News & Advocacy

First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Santa Monica Celebrates Centennial

August 19, 2021

Continuing a long tradition of African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) churches in the United States, the First A.M.E. Church, Santa Monica, celebrates its 100th anniversary this September.

The original African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1787 in response to racial discrimination against African American free persons who worshipped at an American Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Richard Allen, a former Delaware enslaved person and the first pastor, joined others to successfully sued for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. He called together other Black Methodists in nearby middle Atlantic communities who also were facing racism to join him and others to seek religious autonomy and form a new denomination. It is the oldest Black denomination in North America.

As the church grew, it established a dozen colleges, a hospital, the first Black corporation, and its own newspaper. More than two million members representing all races and ethnicities are found in America, the Caribbean, England, Canada and Africa.

In the early 1850s the denomination reached the Pacific Coast with churches in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco. The Santa Monica church was established in 1921 in the home of Richard and Carrie Dumas. As the membership increased, the congregation moved to the Masonic Hall, located then and now, at 18th Street and Broadway. Conservancy Board member Carolyne Edwards is the granddaughter of Reverend Alfred K. Quinn who was church pastor from 1936 to 1944.

The First A.M.E. Church recently partnered with the City of Santa Monica and others to create two new senior housing complexes, specially designed with social and interactive spaces.

The Conservancy applauds the First A.M.E. Church in Santa Monica for its long-standing service to its members and the larger Santa Monica community.

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