Skip to main content

Church celebrates its 165th anniversary

Feb 16, 2015 11:27AM, Published by Kerigan Butt, Categories: Local History, News




By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The St. John African Methodist Church is celebrating its 165th anniversary in 2013.

“We’ve been doing things to mark the anniversary all year,” said Robert Anderson, the president of the board of trustees for the church, which is located at 77 New London Road. Anderson is one of the longtime members of the church.

“I’ve been going to St. John since I was 25 and now I’m 66,” he said. “I’m extremely excited about the anniversary. I’m a history buff anyway, and this is a story that needs to be told.”

The church has a distinguished history in Newark.

“We are the oldest black institution in the city of Newark,” Anderson explained.

The congregation was first organized in 1848. Early meetings were held in a log cabin at the intersection of what is now Cleveland Avenue and Hillside Road. In 1866, the members of the First Colored Methodist Protestant denomination merged with the African Union Church to form the African Union Methodist Protestant Church. In 1890, the church was formally incorporated as St. John’s A.U.M.P. Church.

The first house of worship—the log cabin—was replaced by the present structure in 1867. At one time, the structure had to be moved to make room for the road. It was extensively remodeled in 1960. It was renamed the St. John African Methodist Church in 1996.

Anderson said that it’s important to celebrate the history of the church and to preserve it as a part of Newark’s history, particularly since the black community in Newark has dwindled in the last 20 to 25 years.

Anderson researched some of the church’s history. He said that it’s great to have people like Marva Smith around.

“I know the church’s history because I researched it,” he said. “She knows it because she lived it.”

Smith said that it’s exciting to celebrate the anniversary of a church that she’s belonged to for about 65 years.

“I’ve been there since I was 11 or 12 years old. It’s exciting,” she said.

Smith said that she keeps in mind “the ones who paved the way for us. They did the good work so that the church has been here in one spot for all these years. It’s really like a family church. We’re that close.”

Over the years, the church has changed. “We’ve seen many changes—many families have come and gone,” Smith said.

Anderson said that the church undertook a survey to see how it could better serve the community and some changes are being implemented to strengthen its place in the community.

“The community has changed and we have to adapt to what is going on. We’ve come up with ways to maintain the church,” he said. “We’re definitely not going to change the name of the church because that it what it is.”

The church does want to emphasize the fact that it is a community fellowship ministry and anyone and everyone is welcome. Several dozen people typically attend a church service, but former members frequently visit when they are in town. Anderson said that they would like more people to experience a church service in one of Newark’s most historic places.

“We want the entire community to be involved,” he said.

To that end, church members are very active in the community in a variety of ways, including a food ministry that serves a lunch to those who need it on the fourth Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Even though the 165th anniversary year is coming to a close, there are still many anniversary-related activities to come.

Smith said that on Wednesday, Nov. 13 and Thursday, Nov. 14, the church is hosting a two-night revival. Rev. Dr. Ralph Lampkins will be the guest minister on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, Bishop Joe Nathan Hunter will be handling those duties.

Then, on Saturday, Nov. 16, the 165th anniversary banquet will be held at the Executive Center on Route 896. The guest speaker is Rev. Dr. Marci Bryant of BVT Ministries.

“She is quite well-known,” Smith said.

St. John African Methodist Church pastor Blaine Hackett will be delivering the sermon at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17. At 2 p.m., the church will host a fellowship dinner. Then, at 3:30 p.m., the guest minister will be Bishop Albert Jarman, Jr.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Newark Life's free newsletter to catch every headline



  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/27/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/28/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/28/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Meet Gerrymandering

    03/28/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    A non-partisan presentation on gerrymandering and its effects on PA politics


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/29/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/29/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/30/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/31/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/31/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Learn about the impact that land development has on all animals and their environment. Become an ...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/26/2017
    12:00PM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Avoid costly errors by choosing the right plant for the right place based on environmental condit...


  • Home Landscaping Basics

    03/26/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Avoid costly errors by choosing the right plant for the right place based on environmental condit...


  • 18th ANNUAL Spring Art Show Delaware Foundation of the Visual Arts Date: Fri.,Sat.,...


  • 18th ANNUAL Spring Art Show Delaware Foundation of the Visual Arts Date: Fri.,Sat.,...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/27/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/28/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/28/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Meet Gerrymandering

    03/28/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    A non-partisan presentation on gerrymandering and its effects on PA politics


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/29/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/29/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/30/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/30/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Terry Anderson ~ Waterlines

    03/31/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Terry Anderson’s new landscapes from the Brandywine Watershed to the Canadian Near North, take on...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    03/31/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Pancake and Sausage breakfast

    04/02/2017
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    Pancake Breakfast Sunday April 2nd - 8am-1pm at the Avondale Firehouse on Rt 41. Adult $10/ Child...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/02/2017
    12:00PM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Home Landscaping Basics: Shaping Your Garden

    04/02/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    A welcoming entry to your home can be more than merely a lawn, a tree, and a regimented row of tr...


  • Home Landscaping Basics

    04/02/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    A welcoming entry to your home can be more than merely a lawn, a tree, and a regimented row of tr...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/03/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/04/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/05/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/06/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/07/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/07/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Red Balloon Cocktails for a Cause

    04/07/2017
    06:30PM — 09:00PM

    This year marks the 12th anniversary of CSCDE's signature event, The Red Balloon. We are excited ...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/08/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Milburn's Breakfast with the Easter Bunny!

    04/08/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    2017 Breakfast with the Bunny: April 8th, 9th, 14th & 15th from 9am – 11am Only $7 per per...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/08/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Milburn's Annual Easter Egg Hunts!

    04/08/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    April 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th & 17th from 11am – 3pm Admission is only $6/Hunter and $3/No...


  • Milburn's Annual Easter Egg Hunts!

    04/09/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    April 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th & 17th from 11am – 3pm Admission is only $6/Hunter and $3/No...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/09/2017
    12:00PM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/10/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/10/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/11/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/11/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/12/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/12/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • A Healing Journey Support Group

    04/12/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    A Healing Journey is a support group facilitated by peers and tailored for those bereaved by a su...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/13/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/13/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Native Plants of Spring

    04/13/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    As Earth awakens from its winter slumber, experience the colors, fragrances, and rapid progressio...


  • Native Plants of Spring

    04/13/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    As Earth awakens from its winter slumber, experience the colors, fragrances, and rapid progressio...


  • Milburn's Annual Easter Egg Hunts!

    04/13/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    April 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th & 17th from 11am – 3pm Admission is only $6/Hunter and $3/No...


  • Native Plants of Spring

    04/13/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    As Earth awakens from its winter slumber, experience the colors, fragrances, and rapid progressio...


  • Native Plants of Spring

    04/13/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    As Earth awakens from its winter slumber, experience the colors, fragrances, and rapid progressio...


  • Russia and the United States - A New Cold War? A generation after the Soviet collapse, what went...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/14/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Milburn's Breakfast with the Easter Bunny!

    04/14/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    2017 Breakfast with the Bunny: April 8th, 9th, 14th & 15th from 9am – 11am Only $7 per per...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/14/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Milburn's Annual Easter Egg Hunts!

    04/14/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    April 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th & 17th from 11am – 3pm Admission is only $6/Hunter and $3/No...


  • Helena van Emmerik-Finn

    04/15/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Helena offers a wide variety of subjects with her vibrant, impressionistic pastels. Regional land...


  • Milburn's Breakfast with the Easter Bunny!

    04/15/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    2017 Breakfast with the Bunny: April 8th, 9th, 14th & 15th from 9am – 11am Only $7 per per...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/15/2017
    09:30AM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...


  • Play K

    04/15/2017
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Learn the skills needed for success in Kindergarten! Children 3 to 5, with their caregivers, are ...


  • Milburn's Annual Easter Egg Hunts!

    04/15/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    April 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th & 17th from 11am – 3pm Admission is only $6/Hunter and $3/No...


  • Dinosaur Revolution

    04/16/2017
    12:00PM — 04:30PM

    Uncover facts and fossils about dinosaurs in Dinosaur Revolution, an interactive learning experie...