Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy continues on in our communities. Bellefonte has a special role in the fight for civil rights. It was part of the Underground Railroad and a church that was central to that cause is a church that refuses to be forgotten.
It’s a cold Sunday at St Paul’s A.M.E. African Methodist Church in Bellfonte. This was once a key meeting place for blacks in this community. While numbers of parishoners have dwindled dangerously low, there is still a faithful few who know the history of this building and won’t let it die. They are led by their pastor, Reverand Dr. Donna King.
This A.M.E. Church, built before the Civil War, is an important part of African American history. It’s a documented site for the Underground Railroad in PA. Slaves escaped here and hid in the sanctuary then became parisoners once they were free. They formed a free black community in Bellfonte. They worked here and worshiped here.
Reverand Dr. Donna King is following in Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps as an activist, scholar and reverand.
Reverand King teaches young and old about the local families that hid slaves in the underground railroad. She’s writing a book about the abolitionist mindset, past and present. Those who risked everything to support blacks in their quest for freedom.
Locals call this the church on the hill. It is a becon, a light to the community and Reverand Donna King is determined to keep that light shining brightly.
She says she will continue to keep the doors open to keep this legacy alive.
This year the church celebrates 160 years. Rev. Dr. King will resume tours of the local ties to the Underground Railroad in the spring. Services at the Bellefonte A.M.E. Church are Sunday at 11:15. You can reach them at their Facebook page if you can help them with things like heating oil and repairs to the church.