On March 23, 1997 Bishop Donald George Kenneth Ming, Presiding Prelate for the Sixth Episcopal District, Presiding Elder Benjamin Gay, East Atlanta District, Mrs. Edith Ming, Episcopal Missionary Supervisor and Reverend Columbus H. Hartwell stood on the steps of First Saint Paul A. M. E. Church at 11 a.m. and led the Mass Choir in a prayer of Thanksgiving. They then marched into the church singing “We’ve Come This Far By Faith”. Bishop Ming delivered a Holy Ghost filled sermon to a church filled to capacity. When the “doors of the church were opened”, Mrs. Ming recorded the names of 163 Charter Members. After much anticipation, Bishop Ming introduced Reverend Columbus H. Hartwell and his wife Sister Ida Hartwell and announced that Reverend Hartwell would serve as First Saint Paul’s “supply” minister until the Annual Conference. Rev. Columbus H. Hartwell received his appointment as our first pastor at the 122nd session of the Annual Conference in May 1997.
Reverend Hartwell embarked upon fulfilling his new assignment, displaying the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon. He led his new congregation through tough times with lessons on healing, forgiveness and faith.
The year 2000 began with much excitement as we looked forward to actively engaging our members in ministry. Our focus in our third year was prayer, Christian education and ministry. We were preparing for a church leadership conference when the Lord called our beloved pastor, leader, brother and friend home. Pastor Columbus H. Hartwell died early Sunday morning, January 30th. In life and in death, his overwhelming love was evident by the masses that came to pay their respect and homage to a wonderful and dedicated man of God.
The Reverend Earle Ifill, Presiding Elder of the East Atlanta District served as our interim pastor. He helped us to regain our focus on ministry, and share our grief and healing with one another. Our focused effort began with the establishment of the Columbus H. Hartwell Scholarship fund. In tribute to his legacy, the youth choir was renamed the Rev. C. H. Hartwell Youth Choir.
On Sunday, May 21, 2000 we were assigned a new pastor, Rev. Marvin L. Crawford by the presiding prelate, Bishop Donald George Kenneth Ming. Rev. Marvin Crawford, his wife, Dr. Sherell Vicks-Crawford, and children: Marvin Jr. and Claire were welcomed with open arms on Sunday, May 29, 2000.
Rev. Crawford has revitalized the church’s goal to build a new sanctuary. With a growing congregation, our church is in great need of adequate facilities so our ministries can go forth. While we’re constructing a building, we are also building a people.
Please continue to pray for our pastor, our congregation and our ministries that we continue to grow in spirit of God’s love and that we do what God would have us to do as a presence in our community.
The A.M.E. Church History:
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique and glorious history. It is unique in that it is the first major religious denomination in the Western world that had its origin over sociological rather than theological beliefs and differences.
The immediate cause of the organization of the A. M. E. Church was the fact that members of the St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia Pa., in 1787 segregated its colored members from its white communicants. The Blacks were sent to the gallery of the Church, to use the venerable Richard Allen’s own words. One Sunday as the Africans, as they were called, knelt to pray outside of their segregated area they were actually pulled from their knees and told to go to a place which had been designated for them. This added insult to injury and upon completing their prayer, they went out and formed the Free African Society, and from this Society came two groups: The Episcopalians and the Methodists. The leader of the Methodist group was Richard Allen. Richard Allen desired to implement his conception of freedom of worship and desired to be rid of the humiliation of segregation, especially in church.
Richard Allen learned that other groups were suffering under the same conditions. After study and consultation, five churches came together in a General Convention which met in Philadelphia, Pa., April 9-11, 1816, and formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The name African Methodist came naturally, as Negroes at that time were called Africans and they followed the teaching of the Methodist Church as founded by John Wesley. The young Church accepted the Methodist doctrine and Discipline almost in its entirety.
Marvin L. Crawford, M. D., M. Div.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Presiding Prelate - 6th Episcopal District
Rev. Earle H. Ifill, Presiding Elder - Atlanta East District