Central United Methodist Church was founded in 1866 as Clark Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church. The church was named for Bishop Davis W. Clark, who became bishop in 1864 and was the first President of the Freedmen’s Aid Society. The first location of the church was on Frasier Street in the Summerhill Section of Atlanta. Because the building was painted a deep red, people in the community commonly called Clark Chapel the “Little Red Church.”
In 1876 Clark Chapel moved to a new facility on Hunter and Central Avenue. The Clark Chapel congregation witnessed the inauguration of Clark University and Gammon Theological Seminary, and feels great honor in having played a part in the organization of these notable institutions. Some of the classes for the schools assembled in the basement of the old Lloyd Street Church.
Some of the most progressive and aggressive movements for the racial equality were engendered by and through Central. The church helped mold the civic and religious character of Atlanta as the city evolved into the southeast’s leader educationally and industrially, as well as the hub for civil rights activism.
Central has a storied history and continues its legacy of religious, civic, moral, and educational leadership.