church history

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Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the result of a long, difficult, and inspired struggle of Elder Jordan Winston Early. In 1867, he established the A.M.E. Church of Chattanooga. This was the first AME church established in Eastern Tennessee. Hence, Warren Chapel is recognized as the Mother Church of the Chattanooga District. The first sanctuary was a room on Railroad Street (currently Broad Street). The Presiding Prelate at that time was The Reverend John M. Brown and The Reverend J. H. Stapp was appointed the first pastor. The membership eventually grew too large for the site. Under the pastorate of The Reverend Harry Burns, the church relocated to a school on College Hill. In 1874, the first plot of ground was purchased. The lot was located at Sixteenth and Louisa Streets (currently Sixteenth and Long Streets).


Inspired by the continued growth of the church and the need to again relocate, the west half of the lot on the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Streets was purchased. The purchase date was November 30, 1881. On August 19, 1890, The Rev. T. W. Haigler secured a deed of trust, and a charter of incorporation was executed. About this time, the ownership of the property was contested, but on December 23, 1893, the Chancery Court of Hamilton County Tennessee handed down a decree awarding the Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Chattanooga, a clear title to the property at Sixth and Chestnut Streets. Though continuing to grow, the church endured financial struggles during the 1890s. Bishop Henry W. Warren, a retired white Bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal Church became interested in the plight of the AME Church of Chattanooga. Bishop Warren’s spiritual, moral, and financial contributions reenergized the struggling church, and by mutual agreement, it became known as Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Warren’s chronology of appointed pastors from the early to mid-1900s include Rev. J. A. Jones, Rev. W. A. Smith, Rev. G.L. Jackson, Rev. Edward L. Hickman, and Rev. Alexander F. Davis. Rev. Edward Hickman has the distinction of being the only pastor who 

served at Warren Chapel to be elected Bishop of the AME Church. 

On Friday, July 14, 1961 The Reverend Jesse Jackson was to speak at West Side Baptist Church. On Saturday, July 15, Warren Chapel was firebombed, and the edifice was gutted. The congregation movedto Park Place School. After six months, services were held in the Phyllis Wheatly Branch of the Y. W. C. A., where they would remain until the rebuilding was complete. The dedication of the new contemporary Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was held on Sunday August 4, 1963. Warren remained at this location until April 5, 1987 when it moved to its current location, 503 N. Market Street.


Pastors appointed to Warren from the mid 1990’s to present date include Rev. H.W. Henning, Rev. Charles Jenkins, Rev. Orzelle Mason, Rev. Sam Davis, Rev. Benjamin Booker, Rev. Frederick Smith, Rev. Robert Strode, Rev. Charlene Boone, Rev. Dr. Terence Mayes, Sr., and Rev. Dr. Pedro Basden.