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In January 1960, a spiritual torch was ignited. God gave a vision to start an African Methodist Episcopal Church in a newly developed black community, Progress Village. Sister Sallie Holmes told everyone how one evening a voice spoke to her said, “Sallie get up you need to start a church here now.” Mrs. Holmes told her Pastor Rev. J.J. Heath of Bethel AME Church. Mr. Ellsworth Holmes, Mrs. Sallie Holmes, Mr. Raymond Scott, Mrs. Van Scott, Mr. Earl O'Neal, and Mrs. Rosa B. O'Neal, stepped out on faith believing that their labor of love would bear fruit for Christ. The church was organized in February at the home of Bro. Raymond and Sis. Van Scott.

These faithful members were guided in their efforts by Rev. J.J. Heath, Rev. and Mrs. S.L. James of Bethel AME Church, and Rev. G.J. Oates of St. Luke Church. Rev. James took the mission to the Annual Conference, hence the name, St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop C.E. Hatcher assigned Rev. Samuel L. James as the first pastor of the church, and Rev. C.C. Brooks served as the presiding elder.

The small group met and held Sunday School at the Holmes' residence. The first collection was $1.29. They met until they were able to rent a portable from Progress Village Elementary School for $5.00 a month, while First Baptist rented the lunchroom. Now that they were established, membership began to grow. Joining at the first service were Versie Evans, Nell Webb Wimberly, Mary Brown, Lula Mae Pauldo, and Rufus Forbes. Sisters Scott, Holmes and O'Neal went out into the community knocking on doors encouraging persons to come to St. James. For the next several years, many more individuals and families joined the church.

You must remember, so you never forget…



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