1842~~Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church ~~2015
In August, 2015, the Saint James AME Church in Newark, New Jersey, celebrated 176 years in ministry. That special occasion is a testament to strong faith and that is our spiritual legacy. Originally, Bethel AME Church was formed under Rev. C. Birch, however, it was briefly disbanded, then re-established as Saint James AME Church located on Green Street. While the earliest period of preparation necessitated establishing a new church prior to its incorporation in 1842, thus bringing Saint James AME to a full 176 years in church ministry. Prior Church services were then held in various places before settling at 94 Union Street. In January, 1945, the congregation moved from Union Street to occupy its present location, the gothic style cathedral located at 588 High Street, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The former church had been the Old High Street Presbyterian Church. Saint James was blessed to be able to pay the mortgage in full at the end of its first year in December 1945. This swift accomplishment was celebrated on January 13, 1946 with a Mortgage Burning Service attended by invited clergy, local politicians such as the Mayor of Newark, Vincent J. Murphy and other dignitaries. Under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Mansfield E. Jackson, the property was purchased for the sum of $35,000.
Over the years, Saint James AME Church has seen pastors and members “tarry for a season” as God has allowed. Some have been elevated to a higher calling, such as the late Bishop Vernon Randolph Byrd, the 105th Elected and Consecrated Bishop (1984). Under the leadership of Reverend Dr. William D. Watley, a Saint James’ South location was birthed and many other worship experiences such as Candlelight, Thanksgiving Day, and Noonday Worship on Wednesdays were added. The congregation experienced phenomenal spiritual growth during his 26 years of pastoral leadership.
Reverend Ronald L. Slaughter was appointed to the pastorate of Saint James on May 29, 2011, by Bishop Franklin Richard Norris as the 50th Pastor of the largest AME Church in the State of New Jersey with some 4,000 congregants. In just under four and a half years of ministry at Saint James A.M.E. Church, 700 souls have been added to the kingdom, over $500,000 in debt has been liquidated, a $65,000 renovation of the parsonage and $12,000 vestibule renovation has been completed. Also, a $15,000 renovation was completed on the exterior sidewalks and courtyard making the edifice more accessible for those with mobility challenges. In addition, the church has installed a state of the art, zoned, $100,000 gas boiler to replace the old oil burning furnace, which was an outright purchase! In an effort to create a more seamless worship experience, Saint James has upgraded its sound and lighting systems and launched a more user-friendly website.
Pastor Slaughter, along with the great people of Saint James, have been working to develop a family oriented atmosphere, embracing the vision of God, and living out the “giver’s confession” established by Pastor Slaughter. The ministry continues to grow with an average attendance of 1700 worshippers weekly at our Newark Campus, over 200 worshippers weekly at our South Orange Campus located at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), and just under 300 weekly attending Worship on Wednesday (WOW) Bible Study and Noonday Worship. Recently, Saint James has embarked undertaken a new campaign-- “From Dirt to Destiny”--to erect a new, state of the art worship facility within the next five years.
From this church called Saint James, much prayer and praise has gone up, worship rendered unto God the Father, teaching and preaching. Many souls have come to the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ with life-changing results through this ministry. Through strong faith and conviction, in the Spirit of the Lord, Saint James looks ahead to what more God has in store for us as we carry out our assignment given to the visionary, Under Shepherd, Pastor Slaughter. As the Saint James Family continues to carry out our Vision Statement of “Making Disciples, Building Families, Meeting Needs,” we strive to be truly loving people of God, a 100% tithing, and giving church body, as we increase our prayer life and fasting as we earnestly and actively seek the face and will of God.