History of St. James P. B. Church goes back almost 100 years

Friday, February 20, 2015

By Rochelle Alexander

Special to the Tribune

St. James Primitive Baptist church was founded in 1919 by Sister Ann Kimbrew. She visited St. James Brick United Primitive Baptist church in Mt. Pleasant, Tenn. and was overwhelmed with what she heard and saw.

She gathered together some of her neighbors and began to hold services in her home. She named the church St. James Jr. United Primitive Baptist Church and the Rev. Charlie Mayes was the first pastor and Charlie Pleas the first deacon.

A few years later the congregation purchased property in the Helton Community and built a church. When Rev. Mayes moved to Kentucky, Rev. W.E. Hamilton became the pastor.

In 1941, Rev. T.P. Glenn became the pastor and pastored St. James for 28 years. In the early 1950s, the Church of the Nazarene, a white congregation, extended an invitation to St. James to worship with them. St. James accepted the invitation and Reverend Glenn delivered the message, making St. James the first black church in the community to worship with a white congregation.

St. James saw the need for churches in the community to come together and worship. The idea was submitted to all the pastors and churches, and an agreement was reached: all the churches formed a union. Services were held every first Sunday at the churches that participated.

A choir was formed which consisted of members from the different churches. The first service was held at St. James. When the Housing Authority purchased all the homes and churches in the community, St. James was rebuilt where it now stands on Silver Street.

St. James has experienced hard times and good times. With God's love, and hard-working, faithful, dedicated members and leaders, it continues to survive and be a vital part of the community today and the future of tomorrow.

Rochelle Alexander is the secretary of the Marshall County branch of the NAACP.