The History of Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church grew out of the Free African Society (FAS) that Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. When officials at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pulled blacks off their knees while praying, FAS members discovered just how far American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination against African Americans. Hence, these members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into an African congregation. Although most wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794 Bethel AME was dedicated with as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware slave, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia in 1816 to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the AME Church.
In 1886, Mrs. Wells opened her home to a minister and a small group with a desire of having a Church of great faith organized in the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas. This outreach led to the establishment of Payne Chapel AME Church. Mr. James Calvin Lindsey named the church after Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne who was elected the 6th Bishop of African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1852 and served for 41 years. Through the Christian spirit of Mrs. Wells, these pioneers, with a local Minister, Reverend Richard Smith, as leader, were granted the use of her property at 1700 West Street without any financial remuneration. The Church remained at this site for six months with Reverend J. C. Butler, a mission minister, serving as temporary leader. continued