Our Children Will Ask...
Trust and believe, a day will come in Allen's history which echoes Joshua's words to the ancient Israelites:
Joshua 4:20-24 [Modern English Version]
20 Joshua set up in Gilgal those twelve stones that they took from the Jordan. 21 He said to the children of Israel, “When your children someday ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall explain to your children, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground!’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we crossed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, and you would fear the Lord your God always.”
When in the future, the children of Baltimore City look at Allen's building and asks, "What do these these stones mean?" "What is the purpose of this building?" This ought be the response:
Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church has stood on the shoulders of our fore parents since 1860, providing sacred worship and providing for the needs of people in the Poppleton Community of West Baltimore. This 160-year-old congregation evolved from a group who met for Sunday school in the home of an unnamed woman who lived on Stockton Street, less than one mile from Allen's current site. Souvenir journals dating back to the early 1950s records that she was connected to Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Baltimore. Bethel is the site where the denomination formally began and held its first annual conference in 1816.
Articles in the July 13, 1902, Baltimore Sun Newspaper and the August 23, 1902, Afro-American Newspaper, respectively record the sale of 1130 West Lexington Street St. Paul’s English Reform Church to the Allen congregation and the first worship service held. The Baltimore Sun reported the property was purchased for $8,500. This is the second building purchased by this congregation. A July 26, 1875, Sun article references the corner-stone laying of a new Allen Chapel building on Stockton St., 38ft by 58ft deep. Cost listed as $5000.
The two-story structure at 1130 West Lexington Street (Allen AME Church) was erected in 1863. A two- story addition to the rear was added on 1885. For more than one hundred-sixty (160) years Allen AME Church has experienced transformational growth through its outreach and community engagement.
Over the past five years, community engagement has been a hallmark. Collaboration with public and private partners have provided opportunities to improve the quality of life for the at-large community. Working with the University Maryland Medical Center, diabetes education, drug overdose recovery, and heart healthy exercise classes were held. Pro bono attorneys helped those needing to apply for expungements.
COVID has little impact on our community engagement. An established relationship with the University Maryland Medical Center made Allen a natural partner to registered persons for vaccination and distribute PPE. Baltimore City Health Department choose us to distribute COVID rapid tests; and the World Central Kitchen choose us as a site to distribute cooked meals to those in need. The Baltimore Ravens chose us to distribute holiday turkeys.
Thus far in 2022, we celebrated Black History month by hosting a nearby after school program. Elementary and Middle schoolers were given overview of Allen’s history and that of the AME Church. Following a tour of our sanctuary the students and chaperones were given novelty bag covering a bag of potato chips. The outer bag had a photo of Allen and a historical statement. This summer Allen through Pathway Forward, Inc. is the host site for the music education component of Saint Luke’s Youth Center (SLYC) Camp Imagination.
Additionally, partnerships with the United Way of Central Maryland, the University Maryland Engagement Center, Church of the Nativity (Timonium), Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and the West Baltimore Renaissance Foundation allows Allen AME Church and Pathway Forward, Inc. to help address the day-to-day wellness needs of Baltimore City residents. With them we can connect those in need with clothing, health care, and advocacy.