First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church is the oldest black church in Oakland, founded in 1858 as Shiloh AME. It was also known as Fifteenth Street Church for a time. The founders included Isaac and Elizabeth Flood, who also helped desegregate schools in Oakland.
In 1874, Jeremiah Sanderson was appointed the first minister of First A.M.E. Previously services had been led by a mix of laypeople and local pastors. Sadly, Sanderson was struck by a train and killed on his way home from a prayer meeting in 1875. 4,5
Ten years later in 1884 under the leadership of Rev. James Grigsby, the church moved to a larger location on 15th St. between Market and West. and became known as Fifteenth Street Church.
Rev. H. Solomon Hill became minister in 1949. Under his leadership, the church moved to its present location at 37th and Telegraph in 1954, and became First African Methodist Episcopal Church. 3 Trustees at the time included Aramis Fouche and Byron Rumford. The building had formerly housed the Pioneer Memorial Methodist Church, and was constructed in 1917.
On February 19, 2023, it was badly damaged in a 3-alarm fire. 6
Links and References
- FAME Oakland Church website
- Guide to the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (Oakland, Calif.) Collection at AAMLO (alt link via Oakland Library)
- FAME Celebrates 160 Years in Oakland Oakland Post November 21, 2018
- Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 1916
- From Labor to Reward: Black Church Beginnings... by Martha C. Taylor, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016
- The Adjourned Educational Meeting Pacific Appeal May 11, 1872
- Eighty-third Anniversary of First African Methodist Oakland Tribune June 1, 1941
- First AME Church invites all by Annalee Allen Oakland Tribune August 2, 1998
After Devastating Fire, Landmark Black Church in Oakland Perseveres KQED March 24, 2023
- MS189_0116 from AAMLO
- MS189_0128 from AAMLO
- First AME Church BlackPast.org
- Jeremiah Burke Sanderson New Bedford Historical Society
- Under the Wheels Oakland Tribune August 20, 1875
Three-alarm fire heavily damages First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Oakland East Bay Times February 19, 2023