For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. - Psalms 100:5
PAYNE CHAPEL AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH HISTORY
It was November 1891 when the “Duquesne Circuit” was created. Reverend Milo S. Jones was appointed to organize a church and begin “mission work” along the Monongahela River, and a man named Brown organized the Payne Chapel Church Society. Under the untiring efforts of Reverend Jones, a lot with a one-room structure on it was purchased in Duquesne for about $400. The mission work began with but a few workers and a large debt, but the church’s future appeared bright and promising. In 1893, Reverend A.E. Waldon was appointed Pastor of the Society and served for one year, followed by Reverend J.M. Morris (1894) who also served for one year.
In 1895, Reverend H.G. Thomas was appointed Pastor of the Duquesne Society and immediately set out to strengthen the “neat little church.” By 1896, the church had raised $699.28 and had 26 members, and by 1897 the church membership had increased to 37.
The lack of employment in the Duquesne area during the next two years caused many people to move away, reducing the church membership to four or five people. With so few members, the church debt increased. In 1898, Reverend H.J. Williams was appointed to pastor the Duquesne Society during these rough times; however, his tenure was uneventful. He could not even get a “stopping” when he preached at Duquesne.
Reverend Williams was replaced in 1901 by Reverend J.W. Riley, who unfortunately could not do much to build up the church. Thus, the original church lot and building eventually were lost and church members moved their worship services to the public schoolhouse.
The church was reorganized in 1905 by Reverend W.H. Frazer and, for approximately four more years, the church members sang and shouted in the little public schoolhouse while saving money and looking for a new location. In 1909, a $300 lot was purchased by Trustees L.A. Little, Perry Windear, and Thomas Claggett for the purpose of erecting a church for a growing membership. By now, Reverend J.W. Hayes was the pastor. Under his leadership, the membership erected and dedicated in 1911 a new church built of stone and brick on Priscilla Avenue.
In 1915, the church membership increased more than 100 percent, and by 1918, under the pastorship of Reverend Alexander Smothers, the entire indebtedness on the church was paid and the membership doubled.
Reverend J.O. Edwards saw the need for a larger place to worship, so in 1935 the church building was dismantled and the present structure erected in 1937.
The original organizers of the newly constructed Daniel Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church included Rebecca Little, first organist; J. Little, first Sunday school teacher; Annie Warren, first Stewardess Board President; Howard Johnson, Henry King, Lucretia Claggett, Matilda Lawrence, Thomas Claggett, Annie Windear, Mattie White, Samuel Thomas, Horace Weaver, Matilda King, James Griggs, Agnes Ross, Mary Lee, and Alice Campbell. Although the membership was small, their loyalty, energy, and faith in God remained steadfast.
Payne has had 45 pastors since 1891. Some, like Reverend C. Addison, stayed for less than one year, while others stayed for five, seven or, in the case of Reverend Robert H. Reid, ten years. In the last four decades, Payne Chapel has been led by Rev. Robert L. Dye, 1971; Rev. Earl G. Harris, 1977; Rev. Gregory H. Herndon, 1981; Rev. James F. Hux, 1985; Rev. Christopher M. Ferguson, Sr., 1988; Rev. Samson M. Cooper, 1996; Rev. Byron N. Jordan, Rev. Dr. Eric L. Brown, Rev. Samuel W. Chambers, Rev. Kary Williams, Jr., Rev. Helen M. Burton, and Rev. Melvin D. Wilson, Jr., who was assisted by Rev. Hazel Kelly and Rev. Orbelle Henderson. Today, the ministry of Rev. Christina D. Reed stirs our hearts and educates our minds regarding the word of God.
All of our pastors and each of our members are part of the Payne history. The destiny prophesied for Payne in 1920 has indeed come true. Payne Chapel is without question one of the best churches, not only in the Pittsburgh Conference, but in the A.M.E. Connection. For many pastors, Payne has been the “stepping stone” to larger appointments and A.M.E. Connectional responsibilities.
The foundation of our church has always been strong because our foundation is not a building, but a people with a strong faith in God. The congregation has embraced a Mission, Vision, and Goal that symbolize who we strive to be in Christ Jesus.