by Bill Batson
Two years before Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president, St. Philip’s A.M.E. Zion Church was founded in 1859 by abolitionist John W Towt. Today, the term abolitionist is considered a badge of honor. In the 1850’s, as slave catchers roamed the north empowered by the loathsome Fugitive Slave Act, the title brought legal jeopardy and mortal danger. It was under the gathering and ominous clouds of a civil war over race based slavery that Towt arrived in Nyack determined to contribute to the welfare of the black community.