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First A.M.E. Zion Church History


The Fleet Street Church (now known as the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church), Brooklyn, New York, was organized in 1885 when its 15 members made application to the New York Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church for admission to the A.M.E. Zion Connection.


These members were the 15 stalwart souls who were originally part of a group who withdrew from the Bridge Street A.M.E. Church and organized another church in 1872.  In 1885 there was another split in the church under the pastorate of Rev. Peyton who took the greater part of the congregation with him to a new location on Atlantic Avenue, leaving behind the 15 members who made up the beginning of the Fleet Street A.M.E. Zion Church.


For about ten years Bishop J.W. Hood appointed seven pastors to this charge, but the congregation fluctuated without desirable sustained progress. He appointed Rev. Frederick M. Jacobs in 1897, and the church took on phenomenal growth and expansion of its facilities.  First Church could seat more people at that time than any other church in the connection.  In 1936, Rev. William Orlando Carrington, the great pulpiteer of the church, was appointed to the First A.M.E. Zion Church, and in 1942 he led the congregation in purchasing this mammoth structure at Tompkins and MacDonough Street, one of the largest churches in the Connection today.  Major improvements were made on this vast property and the congregation is reported to have grown to over 6,000 during his constructive pastorate.  Rev. Carrington retired from this pulpit in 1964, after 28 years as its pastor.


First A.M.E. Zion Church has been blessed with exemplary leadership as evidenced by its contributions to God, Zion and the community. At the 100th year since its organization, five of our pastors became Bishops:  Rev. William L. Lee in 1916; Rev. Paris A. Wallace, 1920; Rev. Frederick M. Jacobs, 1928; Rev. Cornelius Brown, 1936; and Rev. Ruben Lee Speaks, 1972.  Three of our pastors became General Officers:  Rev. W.H. Coffey, Church Extension Secretary; Rev. J. Harvey Anderson, Editor, Star of Zion; and Rev. Frederick M. Jacobs, General Secretary.


After Rev. Speaks’ elevation to the Bishopric in 1972, Rev. Dr. V. Loma St. Clair was appointed pastor until 1982; and from 1982 to 2004 Rev. James E. McCoy served a lengthy administration until being elected to the episcopacy of the A.M.E. Zion Church at the 2004 General Conference.


Rev. Dr. Daran H. Mitchell was appointed in 2004 to 2012. Under his guidance the church continued to be relevant in serving the Brooklyn Community.


In 2013 the late Bishop Roy A. Holmes appointed Reverend Dr. Marvin Dewitt Hooks, Sr. to First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community of Brooklyn, New York. Under the leadership of Dr. Hooks, the mortgage on the parsonage was paid off in 2020, the business building underwent major renovations, including the installation of a new state of the art gym floor, computer center and office/ classroom areas. The building is currently being used to house an after-school program (Children Of Promise). People are joining our ministry, we have hosted an historical Caricom event, as well as many Community orientated events, and rallies. First Church is not only in the heart of Brooklyn but has become a catalyst for change. We thank God for the opportunity to serve our community.


For more information on the AME Zion organization please follow the link below.


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