St. John AME Bridgewater PA

15009

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Who we are

St. John AME is an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania.

We are a fellowship of believers, made in God's image and called as disciples of Christ to share the Good News with everyone through learning, listening, praying and working together actively to reach out to our communities.

We are a place to believe, belong, and become!

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Location of worship

St. John AME
715 Mulberry Street
Bridgewater, PA 15009
United States
Phone: 724-775-1141
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Church Pastor

Reverend Buena Dudley Paschall
Reverend Buena Dudley Paschall
Pastor
715 Mulberry Street
Bridgewater, PA 15009
United States
Phone: 724-775-1141
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Denomination

African Methodist Episcopal Church



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Leadership

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715 Mulberry Street, Bridgewater, PA
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St. John AME Service Times

Church School 9:30am

Sunday Worship 10:30am

Bible Study Wednesdays 6:30pm

Prayer Meeting Wednesdays 6:30pm

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St. John AME Church Bridgewater Photos




St. John AME History

The St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church, West Bridgewater, was founded in 1830, as part of the Allegheny Mission, by a group of former slaves, five years before the incorporation of the Borough of West Bridgewater. This was the first Negro organization in Beaver County. The first pastor was a Reverend Conn.

The oldest authentic source from which we gather our facts is an old faded Sunday School report made at the Quarterly Conference of the Church in 1830. We have no other facts until 1850, when the Rev. Nelson Carter was pastor. At that time there were eleven standing members of the Church, fourteen members of the Sunday School and three white teachers. IN 1850, the Rt. Rev. Paul Quinn, the presiding Bishop over all African Methodist Episcopal Churches in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio appointed Rev. Nelson Carter to serve the Allegheny Circuit which extended from Allegheny, (North Side, Pittsburgh) down the Ohio Valley to Steubenville, through Eastern Ohio and Western PA and back to Allegheny. West Bridgewater was on this circuit. The trip was made on horseback and required three months to cover.

The first house of worship was a small building of logs located on a site known as Sheep Hill, now called Magnolia Street. The foundation of Mr. William Andrew Penney’s house is the foundation of the first church building. The lot was purchased from Samuel and Mary Stewart. The quitclaim deed was made to James Bruen, Andrew Tanner, and Nelson Scroggins (Beaver County Deed Book, Volume 53, page 124). A school for Negro children was also held within the confines of the “Old Log Church” and Miss Rebecca Carter, daughter of Rev. Carter was the first teacher. A second building was purchased from a Baptist congregation that later moved to Rochester.

In the year of 1870, a number of people moved from Bridgewater to the Upper Beaver Valley and in 1875, established the New Brighton Church, Wayman A.M.E Church. There was no disturbance or controversy among the members, but due to the fact that the majority of the members worked in New Brighton, they established their homes as well as their Church in New Brighton. Thus, they became a part of the West Bridgewater circuit under the charge of Rev. Cornelius Ashbury, who served both churches.

In 1880, the congregation sold the Magnolia Street property and secured the Mulberry Street location. One of the most eventful happenings was the flood of 1884, when the Church was half submerged by the flood waters. The Mission of Bridgewater was incorporated on June 14, 1886, having at the time less than 100 members, and became known as the St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Trustees at that time were Andrew Tanner, Nelson Scroggins, Louis Ash, Sidney Freeman and Peter Lee.

In 1899, the Church was remodeled and the Grand Reopening and Dedication was set for December 1901. The evening of the dedication, while the services were in progress, the Church was completely destroyed by fire along with all the old records and contents of the building. The newly installed furnace proved too much for the old wood of the Church. For the next few months the congregation worshiped in the Hurst Building on Bridge Street.

The day following the fire, Rev. Richard Brown, called a meeting at the parsonage and planned to build a new church. The corner stone was placed by Alma Lodge, No. 63, F.& A.M. (P.H.A.), for the new Church and it was dedicated to God by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Arnett, Bishop of the Third Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Conference. The pastor was Rev. Richard Brown and the Trustees were Andrew Tanner, Louis Ash, James Butler, Charles Cole, George Webster, Samuel Webster and Benjamin Bradley.

The Church enjoyed a few prosperous years until March 1907, when the Beaver River again went on a rampage and was more destructive than in 1884. Rev. O.T. Davis was the pastor and again the congregation remodeled the Church. Then in 1913, after the reopening and rededication of the Church, the same thing occurred. Rev. W.S. Lewis was the pastor at that time. The debris was removed and the Church remodeled. The Church entertained the District Conference the following spring. The Rev. N.D. Temple was the Presiding Elder at that time. The burning of the mortgage was held on April 11, 1918, under the leadership of Rev. Charles Addiam. Mrs. Ruth Webster, the oldest member, held the mortgage and James Butler, then the senior member, lit the mortgage document representing several years of tireless work and suffering.

In 1921, during the Pastorate of J.W. Blake, an adjoining property was purchased from Louis and Minnie Johnson for a parsonage.

Again the Church enjoyed prosperous years until 1936 and 1937 consecutively, when one of the most devastating floods occurred and almost destroyed the parsonage and the Church. Extensive work was done in 1939, under Rev. Lee A. Cousin. On July 25th a new cement floor was completed. This was recorded on a brown paper bag and recovered from the Church’s cornerstone in 1989, when construction of our new Church began. The names listed were Rev. Cousin, Ray Berry, Mr. McGee, Fred Paschall, Sr., John Washington, Charles Craighead, Mr. Witherspoon, Perry Wallace, Max Burroughs and John Paschall. The Church’s basement was totally flooded again on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, 1972.

For fifty years between 1938 and 1988, St. John A.M.E. Church stood on the now vacant lot to the right of the existing church. Our present Church sits where the parsonage stood until 1984. Throughout the years, the Church building was repaired as needed to the best of the members abilities’. However, in 1988, it was decided that the upkeep of the old building was becoming too costly. On January 31, 1988, Rev. L. Jerome Dallas and the Officers of St. John A.M.E. Church asked Presiding Elder, Rev. Arthur L. Maura, to attend our Church meeting to discuss erecting a new Church. The Resolution was presented officially to Rev. Maura at the September 11, 1988 Quarterly Conference. Our Church, with less than twenty active adult members, took a step of faith and voted to build a new Church. The Building Fund Committee was cochaired by Miss Deretha Lowe and Dr. Donald Sheffield. Other committee members were Rev. Jerome Dallas, Mrs. Linda Sheffield, Mrs. Bessie Sheffield, Mr. Henry Woodfork, Miss Kim Hubbard and Mrs. Christine Hubbard. The Trustee Board members were Grant Farmer, Janet Morris, Kim Hubbard, Leonard Johnson, Henry Woodwork, Zelma Smith and Christine Hubbard. Donald Sheffield acquired the mortgage at the Union Building and Loan and Grant Farmer received the bids from the contractors.

The groundbreaking service was held April 23, 1989. The first time the congregation worshiped in the Church was February 4, 1990, in the unfinished Fellowship Hall. The first service held in the Sanctuary was April 29, 1990. The Church Dedication was held May 27, 1990. The Right Reverend Richard Allen Hildebrand was in charge of the service with Rev. Arthur L. Maura and Rev. L. Jerome Dallas assisting. Rev. Lee Cousins, former pastor of St. John (1938) gave historical remarks.

On January 21, 1996, the Beaver River caused considerable damage to Bridgewater, but waters only reached the ramp of the existing church. St. John A.M.E. Church still ha many dedicated members serving the Lord. Donald Sheffield has been the Steward Chair since 1981, and was the Superintendent of the Sunday School for 30 years from 1968-1998; Gran Farmer has been the President of the Trustee Board since 1977; Janet Morris, a member for 64 years, was the Trustee treasurer for 26 years. Celeste Andrews has been the organist since 1972. Mr. Henry Woodfork has been a Trustee for many years.

Our Church has continued its quest to serve the Lord under many pastors – Rev. L.A. Cousins (1938), Rev. Storm, Rev. Dickey, Rev. Edwards, Rev. Eberhardt, Rev. Eugene Sheffield, Rev. E.E. Davis (1965- 1971), Rev. Nicholas O’Donald (1972), Rev. Elijah Roberts (1973), Rev. Charles Summers (1974-1985), Rev. Byron Jordan (1985-1986), Rev. L. Jerome Dallas (1986-1990), Rev. Paul Messiah (1990), Rev. Wilma Jean Smith (1991-2007), Rev. Lawrence Haynes, Jr. (2007-2009) and Rev. Linda Moore (November 2009-Present).

Miss Machella Butler, who was an active member of the Church for over 60 years, serving as organist and Sunday School Teacher wrote the Church History from 1830 to 1934. She was the aunt of Mr. William F. Butler, a member and trustee of St. John A.M.E. Church until his death in 1977. Mrs. Linda Sheffield, a member since 1971, Church Clerk since 1980,Secretary of Steward Board since 1975, has written information complied from 1939 to 2005, and Shelly Brown has written information complied from 2005 to present.

In order to begin the original building campaign, 20 active Church members pledged to collect $10,000 and the Pittsburgh Annual Conference Trustees matched that amount. With a remaining $70,000 owed, St. John was showered with blessing after blessing. The final mortgage payment was made on March 14, 2004. On Sunday, May 15, 2005, we celebrated our mortgage burning ceremony under the leadership of Rev. Wilma Jean Smith. The Right Revered Bishop Robert Vaughn Webster was in charge of this service.

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St. John AME Historical Photos

The power of Christian prayer "Our prayers must mean something to us if they are to mean anything to God."
Maltbie D. Babcock
St. John AME listing was last updated on the 20th of July, 2019
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