A growing church that loves the Lord, lives God’s word, and serves God’s people.
The mission of St. John AME Church is to meet the spiritual, physical and social needs of all people through love, unity, the knowledge of God’s word and evangelism by spreading the gospel, equipping them, through faith, and having one intent of purpose, to be believers and followers of Christ Jesus.
In May of 1863, after a 35-year hiatus from the state of South Carolina, Bishop Daniel A. Payne, a Charleston, South Carolina native, commissioned Rev. James Lynch of the Baltimore Annual Conference and Rev. James D.S. Hall of the New York Annual conference to re-establish the AME Church in South Carolina. On May 28, 1863, these men, along with missionary teachers, set sail for South Carolina. They quickly established Quinn Chapel AME Church as Union Military forces occupied Hilton Head, South Carolina, and on May 13, 1865 at Zion Presbyterian Church, a Quarterly conference was held in preparation of forming the South Carolina annual conference. The first church established, signifying the return of the AME church to South Carolina, was Emanuel AME church, Charleston and the pastor appointed was Rev. Richard Harvey Cain. Reverend Cain went on to establish churches in Charleston, Summerville, Lincolnville, Georgetown, Marion, Sumter, and other places across the state.
In 1867, four years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and only two years after the end of the Civil War, men and women of African decent found St. John AME Church in Marion, South Carolina. Without fear or reservation, but with wisdom, goodness, and faith, the founders of St. John acted upon a though which had become an idea. The idea became a dream, and with prayer and preserving faith, the dream became a reality. These men and women, following the mission of African Methodism, saw a need to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ’s liberating gospel through word and deed. They established ministries and programs that sought and save the lost and served the needy.
The early pioneers of St. John AME church included such families as the Alford, Bass, Blackwell, Bond, Caperon, Colier, Collins, Crawford, Davis, Dix, Donnelly, Ellis, Evans, Foxworth, Fladger, Franklin, Goddard, Green, Hagins, Hayes, Hughes, Johnson, Lane, Lester, McQueen, Neal, Nelson, Nichols, Owens, Rhems, Robinson, Rogers, Rowell, Scott, Simmons, Starks and Thompson families. With the establishment of the Camp Manufacturing (Lumber) Company in the early 1900’s, Marion experienced a migration of people from surrounding counties. St. John AME Church saw its membership expand as the number of local residents expanded. Additional members of the church included: John Ball, D. Bethea, Frank Blake, F. G. Bradley, Rosa Brown, Pete Campbell, Sam Cooper, George Davis, Major Davis, Rev. D. C. Deas, Arthur Evans, James Fashion, Arthur Frazier, the Gauses, Gibson, Anna Green, McAlister, David Owens, Arthur Rose, Johnny Sams, Morris Simmons, and Houston Smith.
Over the past 145 years, historic St. John AME Church has seen its membership grown in excess of 500 persons. The church continues to offer community-based ministries and outreach programs. St. John AME Church has established itself as one of the leading churches in the noble Northeast Conference, and from this congregation members have excelled in religious, academic, and political services. Members of St. John have served the AME Church as President of the Presiding Elders Councils, 7th Episcopal District, Judicial Council of the General church, Episcopal Supervisors of the WMS, founding members, and the Northeast Conference lay Organization, WMS Life members, and General Board of the Church. In politics and education, St. John has seen its members grow to the pinnacle of services, first to God and then to mankind.
The first pastor of St. John AME Church was the Rev. E. J. Gregg. The first presiding elder was Rev. S. F. Fletcher and the Bishop was Levi J. Coppin. The original stewards were Mr. Henry Neal, Mr. Henry Johnson, Mr. Jesse Robinson, Mr. Lonnie Foxworth, Sr., Mr. Charlie Foxworth, Mr. Johnny Johnson, and Mr. Friday Scott. The original trustees were Mr. Willie Neal, Mr. Thomas Goddard, Mr. Johnny Sams, Mr. Buchman Thompson, and Mr. Alonzo Nichols, Sr.
Others who have provided pastoral leadership at St. John included Reverends J. C. McCoy, D.C. Dendy, W. Burke, J.C. Watkins, D.C. Deas, A.J. Murphy, J.S. Coe, Isaiah Duckett, E.B. Mack, A.J. Jenkins, J.M. Jackson, W.W. Richardson, A.J. Felix, E.F.G Dent, S.W. Fordham, W.D.C. McClary, Robert R. Hooper, Johnnie Yeadon, Frank C. Maddox, Melvin C. Capers, Moses McCants, Harry L. Wilson, Joseph Jones, Donnie McBride, Reverend Dr. James C. Evans and presently Matthew Furness.
Presiding Elders have included Reverends F.D. Fladger, J.M. Delain, D.C. Deas, D.D., W.P. Carolina, A.G. Spears, J.S. Coe, D.D., I.W. Jenerette, A.J. Jenkins, S.W. Singleton, R.L. McCants, Charles Graves, and William Smith, Ph.D.
The church was rebuilt in 1921 under the leadership of Rev. A.J. Murphy and dedicated in 1924 under the leadership of Rev. J.S. Coe. In 1977 an educational building was added to the church and the parsonage was renovated in July of 1987, under the supervision of Major Jerome J. Davis along with Beatrice Hughes, Lillie Gregg, William Livingston, John Foxworth, Mattie Davis, Wright Crawford, George Hemingway, Louise Massey, Paul McKnight, Richard Gause, Susie Fladger, Vera Page, Tom Miller, Edith Johnson, Cartrell Brown, William Simmons, LouElla Gause, Alice Haggins, P.C. Legette, Willie Holton, Lucy J. Rogers, Oscealo Hughes, James Palmer, John Hayes, Pauline Crawford, Emma Green, Addie Wilson, and Charlotte Legette.
The founding members of St. John AME Church overcame many obstacles to establish this great branch of Zion. They shared their faith with their children and grandchildren, who passed these ideals on through generations. It is with this same spirit that we thrive to maintain and build upon their faith and their dreams. Hebrews 11:1-2 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, for by it the elders obtained a good report.”