The Big August Quarterly of the African Union Methodist Protestant Church takes place annually in Wilmington, Delaware. It honors the establishment of the A.U.M.P. Church in 1813 as the ‘‘Mother Church’’ for African Americans. The first independent black congregation in Wilmington was started by an influential black religious leader named Peter Spencer, who, along with 41 like-minded African Americans, left the town’s Asbury Methodist Church in 1805 because its white members refused to let them participate fully in the services. In the years before the Civil War the Big August Quarterly drew slaves from all around, who obtained special passes permitting them to attend the weekend of gospel music, impassioned preaching, and family get-togethers.
Its founders modeled the Big August Quarterly on the quarterly meetings held by Quakers. Many thousands of people from Delaware and its neighboring states came to these stirring religious festivals. Although it no longer draws the crowds it used to, the Big August Quarterly has undergone a resurgence in recent years. It features soul food, musical entertainment, and an opportunity for people to reminisce about the Big August Quarterlies of the past.
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 350 RelHolCal-2004, p. 100