation grew slowly over this time period. Many African Americans migrated to Cedar Rapids after the coal industry collapse in Southern Iowa. The Reverend Benjamin Horace Lucas, who began pastoring here in 1928, grew the congregation to a historical high.
In 1931, Bethel was remodeled to be a Colonial Revival structure, which replaced the wooden frame structure from 1876. Since its completion, it has served the social and religious needs of the community. It is one of the few surviving links to Cedar Rapids' early African American community. In 2013, Bethel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, Bethel is growing and thriving every day. Everyone is welcome here, and we hope you come to visit us sometime soon!
Rev. Leoma Leigh-Williams has over 30 years of dedicated service in the ministry. She is passionate about Christ and spreading good cheer. Rev. Leigh-Williams has multiple talents, including her love for the music ministry.