UAMEC: 1941               UAMEC:1959-2016                             UAMEC:PRESENT DAY

A Full History of Union AME Church (1906-present)

In the November Annual Conference of 1906 a request was made by Presiding Elder of the Little Rock District (Rev. W.A.J. Phillips) and the presiding Bishop of the 12th Episcopal District (Rt. Rev. B.F. Lee) that two congregations Centennial AME Church, Rev. B. G. Dawson, Pastor and Brown Memorial AME Church, Rev. E. C. Foreman, Pastor merge together as one church. Union African Methodist Episcopal Church was born from that merger. Centennial was on Wright Avenue and Pulaski with a membership of about 100 and Brown Memorial was located on Pulaski Street between 18th and Wright Avenue facing west and had a membership of about 75.

Union remained in the old Brown building at 1809 Pulaski until the property was sold in the year 1909.  The new site at Wright and Pulaski Avenues was chosen and the new Union was built.  Rev. G.B. Ashford was sent to Union and the cornerstone was laid in 1911.  Bishop J.S. Flipper, the presiding Bishop of the 12th Episcopal District, presided.

There have been 31 pastors appointed to Union AME Church since 1906.  From the early days of Union pastors were changed almost every two years, all surviving on meager salaries, supplemental groceries, rooming with members and numerous other sacrifices - to make this church a great church.


Many improvements, updates and accomplishments have been made Pastors of Union some of them are as follows:

 

  • 1930-1932, Rev. L. O. Grady – Entrance of the church was remodeled

  • 1939-1941, Rev. G.W. Blackmon – removal of the dome and the re-roofing of the church, changing of the front entrance and adding a side entrance

  • 1941-1942, Rev. J.H. Lewis, - also Principal at Dunbar High School served as pastor with no pay. Completed repair work begun under Rev. Blackmon.

  • 1944-1947, Rev. H. Ralph Jackson - Organized Gospel Choir, initiated many financial drives for the betterment of the church.

  • 1948-1961, Rev. Z.Z. Driver - broke ground for the present site in March 1954 including the Educational Building, Pastor’s Study, Sunday School Rooms, Assembly rooms, choir rooms, dining room and kitchen facilities.  The Cornerstone was laid in October, 1956. Rev. Driver organized an Eagle Club to raise the funds for the completion of the Sanctuary.  The Sanctuary was completed but there were no pews. Several members joined together to raise the amount needed to purchase pews which were paid for in cash.

  • 1958-1964, Rev. S. C. Thornton - remembered as a fiery gospel preacher and a singer of note.

  • 1964-1968, Rev. Cecil Cone - Central heating and cooling system installed and most of the mortgage paid.

  • 1968-1970, Rev. H.D. Brooks - Installed a new roof on the church

  • 1970-1971, Rev. J. Gilbert Blake – a great organizer and encourager of church attendance

  • 1971-1981, Rev. J.J. Brown – The Fellowship Hall was paneled and painted, tables and chairs purchased, lights in the Sanctuary changed. The Choir stands, chairs and pulpit area changed to face the audience. All rooms renovated and Sanctuary carpeted and Hymnals and Bibles were purchased. A Parsonage at 1904 S. Monroe was purchased. The Miller-Gladney Library was set up and dedicated in 1978. The following choirs were organized during Rev. Browns’ tenure: The Sanctuary, Allen Stars and J.J. Brown Inspirational Choirs. A paved parking lot was competed and a Van was purchased.

 

  • 1981-1991, Rev. Eugene Brannon – Parking lot and Van paid for, New Bi-Centennial Hymnals purchased. Property adjacent to the parking lot acquired. The Sunday school grew extensively under his leadership.  Rev. Brannon stated that he had a dream that Union had beautiful stained glass windows.  He initiated a drive to replace all of the windows and  New Stained Glass  windows  were installed in the sanctuary as well as a remodel of the pulpit and general upgrades to the building. A New Missionary Unit for Young Women of “child-bearing” age was formed which allowed young women to become an integral part of the Women’s Missionary Society. 

 

  • 1991-1998, Rev. Nathaniel Irving – Parsonage at 1904 Monroe was sold and a new parsonage across the street from the church at 1816 S. Pulaski was purchased and remodeled. Property around the church was acquired. The Hanging of the Greens program which decorates the church at the beginning of Advent was introduced and is still a part of our yearly calendar observations.

 

  • 1998 – Bishop Frederick H. Talbot- Pastored Union from the Retirement of Rev. Irving until Planning Meeting. During that period of time, he lead the development of Union’s Mission Statement which can be found on the back of the weekly church bulletin.

 

  • In 1998-2007, Rev. Randolph W. Martin, Sr. was sent to Union to carry us into the 21st century.  He came prepared and innovated to expand the horizons of Union.  Under his pastorate, new ministries were formed, the Trustee Board initiated a five-year capital improvement drive, and plans from the Church Growth and Development Conference were implemented. A Sober living Center for Men was opened and property around the church was purchased. Carpet and cushions for the pew were updated for the Sanctuary.

 

  • 2007-2011. Rev. Nolan Watson - Union continued its mission to serve the community through its outreach ministries under the leadership of Rev. Nolan Watson.  Under his leadership, neighborhood property was purchased, the Fellowship Hall was renovated, new curtains, tables and chairs purchased, poured a new parking lot, landscaped the church grounds, purchased a new bus, upgraded the sound system, installed several new heating and air conditioning units in the kitchen, office, choir room, and church school room, installed a heater in the narthex, and beautifully renovated the men and women restrooms.

2011 - Present, Rev. Chestine  Sims was appointed pastor of Union.  He came to us with a new energy and ministry that includes his musical talents in singing as well as his gift in delivering the Biblical Word.  He is leading the congregation in tithes and pledges and the church's indebtedness will soon be eliminated.  The parsonage has been completely redecorated with new fixtures and other adornments.  The Video/Visual Ministry has been upgraded and expanded and provides a new dimension to the worship experience.  All new expenditures have been paid for in full.  The membership under the leadership of Pastor Sims has increased across all services and for that we are grateful.  His leadership provides a venue for continued growth with a richness of purpose for the coming years. Property at 1818 S. Pulaski was purchased. All vacant property on the south side of Wright Avenue facing the church, from Pulaski to Cross Street  and on Pulaski Street on the east side of the street from Wright Ave. to 19th Street have been purchased giving the church room for expansion and control over the area around the church. In April of 2013, the church mortgage is paid in full and a Mortgage Burning Ceremony was held.  In May, 2013 the church bus was paid in full. The parsonage has been completely remodeled.  Multimedia and video surveillance  systems have been installed  in the church and parsonage.  We are on track with our (5) five year budget. Phase I paid off church and bus.  Under Phase II, we have completed new restrooms, upgraded heating and air conditioning and installed tinted glass. The church received gifts of a smart board, piano and significant monetary gifts.  Phase III is still in progress. Several classrooms have been remodeled including; a new conference room and new finance room,  and the Pastor’s adjoining conference room was refurbished. Monitors were installed in the vestibule and hallway for programming and announcements; additional monitors were placed in classrooms for educational resources. Handicapped accessible ramps were installed in the sanctuary, and upgraded lighting was installed for all campus parking areas
 

Union African Methodist Church has been blessed with energetic pastors who have worked diligently to hold the principles of faith, as designed by our forefathers, to make us useful and inspiring.  We have sent forth leaders to the General Church including one Bishop, and sent several sons and daughters to the ministry.  Physical improvements are continuously being made to the building, and Christian endeavors are made to keep the congregation more informed on African Methodism and to always stay focused on God, the Creator of all things. We thank God for the small group of organizers, who saw the need for change, thus bringing Union African Methodist Episcopal Church into existence.  We pray to fulfill  our mission as designed by God, and we give God Thanks and Praise for all He has done for us a church body.

 

                                                                                  UNION AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH                                                                                        “THE PLACE WHERE EVERYBODY IS SOMEBODY – IN CHRIST JESUS!”

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