THE EARLY YEARS:1905-1967
St. Andrew African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded June, 1905 in a grocery store front owned by Mr. Sam Hargrove at 32nd and Fulton Streets with a small membership of 21, as follows: Mr. & Mrs. Frank Meyer, Mr. & Mrs. Gill and their four (4) children, Mr. & Mrs. Stell and six (6) children, Mr. Sam Hargrove and mother, Mr. & Mrs. Jamerson, Mrs. Fannie Thomas and daughter, and Miss Pearl Crawford, who was the original organizer.
Rev. J. W. Walker was the first pastor, and Mr. Frank Meyer was the first Sunday School Superintendent. The Rev. Calvin of Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church preached the Dedication sermon. Rev. Walker was succeeded by the Reverends Calvin, Davenport, Holmes, and Carter. Rev. Carter was sent to St. Andrew and Spring Hill. He divided the Sunday services by preaching at Spring Hill in the morning and St. Andrew at night.
In 1908, the Conference sent Rev. W. C. Ballard and later Rev. P. L. Johnson. Rev. Johnson was ordained the same year. Also, this year, Rev. Campbell and Rev. E. L. Lunon conducted a Great Revival that was a blessing to the community and many souls were added to the Church.
In 1910, Rev. Ballard was returned to St. Andrew. It was under his leadership that the land at 33rd and State Streets was purchased. Rev. Ballard paid for a fraction of a block and built the Church, as well as adding 12 new members. Among those were Mr. W. A. Jones and wife, Mrs. Virginia Jones, who came from Carter’s Chapel, Helena, Arkansas.
In 1911, Rev. Collins came. Under his leadership, three and four members a month were added to the church. For the next 20 years between 1910 and 1930, several pastors came and went.
It was under the leadership of Rev. Patterson in 1928 that he and the members sold the Church building. On April 3, 1928, under the leadership of Rev. George W. Blackmon, the Church was rebuilt. The Rt. Rev. W. T. Vernon was presiding Bishop.
During the early years, Tom and Amy Williams opened up their home at 3204 Izard Streets to many pastors who did not have parsonages. Sunday dinner at the Williams home was a regular for many pastors.
In 1951, Mr. Lloyd B. Williams mortgaged his home at 33rd & Gaines Street to purchase a house from East Little Rock and have it moved to the Church location to serve as the parsonage for then pastor Rev. J. J. Brown. The debt was later repaid by the Church.
The Young Matrons Club, which was an organization made up of young women who were youth missionaries, was organized in the 1950’s under the direction of Mrs. Sarah Moore Adams, who came to St. Andrew from Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Church, College Station, AR after the death of her husband, Rev. Moore, who was Pastor of Mt. Nebo.
There were five (5) choirs in the early years: Senior Choir, under the direction of Mr. Hamilton, pianist; Young Adult Choir, under the direction of Miss Toby Smith, pianist; The Sunbeams, which was the Children’s choir; Traditional Choir, which was founded and organized by Mrs. Thelma Snow in the 1950’s; and the William Suttles Choir, which was founded and organized by Mrs. Julia V. Brownfield in the 1950’s and named in honor of two of its members (Mr. Tom Berry Williams and Mr. Willie Suttles).
THE GOLDEN AGE: 1967 – 2000
In 1967, St. Andrew purchased an existing church from a white congregation and relocated at 3003 Bishop Street, under the Rev. W. C. Montague, Pastor. Rev. D. L. Blair was the Presiding Elder, and Rt. Rev. G. N. Collins was Bishop. Money was raised to complete the new church by donations from members to purchase bricks. Much of the labor was donated by the men of the Church, under the supervision of Mr. Andrew Jackson.
As the Church transitioned from the Early Years to the Golden Age, the existing auxiliaries and boards continue and several others were added. Some are:
1. Stewardess Boards I, II, & III
2. The Virginia Jones Missionary Society was named for Mrs. Virginia Jones, a charter member who was instrumental in the organization and leadership of the Society.
3. The Amy C. Williams and Rosie Johnson Units were organized in 1990 under the supervision of the First Lady and missionary consultant, Mrs. Delilah Cleaver., wife of Rev. C. M. Cleaver.
4. The Sunday Flower Club
5. Sunbeams and Allen Stars, which targeted the youth groups and later became the Young People’s Department, better known as the YPD.
6. The Cultural Enrichment Club was founded in January, 1991 by Mrs. Judy Green, who served as its First President. The Clubs goals are to educate the Church community about our rich African American cultural heritage and to expose them to cultural activities and events. The Club has done many positive things in the Church community.
7. The Bright Star Club was an organization that assisted the Missionaries and was also responsible for placing flowers and other decorations in the Church. It was recommended that this Club become Emeritus in later years.
8. RAIN was a care team that assisted in the care people living with AIDS. St. Andrew became a Care Team Partner in the 1990’s under the leadership of Ms. Naomi Ross.
There have been five (5) new choirs added during this Era: The Sanctuary Choir, Male Chorus, Youth Choir, Mass Choir which comprises all choirs, and the Angelic Gospel Choir, which was founded and organized by Mrs. Judy Green in 1972 under Rev. John L. Phillips, Pastor. The Late Larry Stewart was the first musician. During the next few years, the Choir membership grew tremendously, traveling to many cities. The Angelics eventually purchased their own bus.
St. Andrew received a Certificate of Recognition for its Outreach Ministries from HEIFER INTERNATIONAL for the Church’s financial and overall support of the Project. St. Andrew purchased an entire ARK, which consists of two (2) of every animal that the Project uses to help families in developing countries to become self-sustaining. Mr. Charles Stewart was the Project leader for the Church.
FOUNDER’S DAY is celebrated annually in February, established in 1816 by Richard Allen. On this day each year, members dress as our forefathers did in the 1800’s during Sunday morning services. This is the day when Annual General Claims are paid or begin. This annual event is chaired by Mrs. Antoinette Merriman.
During this era, the Church purchased much of the surrounding land and built a parking lot on one parcel of land.
During the early 1980’s, the membership rallied to support an extensive remodeling program under the direction of the Trustee and Steward Boards. Work done included stained glass windows, a portico, new Alter, expanded choir loft and pulpit, new pulpit furniture and carpeting.
Also, during this period, as the congregation grew, the choir rooms were sacrificed, and the walls in the rear of the sanctuary were torn out to expand the sanctuary on both sides to accommodate overflow.
In January, 1999, Little Rock experienced one of the worst natural disasters in Arkansas history – several tornados spun through the city at the same time, leaving major damage. All structures around the Church for several square blocks and beyond were destroyed or severely damaged. THE CHURCH WAS THE ONLY STRUCTURE LEFT STANDING UNHARMED.
THE MILLENNIUM: 2000-present
All of the A.M.E. churches in the Little Rock and North Little Rock District said GOODBYE to 1999 and brought in the New Year 2000 with a BANG as one big family. St. Andrew participated in this memorable, once-in-a-lifetime program. St. Andrew’s Pastor, Rev. C. M. Cleaver was a program participant, and St. Andrew’s choir members sang with the Millennium Choir under the direction of Mr. LaBaron Mizer, musician. Mr. Charles Stewart was the overall chairman and was responsible for organizing the program.
In 2005, we ended our 100-year history with a CENTENNIAL Celebration and a new First Family, Rev. R. W. Alexander and family. We welcomed them to the “Little Church with the Big Heart” – where “Everybody is Somebody – and CHRIST is All”.
In 2000, St. Andrew acquired land at 3100 Martin Luther King, Little Rock, Arkansas, from residents whose homes were destroyed by the 1999 tornado. In 2006, the church donated the property to Habitat For Humanity. The church co-sponsored the building of a home on the site for a single father and his children. Groundbreaking took place in 2007. The family moved in and occupied the home in 2008.
In March, 2009, a Praise Team, the ANGELIC VOICES OF PRAISE, was organized by Mrs. Judy Green under the direction of Pastor Reginald L. Alexander.
St. Andrew continues to serve God, the South End and neighboring communities and we welcome all to join us in worship and praise.