As mentioned previously in The Crossroads Chronicle, the founding principle our country was based on was religious freedom that Europeans searched for away from the Church of England that mandated how churches were suppose to worship. As our fledgling country was learning what it meant to be a country, the practice of slavery was taking its hold and the only thing the enslaved people could hold into was their belief and faith in God. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was developed in 1787 from a congregation formed by a group of blacks who withdrew from Saint George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was mostly white, because of restrictions in seating; blacks had been confined to the gallery of the church. In 1816, Bishop Richard Allen established the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. The denomination then expanded westward and southward, particularly after the Civil War. From these humble beginnings, the AME recently estimated its membership in the United States to range from 2.5 million to more than 3 million.
The staff at The Chronicle reached out to Donald Jenkins at Saint Paul/Noah’s Ark AME Church to give some background information about this local place of worship, along with information about what its members are currently involved in.
According to Jenkins, the church was actually two churches that are now a blended church. Noah’s Ark was founded in 1866. The two prominent founders were Caesar Williams and Henry Whitaker.
Saint Paul was established in 1874. Some of its earliest members were Edmond Williams, Jerry Wiggs, and Andrew Brown to name a few.
Saint Paul and Noah’s Ark combined in 2003 due to dwindling membership at Noah’s Ark. The two churches were always served by the same pastors as it was a circuit under the African Methodist Episcopal hierarchy and are governed by a bishop.
Saint Paul/Noah’s Ark has had 55 pastors over the years of their history. Today, it has 26 active members.
Before the churches merged, Noah’s Ark met on the first and third Sundays while Saint Paul met on the second and fourth Sundays. The church now holds services on the second and fourth Sundays.
“Our mission statement is, ‘Empowered to Serve As We Serve With Power.’ Our current pastor is Rev. Minnie Pitts,” explained Jenkins. “I serve as steward pro tem. Our Sunday school teacher is Steward Barney Williams, our Young People’s Division leader is Sarah Rosario, and our mission president is Syvetta Young?”
When asked about the church’s holiday plans, Jenkins continued, “Due to our condensed activities because of COVID, this year we have not planned anything special for the holidays.” However, he added, “We will be supporting needy families in the community as we always do.”
The Crossroads Chronicle thanks Jenkins for sharing this information with readers and prays for Saint Paul/Noah’s Ark’s continued success.