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  8401 Cedar Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44103

View this documentary about Richard Allen - A.M.E Church founder.



HISTORY OF ST. JAMES A.M.E. CHURCH
Chroniclers of the history of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cleveland, Ohio, agree that Rosa Johnson and her husband, James Johnson, together with Jerry Warrick, James Linthicome and Isaac Jackson, organized the East End Prayer Meeting in the home of Rosa and James Johnson at 44 Frank Street and out of this small assembly grew St. James A.M.E. Church. It is recorded that these persons had attended a successful spontaneous revival meeting in the winter of 1893, at St. John A.M.E. Church and they were converted. Two hundred persons were converted at this meeting, which was conducted by Pastor Reverdy C. Ransom. Cleveland then had an African American population of about seven thousand.

Sometime later, in March 1894, Pastor Ransom came out to the East End and organized those praying souls into the St. James A.M.E. Church. The first recorded members of this new church were: Isaac Jackson, James Johnson, Rosa Johnson, James Linthicome, Henry Stone, Priscilla Stone, Sarah Snyder, Annie Patterson, Mary Wingfield, Mary Wilkins, Lewis Patterson, Dora James, Jerry Warrick, Clara Bennett, Maude Turner, and William Stone. The early designation of this new church was the East End Mission of St. John A.M.E. Church of Cleveland. It is believed that this mission was organized in the home of Mrs. Henry Stone. It held its first public worship at a place on Cedar Avenue near 110th Street, known as "The Wigwam."

Pastor Ransom preached to this group each Sunday afternoon for about a year, and, at his request, Bishop B. W. Arnett appointed a regular pastor for them. For several years the church was pastored by young men from Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce, Ohio.
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The new mission moved from the "Wigwam" to Hudson Street. From 1894 to 1900, St. James had the following pastors: Pastor W.W. Ponton, Pastor William Byrd, Pastor A.J. Robbins, Pastor S. A. Hardison, Pastor M.L. Nettles, Pastor E. Livingston. Pastors from 1900 to the present were as follows: 1900-1903 Pastor J.C. Turner; 1904-1908 Pastor W.T. Maxwell; 1908-1911 Pastor E. Foote; 1912 –1917 Pastor Floyd Grant Snelson, Rev C.H. Young; 1917-1919 Pastor O. W. Childers; 1919 to 1926 Pastor Joseph M. Evans; 1926 – 1937 Pastor D. Ormonde B. Walker; 1937 to 1948 Pastor Joseph Gomez; 1948-1955 Pastor Hubert Nelson Robinson; 1955-1968 Pastor Donald G. Jacobs; 1968-1980 Pastor Alvia A. Shaw; 1980-1996 Pastor Elmo A. Bean; Pastor Rodney S. Thomas 1996-2001; and 2001 to present Pastor Gerald A. Cooper.

Although all the pastors were able, it was under the pastorate and outstanding leadership of Pastor Joseph M. Evans that the congregation moved in 1925 to the present Cedar Avenue location. The edifice was purchased for $57,500, and was negotiated by a committee consisting of Pastor Evans, chairman, Robert S. Koiner, Sr., vice chairman, Burt S. Hutchinson, secretary, Arthur H. Moore, treasurer, George Brooks, trustee, Major William T. Anderson and Robert H. Riffe, who acted as brokers in the purchase transaction with the Trinity Congregational Church. The church and Sunday School grew tremendously during this period.

A distinct and exciting era began with the arrival of Pastor D. Ormonde B. Walker in 1926. Pastor Walker projected himself into the civic, religious and political life of the city. Through his creative endeavors, the St. James Literary Forum was founded. On its rostrum appeared many of the city’s best-known religious, civic, political and national figures. The Forum, more than anything else, reflected the personality of the dynamic Dr. Walker. Dr. Walker was elected a bishop in the A.M.E. Church in 1948.
Bishop Joseph Gomez
Bishop Joseph Gomez
Another era began in 1937 with the advent of Pastor Joseph Gomez. A devastating fire in 1938 caused over $100,000 worth of damage. Dr. Gomez, the able leader and financier, rallied the congregation to commit themselves to the task of rebuilding St. James. The new edifice was ready for occupancy and dedicated on May 4, 1941. Pastor Gomez was elected a bishop in the A.M.E. Church in 1948.
Bishop Hubert N. Robinson
Bishop Hubert N. Robinson
The year 1948 brought another spiritual giant to shepherd the St. James flock in the person of Pastor Hubert Nelson Robinson. His unique ability to spiritually motivate the old, while inspiring the young, was a rare talent. Pastor Robinson was an organizing genius. Many church groups were organized during his ministry. However, a fire in 1950 razed the church. In 1953, the present sanctuary was completed and dedicated during his ministry. The adjacent parish house was also purchased. Pastor Robinson was elected a bishop in the A.M.E. Church in 1964.
The call went to Pastor Donald G. Jacobs in 1955 to pastor the St. James family. Much of his ministry focused on the problems of the oppressed and downtrodden. St. James was a center for civil rights activism, a training center for the under-privileged and more. Dr. Jacobs led the congregation in the building of the Education Annex to the church.
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Pastor Alvia A. Shaw was committed to Christian service, to church, and to people. Pastor Shaw was a brilliant speaker, teacher and church administrator. He was sent to historic St. James in October 1968. His tenure spurred the acquisition of additional church property, expansion of the parking lot and reduction of a huge mortgage.
 
In October 1980, St. James was blessed with the inspired, efficient, and enthusiastic leadership of Pastor Elmo A. Bean. Accomplishments under his tenure include: liquidating the mortgage in 1983, acquiring adjacent property, air conditioning the sanctuary, restoring the stained glass windows, padding the sanctuary pews, carpeting the main sanctuary, initiating plans for an elevator project and establishing the Endowment Fund. He gave outstanding leadership in the community and was an able administrator. His caring and compassionate nature permeated and challenged the membership. St. James hosted numerous outreach programs that benefited those in the area surrounding the church and beyond. In 1984, St. James was designated a historical landmark. Pastor Bean instituted the annual Family Unity Day, in lieu of Men’s and Women’s Days. He had the longest tenure as pastor in the history of St. James, serving 16 years.
 
In November 1996, Pastor Rodney S. Thomas brought a fresh and captivating style of exhortation. Capital improvements under his leadership included: renovation and relocation of the pastor’s office, credit union office, general administrative office, secretarial workroom, and audio/visual room; paving of the west parking lot; completion of the elevator project; establishment of a computer lab for the tutoring program; and updated security surveillance.
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On October 14, 2001, Pastor Gerald A. Cooper, Esq., became the shepherd of historic St. James. With his exegetical style of preaching the Word and emphasis on spiritual growth, he came at a time when the church experienced changes in the congregation. With much prayer and fasting we endured the healing process, keeping ever before us our call to mission and ministry in this community. St. James has completed an internal Strategic Planning process and is working to meet the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan. The Food Closet Program has flourished and the Community Unity Meal Program now feeds a growing population on the last Saturday of each month. Bible study has grown to three sessions per week. In 2005, new carpet and tile were installed around the church and a major pulpit renovation that dramatically altered the appearance of St. James was completed. Several parcels of property adjacent to the the church have been purchased. Plans for additional real estate acquisition and the construction of a multi-purpose community center are moving forward. Numerous other capital improvements have also been completed, including: a new sound system; parking lot improvements; stained glass window restoration; new landscaping, new roofs, new HVAC systems, and the restoration of the building's stone and brick.
Proposed Community and Family Life Center
Proposed Community and Family Life Center
TO GOD BE THE GLORY, GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE FOR THE ST. JAMES CHURCH FAMILY!
Revised 2013