The genesis of the African Methodist Episcopal Church can be traced to Delaware in 1777, when a young slave named Richard Allen experienced a spiritual awakening at a meeting conducted by an itinerant Methodist preacher. After becoming free, Allen engaged in a long struggle to secure greater freedom of worship for his people. As a result of his efforts, the AME Church was established in 1816 as an independent denomination. On April 4, 1873, a group of African-American residents of Dover met to formally organize as a congregation. Initially known as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first sanctuary was located on Kirkwood Street. In later years the name of the church was changed to Mt. Zion. Under the pastorate of George Donald Ming, property on North Queen Street was purchased in 1958, and construction of the present church was begun. On September 27, 1959, the new building was dedicated by Bishop George Wilbur Baber. Mount Zion continues to serve the spiritual needs of the community.