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Church History

It was in the midst of a busy growing seaport that St. Paul AME Church was born in 1887. The first place of

worship was a small building, 20 X 36 feet, located on 18th Street on a spot known as “the Acre.” With Christian

love and burning ambition, Mr. and Mrs. George Freeman, Brothers Jon Luke, Peter Davis, Tom Hines, W.J.

Gordon and Sister Rebecca Bailey joined Reverend Butts in his crusade.


The Virginia Annual Conference met in Norfolk, VA and accepted the mission as a member. Designated the

Little A.M.E. Mission, it was assigned to the Portsmouth District. During the first ten years of its’ existence, St. Paul was pastured by: the Rev. G. B. Smith (1888 – 1889), the Rev. A. J. Kelly (1889 – 1890), the Rev. J. W. Throckmartin

(1890- 1891), the Rev. F. W. Overton (1891-1892), the Rev. R. H. Gobans (1892-1894), the Rev. C. W. Toney (1894-1895),

and the Rev. C. H. Hunter (1895-1897).


In 1897, the Rev. James H. Garner was assigned by the Virginia Annual Conference as pastor of the Little AME Mission.

His instructions were to build a modern church. Brother Jerry Haywood named new building “St. Paul” after his home

church in Raleigh, NC. From 1902-1923, St. Paul was pastored by the Reverends E. H. Bolden, Thomas Green, George C. Taylor, M. F. Sydes, N. W. Brown, J.C. Williams, George D. Jimmerson, and G. W. Saunders. 


There were many other great leaders that served St. Paul AME Church.  In 1951, the Virginia Conference appointed the Reverend S. W. Williams, Sr. His death, in November 1967, closed a life of sacrifice and service to the church of Allen. Following in his father’s footsteps in 1967 was the Reverend S. W. Williams Jr. His pastorate would be the longest in the history of the church. In 1972 under the leadership of the Reverend S.W. Williams, Jr. the current the location of St. Paul was purchased and paid in full within two years. 


The Reverend Godfrey R. Patterson was appointed pastor at the Second District Planning meeting in Raleigh, NC in 1997. He was followed by the Reverend Franklin J. West in 2000. The Reverend Donald F. White, Sr. was appointed the pastor of St. Paul in 2007 and under his leadership the church grew and the youth department flourished.   


At the 2016 Virginia Annual Conference held at the Marriott City Center in Newport News, VA, St. Paul AME Church again made history.  The Reverend Dr. Oretha P. Cross was assigned as the new Pastor, making her the first female pastor in the 130-year history of the church. Dr. Cross inspired the congregation to put on their running shoes and begin the trek of devoted service to God and to others. New ministries have been established, an increase in community involvement and new plans are on the way for major renovation to the sanctuary and adjoining rooms. 


St. Paul is very proud of its rich history. Through the years many local elders have served the church: The Reverends: Peter Scott, Joseph Hyman, S. H. Davis, John H. Cherry, Amy Manley, Lillian Shelton, J. A. Williams, Marion Allen Christian and Shelia Mack Uzzle. 


The ministries of the Reverends: James Harris, Ira K. McMillan, Terrence L. Thomas, and Debbie Lee Bryant were born from the womb of St. Paul.  St. Paul is equally proud that three of its’ sons have been appointed Presiding Elders: the Reverend

J. C. Fauntleroy, Reverend S. W. Williams, Sr. and the Reverend S. W. Williams, Jr.

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