Organized in 1828, Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest Black church in Upstate New York. Indeed, Israel has ministered to needs of the residents of New York’s Capital Region for nearly two hundred years. Our Church opens its doors to promote Christian beliefs through moving worship services and intentional community service, as well as educational projects and social action programs.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is church-1.jpg

The Rt. Rev. Richard Allen, founder and first elected and consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, embraced (1) Methodism with its precise ways of operating; and (2) John Wesley’s dual religious doctrines of equality and evangelism, while Allen was still a slave in Dover, DE. After buying his freedom, Allen faced the segregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, causing him and other free African Americans to leave to begin the Free African Society in 1787, which would be incorporated as the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816.

In 1828, the Rev. William Cornish was assigned to to organize African Americans under the banner of African Methodism, through our then-motto: “God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, Man our Brother.” (In 2008, the A.M.E. motto became more inclusive, “God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family.”)


The history of Israel A.M.E. Church parallels that of the Connectional (International) A.M.E. Church, in as much as people of African descent were attending the Methodist Episcopal Church on State Street in Albany when they were asked to pay “pew taxes.” Those persons of color left the Methodist Church and formed the Free African Society. In April 1829, the act of incorporation for Israel A.M.E. Church was approved recorded.

Israel’s present worship facility was designed and built between 1845 and 1854 by the Rev. Thomas Jackson, who served as pastor for 11 years. In its nearly 200-year history, Revs. Cornish and Jackson are two of the more than 70 pastors who have served this historic Church. Likewise, the Rev. Kevin T. Taylor has served as pastor/servant leader since July 2021.

Israel served as a “station” on the Underground Railroad throughout the Civil War, assisting enslaved people in their struggle for freedom – and physically freed men and women in their struggle for spiritual freedom, too. Famed “Conductor” Harriet Tubman was known to sleep in the Church and renowned abolitionist Fredrick Douglass spoke from Israel’s pulpit.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is woman-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is church-2.jpg


Israel’s new church logo and tagline, “Making History and Disciples” is a purposeful nod to its historic past and promise of continuing to move parishioners from membership to discipleship of Jesus Christ.

This commitment is seen through our worship services, ministries, and future plans, all of which are rooted in the need ongoing need for freedoms of expression, religion, treatment with dignity, and the right to own and operate a religious establishment.

Not only was the Albany Chapter of the NAACP founded at Israel in 1935, but today thousands of food insecure persons are fed annually through our Food Ministry; countless community organizations blessed through our outreach efforts; hundreds of students impacted by our youth ministries and summer literacy initiatives; and countless measures are championed through our voter outreach and social action advocacy efforts.