About St. James.
In 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation, the founding of St. James African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was born as an outgrowth of house to house prayer meetings among the free men and women of African descent residing in the city known then as St. Anthony Falls.
St. James AME was the first African American-founded Church in the State of Minnesota.
Our Minnesota Roots.
The congregation’s first house of worship was a church at 6th Ave. S.E. and 2nd St. under the leadership of Rev. W. Hedgeman as its first pastor. A storefront location was followed, with a new church erected at 1st Ave. S.E. and 2nd St. which stood as a landmark in the community. By the 1880s, St. Anthony Falls had been changed to the City of Minneapolis, and had expanded to include both sides of the Mississippi River. The congregation next moved across the river to a storefront location in Minneapolis at 411 5th Ave. following a shift in the cities’ main business activities. In 1892 the congregation built a beautiful red brick structure at 8th Ave. S. and 4th St. However, the property was bordered by Rock Island Railroad, and was crowded out by rail expansion. During the next decades, the congregation moved through a succession of rented properties. In 1918 they purchased a building at 314 15th Ave. S. This would be the home of “Mother St. James until the expansion of the Interstate highway system which forced another relocation. The church was sold in 1956 and the congregation subsequently occupied space at the Pillsbury Settlement House.
Our Church History.
In 1958 the current structure was built at 3600 Snelling Avenue South. In 2003, the Rev. Marchelle Hallman, the first woman appointed pastor of an African Methodist Episcopal Church in the state of Minnesota, was appointed pastor of “Mother” St. James A.M.E. Church. “Mother,” acknowledging the fact that all the other AME churches in the state are an outgrowth of this congregation. Rev. Michael Gonzales was appointed to Saint James in 2015. A strong advocate for equality, Rev. Gonzales led St. James in partnering with political and other faith-based organization in the areas of fair housing and the providing for the needs of the homeless.