THE HISTORY OF ST. PAUL A.M.E. CHURCH WASHINGTON, D.C.
On October 25, 1856, a group of freed men led by Anthony Bowen, founded St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Bowen, a great civic, educational, and religious leader was assisted by Carol Bailey, Moses Briscoe, Caleb Delaney, George Newman, Benjamin Landam and the three Ward brothers, Henry, George and Cato. In its early history, the church was known as the "E" Street mission, The Saint Paul Society and the Saint Paul Chapel. In 1859, the founders along with their supporters, following the tenets of biblical history and believing in God's command to his servants to "arise and build", purchased land on Eighth Street, Southwest on which the first edifice was built. The largest amount secured for this sanctuary was raised by Mary Ann Barnes. As areward for her efforts Mrs. Barnes was presented a silver loving cup.
All through the first one hundred years of its existence, St. Paul played a significant part in community activities. During the post-war days of 1865 and the Reconstruction era, much was done to help the free men of color and the freed slaves, who were coming into the District. The church served in a triple capacity, as an educational institution, as an underground railway for escaping slaves, and as a religious meeting place.
Many prominent speakers of the early days were presented at the church. Phyllis Wheatley was among the number. In reviewing the history, it is noted that in 1874, "a Grand Banquet held for the benefit of the St. Paul Chapel at the. Richmond House on Pennsylvania Avenue, November 26, 1874" was one of the outstanding events.
The church was remodeled in 1890 under the leadership of Rev. L. H. Jackson, and the towers and the lecture room were added. This project was sponsored through "Buy a Brick Rally". Gradually the improvements were completed, and in 1892 under Rev. J. W. Norris the payments to finance the building were conducted on a monthly payment plan. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Norris that many accessions were made and in less than a year, one hundred marriages were performed.
St. Paul has been blessed in having many outstanding and distinguished pastors. The first pastor who later became Bishop of the A.M.E. Church was Alexander W. Wayman. Rev. W. H. Hunter became a chaplain in the United States Army. Rev. W. B. Nash, also became a chaplain in the Army during World War II. Between 1902 - 1946 Reverends D. P. Seaton, Beckett, Sides, David Johnson, O.E. Jones, Nicholas, P.A. Scott, John R. Barnum, J. Damos, Manoko, G. Oliver Wing, J. McKenzie Harrison, and Wesley B. Nash were pastors of St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Rev. Nash was appointed Presiding Elder in 1948.
During the administration of Rev. David Johnson, the church was blessed spiritually and the membership increased greatly, being filled to capacity every Sunday. The metal ceiling and first hot water heating plant were installed under the leadership of Dr. John P. Turner son of Bishop Henry McNeil Turner.
In 1948, Rev. J.W. Duckette was assigned to St. Paul. During his administration, the church was completely renovated. A new electric organ was installed in 1954.
In 1958, a consequence of urban redevelopment of the Southwest area, St. Paul was relocated to its current location on 14th Street, NW during the pastorate of Rev. George R. Reid. Rev. Reid served the Church in its new location until 1964, when Rev. Charles N. Bourne was assigned to St. Paul. During Rev. Bourne's tenure, many projects were completed, including the renovation of the church parsonage and the burning of the church mortgage. Rev. James A. Williamson served as a pastor for four years beginning in 1969, and under his leadership numerous improvement projects were completed.
Rev. Goodwin Douglas was pastor for seven years (1973-1980). He placed great emphasis on the improvement of human relations within the church. Among his accomplishments were the enlargement of the pastor's office, purchase of the Allen organ, and completion of many projects in the church. Rev. Douglas was later appointed as a Presiding Elder of the Capitol District in 1993.
Rev. Frederick-Harrison was pastor for four years (1980-1984). Under his leadership, the church purchased a van and the church was renovated. In 1984, at the seat of the 42nd Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the A.M.E. Church, Rev. Harrison was elected to serve the Connectional Church as Secretary of Missions.
Rev. Henry Y. White was assigned to St. Paul in 1984. His leadership paved way for the "Church Annex Building." This purchase provided space for the pastor's office and the Church Secretary's office to be moved from the main church building. Additionally, a large assembly room, several classrooms, and offices were created. Rev. White placed emphasis on community outreach through which an after-school tutorial program, youth mentoring program, teen drug prevention program, and adolescent parenting program were established, and housed in the Annex.
Rev. Ricky Spain was pastor of St. Paul for three years (1993-1996). Under his leadership, renovation of the physical appearance of the church was done; the church purchased a 12 passenger van; a prayer warrior ministry was established; Bible study on Saturday, and the "First Sunday" 7:00 p.m. service were started. Additionally, St. Paul adopted Soloman Temple Church in Trinidad as an outreach ministry. At the 44th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the A.M.E. Church, Rev. Spain was elected to serve the connectional church as Editor of the A.M.E. Christian Recorder.
In August of 1996, Rev. Rodger Hall Reed was assigned as the spiritual leader of St. Paul. Rev. Reed pastored St. Paul for five years. Rev. Reed was followed briefly by Rev. Godfrey Patterson who was followed by Rev. Dr. Carrington Carter. Rev. Carter served as pastor for seven years (2001-2008). Under Rev. Carter, St. Paul established the Commission system of church leadership; established a scholarship fund, and a quarterly newsletter, The St. Paul Newsline.
(Historical Data 1856-1956 courtesy of Mrs. Ella P. Moran