Bishop Disney was born free either on July 13, 1835, or June 24, 1830, in the village of North East, Maryland to Henry and Rebecca Disney.
In 1857, Disney would be licensed to preach by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, or A.M.E. Church, which was formed in 1816. He would later be ordained as a deacon and elder. By the mid-1850s, the AMEC had seven conferences in the United States, and preachers had begun to work in Upper Canada in 1834, with a conference formed there in 1840.
The Rev. Richard Randolph Disney would come to Upper Canada in 1857 to minister to those who found refuge from slavery there prior to the Civil War. There he was enlisted by Bishop Willis Nazrey of the newly formed British Methodist Episcopal Church, which came about once the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in the United States in 1850.
Disney served several pastorates in Canada and became well-known and regarded as the denomination’s book steward and editor of its publication, Missionary Messenger. When Bishop Nazrey died in 1875, the Rev. Disney had become so well regarded that he was chosen as Nazrey’s successor thus making him the second bishop of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, or BMEC. Bishop Disney’s area included Ontario, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, the West Indies and British Guyana.
Disney Chapel, at 10 East Street in Yarmouth, was built by Robert P. Kelley, a local architect who had also designed St. John’s Presbyterian Church on Kirk Street. It was consecrated and opened for public worship on Sunday, 4 November 1877, in services conducted by Right Rev. Bishop Richard Disney and Rev. Walter Grayson, pastor of the church.
As the years passed, it became ever more difficult to maintain the church building. In the late 1930s Disney Chapel was forced to close its doors. It opened again, closed again, opened again, and at some point the congregation became affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Today the Chapel is called the Sharon Gospel Assembly.
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