Richard Allen was born into slavery on February 14, 1760. He joined the Methodist Church at 17 and began evangelizing; however, his preaching attracted the criticism of local slave owners. Once he converted to Methodism, Allen preached at a secret gathering of slaves in Delaware until he bought his freedom in 1780. In 1794, Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, converting a blacksmith shop into the open doors of Bethel AME Church on July 29, 1794. In recognition of his leadership and preaching, Allen was ordained as the first Black Methodist minister by Bishop Francis Asbury in 1799.