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The founding of Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Phoenix in 1899 is celebrated on this date.
Tanner Chapel AME is the oldest Black congregation in Arizona. It was established during the pioneer days when Charles Ward, N. D. Valentine, Laura Valentine, and Sister Bell met with the Reverend H. H. Hawkins, recommending the establishment of a Christian mission to foster "family life." Courthouse records show that in 1887, an African Methodist Episcopal Mission owned the property. The Mission grew, and in 1899, another piece of property was acquired at Second Street and East Jefferson.
With this addition, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was named Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner. Years later, the Sarah E. Tanner Women's Missionary Society was established and named in honor of Bishop Tanner's wife. After this, the land at Second Street and Jefferson was sold, and the present Eighth Street and Jefferson site (shown) was purchased. The Reverend A. H. Hamilton, the Tanner Chapel pastor from 1926-1932, served as the inspiration for building the new church. The Tanner Chapel was completed in 1929.
The Reverend John L. Shaw led Tanner Chapel in its Centennial Anniversary Celebration in November 1987. Currently, Tanner Chapel continues to serve the community through Christian living, quality family life, economic development, responsible citizenship, civic action, and social welfare. Under the guidance of the Reverend Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas, Sr., Tanner Chapel encourages an outreach ministry of Christian care beyond its walls, especially to the physically challenged, the aged and sick, needy children, families, and the homeless.
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History
Volume 1, ISBN #0-02-897345-3, Pg 175
Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West