The African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first black denomination organized in North America. It was founded as the Free African Society in 1787 when a group of slaves and free persons were led out of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia by Richard Allen in opposition to segregation. African Methodist Episcopal Church Membership is open to every race and color.
The Free African Society became the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816. It grew with the nation, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church became known for self-help, mutual aid, and freedom fighting. The African Methodist Episcopal Church established America’s first black university, the first black corporation, and the first black newspaper, The Christian Recorder. Today, there are seventeen colleges and seminaries rooted in African Methodism and supported by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Phoenix is the oldest black congregation in Arizona. It was established during the pioneer days when Charles Ward, N. D. Valentine, Laura Valentine and Sister Bell met with the Reverend H. H. Hawkins proposing the establishment of a Christian mission to foster “family life”. Courthouse records show that in 1886, property was owned by an African Methodist Episcopal Mission. The African Methodist Episcopal Mission grew, and in 1899, another piece of property was acquired at Second Street and East Jefferson Street. With this addition, the African Methodist Episcopal Mission was named Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner. Some years later, Tanner’s Sarah E. Tanner Women’s Missionary Society was established and named in honor of Bishop Tanner’s wife.
Years later, the property at Second Street and Jefferson Street was sold, and the present Eighth Street and Jefferson Street site was purchased. Reverend A. H. Hamilton, Tanner’s pastor from 1926-1932, served as the inspiration for building the new church. The “new” Tanner Chapel was completed in 1929. The Reverend John L. Shaw led Tanner Chapel in its Centennial Anniversary Celebration in November 1987.
Today, Tanner Chapel continues its concern for the saving of souls and Christian living, quality family life, economic development, responsible citizenship, civic action and social welfare. Under the pastoral leadership of the Reverend Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas, Sr., and enabled by God, Tanner Chapel fosters an outreach ministry of Christian care beyond its walls through its faith-based 501(c)3 organization, Tanner Community Development Corporation (TCDC) especially to the physically challenged, the aged and sick, needy children, families, and the homeless. TCDC provides to the community various programs for health and housing, literacy, education, financial, and employment opportunities. Tanner Chapel A.M.E. Church continues to strive to bridge the gap between church and community.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE!!!