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Bishop Nazery Historical Marker Dedication Set for Dec. 16

Bethel A.M.E.'s first pastor was honored earlier this year when Center Street was renamed 'Bishop Nazery Way.'

Center Street earlier this was changed to Bishop Nazery Way, in honor of Willis Nazery, Bethel A.M.E.'s first pastor. Now, on Dec. 16, Nazery also will get the marker to cement his place in Morristown and Morris County's history books.

The dedication of the Bishop Willis Nazery historical marker, organized by Bethel A.M.E. and the Morris County Heritage Commission is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the church, 59 Spring St.

Bethel's current pastor, Sidney Williams, first came to the town in June seeking a name change for Center Street to Bishop Nazery Way, after his church's first pastor.

Nazery had been born a slave in 1803 but during his life accomplished much, including his pastorship here in 1845, his ordainment as a Bishop in New York in 1852 and perhaps his biggest achievement, the founding of the Canadian-based British Methodist Episcopal Church to serve Underground Railroad refugees who settled in that area. That was in response to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required fugitive slaves be returned to their masters.

The ceremony also will "officially affirm Bethel as the first church established by African Americans in Morris County and its historical significance to Morris County," according to a press release.

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