Church History


Brief Historical Overview of

Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church


Since 1897, Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church has used its rich history to develop into one of the most progressive and spiritually sound institutions in the Mid-Atlantic. Payne remains a truly historic people of Faith, Family, and Fellowship who have laid a tremendous foundation for future generations to come.

1897 - Payne Memorial inherited a great legacy in its name – Bishop Daniel A. Payne. Bishop James A. Handy became the 1st pastor of Payne on the 2nd Sunday in July of 1897 for 2 months. The Reverend W. C. Price became the 2nd pastor of Payne as interim pastor. The Reverend James G. Martin became the 3rd pastor of Payne and served to the end of the conference year 1898.


1898 - The Reverend A. D. Holder became the 4th pastor of Payne and served one eventful year.


1899 – The Reverend M. W. Travers became the 5th pastor of Payne from 1899 to 1902.


1902 – The Reverend W. E. Arnold became the 6th pastor of Payne and served one year.


1903 – The Reverend John W. Beckett became the 7th pastor of Payne and served for only one term due to failing health.


1904 – The Reverend L. M. Beckett became the 8th pastor of Payne.


1906 – The Reverend J. C. Waters became the 9th pastor of Payne for 2 years.


1908 – The Reverend P. M. Wortham became the 10th pastor of Payne.


1912 – The Reverend James G. Martin, who was the 3rd pastor, became the 11th pastor of Payne for an additional five years.             Payne was incorporated and the trustees of Payne purchased a church on the corner of Calhoun Street and Patterson Avenue (now known as Laurens Street) for $41, 700. A lovely parsonage was secured at 1342 Calhoun Street.


1917 – The Reverend C. N. Murray became the 12th pastor of Payne and served from 1917 to 1920 until his death. More than $1,000 was raised and at that time the parsonage mortgage was burned.


1920 – The Reverend C. A. Williams completed the Reverend Murray’s term and was later appointed as the 13th pastor of Payne until 1921.


1921 – The Reverend James G. Martin was called for the third time to serve as the 14th pastor of Payne serving 3 additional years.


1924 – The Reverend J. A. Briscoe became the 15th pastor of Payne. Under his guidance, the church purchased the beautiful historic church at the corner of Madison Avenue and Laurens Street for $55,000.  


1930 – The Reverend H. E. Walden became the 16th pastor of Payne.


1935 – The Reverend David Rice became the 17th pastor of Payne and served until 1940 upon his death. He saved the church by paying off the interest amounting to $3,500 during the most crucial moments in its history.


1940 – The Reverend Dr. C. Baker Pearle became the 18th pastor of Payne for nine years. In 1943, Payne was able to celebrate the burning of the church mortgage.


1949 – The Reverend W. P. Mitchell became the 19th pastor of Payne. The Women’s Guild began in 1949 and became a strong organization that supported the church through the great monetary contributions.


1982 – The Reverend Dr. Howard Camper became the 20th pastor of Payne and served until his death in October 1990. The First Lady was Sister Dorothy Camper. A new million-dollar church was built on the site of the old church at Madison Avenue and Laurens Street under his progressive leadership. The congregation marched into the new church on Easter   Sunday, April 2, 1989 shouting their theme God Did It!


1990 – The Reverend Dr. Vashti McKenzie became the 21st pastor and the first woman pastor of Payne appointed by Bishop H. Hartford Brookins. The First Gentlemen was Brother Stan McKenzie. In 1993, the Adoration and Praise Scholarship Committee and the Golden Doves were formed. As part of the church’s community development programs, a 5-story 32,000 sq. ft. apartment building was purchased in 1996 and was converted into a two million-dollar Human and Economic Development Center called the Nimrod, which houses the adult medical day facility, youth and adult education programs and business offices. In 2000, Dr. McKenzie achieved international fame as the first woman to be elected and consecrated as Bishop in the AME Church. 

2000 – The Reverend Dr. Michael O. Thomas became the 22nd pastor of Payne appointed by Bishop Vinton R. Anderson. The first lady was Reverend Dr. Debyii S. Thomas. In 2001 the grand opening of the Nimrod Building was held.  The church relocated its administrative offices to the third floor of the Anvil Building. The creation of the alternative for Halloween called Hallelujah Praise to keep youth off the streets and provide a safe environment was implemented. Dr. Thomas expanded the Restoration Ministry, a holistic health prevention care and treatment organization. Also Payne established faith-based collaborations and partnerships with Redemption C.O.G.I.C. to enhance health outreach. Twenty accepted the call to preach and received spiritual

guidance, training and nurturing under Dr. Thomas’ excellent tutelage as they strived to meet their goal. He also added the Mime ministry to enhance the worship services. In 2003 the Adoration and Praise Scholarship Committee recognized its tenth anniversary with the First Annual Scholarship Awards Banquet honoring six High School graduates


2005 – Present The Reverend Dr. A. Qismat Alim became the 23rd pastor of Payne on the 2nd Sunday in May 2005 appointed by Bishop Adam J. Richardson. Pastor Alim initiated a weekly Monday Night Prayer Service, Wednesday noon and seven o’clock Bible Study, New Members Class, a Men’s Discipleship Class, Sunday School for children and adults, the seven I AMS for the Good Friday service and “The Nehemiah Plan, Free in Three.” In 2007, Payne commemorated its One Hundred Tenth Anniversary by culminating Faith, Family and Fellowship over the course of three months leading up to our Jubilee Celebration on November 9, 2007 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. In September 2011 Payne Memorial became a Baltimore City testing site for HIV/AIDS in partnership with Jacques Initiatives and in October of that same year in partnership with Baltimore City Community College sponsored its’ first annual city-wide job fair. In 2012 Payne Memorial was awarded a $125,000 Bond Bill from the state of Maryland to help develop the Payne Memorial Community Youth Center to be located at 419 Laurens Street.

Prepared by the Historical Committee

Carolyn Peters Duncan, Chair


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