February is Black History Month and Jazzy 88.9 WCSU is paying tribute to the many African-Americans who have made a difference in the Miami Valley. Today we salute Wayman A.M.E Church, which became the first black church in Dayton, Ohio in 1833.
The Reverend James Byrd was appointed pastor and led a small group of men and women who adopted the doctrine of the A.M.E church Notice of the services held was by word to mouth as its members would go door to door announcing "Preaching tonight! The preacher is here!" Their new church building was located in East Dayton near the intersection of Bainbridge Avenue and Dayton Towers Drive in 1838. Just three years, later the congregation faced racial discrimination following a night of looting, vandalizing and beatings by a white mob on Monday, March 25th 1841 where many African Americans, fearful for their lives, fled the city and the congregation ceased to function as it had previously.
The second organization of the congregation occurred under The Reverend John Hogan in 1867 who held services at several different locations including its members homes. Wayman A.M.E church continued to grow in membership from 55 members in 1874 to 195 in 1900, among its members was well-known poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and his mother Matilda. The Sunday School Department graduated the first class in Teachers' Training within the State of Ohio in June 1903.
In 1922 the congregation was able to build a new church closer to its church members and was located on West Fifth and Bank Streets and was considered one of the most modern facilities of its kind owned by African-Americans in the State of Ohio. During the Depression several trustees and stewards signed mortgages on their homes and other properties to keep the church doors open. Wayman A.M.E overcame much adversity during this period. By the end of the 1950’s, their membership grew to a robust 751 members. In July, 1986, The Reverend Wilbur McLaren Lowe Jr became pastor who held the same position in Bermuda. During his tenure he completed Doctoral Studies at The United Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio while being heavily involved in social, economic and spiritual matters. Today Wayman A.M.E Church is still serving the African American community at its building located at 3317 Hoover Avenue in West Dayton.
This Black History tribute is brought to you by your Miami Valley Jazz Authority, Jazzy 88.9 WCSU.