In 1848, refugees who had escaped from American slavery built the Nazrey African Methodist Episcopal Church by hand to serve Amherstburg’s growing Black community.
It is named for Bishop Nazery, who led many congregations, including this one, from the American-based AME Church Conference into the new Canadian-based British Methodist Episcopal Church. The denomination flourished until the late 19th century when many dwindling congregations consolidated and reunited with the AME Church.
This evocative stone chapel speaks to the faith of the Underground Railroad refugees and to their commitment to build lives as free Canadians. The Nazrey A.M.E. Church is now a treasured National Historic site.
Nazrey Quick Facts:
- The Nazrey African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by Noah C. W. Cannon and named after Bishop Willis Nazery
- Nazrey was a safe haven and final landing point on the Underground Railroad; it served as a school, home, place of worship. New arrivals would receive clothes, food and safety.
- The Church was renovated in 1888, where $1,100 was raised to install a choir loft, new windows, new pulpit and to fix the roof.
- The Church was renovated again in 1913 to replace half of the roof
- The Church closed its doors in 1988 where it fell into disrepair; after sitting for 10 years it was facing demolition
- Local engineer, Norbert Becker, saw an article about the possible demolition of Nazrey and offered his help!
- 1999 Nazrey AME church was dedicated as a National Historic Site, making it the first site dedicated to Black History in Canada
- In February 1999 renovations started and the church was re-opened on September 23rd 2000.
- Restored features include original wooden chairs, pulpit and pews.
- There are no congregation worshiping here today. The church is utilized for our special events, concerts, weddings, plays, meetings and other private or public events.