St. Catherine AME Zion Church Striving to Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God!



One hundred and sixty years ago, a small group of people met in a house at 24 Harrison Street, in the year 1841 and decided to organize themselves into a worship group. They formed the mission church that was to become the St. Catherine African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The little mission was named after Catherine Landers, a communicant of the mission, who made generous contributions toward a building for the church.

In 1890, the first church was built at 90 Anderson Street, but the Boston-Westchester Railroad soon bought the property. The proceeds were used to buy property and to build a larger church on Winyah Avenue, now known as Lincoln Avenue. The church was dedicated in 1909 when the Reverend M.O. Haynes was pastor.

During the 160-year history of the church, there were twenty-three recorded pastors. Of the succeeding eleven pastors, many enhanced St. Catherine’s relations in the community. Reverend Cameron C. Alleyne greatly improved the music department and the talented department aided the church in reaching out into the community. Many youth were attracted to the church by its music and programs, and their many achievements in their later lives are well documented. Reverend Alleyne’s years were ended at St. Catherine when he was elected by the General Conference to become the first resident Bishop of Africa.

The Reverend Dr. Redmond S. Oden was pastor of the church during the crucial and dramatic years from 1936 to 1946 when the fiscal standing of the church had to be improved. In the ten years as pastor, he not only had the church out of debt, but also had paid off the mortgage.

During the sixteen years of the Reverend William E. Carrington’s pastorate, the church became more involved and active in the community. The building became more a secular and community center. Looking forward to future expansion to accommodate projected needs and future obligations, a Building Fund was initiated, and Carrington Arms was later named after him.

The plans for the new church were continued under the Reverend Andrew E. Whitted, and the present church was dedicated in May 1971. The dedication of the adjacent 110 middle-income units, Carrington Arms, was planned as a unified part of the building project, occurred soon after.

During the 1960’s under Reverend Whitted’s pastorate, St. Catherine became involved with the community activities in the framework of the President’s Anti-Poverty Program. It also spearheaded a group that worked hand-in-hand with other community members in the successful struggle against labors unions’ unfair employment practices in the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores.

The Reverend Dr. Vernon Shannon pastured the church for the twenty-five years. During his aggressive pastorate and his spiritual and caring leadership in the community the church grew. With the help of many people, city, county, and state wide, we sponsored the Lincoln Towers, a rent-subsidized senior citizen, 89-unit dwelling on Lincoln Avenue. In 1986, the church acquired an $89,000 Wicks Pipe Organ . Rev. Shannon led the congregation in a debt free campaign that resulted in the retirement of the church mortgage.

The Reverend Michael J. Rouse was appointed the pastor of the church in March 1997. During his pastorate the church has been refurbished completely (bathrooms renovated; new carpeting in Sanctuary, narthex and hallways; Fellowship Hall, Small Chapel, classrooms, library and office painted; new ceiling tiles in Fellowship Hall, Small Chapel, classrooms, Library, office and hallways), a new state of art sound system has been installed, reestablished the Chruch Library, organized a Junior Chruch and developed a website for both Senior and Junior Chruch; also organized the Historical Society, Mass Choir, and Wednesday evening and Tuesday noon Bible Study.

St. Catherine African Methodist Espicopal Zion Chruch is truly a manifestation of the importance of the Black church to a community.