St. Paul AME Church History
On October 9th, 1872, in a small cottage on Park Street, the foundation for what was to become St Paul AME Church was to be laid by seventeen Christian soldiers. Annie Allen, Archie Brown, Amanda Carter, Jennie Carter, Nan Cothorn, Jefferson Mash, Mary Mash, Dudley Miller, G.W. Turner and Sarah Turner.
Organized under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Annual Conference, Rev.George Benson was appointed the first pastor. On September 29, 1879, the church was officially incorporated under the pastorate of Rev J.W. White, with the Rev. Henry McCraven, H.J. Lewis and Jefferson Mash as incorporators. The incorporation was renewed on July 19, 1929, signed by Mother Annie Allen, Rev McCraven and the Rev. George W. Williams.
In April 1882, a lot at 2nd and Center was purchased on behalf of the congregation by a special "African Methodist Episcopal Church Aid Committee"; a group of white gentlemen. By December of 1882, the property was conveyed to the congregation, and had been repaid in full.
Under the pastorate of Rev. Horace A. Graves, the church was remodeled and a balcony, pastor's study, and a hand pumped pipe organ were installed.
2nd & Center St 1882 - 1918
2nd & Center St post renovations
1209 Crocker St 1918 -1971
In 1918, under the leadership of Rev. S.L. Birt, styled as "The Master Builder", new land was purchased at 12th & Crocker Streets upon which a very large and most beautiful church edifice was erected. The little church was said to be "the best church ever built by Negroes between Chicago and Denver." Rev. Birt led the congregational church march from the old church to the new.
St. Paul has had many fine pastors to serve this congregation over these past many years, each bringing their own and manner of ministering. Two ministers would go on to become Bishops of the A.M.E. Church: Dr. William Sampson Brooks and Rev. John E. Hunter. Rev. George Singleton would become Editor of the A.M.E. Review, and Dr. Henderson Davis would become National Historiographer.
In 1933, the country had just come through the Great Depression. After having built that magnificent, beautiful, huge structure, along with it came a mortgage. However, during the depression, families barely survived in keeping their own homes. Whether they were buying or renting, while struggling to keep food on the table. It was hard, but they did survive.
The ministers who came to us from 1933 until the present brought their own style and brought the congregation into new lights and views. After Rev. John Alexander, came Rev. R.H. Hackley, Presiding Elder Ogleton, Rev. Henry T. Boyd, Dr. A.J. Irvine, Dr. George Singleton (who would become Bishop), Rev. George Peck, Rev. A. Lewis William, Rev. David Blake, Rev. E.P. Williams, Dr. Henderson S. Davis (who would become Historiographer), Rev. Archie Criglar, Rev. C. Wesley Gordon, Rev. Deborah Tate (who would become the 1st female minister at St. Paul), Rev. Michael K. Hurst, who helped us grow in grace and in knowledge and celebrate our 125th anniversary. Under the leadership of Rev. Derek Bastian, the Transformation Center was established and the church operated an after-school educational program for the youth. Rev. Bastian and his wife Kathryn were strong believers in "it takes a village" to raise a child. During his pastorate, St. Paul celebrated the 130th Anniversary of its founding in 2002 and hosted 133rd Session of the Illinois Annual Conference in 2004.
The St Paul Family- 1926
Rev. H.L.P. Jones Pastor
Rt. Rev. A.L. Gaines Bishop
The St Paul Family- circa 1965
The St Paul Family- November 2017
Under the present leadership of Rev. Dr. Frederick K. Gaddy, with First Lady Pamela Gaddy, our church has moved steadily forward through tough economic times, reorganizating the Transformation Center to a firmer footing, reinstituting formal educational spiritual programs, and involvement of younger members in the church organizations, have been examples of the present administrations advances. We presently host a city wide Men's Ministry, as well as a Women's Ministry. Our Women's Missionary Society serves food at Creative Visions every 1st Sunday of each month. The church is known in the Community as a loving church, with members feeling they are truly in a Church family.