The spirit of African Methodism was brought to Staunton, Virginia through the urging and efforts of Sarah Rodney, sister of Richard Allen, who founded African Methodism in 1787. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination was formalized in 1816, and in November of 1865, just after the conclusion of the Civil War, Rev. Jacqueline Strange formally organized our local congregation to become Allen Chapel AME Church.
- Allen Chapel is the oldest church in the city of Staunton and west of the Blue Ridge to be established by people of color.
- Allen Chapel's members organized the first black choir in 1886 and opened the first black school for adults in the city.
Early church services were held in various locations, including the white Lutheran Church, which existed for a time on Central Avenue where the clock tower now stands.
Later, 20 of our members purchased the original church building site at 921 West Beverley Street. Some of the craftsmen who erected the first church building were ancestors of current members of Allen Chapel. They began in 1924 under the leadership of Rev. J. J. Benjamin, and the project was completed under the leadership of Rev. J. H. A. Martin.
The church was unable of its own accord to keep the building through its next financial crisis, so the structure fell temporarily into the hands of a white Nazarene congregation.
God, however, with irresistible good will, moved the Second Episcopal District under the authority of Bishop Abraham L. Gaines to purchase the building again on behalf of the Staunton AME congregation. In subsequent years, members worked diligently and faithfully, and during the pastorate of Rev. Melvin Law, the District received final payment from Allen Chapel on the indebtedness.
The limitations of on-street parking and inaccessibility for people who are disabled were only two disadvantages of the West Beverley site, so in 1997, the 75-member congregation, under the leadership of Dr. Edward A. Scott and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stepped out on faith to secure a former Emmanuel Wesleyan Church building for our current location at 936 Sudbury Street.
In the intervening years, we have prospered materially and spiritually. We have had many Emmaus Road and Mountain Top experiences.
Certainly, God is good and his grace is sufficient
to supply our every need if we but trust and obey.
Inspired by the past, encouraged by the present, and with the help of God we press toward the future.
Compiled by Leticia Jackson, 1963 | Updated by Pauline Bundy, 2000
The AME Church has established several colleges and universities in the United States:
If you'd like to learn more about AME Church history, we invite you to explore these links: