The History of Carey Tercentenary African Methodist Episcopal Church

Carey Tercentenary AME Church was organized in 1916. Carey was named after Archibald James Carey Sr. who was consecrated the 43rd Bishop in 1920 and was once a Judge in Chicago, Illinois. Tercentenary is for the first 300 African slaves brought to this country.

Carey Tercentenary was re-organized in 1923, in the home of the late Mrs. Della Hanley located at 3140 S. Indiana Ave under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. W. W. Harris (1923-1927) Rev. Dr. Harris later purchased the property at 1326 West 14th Street where the congregation worshipped until 1939. The late Rev. Dr. W. W. Harris was followed by Rev. C. A. Moore who served as pastor for one (1) year (1927- 1928). In the Annual Conference of 1928, Rev. Dr. Harris was returned to Carey for one (1) more year (1928-1929).

In the Annual Conference of 1929, Rev. M. C. Wright was appointed as pastor of Carey and served for two (2) years, (1929-1931). In the Annual Conference of that same year Rev. S. B. Washington (1931- 1934) followed Rev. Wright and served for approximately three (3) years.

Rev. Washington was followed by Rev. D. E. Butler (1934-1937). At the close of the 1937 Annual Conference, Rev. G. W. Gordon was appointed as pastor of Carey Tercentenary (1937-1945).

It was during Rev. Gordon’s pastorate that the property at 1033-1037 S. Damen Avenue was purchased. As a result of the sale of the 14th Street properties, it became necessary for the pastor and officers to find a new church location. Through the very capable leadership of Rev. Gordon and his officers, a new church site was purchased at South Damen in 1943. The congregation worshipped at that site for five (5) years.

However, during this period, the church experienced some tragedies and hardships. In February of 1945 the church auditorium was destroyed by fire. Shortly afterwards Rev. Gordon passed.

It was during that critical period that Bishop John Andrew Gregg assigned Rev. Patrick Crigler as Pastor of Carey Tercentenary (April, 1945-1953). Under Rev. Crigler’s leadership the officers and members faced the many tasks before them with courage and determination. As a result of their labor and sacrifices, the auditorium was successfully restored at a cost of $15,000. When the work was completed the congregation moved back into the building in August of that same year, 1945.

In 1947 it became necessary for the minister and officers to seek another church location for the congregation. Through the capable and inspirational leadership of Rev. Crigler, the officers and members refused to be discouraged. They faced their predicament with hope and determination. The property on Damen Ave. was sold for $27,000. Again, the congregation was without a permanent address for more than a year. The officers and members never lost faith, they were determined and remained faithful and continued their worship service and programs in the Lawson School Library.
On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1949, the present church building at 1448 South Homan Avenue was purchased. The church also purchased a parsonage at the same time on South Ridgeway for ($70,000). The properties were later appraised at more than $100,000. Rev. Benjamin H. Lucas (1953-1957) served as minister of the congregation for four years (4) after Rev. Crigler’s tenure.

It was during the pastorate of Rev. Benjamin H. Lucas that the mortgage was reduced from $21,154.60 to $11,260.36. In addition, the number of class leaders increased from 21 to 35.

At the close of the Annual Conference in 1957, Rev. Sidney A. Amos was appointed pastor of Carey Tercentenary A.M.E. Church (1957-1971). Rev. Amos served the longest tenure as pastor of the church. During his pastorate much was accomplished. Rev. Amos organized the first Youth Church. Rev. John Crawford Jr. was the first pastor of the Youth Church for one (1) year (1957-1958). Rev. Edward M. Jones served as pastor to the Youth Church from (1958-1971).

During Rev. Amos’ administration the edifice was redecorated twice. In addition, the membership grew while the church facilities were made adequate through purchases, additions and renovations. New carpeting was placed in the sanctuary and two (2) new pianos were purchased. Three (3) mortgages were paid in full and the property on South Ridgeway Avenue was renovated and modernized. Rev. Amos was instrumental in completing the lower level renovation to house the Sadie Nesbitt Day Care Center. In addition, glass block windows and several air conditioning units were installed. During his last years, the church purchased new pews and new pulpit furniture for the junior church and senior church.

At the close of the 1971 Annual Conference, Rev. Alexander C. Wright was assigned Pastor of Carey Tercentenary A.M.E. Church (1971-1972). Rev. Wright served as minister of the congregation for only one conference year. However, this period was characterized by many experiences. During his brief tenure he assumed Connectional involvement through participation in the Connectional Stewardship Institute and the organization of a Commission on Youth Ministries, in addition, he also purchased some office furniture.
In September of 1972, Bishop H. Thomas Primm assigned Rev. McKinley Young, to Carey Tercentenary A.M.E. Church (1972-1977). Under Rev. Young’s leadership and guidance, the church activated the seven (7) commissions, the Layman Organization and the 10-13 Club. Rev. Young organized the Chancel Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Youth Ensemble and reorganized the Gospel Choir. Also, the Women’s Guild and the Altar Guild. The Altar Guild’s first purchase was the Paraments for the pulpit, a communion table and a lectern. Rev. Young organized groups of Stewards and Stewardesses to visit the sick and shut-in. The Sunday School grew and a new program in Christian Education was developed for the church membership. Under the leadership of the Department of Christian Education, the members attended their first retreat, which was the beginning of several. Rev. Young organized the Agnes Hills Hose Scholarship Foundation and the church purchased a parsonage in Oak Park, IL.
During the first three (3) months, the church liquidated personal debts in the amount of $3,000. The Class Leaders’ Council sponsored a banquet that raised $5,100, which enabled the church to pay the first half of the Conference assessment, plus the 10% increase. Also, the Men’s Club built a new office and paneled the lower level of the church. Equipment was purchased for the office, which included a Pitney Bowes Stamp Machine, an IBM Selectric typewriter, a file cabinet, an updated telephone system and new offering plates. Communication was improved through the Carey Newsletter published by members of the Layman organization.

During the course of that conference year, the church was involved in the KEY’73 Program, which was a special worship service, Bible Study and other programs. At that time plans were made for a door-to- door canvass of the community spearheaded by the Commission on Membership and Evangelism.

Because of Rev. Young’s involvement in the African Methodist Episcopal Church on the Connectional level, Connectional President of the Richard Allen Youth Council, and member of the Executive Committee on the Commission on Youth Ministries, he encouraged the members to be more cognizant of being part of a connectional church. Rev. McKinley Young, who is now Bishop Young, was consecrated the 109th Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1999.

In 1977, Bishop Hubert N. Robinson assigned Rev. Otha L. Powell to Carey Tercentenary (1977-1981). During the tenure of Rev. Powell, the church continued to grow spiritually and financially. Work was completed on the ladies’ restroom and preparation was made to renovate the parsonage and church property that had been damaged by the severe winter. The church purchased two (2) snow blowers and the Men’s Club purchased and installed new carpeting for the upstairs’ offices.

In 1981, Bishop Hubert N. Robinson assigned Rev. Walter D. Parks to Carey Tercentenary (1981-1989). Rev. Park organized the Children’s Sermon, Healing Services and the Young People’s Division (YPD). Rev. Parks also took an interest in Carey’s little league baseball team and supported them as they won many victories. The church replaced the front doors, some new carpeting was placed in the sanctuary, and wrought iron banisters were installed in the choir area. In addition, the church was rewired; the building was tuckpointed; a cloakroom was added for the choir members; and the church office was renovated. The church also purchased a mimeograph machine and had a P.A. system installed in the sanctuary.

In 1989, Bishop J. Haskell Mayo assigned Rev. Basil A. Foley to Carey Tercentenary (1989-1993). Under Rev. Foley’s tenure, the Youth Chorale was organized. Rev. Foley was very interested in the community. The church started the community breakfast and the commodity programs. Also, Carey became involved with the Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). Under Rev. Foley’s administration, the church purchased a copier, a computer, a printer and hymnals. The church also purchased two (2) lots and the worship services were advertised in the Chicago Defender.

In 1993, Bishop J. Haskell Mayo assigned Rev. Kay K. Owens to Carey Tercentenary (1993-2000). Under Rev. Owens, the church purchased a church van, new drums, a computer and printer. Additionally, choir robes for the children and a new alarm system for the church were purchased. Rev. Owens organized the Inspirational Singers, reorganized the Youth Choir and had a church ministry that was broadcasted Friday nights on WYCA 92.3 FM at 10:30 p.m. which aired in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri. The broadcast aired on Sunday nights at 10:30pm on WPNA 1490 AM. Tapes of the Sunday morning service were given to the sick and shut-ins. The church honored Constance DuBose for her many years of dedicated service as Carey’s musician by sending her on a Bahamian cruise.
In May 2000, Bishop Robert Thomas Jr. assigned Rev. William L. Townsend Jr. to Carey Tercentenary (2000-2006). Under Rev. Townsend’s tenure, the offices were remodeled, some office equipment purchased, a new boiler, air conditioners and some new windows and doors. The church was rewired and the bathrooms remodeled. Some furniture and houseware were also purchased. Under Reverend Townsend, the Praise Dancers were organized and a Back to School rally was instituted. Rev. Townsend restored the Children’s Sermon. In addition, the scholarship was renamed in memory of “Aaron Kimbrough” who lost his battle with Leukemia. Scholarships were given to deserving high school students and to youths involved in the Youth Explosion and Young Men of Impact groups. These groups did constructive activities such as life discussions, pizza social gatherings, lock-ins, skating, movie events, voter registration drives, and tours of the city. The church hosted a relief drive for the victims of the Katrina flood disaster in Louisiana.

In 2006 Bishop Phillip R. Cousin assigned Rev. Walter C. Harris, Sr. to Carey Tercentenary. Rev. Harris grew up in Carey and participated in many of its programs and activities. Rev. Harris instituted “Reverend in Blue Jeans Day” and the “Back to School Rally” that also featured a health fair. Both events were community driven to help connect the church and the community. The church continues to support the youth with yearly college scholarships to deserving high school students. For the young men, Rev. Harris organized a Friday night basketball team where the young men interacted with others through a Christian principle. Rev. Harris also organized a String Ensemble. The Community Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS) has continued, as have the voter registration drives and seminars. Carey’s doors are always open to community organization.

Rev. Harris reorganized the Youth Church. The first minister to serve was was Rev. Jeanifer Kimbrough followed by Rev. Wilbert Cook and Rev. Pierce Harper.

The parsonage was sold in 2009 and the proceeds from the sale were used to purchase an elevator lift for the church. Also, a vacant lot was acquired with plans to build a Mary Butler Center to house the food pantry and music center. An Evangelic Ministry has been implemented. New kitchen cabinets, new doors and an air conditioner were also purchased.

Carey Tercentenary’s mission is to continue to reach out to the community to save souls, do God’s work and make his temple a happy place to worship.