Memphis congregation celebrates 145th anniversary

(WMC-TV) - St. Andrew AME Church in Memphis celebrated an historic milestone Sunday as the church turned 145 years old this week.

"We've been in this community since 1866," said Rev. Kenneth Robinson.  "Shortly after the end of slavery, during the Reconstruction period."

Robinson and his wife co-pastor the church.  They said when freed slaves started the congregation 145 years ago, the membership was so small, church services were held in a house.

Nearly a century and a half later, St. Andrew AME is one of the most active churches in Memphis.

"God has called us to not just simply to be a building in this community, but to meet the needs," said Robinson.  "That's what Jesus was all about."

Members have put a lot of work into building affordable homes and apartments in the community.  The church also started a nationally accredited child care facility to help families.  They also worked to develop a farmer's market, several youth programs and shoe giveaways.

"I think it's empowering and I think at the end of the day, what ministry ought to be about is empowerment," said former US Congressman Floyd Flake.

Flake, a former New York area Congressman, came to Memphis to help St. Andrew celebrate its anniversary.

Affordable housing programs and other efforts sponsored by Flake's Greater Allen AME Cathedral have greatly improved conditions in New York and has been a model for St. Andrew and other churches around the country.

"It's been a joy to serve among people that have seen the vision and have caught the vision," said Robinson.

Part of St. Andrew's mission is to actively demonstrate their faith by their works.

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