The History of Saint Peter African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
The Development Years
If we have the faith of a grain of mustard seed we would be able to move mountains. This seed faith was planted in the heart of Rev. Pete Sanders. He was far sighted and had great vision with the love for God and Zion. In his heart was the desire to start a new church. It was July 2, 1952 when Rev. Sanders with a small body of anxious people met at the C. S. and B. Society Hall to discuss the organization of Rev. Sander’s dream. The following persons were present: Rev. F. D. Mayweather (Presiding Elder, Tuscaloosa District), Rev. M. C. Williams (Presiding Elder, Birmingham District), Rev. Pete Sanders, Rev. J. A. Belton, Rev. A. C. Cleveland, Mrs. Earnestine Hall, and Mrs. Julia A. Sanders (wife of the Rev. Pete Sanders). The meeting was called to order with a song, “My Soul Be On Thy Guard”, led by Rev. Pete Sanders. Scripture, John the third chapter, verses 1 – 3 was read by Rev. A. C. Cleveland. Prayer and another hymn, “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say”, was led by Rev. Sanders. The meeting was then called to order by the Presiding Elder to hear Rev. Sander’s plan. Rev. Sanders expressed a desire to build a new church for God and Zion. It was moved by Rev. A. C. Cleveland and seconded by Rev. J. A. Belton that Rev. Pete Sanders be allowed to go forward with his project, namely the starting of a new church. Mrs. Juila A. Sanders asked permission from the group to allow them to name the church Saint Peter, in honor of her husband. She was granted her wishes by the group present.
The Achievement Years
The second pastor of Saint Peter AME Zion Church was the Rev. A. Beadle. Like the founder, the Rev. Pete Sanders, with a small membership, was unable to move from the C. S. and B. Society’s Hall before Bishop Felix S. Anderson gave him a new appointment to another church.
Rev. G. D. James was the third pastor assigned to Saint Peter. It was under his leadership that St. Peter was able to begin growing a little on its own. Meekly and humbly he was able to leave the C. S. and B. Hall and move into an older dwelling shared by an A. M. E. Church (on 30th Avenue and 26th Street). He served well and remained as pastor until the end of the conference year in 1960. He then was made a superannuated minister and remained a member of Saint Peter.
In 1960 the pastorate of this infant church was tendered to Rev. Sylvester Croom, an outstanding young minister of the gospel. When he started our present church, they had only $30.00 in the treasure. But, they had a group of men and their families that had a will to give and work.
The fifth pastor of Saint Peter AME Zion Church was Rev. James E. Hendrix. He with a small membership and his family found support in securing a loan from the North Alabama Conference and Rev. Frank Williams. Thus, making it possible for him to complete the church edifice, buy furniture, put in central air and heating. The membership flourished during those years.
In April 1983 Saint Peter had its sixth pastor, Rev. L. L. Barnes. He served for six months and was blessed under his leadership.
In 1983, the Rev. Bennie Lee Smith, Sr., was appointed to Saint Peter. He and his family worked very hard to help make whatever he did a success. He loved to preach, teach, sing and pray. The numbers grew and some that had departed returned with a mind to work. Rev. Smith led his membership into the remodeling of God’s house.
In 1985, the Rev. Henry James Sledge, Sr., was appointed to Saint Peter. He too had the will to work and we believed he would take us through. He along with his family gave a “good days work.”
In 1993, our current pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeffery L. Cammon, was appointed to Saint Peter. He along with his family arrived with a mind to work and minister. And, that, they have certainly done. The church has since undergone another complete renovation. An annex containing and educational wing has been added. Numerous houses have been acquired in the surrounding community providing affordable housing to many. Numerous other achievements have been accomplished. The membership has been blessed with numerical growth.