Founding pastor of Little Rock’s Bethel AME Church finally has a new grave marker to replace the monument that was destroyed a century ago.
On the morning of November 9, 2013, members of Bethel AME Church, the Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star, and the Mount Holly Cemetery Association gathered to celebrate the 150th birthday of Bethel AME Church and to dedicate a headstone marking the grave of its founding pastor Reverend Nathan Warren.
Mount Holly’s surviving records show that the Reverend Nathan Warren was buried in the Chester Ashley family lot and that an obelisk marked his grave. On November 9, 2013, a new monument, donated by Dr. Sybil Jordan-Hampton of Little Rock, was unveiled in the Ashley plot over the spot believed to hold Rev. Warren’s grave. Dr. Jordan-Hampton is a member of Bethel AME Church and a member of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association, which maintains the cemetery.
She said, “My brother Les and his wife Esther, along with Alfred and I decided to donate the headstone to honor my mother, Lorraine Jordan, who joined Bethel in 1932, at age 9. It is neat to be able to honor Reverend Warren, Bethel AME on its 150th anniversary, and our mother with this gift.” She also said, “We want the community to know that the cemetery is not a closed place and we want to build broader support for Mount Holly.”
The Masons performed the traditional ceremony ensuring the marker’s installation according to Masonic tradition using the square, compass, level, plumb rule and trowel. The monument is crowned with the Masonic symbol and reads:
BORN INTO SLAVERY 1812
CAME TO AR WITH ROBERT CRITTENDEN IN 1819
OBTAINED FREEDOM IN FEBRUARY 1835, THEN WORKED
TO SECURE THE FREEDOM OF FAMILY MEMBERS
DIED JUNE 3, 1888 LITTLE ROCK, AR
LITTLE ROCK CONFECTIONER
FOUNDER BETHEL AME CHURCH LITTLE ROCK 1863
MEMBER PRINCE HALL MASONIC LODGE ARKANSAS
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF BETHEL AME CHURCH
We have previously posted a biographical article about Nathan Warren.