By Samantha Case
August 31, 2016
The African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) is the oldest organization established by African Americans in the United States. The A.M.E. church has existed for 229 years in the U.S., and The Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, WY, established in 1878, has been holding services for 138 years.
Lucy Phillips and a small group of other African Americans founded the Allen Chapel A.M.E. church. Phillips, who arrived in Cheyenne in 1867, began attending the First Methodist Church but soon felt an urgent need to form a local black church.1 Eight years after Phillips arrived in Cheyenne, in 1875, she and others also attending the First Methodist Church decided to form their own congregation.
In 1878, the first black church in Wyoming was organized and built with the help of Reverend Whitlock and several other members.1 This new church created a gathering place for the black community, which beforehand had not been available, at least within a designated building. However, it wasn’t long until the rapid growth of the church forced it to relocate, and Phillips gave the property located on the corner of 18th and Thomas for the construction of a larger church that would better meet the needs of the growing congregation. It certainly met the needs of the congregation better than the first location; the church remained in this location for almost ten years from 1885 to 1981. In 1981 the church found a new location where it currently resides: a small, brick church at 917 West 21st St with two large, white crosses painted on the outside.
Phillips served as one of the most influential and dedicated individuals to the Allen Chapel A.M.E church during her life. Until her death at age 106, Phillips served as a member and missionary of the church. In a newspaper titled The Wyoming Press in Evanston, WY from 1910, the death of Phillips was mentioned in a brief section that reads, “Mrs. Lucy Phillips, or ‘Grandma Phillips,’ as she was better known, died Thursday at the age of 106 years. She was the oldest resident of Wyoming. She was born in slavery in Woodford County, Kentucky, April 22nd, 1804.” Today, Phillips is remembered as “The Mother of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church,” the church that remains one of the longest standing historical markers of the black experience in Wyoming.
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