Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church
The History of Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church began as does the history of most African Methodist Episcopal churches. It emerged out of the labors of those who toiled to build a tabernacle unto the Glory of God. It came about, not as the efforts of a dissatisfied group of members of one African Methodist congregation, but as the desire of a group to organize another African Methodist Episcopal church in an area between Brown Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church at 14th and Constitution Avenues, NE and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, at M Street Between 15th and 16th Streets, NW.
In the Year of our Lord 1915, the group, members of Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, then located in Southwest Washington, met at the residence of Mattie Throckmorton, 525 U Street, NW for the organization. They were Frank J. Blackburn, Mattie Throckmorton, Annie E. Sewell, Effie V. Sewell Scott, Emma Sewell Crockett, Ellen J. Scott, Ella N. Jones, Ella N. Vass, Amelia L. Bridgida, Annie S. Elliott and Edward R. Elliott.
The above group organized under the leadership of Reverend Joseph DeWitt Wilson and his beloved wife, Eleanor J. Wilson. They purchased the red brick edifice which still stands on the comer of 5th and P Streets, NW. From the organization of the church, which was dedicated July 20, 1919 until the present time, the church has had pastors in the order indicated in the continuing history below:
Rev. Joseph DeWitt Wilson (1919-1921)
Reverend Joseph DeWitt Wilson served from 1919 to 1921. The membership began to grow and the church began to prosper; however, a law in the Annual Conference dealing with a minister's age for admission to the Conference left Reverend Wilson without a charge.
Rev. J.S. McEddy (1921-1922)
The Reverend J. S. McEddy served Turner from 1921 to 1922. This was a slow period in Turner's growth, but in spite of many difficulties, these stalwart Christians were not discouraged. They continued to work hard and with confidence in God and with sincere prayer to Him, Turner continued to progress.
Rev. Melvin J. Key (1922-1925)
Reverend Melvin J. Key served from 1922 to 1925. This young pastor aroused greater interest and the church began to see the dawn of a new day and a new generation which began to take interest in Christian leadership and in Christian education.
Rev. Lincoln Criglar (1925-1930)
Reverend A. Lincoln Criglar served from 1925 to 1930. Under the leadership of Reverend Criglar, Turner demonstrated greater progress. In 1930, because of the death of the pastor at Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Anacostia, Bishop A. L. Gaines transferred Reverend Criglar to Campbell. Dr. Charles H. Wesley, Presiding Elder, with the consent of the membership requested that Reverend J. DeWitt Wilson be reappointed to Turner.
Rev. Joseph DeWitt Wilson (1930-1944)
Bishop Gaines, who had previously restored Reverend Wilson as an assistant pastor at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, reappointed Reverend Wilson to Turner. Under the leadership of Reverend Wilson the church began to grow spiritually, financially, and numerically. Many improvements were made to the interior of the church -- installation of a choir loft, rearrangement of the pulpit and installation of an organ. The church was cleared of debt and a stone wall was built around the yard. Reverend Wilson served faithfully until his sudden death in 1944.
Rev. Clarence Clyde Ferguson (1944-1946)
The Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson, once a Presiding Elder, succeeded Reverend Wilson in 1944. He, too, was a spiritual and dynamic leader with foresight, wisdom and great pastoral ability. Under his leadership, Turner continued to grow and to develop rapidly. A parsonage, located at 509 P Street, N. W. was purchased. The church grew from a mission to a station charge. Reverend Ferguson served as pastor until his death in 1946.
Rev. Isaac Alphonso Miller (1946-1956)
The Reverend Isaac Alphonso Miller was assigned to Turner in September 1946. He made observations and realized the needs of a fast growing congregation and presented plans to accommodate the needs. His foresightedness and his soul stirring preaching, together with his unusual planning ability, forged Turner to the front of African Methodist Episcopal Churches in this area. His ability to draw from other churches and to convert new members made it necessary to seek larger church facilities.
The first plan was to enlarge the then current edifice. An architect's plan was presented, but the proposed renovation of the site would not have met the needs. So, under the leadership of Reverend Miller, the building at 6th and I Streets, N. W., that housed the Adas Israel Congregation, was purchased. Many improvements had to be made to the interior to conform to African Methodist Episcopal doctrine.
A law in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at that time required that a pastor serve no more than eight consecutive years at a charge. As such, in May, 1956, Reverend Miller was assigned to Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore,Maryland.
Rev. Arthur L. Powell (1956-1956)
The Reverend Arthur L. Powell came to Turner in May 1956 and remained until July 1956.
Rev. Samuel Everette Guiles (1956-1980)
At a special session of the Washington Annual Conference in July 1956, Bishop Frank Madison Reid, Sr., assigned to Turner the dynamic, inspiring, forceful preacher and pastor, Reverend Samuel Everette Guiles. Under his leadership, the church membership greatly increased. Several new organizations within the church were founded, and a new parsonage was purchased at 1605 Crittenden Street, N.W. New Committees were formed, and the church began to build a new and better Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Recognizing the need for additional and improved church facilities and the need for Turner to be a downtown church, Turner moved forward to purchase adjacent property on the I Street side of the building. As a result of the dedicated efforts of the membership, a dream began to crystallize. A service of dedication and cornerstone laying of the multi-service center was held on June 9, 1979. The four-story facility, called the S. Everette Guiles Memorial Center, was used for many church and community related activities. Reverend Guiles died in February of 1980.
Rev. Goodwin Douglas (1980-1993)
The Reverend Goodwin Douglas was appointed to Turner by Bishop Henry W. Murph in April, 1980. It is noted that Reverend Douglas came to us from Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, the church of our founding members. Reverend Douglas accepted an immense assignment. There were many unaccomplished tasks from the previous administration.
Reverend Douglas recognized the needs of Turner and began immediately to reorganize the organizational structure and to develop plans to alleviate all encumbrances upon the church. On March 8, 1981, the S. Everette Guiles Memorial Center was dedicated. The services were conducted by the Right Reverend John Hurst Adams. The church hosted many meetings (Founders Day, Annual Conferences, Sunday School Conventions and the like).
Rev. Edgar L. James (1993-2000)
Upon the elevation of Reverend Goodwin Douglas to Presiding Elder of the Capitol District, Washington Conference, Reverend Edgar L. James was transferred to Turner from Brown Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1993. Reverend James brought a special vision of how the church could grow. Under his administration, the church purchased a nursery school which is now called the Henry McNeal Turner Early Learning Center. Reverend James died suddenly on October 1, 2000.
Rev. Darryl E. Walker (2000-2010)
Reverend Darryl E. Walker was appointed to Turner Memorial on October 28, 2000. He was pastor of churches in Emporia,Kansas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Bremerton, Washington; Los Angeles, California; Omaha, Nebraska; Tacoma, Washington and Kansas City, Missouri before his transfer to Washington, D. C. and Turner Memorial. Reverend Walker had a dynamic preaching and teaching program that began to bring more people into the Turner Church family.
Through innovative programs, church leadership, spiritual awareness and stewardship, Turner continued its tradition of progress.
After fifty-two years on the corner of 6th and I Streets, N. W., we moved to more spacious quarters in Hyattsville, Maryland. The relocation placed us in a position where we are able to expand our ministries to the glory of God. On March 1, 2003, we occupied the new Turner Memorial A. M. E. Church.
Rev. William H. Lamar IV (2011-2014)
On February 19, 2011, Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr. appointed Rev. William H. Lamar IV as the Pastor of Turner. Reverend Lamar had served as pastor in the 11th Episcopal District (Florida and the Bahamas) in Monticello, Orlando, and Jacksonville, respectively. After much prayer and consensus of the congregation, Turner has begun a 3-year (2013-2015) Lifestyle Stewardship Campaign to eliminate the current mortgage of the church, which will position the church to further expand its ministry outreach and upgrade its facilities.