Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church, 2701 Lee St, Houston, TX 77026

cover11HOUSTON- Rev. Dr. Ruben Braziel was born in Temple, Texas and grew up in church parsonages, because his father, was a well-known pastor here in Texas.

After his High School education he went on to pursue a Bachelors of Science degree, in Chemistry and Mathematics, from Huston-Tillotson University. Afterwards, he enrolled in Texas Southern University, and completed the required course work to receive a Texas State teaching Certification.

He later returned to Texas Southern University, where he graduated with the Master of Public Administration Degree.

He then, enrolled in The Houston Graduate School of Theology, where he earned the Master of Divinity Degree, and subsequently received the Doctor of Ministry Degree.

He has served in various capacities in the A.M.E. Church. “I praise and thank God that I have been blessed to serve as the former President of the Gulf Coast Ministerial Alliance, currently, serve as the Vice President”. He has also served as a conference trustee, in addition to serving as a member of the Ministerial Efficiency Committee.

He has also been blessed to serve as an educator in the Houston Independent School District as a teacher and administrator, educating children, for 32 years.

He has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Houston Graduate School of Theology.

He also, served as an instructor with the Board of Examiners, Dean of the Board of Examiners, and Chair of the Board of Examiners for the Texas Conference, helping to teach and train individuals going into the ministry.

He currently, serve as the Vice Chair of Board of Examiners for the entire Tenth Episcopal District.

He has been a pastor for over 40 years.

He is married to a wonderful young lady, and they are the proud parents of two sons and four grandchildren.

In my own words to sum it all up “I am a husband, father, preacher, and a teacher, but more than anything, I am a Child of God”. Rev. Dr. Ruben Braziel 

HISTORY

The African Methodist Episcopal  (AME) Church grew out of the Free African Society (FAS) that Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. When officials at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pulled blacks off their knees while praying, FAS members discovered just how far American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination against African Americans. Hence, these members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into an African congregation. Although most wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794 Bethel AME was dedicated with as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware slave, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia in 1816 to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the AME Church.

In 1886, Mrs. Wells opened her home to a minister and a small group with a desire of having a Church of great faith organized in the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas. This outreach led to the establishment of Payne Chapel AME Church. Mr. James Calvin Lindsey named the church after Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne who was elected the 6th Bishop of African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1852 and served for 41 years. Through the Christian spirit of Mrs. Wells, these pioneers, with a local Minister, Reverend Richard Smith, as leader, were granted the use of her property at 1700 West Street without any financial remuneration. The Church remained at this site for six months with Reverend J. C. Butler, a mission minister, serving as temporary leader.

After much planning and many prayers, Mr. Tucks, Mr. Walker, Mr. George Taylor and others acquired property in the 1500 block of Hill Street. A Church edifice was built at a cost of approximately three thousand dollars ($3,000). Reverend J. C. Butler followed the small but inspired membership from West Street to Hill Street and became the first official Pastor of Payne Chapel.

The pioneers met the challenge of a growing neighborhood and an increased membership by planting roots of African Methodism in a larger edifice on the corner of Lee and Davis Streets with Reverend J. C. Butler in 1920. Many relatives of members of Payne Chapel at the Hill Street location became member sat the Lee and Davis location including Maude Bright, Viola Calvin, Nellie Cook, Valerie Ezell, Juanita Garrett, Lillian Cox Morris, Owen White, Alma Williams, Bessie Mae Williams, and Darlena Arrington Williams. Stewardesses and stewards were Lucy Crawford, Mary Stephenson, Stella Thorpe, Henrietta Walker, George Carnish, Ed James, H. Marbury, A. Mitchell, L.S. Sharpe, John Walker, and Len Young. The Trustees were Jim Butler, George Carnish, B.L. Clark, A.Z. Hester, Ed James, Jessie Jones, James A. Reed, Jeff Rucker, J. Walker, and L.C. Young.

Payne can rightfully boast of having been served by progressive, alert, and spiritual ministers from its beginning to the present day.  They all successfully led their flock in a manner that fit perfectly into the scheme of the progress of the Church. They performed heroic and momentous tasks that proved to be towering mountains of spiritual strength as reflected in the following listing.

Reverend F.D. Holloway became the Minister of Payne Chapel in 1933. Along with his other fine qualities, he was a gospel preacher and singer.

Rev. O.H. Benns was appointed after Rev. Holloway. However, no historical information is available about this tenure and that of the ministers who served Payne between 1934 and 1941.

During Reverend W.A. Carr’s (1941 -1948) administration, the Church raised twenty-six hundred dollars($2,600) for a Beautification Fund. In October 1941, a cornerstone was laid at the remodeled church.

One of Reverend Randolph N. Reed (1948-1952) goals was to build a new edifice. The congregation accepted the challenge and the membership increased substantially.  The Church began to work diligently for a new edifice. The work including the demolition of the old Church and work on the new one began immediately. While the new edifice was being built, church was held in Independence Hall, a two-story building located at Lee and Brackenridge. The progress made by 1952 was commendable. A second cornerstone was laid in 1952.

Reverend Charles W. Jackson (1952-1953) served for one year. By his noble character, he held the Church together during a year of great tension.

Reverend A.C. Johnson (1953-1957) had a dynamic spirit. During his administration the work on the Church was resumed and completed in 1957. A third cornerstone was laid to signify the completion of this project.

Reverend J. Francis Baker (1957-1959) was a well-trained African Methodist Episcopal Minister who led the congregation in the doctrine and polity of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Because of his training and experience in the field of education, Reverend Leland W. Jenkins (1959-1964)encouraged young people to pursue meaningful educational goals.

Reverend John DeLeon Walker (1964-1969) was a dynamic preacher and an astute businessman.

He implemented the Steward Finance Commission, which today is the Commission on Stewardship and Finance- comprised of Stewards, Trustees, and Official Board Members.

Reverend W.E. Carter (1969-1973) is remembered for his kind and gentle spirit. He led the congregation in retiring the debt of our present Church.  It was during his administration that the church was given a valuable gift of property on the corner of Lee and Jensen Drive. Reverend Carter used his skills in electronics to update and upgrade the electrical work in the Church and parsonage.

When assigned to Payne Chapel, Reverend Arthur J. Bundage (1973-1986) immediately assessed his labor as a messenger sent from God and appointed by one of the great Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop John Hurst Adams. He began preaching and teaching a soul lifting ministry. Many sons and daughters acknowledged their ministerial calling during his tenure. The diligent Officers and Members joined Pastor Bundage’s leadership in the renovation of the Church edifice. Cosmetic improvements included interior and exterior “facelifts.” Expansion included the purchase of the land adjoining the Church on Jensen Drive. This land was developed into a paved parking lot enclosed by an eight-foot cyclone fence.

During Reverend I.C. Gordon’s (1986-1989) ministry, the focus was on continuing the cosmetic improvements by upgrading the physical appearance of the Church.

During his tenure, Reverend E.F. Boyd’s (1989-1992) focus was on gaining souls to work for Christ. Before the end of the conference year in 1992, Reverend Boyd left Payne.

After Rev. Boyd left Payne, Bishop McKinley Young placed the church in the hands of Presiding Elder Bennie Wilson who served two months as the pastor of Payne until a new pastor was appointed.

Reverend Michael W. Gibson (1992 -1999) set goals to acquire more property in the neighborhood surrounding the church for the purpose of spreading the Word of God and serving the needs of our fellowman via Richard Allen’s “Brotherhood of Man” concept. The property on the corner of Davis and Noble was purchased during his tenure.

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