St. James AME Church History
During the 1800s Blacks were discouraged from worshipping God in the same churches as whites. In 1849, a small group of devout Christians from Havre de Grace and Stewartsville, Maryland now known as Gravel Hill, saw the necessity for a religious facility to worship God. The group met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Peaco. Planning commenced for the erection of a church on Zion Hill. The church was named Mt. Zion Meeting House. In 1850, Bishop A. W. Wayman of the AME Conference sent Rev. W.M. Waters to pastor the flock.
In 1864 some of the members erected another edifice in Stewartsville and named it
Ebenezer AME Church. In 1865 Rev. Daniel Rideout became the pastor of both churches and during his tenure the membership decided to move from Mt. Zion to Anderson Institute in Havre de Grace. Rev. Jacob Hatton replaced Rev. Rideout in 1868 and served as pastor until 1869. Preachers succeeding Rev. Rideout were Rev. Hatton, Rev. Josiah Hughes (1870-71) and Rev. Abram Dent (1872)
In 1873, Rev. Joseph Robinson became the pastor. It was under his leadership that the trustees purchased a tract of land on Green Street. In 1874 the men of the church with the aid of Mr. Tobias Skinner’s horse brought the building down from Zion Hill to its present location on Green Street. After the completion, the congregation decided to rename the church St. James AME Church in honor of one of its faithful fathers and treasurer, James Peaco.
From its beginning, the oldest African American Church in Havre de Grace, St. James has been served by 43 pastors, each distinguishing himself in many different areas – from Rev. W. M. Waters to our current pastor, Rev. Dr. Baron D. Young.
“To God be the Glory.”