Our Story

Saint Paul's Legacy & Vision

Historic Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church is said to be the oldest existing† house of worship in Lexington, Kentucky and we can trace our existence back to 1820. Our church was an offspring of the Hill Street Methodist Church that was presided over by the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. During the year of 1820, several members decided to form their own congregation and rented a stable on North Upper Street from Charles Wilkins, a banker. The stable was rented with the promise by Mr. Wilkins to protect those who worship there from any disturbance.

The first meetings of the Church were presided over by a local black preacher named William Smith. Under the leadership of William Smith, the membership grew and eventually purchased the stable with the surrounding lot. Parts of the stable were removed and a small brick building had already been built before the purchase. The site was purchased for the amount of $280.00 in 1827. A part of the original stable is thought to remain in the basement of the current building. The building experienced significant remodeling and updates during the years of 1850, 1877, 1906, and 1986.

The congregation withdrew from the Conference of the Methodist Church South right after the Civil War in 1865 and became an independent black church. The congregants joined the Ohio Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference in 1866. The Reverend Grafton Graham was sent to be its pastor.

Saint Paul has a long-standing history of community involvement. During the Pre- Civil War era the Church was used a part of the Underground Railroad. One of the resting places along the road to freedom. During World War I, the Church participated in community Fourth of July celebrations by showing special films of African-American soldiers in battle and the role they played during the war. During World War II, mothers of soldiers frequently met at the church. The group was called the American War Mothers. Our story isn’t finished… it’s just beginning. Under the leadership of the Reverend Troy I Thomas we have taken on a new vision of leadership and mission as we “Unselfishly Serve an Unselfish Savior!”

†"History of Fayette County (p. 472 ) Vestiges of the Venerable City"

Historic St. Paul AME Church a part of the Lexingron African Heritage Trail

The Kaintuckeean