Wesley United Methodist Church was founded on March 4, 1865 by newly freed slaves ("Freedmen") following the passage of President Lincoln's life-changing "Emancipation Proclamation" in 1863. Construction of a new church began in the Spring of 1882, and our current sanctuary was built in 1929. In 1985 the National Register of Historic Places recognized Wesley as a National Historic Site! Similar accolades have been awarded by the Texas Historical Commission and the City of Austin among others.
We offer traditional worship with contemporary elements, so while our service is reverential the energy in the room is totally unleashed. Aretha would feel at home here, and so will you. The jumpin' band and chor routinely elicit spontaneous shouts of praise which are most certainly welcome! Some folks wear their "Sunday Best" and others come in jeans...we believe the important thing is that you just show up.
We are a "Welcoming Congregation" that embraces all sincere seekers regardless of factors that may hinder them elsewhere. There is no judgmental finger-pointing here. We warmly invite you and yours to join us every Sunday at 10am as we make a joyful noise to The Lord with Scripture, Song, and Love.
The congregation of Wesley United Methodist Church (formerly Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church) was established at the end of the Civil War for freed people in the Austin area. On March 4, 1865 the first official church meeting was held in the basement of the old Tenth Street M.E. Church, South, in Austin, Texas. In the spring of 1882, the cornerstone of a new church was laid at the corner of Ninth and Neches Streets.
From Wesley Church Historian,
ARLENE L. YOUNGBLOOD
Wesley continues to hold an important place in the civic life of the Austin Community, being instrumental in the establishment of the Austin Area Urban League in 1977 and in numerous ventures with the Austin Independent School District to assist African American students.
The property includes: the church building (three levels), the Church Office complex, and the parsonage which now is rented out to faith based non-profit organizations. Most recently, the church secured another property on San Bernard which houses the African American Cultural Heritage District office, a non-profit organization promoting the rich history and culture of East Austin.
The Wesley Chapel Church was referred to during that time as “Wesley on the Hill”, which by 19th century standards, was an impressive edifice. In 1929, the church purchased a plot of ground facing Hackberry, Navasota, and San Bernard Streets for $17,500 which is the location of the current sanctuary. This church was built for $50,000 during the Great Depression.
Wesley has developed a number of ministries in response to the spiritual needs of its members. Wesley’s interest in community and education dates back to its beginnings when for several years, Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University) held most of its classes and conducted Vesper Service in the Church.
159 Years • 33 U.S. Presidents
42 Pastors • One Congregation
In 1985, evident to its rich history, the National Register of Historic Places recognized Wesley as a National Site. There are also historical markers from the Texas Historical Commission and the City of Austin which are located at the front of the church building. Wesley continues to be a beacon of hope in the community, and is committed to nurturing the spiritual growth of the congregation and the community in the 21st Century. <more>