St. Paul AME Church of Canton was first established in 1897 with a group of members devoted and faithful to pursue the word of Christ. The group of individuals donated not only their time, but their personal income to purchase the materials that would be used to create the first church.
The first church building was constructed by Henry Ware, Sherman Jefferson, Ed Atkins, Saffire Garrison, Eliza Scott, Lena Green and Liza Palmer. According to church history, the group of men and women worked relentlessly day and night, breaking only to go home for supper.
After 79 years, on April 6, 1976, the church expanded and relocated from the original building on North Crisler Street to the present-day facility at 390 Crisler St. in Canton. Under the direction of the Pastor at the time the Rev. R. L. Childs, the church gathered at the former church location and marched to the new location in good spirits while singing songs of praise. The church’s mission statement reads “saving souls and building stronger Christian lives, one person at a time.”
The current pastor of the church, the Rev. Lemora Dobbs, was appointed to St. Paul AME of Canton in May of 2006. Dobbs said the planning that led to this event to be beyond description that required a lot of time from many people.
Throughout her time there, Dobbs has accomplished numerous achievements including the DVD Ministry; the Divas of Destiny Women’s Ministry; an Outreach Ministry; and a Dance and Mime Ministry, Ladies of Christ and Kids for Christ.
“I’m very passionate about what I do,” she said. While this was Dobbs’ first pastorate, it was also the first time St.Paul AME had a female pastor. “It was a big first, both for me and for the church,” said Dobbs.
She has also assisted the leading the church’s first Fun Walk and Community Health Fair, developing vision and mission statements, and initiating the Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed Club program. AWANA is a nondenominational ministry that assists churches in reaching children with the gospel of Jesus Christ. “My responsibilites are multifaceted, and I take the responsibility God has given me to lead the people of St. Paul,” Dobbs said.
In regards to the growth and success of the church within the past six years, Dobbs said, “It isn’t attributed to me but rather attributed to God. I give it my all and so I will continue to do that.”
Since the beginning of her pastorate, Dobbs has led the church through numerous events that have led to an advancement in service. She described the congregation as becoming more diverse with a mixture of young and not so young, allowing for a vibrant congregation.
In terms of the future, Dobbs hopes to increase the number of people which the church serves. She described St.Paul AME as a small church with a not-so-small church mindset. Dobbs envisions the church to have a community development team that has more community outreach.
“We aren’t waiting until we get as big as some of the biggest churches in the county to start giving back,” said Dobbs. “God is blessing all of our hard work, and we put all our faith in Him. I am in no way tired. I’m going to keep on keeping on.”
For more information, call church desk at (770) 479-9691 or visit www.stpaulame-canton.org.