ST. PAUL AME CHURCH OF ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NY
The First 100 Years
St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church begin in 1923 when the then bishop of the First Episcopal District appointed the Rev. Hughes to officially establish and organize a mission church in Rockville Centre area. In 1929, St. Paul was officially admitted into the New York Conference as a station church as the members sacrificed to secure a parcel of land to establish a building. Land was purchased on the corner of Randall Avenue and Randall Court in Rockville Centre. During its formative years, the church grew in members and built a house of worship.
In the 1960’s an Urban Renewal Project uprooted the black community in Rockville Centre and the church leadership was informed by the Rockville Centre Housing Authority that the church edifice would be demolished and the land would be purchased by the RVCHA. It was under the leadership of Rev. Isaac Smalls, Sr., that the congregation sought the Lord in prayer for guidance and fundraising efforts began toward securing a new church building. Unfortunately, after several months of waiting to hear from village officials, the membership was informed that there would be no available land to purchase. Subsequently, St. Paul leadership made an offer when a nearby Lutheran Church went up for sale, but the sale was withdrawn when it was discovered that St. Paul was a “Colored Church”.
In 1971, the Rev. Paul Q. Baker was assigned as pastor and upon his arrival the impact of the urban renewal became a harsh reality as he had served two Sundays in the old edifice, after which the congregation watched as the church was flattened by a bulldozer. Now officially without a church home, St. Paul began to worship at the newly built Martin Luther King (MLK) Center, where they would stay for the next decade.
Under Rev. Smalls, Sr., guided by Mr. George L. Marks. Esq. of Freeport, the church purchased a parcel of land on the corner of Pershing and Langdon Boulevards in Lakeview and began construction of a new church edifice. After a number of years worshipping in the basement of our present-day building, the congregation under the leadership of the Rev. Clarence B. Johns, welcomed Bishop Frank Curtis Cummings and Presiding Elder, Rev. William H. Muldrow, to celebrate the dedication of the completed worship facility on September 27, 1986. On October 1, 1988, the congregation paid off their mortgage and celebrated with a mortgage burning service.
In 1995, the Rev. Kim L. Singletary was appointed as the first woman to pastor St. Paul and numerous new ministries were formed. Under the leadership of the Rev. Troy I. Thomas and his wife, Rev. Maxine, “the dynamic duo”, the Women’s Prayer Breakfast was initiated.
In 2001, Rev. Elliot J. Hobbs was appointed as pastor and the church began to grow by leaps and bonds. During his tenure ministries were formed, the music ministry released its debut cd and the church embarked on a building expansion project, that has become known as the Elliot J. Hobbs Family Life Centre. Sadly, after a battle with an illness, Rev. Hobbs transitioned in November 2012, before ground was broken.
Rev. Eleanor Dixson-Hobbs, succeeded her husband as our next spiritual leader. Under Pastor Eleanor leadership, the Acts of Kindness Ministry was created and, while her husband served as pastor the Women’s Prayer Breakfast was rebrand the Sister-to-Sister Prayer breakfast, and during her pastoral ministry grew to over 300 women in attendance. We continued to build the Educational Enrichment Ministry, and Hope & Healing Services encouraged the church’s faith and belief in Gods miraculous healing power.
On September 9th, 2018, Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram appointed the Rev. Tristan J. Salley, Sr., to serve as the 24th pastor of our church. Since his appointment the church has continued to rebound, growing in membership, finances and spiritual as we continue to embrace the vision of “Touching Lives, Impacting Generations and Empowering Communities” and committed to the completion of the Family Life Centre.
In March 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, St. Paul shifted from in-person gatherings to virtual worship. During this extended absent from our physical campus, Rev. Salley, lead the church in a $250,000 dollar capital renovation project to include, the purchase of state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, music equipment updates, a renovation of the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and offices spaces, and the creation of dedicated food pantry.
On Sunday, September 5, 2021, after 539 days, we made our triumphant re-entry into the sanctuary for our first in-person worship gathering and celebrated all that God had brought us through.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY, FOR HE HAS DONE AND CONTINUES TO DO GREAT THINGS!