About Us

Payne Memorial
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Historical Summary

The Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church is situated on Brock Bridge Road in Jessup, Maryland. Land for the church was donated at this location by the Biggs family on September 19, 1891, to the Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The record of the church’s humble foundation begins when a group of people who were neighbors, began cutting down trees, clearing land, and building a church, on the donated land on Brock Bridge Road in the year 1894. None of these people were carpenters, masons or builders. All were farmers, and neighbors in the community. The surnames of the founders are: Turner, King, Keys, Eades, Nicholson, Colbert, Hebron, Gaither and Allen. Family members from these founding families remain integral parts of the congregation today.
On March 29, 1895, a structure 18 x25 feet was erected, and the cornerstone was laid. The church was named after Bishop Daniel Payne and has served in the community as a place dedicated to lifting up Jesus Christ and serving the community.
The oral history handed down through the years, record early memories of a pastor named Reverend Crawford; a Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Bessie Gaither; Mother Nancy Allen; Mrs. Lula Hebron; Mother Ellen Allen and Mother Nora Gaither.
The historical record of Payne Memorial’s pastoral assignments are not complete. Our former pastors, to our knowledge, were the Reverends Douglas, Crawford, Shellman, Bailey, Purnell, Green, Mc Queen, Terrell, Holmes, Tindall, Holt, Bell, Leak, Taylor, and Hines. Their years of service were not recorded. Additional pastors serving the church were:
• Rev Harry L. Seawright: 1981 -1984
• Rev. Earnest L. Montague: 1984 - 1985
• Rev. E. Compton Jonas: 1985 -1991
• Rev. Deloris A.B. Prioleau: 1991-2001
• Rev. R. Hamilton Crump: 2001 – 2004
• Rev. Wanda E. London: 2004 - present
While the work of ministry has experienced transformation over the years, so has the physical structure. Initially built as a one room structure heated by a single pot belly stove in the middle of the church, the building was remodeled in 1956. In 1974, a brick addition and basement were added. In 1980, the old structure was bricked faced. In 1981, the dining area and plumbing were added. In 1982 under the pastorate of Reverend Harry L. Seawright, the church was rededicated as two restrooms were added. In 1983 and 1984, stained glass windows, a glass front door, a ramp for the disabled, a piano, a kitchen stove and three exterior doors were added; and the parking lot was blacktopped. In 1990, the sanctuary was remolded and the KMS Construction Company donated to the church, one acre of land on the north side of the current
building. In 1984, under the leadership of Rev. E. Compton Jonas, Payne purchased 5.5 acres of land on the south side of the church from the state of Maryland for expansion.
The congregation sustained by God’s love and power, continued to serve the community and it’s congregation as ministries were developed to meet the needs of a changing congregation and community. Ministries to enhance family life - Women’s and Men’s Fellowship ministries- along with married couples and singles ministries were developed. And ministries to enhance worship and lift up fine arts in worship were developed in the Liturgical Dance and Drama ministries and later a Mime ministry.
Work began in 2002 to organize and establish a Community Development Corporation (CDC) to expand the outreach ministry of the church mainly performed by the Glendora Sledge Women’s Missionary Society which is led by Sis. Elsie Dewberry, President. To that end in 2009, under the leadership of Rev. Wanda E. London, Payne Lighthouse Community Development Corporation became an official 501 3C non-profit organization, with a mission to provide social, education and economic services to the community.
While working to expand ministry and outreach, an opportunity to expand facilities was realized. In October 2010, after 3 years of negotiations and partnering with Corporate Office Properties Trust Development Corporation (COPT), Rev. London and the Board of Trustees led the congregation in a leap of faith, and finalized the sale of a portion of the church’s property to COPT, who had plans to develop an office park just beyond the property line of the church. During this three year period of negotiations Payne paid off a second mortgage previously taken on the church’s property. On November 7, 2010, as the church celebrated its 116th Anniversary, Payne burned a mortgage note that was paid off during the summer of the same year; and celebrated moving from debt, to preparing to enlarge the Kingdom of God.
2010 - 2013 were years of preparation and planning as the Trustees and Building Committee continued the work toward developing our property for the building of a new church facility. After preliminary work with several engineering and architectural firms, at the end of 2012, Architectural Design Concepts, with Mr. Roger Schroeder lead architect - along with Raztec Engineering, Mr. Micheal Razavi, engineer, were secured for the building project. A rendering of an 18,000 square foot two phased facility was approved by the church in January 2013; and resolution was presented at the 4th quarterly conference February 2013 to ratify the project’s approval. As the building committee continues to make preparations for the new facility and as Pastor London prepares the people spiritually for the work; we are walking by faith and not by sight toward Vision 2016 - and the completion of Phase one of the building plan. Site plans have been submitted to Anne Arundel County with expectation of approval by early 2015. 120 years following its birth, Payne Memorial is standing on the promises of God and believing that with God Nothing is Impossible (Luke 1:37) !

February 2015