St. Paul AME Zion Church


LocationSt, Paul AME Zion Church

201 Welbourne St., Johnson City, TN


St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church had its beginnings in 1872 in the log school on Roan Hill. June 21, 1878, P.P.C. and Elizabeth Nelson sold property on the top of “Piney Knob” (the hill behind Munsey Methodist church) to the trustees of the A.M.E. Zion Church for $25. This is the earliest deed found to date in which the name “colored” was not attached to the name of a black church.

In 1879 the congregation moved from the log school to a “framed church house” at its present location on the corner of Welbourne and Millard Streets. Judge Robert burrow transferred the Welbourne Street property to the St. Paul Church on January 21, 1890, in exchange for the Piney Knob property.

In 1909, the congregation constructed its second building, and in 1919 it had outgrown this structure and planned a grand brick structure on the Welbourne Street site. Rev. D.G. Moose, nicknamed “Moose the Builder,” lead his congregation in a massive building program that resulted in the building of the present structure. Ada Owens Moose, wife of Rev. Moose, led the women of the church in weekend sales of various food items to aid in their finances. A construction bond dated February 28, 1921, lists Janes Construction as builders of the brick church, which had a full balcony and basement and seated more than 40 people.

Rev. James William Martin, St. Paul’s pastor in 1928, was named Bishop of the A.M.E. Zion General Conference. By the 1940’s St. Paul was known as the “first church” of the East Tennessee-Virginia Conference.

Source: In the Footsteps of Faith: a Tour of 14 of Johnson City’s Century-old Churches, September 2005. Posted 8 Nov 2005