Austinburg
Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church

Martha Ann Taylor can truly be called the founder of St. James A.M.E. In 1869, Mrs. Taylor began gathering the people of the neighborhood together in her home for religious services and Sunday school. In time, the small congregation outgrew Mrs. Taylor’s home. A number of locations were then utilized for worship and classroom space including the Austinburg Public School, a home on Maryland Avenue and a home on E. Ninth Street. In time, the congregation was able to acquire an old church building at 120 Lynn Street.

In 1918, the old church building on the Lynn Street property was demolished to make way for a new St. James A.M.E. Church. Construction on the new building, however, was delayed due to financial considerations. During this interim period, the congregation worshipped in the Seventh Street Market House, the Lincoln-Grant School and in a tent on the Lynn Street Property. On May 25, 1919, the cornerstone for the new church was set into place. In 1922, the Reverend J.A.G. Grant was appointed Pastor of St. James A.M.E. Reverend Grant established a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete the new church. The A.M.E. Bishop at that time, Reverend A.J. Carey, promoted the campaign throughout his district of Kentucky and Tennessee. These efforts resulted in the raising of a considerable sum of money. Construction of the new building was completed in 1922. The congregation was also able to acquire a home for their pastor at this time.

During the pastorate of the Reverend F.D. Coleman (1927-1932), a number of improvements were made to the church facilities. A furnace was installed in both the church and the parsonage and pews were purchased. In 1943, the Reverend Andrew White was appointed Pastor of St. James. When he arrived, he found a debt of $3,600 on the church property. Reverend White challenged his parishioners to eradicate this debt. The goal was achieved in only sixteen months. The congregation then began planning for the improvement of their church building. The original church, constructed in 1922, was initially planned to serve as a basement for a future structure. The ceilings in this building were quite low. During the 1940s, the leadership of the congregation decided to remove the roof of the church and to raise the walls and roof. At this same time, a new brick façade was erected. The appearance of the church has remained unchanged since this time.

In 1959, the parishioners of St. James Congregation financed the construction of a modern parsonage for their pastor, the Reverend W.H. White. Reverend White served as pastor of the congregation from 1957 to 1971. During this era, Mr. Walter Whatley donated an organ for use in the church. Other improvements included a renovated pulpit and choir loft and a new sidewalk in front of the church property.

The members of St. James A.M.E. celebrated the 105th anniversary of the congregation in 1974. The feature of these festivities was the burning of the mortgage on the church property. The pastor at that time was the Reverend J.K. Brown. During the pastorate of the Reverend R.E. Mitchell, a building near the church was purchased to serve as an educational facility for the congregation. This building was named the Jackson-Randolph Hall.

The Reverend Edgar L. Mack was appointed pastor of the congregation in 1986. Under his administration, the parsonage was remodeled, a Christian Resource Center was established, the Sunday school was reorganized and the Men’s Crusaders Association was established.

The people of St. James A.M.E. experienced a first in 1996 with the appointment of the Reverend William Hale as pastor. Reverend Hale was the first non-African American minister to serve the people of St. James.

98th Anniversary of St. James A.M.E. Church, Covington, Kentucky; Local History File, KCPL; Kentucky Post, May 26, 1919, p. 1, March 10, 1998, p. 1K.

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