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Saint James African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Columbus, Georgia was organized in November 1863. 

Three quarters of a century had passed since Richard Allen and Absalom Jones led their brothers and sisters of African descent out of Saint George Methodist Episcopal Church in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787. They established Bethel AME Church on the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in that city. 

In 1864, the Reverend William Gaines, an ordained Deacon and brother of Bishop J. Gaines of Charleston, SC, became the first pastor of Saint James. In those days, all of the churches in Georgia belonged to the South Carolina Conference. The first conference in Georgia was organized in Macon on May 30, 1867.

The property on which Saint James AME Church stands was given to the African Methodist Episcopal Church by an act of the Georgia Legislature in 1873. The present edifice, a cathedral in structure and design, was erected during the pastorate of the Reverend Wesley J. Gaines at a cost of $20,000.00. It was completed in 1876. The front doors, which came from the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, are probably the oldest parts of the church. The heavy, ornately carved front doors were built by slaves at the Dudley Sash and Door Company located at Sixth Avenue and 13th Street. The bell tower was built while the Reverend Larry Thomas was pastor (1886-1887).

The most interesting features of the building are the center spire and twin turrets on each side of the tower built in 1886. The twin turrets are stone trimmed and have brick details on the exterior. The interior spiral stairs lead from the narthex to the balcony. A semicircular apse containing an altar and choir loft was added at a later date. The choir loft was formerly in the rear of

Saint James AME Church

the church. The current pipe organ was installed during the pastorate of the Reverend Harold I. Bearden (1940-1948) who was later elected the 83rd Bishop of the AME Church. Saint James is the second oldest church of its denomination in Georgia. This congregation has held memberships in five annual conferences: the South Georgia, the Georgia, the North Georgia, the Macon Georgia and the Southwest Georgia Annual Conferences. Over a century and a half later, Saint James continues to meet the needs of God's people within the greater Columbus area and to serve the African American community as a center for educational, professional, and civic meetings.

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