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(330) 394-4653
328 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren OH 44483
(330) 394-4653
328 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren OH 44483

Episode 14

Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church History

Grace A.M.E. was started in 1874 by Rev. J. L. Lee with two members and Worship Services were held in private homes.  The church purchased its first property on West Market street in 1875 with Richard and Tearris Rod and John Grayon acting on behalf of the Trustees with the financial support.

When the church was built, the congregation could not afford a full-time minister. Thus, the retired Ministers of community held services about once a month.  Later a circuit was formed and a Minister was sent to preach once a month at each of the following places:  Salem, East Liverpool, Alliance and Warren, Ohio.  John Stull, a lawyer and devout Christian Layman in the First United Methodist Church asked the congregration to secure a full-time pastor and he would supplement his salary.  First United Methodist church made large contributions and we currently enjoy a strong bond of fellowship as we share in the Joint Ash Wednesday Services each year.

Rev. Pollard was the first full time minister followed by Rev. Grant, Guy, and Hackley.  Each family in the congregation took turns in providing room and board for the minister.  During the flood of 1913 the foundation of the church was washed out from under the church and everything dropped to the basement due to the flooding of the Mahoning River.  Because there was only 10 colored families living in Warren at this time, the congregation received much spiritual and financial support from the white community.  Thus the church was repaired and Worship resumed.

The Bishop appointed the following ministers:  Rev. L. M. Gordon, Rev. Hogan, Rev. Collins, Rev. John Irvin, Rev. Hutchinson, Rev. Mason, Rev. Beck, Rev. Mitchell Rev. Henri, Rev. Murray, Rev. J. H. Mack and Rev. D. D. Irwin.  Rev. 

Hogan purchased a parsonage on Wood Street and the Rev. John Irvin liquidated the parsonage indebtedness.  In 1949 Rev. D. D. Irwin built the lower basement of the church at the present location on Main Street.

The next minister was Rev. F. W. Thompson and he was responsible for the basement being filled in six feet to allow the congregration to worship in Fellowship Hall without the fear of being inundated by flood waters.  He served as pastor for six years.

In 1958 Rev. A. D. Tyson became the pastor.  Under his capable guidance, direction and wisdom, the sanctuary was built upstairs within one year.  After serving as pastor for only 18 months, he was called home from labor to reward.

In June 1959 Rev. E. J. Jones became pastor and was instrumental in installing stained glass windows, carpeting, kitchen, organ and pews.

Rev. William F. Ogleton came to us in February 1964.  Under his diligent leadership, the following improvements were made: church incorporated, building and furnishing a new parsonage at 316 Second Street, renovation of Fellowship Hall, installed a drinking fountain,  additional office, new front steps, modernized kitchen, built storage rooms, installed all weather carpeting in foyers, purchased communion table, purchased robes for the Cherub, Gospel and Chancel Cathedral Choirs also uniforms for the Usher Boards.  The City of Warren dedicated Ogleton Park as a tribute to his memory.  Rev. Ogleton died in April 1975.

Rev. Hulean Tynes served as Interim Pastor for six weeks and the work of the church continued under her leadership.

Rev. Solomon Cooper became pastor in July 1975.  In a very short time the mortgage was liquidated.  During his tenure an extensive exterior and interior renovation was completed.  Rev. Cooper led his flock as only a true Shepherd of God could do.  Upon his retirement, Rev. Titus Gardner was appointed to Grace. 

Rev. Titus Gardner had an abundance of talents and the church grew spiritually, numerically and financially.  Carillons installed, modernized office, refurbished parsonage, installed a steeple and expanded the parking lot.  He had great plans for Grace but God had a greater vision for him as he was called from labor to reward.

Following the death of Rev. Gardner, Rev. Ernest Dokes was appointed in 1982.  Under his  tenure the parking lot was paved, liquidated the mortgage, purchased  new pews, chancel rail, organ, office equipment, installed a Handicap Ramp and recording system for the tape ministry, instituted each 3rd Sunday as Youth Emphasis Sunday and organized the Tabitha Sisters as a Stewardess Board.

Rev. Otis J. Gordon, Jr. was appointed pastor following Rev. Dokes’ retirement in 1992.  During Rev. Gordon’s’ tenure the physical structure of the church was enhanced after completing an extensive renovation and expansion phase which included the following:  present structure made handicap accessible, restroom facilities on the Sanctuary level and lower level, installation of an elevator, additional classrooms, refurbished and computerized offices, modernized kitchen facility and purchased a van.  He established the following ministries:  Praise Team, Prison, Golden Agers, Nehemiah Builders, Couples, Mentoring, Adopt-A-School and Men of Grace.

Rev. Kevin E. Parks was assigned to Grace in November 2003.  He increased our opportunity for spiritual awareness by his inspirational messages, teaching the Wednesday noonday Bible Study, teaching the Young Adult Vacation Bible School class and organized a Young Adult Fellowship Ministry.  During his tenure new members were added to our Zion, increased number of recipients to our Food Pantry Ministry, the Adopt-A-School Ministry met a vital need at Jefferson Elementary School, completed renovation from the flood damage in Fellowship Hall, purchased 2 new pianos, updated the P.A. System and purchased the house and lot next door to the church at a cost of $30,000 paid in full.

Rev. Dr. John H. Newby was assigned to Grace AME Church in 2007 replacing Rev. Kevin E. Parks.  Rev. Newby continued to move Grace Church forward 

completing the renovation of a rental home that is in use today to support the church budget, under his leadership the church mortgage was liquidated and the voucher system was revised for better record keeping.  Rev. Newby was transferred in 2009, ending his tenure at Grace AME Church.

Rev. Georgina Thornton was assigned to Grace AME Church in 2009, making history by becoming the first female senior pastor in the church history.  Rev. Thornton continued to inspire our spiritual life with two weekly Bible studies 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m. and a dynamic message on Sunday morning.  Our church has implemented an evacuation plan designed to get people out of the church in an orderly, safe and timely manner.  A surveillance system has been installed for added safety.   A modern P. A. and Recording system have been installed; now we can record on CD’s.   

Rev. John H. McCants, Jr. was assigned to Grace on November 1, 2014, and the church embraced the team ministry of Pastor McCants and First Lady Marlyce McCants. She is the Connectional Worship Leader for the Women’s Missionary Society, who willingly shares her anointed voice and talents with the church family. He led a drive to purchase a mini-bus for the church. Through the Trumbull County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, rev. McCants assisted in establishing the “HUB” which reflects, the Mayor, Police Chief, Local Pastors, and Presidents of all major African American Organizations. He led a city-wide drive to reclaim the Millennial age group to become more actively involved in church activities

 He was responsible for creating a new collaborative with the four churches on the Westside of Main Street.

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Grace AME

Recognized as the oldest Black church in Warren, Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church (Grace AME) was founded in 1874. Marking their 150th anniversary in 2024, the church’s history is a long one, starting with a dedicated founding circle and expanding to meet the growing needs of their congregation. Rev. Shane K. Floyd joins us to give insights on why AME churches were so important during the 19th century and how the church has changed over time.

GuestRev. Shane K. Floyd, Ph.D.Founded1874Share