African American Churches: Colorado

African American Churches: Colorado

Henry H. Mitchell asserts in Black Church Beginnings: The Long-Hidden Realities of the First Years that “The survival of African influences, and the largely self-directed course of rich African American religious history, as it developed in the earliest decades of the churches explains the roots of the black American church.”   

During the times of slavery in America, African slaves established and relied heavily on their churches. For African slaves, religion was a means of deliverance from the misery of slavery. In African American history, “the church” has long been at the center of black communities. The black church established itself as the greatest source of African American religious and secular development. Black communities differed from region to region, the same as urban black communities differed from rural ones. These dissimilarities were reflected in their respective community churches.

Whether Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Muslim or Catholic, the black church has been relied upon to address specific issues that affect their congregations. Regardless of their denominational differences, black churches have always represented their religion, community, and home. They have functioned as the institutional center for mobilization and were well established social and political power bases for African Americans. Black churches have also been contributors to the process of racial equality, economic and educational development for its congregations.

Since the mid-1860's black churches in Colorado have created a legacy of religious thought and practice where prolific and complex histories have evolved.  Zion Baptist Church the oldest black church in Colorado was established in 1865.  In 1866, Zion Baptist Church at 21st and Arapahoe Streets also held classes for school children. In 1868, Shorter African Methodist Episcopal Church opened its doors as the second oldest black church in Denver.  Until 1873 Shorter A.M.E. Church operated a school for African American children at 19th and Stout Streets when desegregation of Denver Public schools ended.   

In the 1890 Census, according to Wallace Yvonne McNair in Crossing Over Jordan: A History of the Black Church in Colorado, Denver had a black population of 3,045.  In the early 1890's, the Five Points Neighborhood was the home of five black churches.  A listing of early historical black churches in Colorado, include the following:


  • Zion Baptist Church (1865)
  • Shorter A.M.E. Church (1868)
  • The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (1870)
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church (1880)
  • Wesley Methodist Church, founded as Beckwourth Chapel (1882)
  • Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (1886)
  • Epworth United Methodist Church (early 1890s)
  • Central Baptist Church (1891)
  • The Church of the Holy Redeemer (1892)
  • St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church (1900)
  • Scott Methodist Church (1904)
  • People’s United Presbyterian Church (1906)
  • Macdeonia Baptist Church (1917)
  • New Hope Baptist Church (1922)
  • Father Divine (George Baker) Peace Movement (1940s?)

Central City

  • St. James Methodist Church (1859)

Colorado Springs

  • Payne Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (1875)

 St. John’s Baptist Church (1897)


  • Turner Chapel (1920?)

La Junta

  • Mt. Zion Baptist Church (La Junta, Colorado


Centennial celebration, 100 years of Progress, Shorter Community A.M. Church.htm

Churches and Schools Collection, 1895-2004. – C MSS ARL139

Mt. Zion Baptist Church (La Junta, Colo.) Records, 1923-1991, by Mt. Zion Baptist Church (La Junta, Colo) – C MSS ARL120

People’s Presbyterian Church records, 1906-2000, by People’s Presbyterian Church (Denver, Colo.) – C MSS ARL38

Scott United Methodist Church Records, 1901-2005, by Scott United Methodist Church (Denver, Colo.), creator.  – C MSS ARL212​


Central Baptist Church, Denver, Colorado, 1891-1941: outline program and Souvenir history.

Macedonia Baptist Church: 75th anniversary 1917-1992 by Macedonia Baptist Church (Denver, CO)

Pictorial and historical church directory, 1979-1980 : Macedonia Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Adams Street, Denver, Colorado ; John B. Morris, pastor. by Macedonia Baptist Church (Denver, Colo.)

New Hope Baptist Church: we’ve come this far by faith

Shorter Community A.M.E. Church 125th anniversary, April 1993


They came to Colorado-- with the dust of slavery on their backs : information about Zion Baptist Church, its members, and societal affiliations ... 1863-1999 – Vols. 1-9 by Pigford, Clementine Washington.


Beautiful, beautiful, zion! : the majesty of God's power and grace, First Chronicles-Chapter 20, Verse 11. by Pigford, Clementine Washington.