History Of Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church



Warren Chapel African Episcopal Church was the result of a long, difficult, and inspired struggle of Elder Jordan Winston Early.  In 1867-70 he established the first A.M.E Church of Chattanooga in Eastern Tennessee.


The sanctuary was a room on Railroad Street (currently Broad Street). The Bishop was The Reverend John M. Brown, and the first pastor was The Reverend J. H. Stapp. The membership grew too large for the site, and The Reverend Harry Burns moved the congregation to a school on College Hill.


The first Annual Conference of the newly established Tennessee Conference was held at the Africian.Methodist Episcopal Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on September 23, 1874. The Reverend Benford Greene was assigned, and 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 relocate’ among its members, the west half of the lot on the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Streets was purchased on November 30, 1881.


On August 19, 1890, The Reverend T. W. Haigler secured a deed of trust, and a charter of incorporation was executed for the continuation of the building program. About this time the ownership of the property was contested, and on

December 23, 1893, the Chancery Court of Hamilton County Tennessee handed down a decree awarding the Trustees of the Africian.Methodist Episcopal Church of Chattanooga a clear title to the property at Sixth and Chestnut Streets.

God would answer the prayers of the impoverished church in the guise of fresh leadership with

The Reverend J. A. Jones.  Bishop Henry W. Warren was living in retirement from the Africana Methodist Episcopal Church and became interested in the plight of the church. 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.


Initially, no provisions were made for living quarters for the pastor and his family. The Reverend W. A. Smith and

Mrs. Millie Jones, with the help of her employers, built and furnished the first parsonage adjoining the church.  This was completed along with the church in 1920.


In 1921 The Reverend G. L. Jackson, Jr., initiated a rehabilitation program that was to continue for the next two decades under Pastors Ed Burton, D. H. Butler, J. H. Smith, H. Grigsby, J. H. Welsh, E. J. McCoo, T. A. Thompson, J. A. Brown, W. M. Oliver, S. L. Howard, W. L. Powell, and George Holt. In spite of the debt and incomplete renovation of the church, in 1932 Reverend M. C .Griffin would experience tremendous growth; the fires of the world would flare up around the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was a victim of the heat.


The Reverend Edward L. Hickman was Warren’s only pastor to become Bishop. On Sunday August 16, 1942, the indebtedness of Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church ended with a fundraiser that netted $2,051.00.  Reverend Hickman would leave Warren Chapel in 1947 to later become Presiding Elder of the Thirteenth Episcopal District.  In 1947 The Reverend Alexander F. Davis was assigned to Warren Chapel, and the same year, a parsonage was purchased on the corner of Oak Street and Orchard Knob Avenue.


On Friday, July 14, 1961 The Reverend Jesse Jackson was to speak at West Side Baptist Church.  On Saturday July 15, Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was firebombed, and the edifice was gutted.  The congregation moved to 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.  The first floor contained the main auditorium, vestibule, choir room, cloakroom, women’s lounge, officers room, ushers room, pastor’s study, secretary’s office, and a Sidewalk Chapel (to be open at all times).  The basement contained six Sunday School Rooms with folding walls, vestibule, superintendent’s office, men’s lavatory, fellowship room, kitchen, mechanical, and storage rooms.

The third floor (the first parsonage) contained a nursery, boys’ lavatory, office, and storage. All remnants of the pipe organ were gone. In 1965 The Reverend H.W. Henning followed and continued the existing programs.


In 1971 Bishop Howard T Primm assigned The Reverend Charles E. Jenkins to Warren Chapel.  The parsonage was again renovated; radio broadcasting on two stations began.  The first minister of music was appointed, and a Board of Christian Education was initiated.  


In 1980 The Reverend Orzelle Mason was assigned to Warren Chapel, and the mortgage was liquidated. During Reverend Mason’s administration the first church bus was purchased, and an outside bulletin board was installed.


The Reverend Samuel M. Davis was assigned to Warren Chapel with the mandate to move Warren Chapel from Sixth and Chestnut Streets to 501- 503 North Market Street.  After the move, Reverend Davis was assigned to the South Nashville District as Presiding Elder.  


The Reverend Benjamin Booker replaced The Reverend Samuel Davis. The Reverend Frederick Smith followed The Reverend Benjamin Booker. The Community School was the product of The Reverend Robert A. Strode who followed The Reverend Frederick Smith.  


In November of 1998 Bishop Hamel H. Brookins assigned the first female pastor, The Reverend Charlene N. Boone,   To Warren Chapel. She refurbished the church and upgraded the sound system.  


In May 2006 Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie assigned The Reverend Dr. Terence L. Mayes, Sr., to Warren Chapel.

Dr. Mayes organized a Visionary Hour of Prayer, a Young Adult/Campus Ministry, Single Adult Ministry, Marriage Enrichment Ministry, Spanish Language Class, New Membership Class, Summer Youth Program, and the TLM Children’s Choir. Dr. Mayes “Vision 2006” focused on the expansion of Warren Chapel over the next five years.   The theme was “For God, For You, and For The Future.”


On November 2, 2013 Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath assigned The Reverend Dr. Pedro K. Basden to Warren Chapel his vision “Team Work is Dream Work,” and he currently serves Warren Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.