A group of African Americans (12 women and 4 men) who refused to accept segregated seating in the First Baptist Church of New York City formed The Abyssinian Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. The church name was inspired by the ancient name of Ethiopia, Abyssinia.
Reverend Thomas Paul, an African American minister from Boston, aided the new congregation in becoming organized as the first African-American Baptist church in New York state and in purchasing its first church home. The Rev. John VanVessler became Abyssinian’s first pastor.