A Historical Sketch
This is the 150 year legacy of
New Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Tampa, Florida -- Founded June 10, 1870
New Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Tampa, Florida is steeped in the history of our church and in the life of African Americans in Hillsborough County. Born through the merger of Gregg Temple A.M.E. Church and Saint Paul A.M.E. Church in the 2011 conference year, we are aware of the legacy we stand upon and thank God that it serves as our foundation for the future. It is the harmony of the old and the new.
Let us tell you our history, for it is the very history of the A.M.E. Church serving God's people in Tampa.
Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church
was the vision of the late Rev. Thomas Warren Long. Rev. Long is often credited for traveling throughout Florida promoting the A.M.E. discipline by organizing churches in Marion, Alachua, Columbus, Duval, Sumpter, Hernando and Hillsborough counties.
On June 10, 1870, the Presiding Elder Long organized Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Tampa, FL at the corner of Tampa and Harrison Streets. Records indicate that several persons joined Saint Paul, then referred to as the "Brush Harbor Mission" after the area hacked out of palmettos and brush to shelter the church's original members. Some of the first members of the Saint Paul family were Isaac Howard and family, Father Benbow and family, John Thomas and family, and the Brummick family.
The life of Saint Paul may be divided into three distinct by cohesive units: (1) the Brush Harbor Mission mentioned above, (2) the church was renamed Mount Moriah A.M.E. and was located on Marion between Harrison and Fortune streets and (3) Saint Paul, to which the name was changed and moved to the location on the corner of Harrison and Marion Streets.
Until 1906, the congregation met in a traditional wood frame building. The foundation was laid under the administration of the late Rev. S. Timothy Tice, in 1906 and completed under the late Rev. S.A. Williams leadership in 1913. The parsonage was built between the Church and the old Harlem School in 1925. The parsonage was "home" to most, if not all of Saint Paul's first families.
The members were able to erect such a large and magnificent sanctuary by borrowing capital from the Grand Lodge Knights of Phythias and Central Life Insurance Company of Florida. On more than one occasion, Saint Paul's members personally guaranteed loans in an effort to secure finances for the Church. As a result, the church did incur a substantial debt. The staggering mortgage and other debts did not divide the members. To the contrary, the debts provided members a unique opportunity to bond together and form various committees to help raise funds to pay off the indebtness. When Bishop H.Y. Tookes recognized leadership ability in the Rev. S.A. Cousin and assigned him as Pastor of Saint Paul, Rev. Cousin immediately stepped in and orchestrated a massive effort to reduce the church's debt. Under his leadership, members were inspired to raise enough monies to pay off the entire indebtness during his tenure form 1941 through 1945. Some examples of sincere dedication and hard work are best exemplified in the efforts of church member Clotille Williams, who helped organize the Bond and Debtness Club; Steward members Lee Thomas, R.C. Doby and C.C. Green who helped the cause by having fish fries and hayrides; Carrie Hall, Katherine Martin, and Inez Boyer baked and sold desserts for 10 cents in downtown Tampa. No effort was too small or insignificant to be recognized.
The Church continued to flourish and grow over the years. As Saint Paul continued to flourish as the "Spiritual Beacon" for its members, it always had an open-door policy to the community and was the meeting place for many organizations before and after desegregation. Many organizations such as NAACP, the Elks, the Knights of Phythias often held meetings in the lower unit of the church. It was also common for the schools serving the African American community to hold baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies at Saint Paul.
As the church continued to grow over the years, new Pastors and members began to make their mark on Saint Paul. Many members devoted their time and talents to the church. Contributions came in all packages...large and small, men and women, young and old, solicited and unsolicited. Stalwart members such as Arthur Roberts, Herbert Charles, John Evans, Kelley Bolden, Littleton Long, Leroy Nelson and James Hargett, Sr. donated hard work, finances, materials and many other intangibles in order to help the church afloat. Ben Griffin made significant advancements in the youth department and agencies of the church. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Many faithful, dedicated members of the church have given quietly and consistently without fanfare but have made contributions that should be used as a benchmark in assessing great deeds, well done.
Saint Paul was designated as a historical landmark in 1993. In the years of service in downtown Tampa, the church never ceased to evolve and change with the times...which is why the motto was : The Best is Yet to Come!"
Gregg Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church
had its beginning in a small wooden structure, in the same location where New Saint Paul stands today. The property was given to Rev. Hampton Douglas in 1949 with two members, Mr. Scott and Mrs. Mary Jones and his five children, Fredrick, Claretha, Doris, Willie and Christine. As the spirit moved throughout the community, Rev. Douglas ushered the church into the Annual Conference in the year 1950, with Rev. C.C. Brooks, Presiding Elder and Bishop Carey C. Gibbs, Presiding Bishop.
Rev. Douglas toiled with the congregation and built it up to 22 members. These soldiers began to build Gregg Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church. This building was started under the leadership of Rev. EJ Hall and completed by Rev. Amos James. Other Pastors; Rev. C. Nichols and Rev. James H. Simon, Rev. RA Christopher, Rev. Rebecca Kearney, Rev. SC Lawson, Rev. James Mitchell, Rev. Ester Eva, Rev. Edward Slade, Rev. Ronald Fortune, Rev. Ocelia Wallace, and Rev. Nathaniel Gibson participated in interior construction of the church.
During the 2000 Annual Conference, Bishop John Hurst Adams appointed Rev. Ricky A. Polk as pastor of Gregg Temple. Rev. polk continued to build upon the efforts of prior clergy, remodeling the front of the church, tapping in the new sewer system, building a new altar, carpeting the floor, painting the bathrooms and adding the Pastors, Stewards and Trustee offices. Members worked diligently with the Pastor to bring these renovations to completion.
Bishop McKinley Young, in 2004 sent Rev. Bessie and Bro. Arthur Mohead to lead the church. 2005 brought Rev. Frankie Fayson, who remained at the church for three years continuing the efforts of his predecessors and established an AIDS ministry. Rev. Timothy T. Morrow followed who worked to establish various ministries to provide job training programs within the community.
Building God's house is a place where the people of Gregg could always keep hope, faith and love alive. That legacy will never die and the members walk knowing that "we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and that the people perish without a vision."
New Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church
Presiding Elder Henry Green first served as interim pastor of what was called Saint Paul worshipping at Gregg Temple AME Church until the appointment of Rev. Kelvin Price for the 2011-2012 conference year. During the Annual Conference of 2012 the name of "New Saint Paul" was born through the leadership of Bishop Adam J. Richardson. Bishop Richardson then appointed the Rev. Larry Keys as the first pastor of New Saint Paul who was then followed by the Rev. Karen Jackson Sims.
The people of New Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church stand upon the history of the foundations of the two churches that have married to become one new and great place of worship in the City of Tampa. We represent the harmony of the old and new and will, through the grace of God, continue to serve, worship and praise for the generations to come. As our Youth Department will tell you "We are New Saint Paul!!!"