African Methodist Episcopal Church
facility to be referred to as St. James African Methodist
Episcopal Church was dedicated on February 1-2, 1895.
In the early
1800’s, Mr. Charles Macon, Sr. came to Bartow from
Attapulgus, GA with a white farmer with whom his family
lived until they built their own home. There was not an
African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bartow at that time.
Then, Mr. Macon, along with the help of C.C. Johnson, F.
Hall, H. Burkett, L. Sims, R. Smith, J.C. Longworth, W.M.
Wiley, and J.M. Perry, sparked the founding of St. James
African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the beginning years,
the Macon home was where prayer and other types of services
were held. In 1889, they erected a small frame building as
their first sanctuary.
cornerstone for the first church building was laid in 1894
with the appropriate ceremonies under the pastorship of Rev.
M.R. Mitchell. At that time, the name of the church was
St. James A.M.E. Chapel. The church’s membership
membership increased, it was not long before the old
building deteriorated. The recreational plot that the
membership had enjoyed had to be used as the site for the
new building. The membership started making pledges toward
a new building under the pastorship of Rev. C. J. Oates,
Sr. As other Pastors were sent to St. James, the work of
building the new church moved slowly, but surely. In 1954,
Rev. T. S. Johnson was sent to pastor St. James. With God’s
guidance and the help of dedicated members, the church –
St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church – stands as
a monument for the glory of God and the spiritual service of
2008, St. James received its first female Pastor, the
Reverend Shirley A. Williams (now Williams-Hayes). Other
Pastors who have served at St. James are: Rev. Stephen
Peck, Rev. M.C. Ross, Rev. J. Edward Connelly, Rev. James
Hannans, Rev. Jimmy J. Thompson, Rev. Harry Dawkins, Rev.
Raymond J. Heastie, Rev. Nolan T. Pitts, Rev. Bennie
Johnson, Rev. Lucius Dorsey, Jr., and Rev. Shirley A.
Today, we can
proudly say that St. James is “remembering the past,
possessing an inheritance, and leaving a legacy of
spiritual, social, and economic empowerment for the next