By Lee Hubbard
Oakland’s First African Methodist Episcopalian Church, located at 3701 Telegraph, celebrated 160 years of faithful service in Oakland this past weekend. The church, founded just before the end of the American Civil War, has been a staple in the city since 1858 and has been at the center of Black political and cultural life in Oakland throughout the years.
While much of the weather in the Bay Area has been smoky and gloomy, due to the fire in Northern California, this didn’t stop the parade that FAME held. A parade of cars, led by a police motorcade, roamed through the streets of Oakland. The parade went down 15th Street, starting at the church’s former location, down Telegraph Street into the current church’s parking lot.
From there, there was an oral presentation at the church, dealing with the history of the church and its impact on parishioners and the city of Oakland. This was followed up with a church Barbeque.
“This church has not only been married to worship. It is engaged in work in the community,” said Pastor Harold Mayberry, the Senior Pastor at FAME. “The Church is serious about being a part of the community and helping to develop the community to be all it can be.”
Mayberry has been the head of FAME, over the past 23 years and the church has grown and prospered under his leadership. Always outspoken, Pastor Mayberry has made it a point to have the church engaged socially within Oakland, being politically active and being a place that preaches the word.
“Leading this church has been an exciting, motivating and inspiring experience for me,” continued Pastor Mayberry. “We have been grateful for all of the support we have received from the Oakland community. We look forward to what the Lord is going to do in the future for this church.”
Lawrence Ray Freeman, a longterm church member, remembers when the church was located on Fifteenth Street.
“The Church has been at its present location for the past 67 years,” said Freeman. “Everything is running smooth right now at the church and that’s a testament to God and Pastor Mayberry.”
Autrell Frank, the co-chair of the FAME 160th Church Anniversary Committee, said the church has had an ongoing celebration for most of the year.
“We have had something going on every month since June, to help commemorate the 160th anniversary,” said Frank. “We went to the Oakland A’s game for Black heritage night, had a family cookout, men’s night out, an employment seminar and a ladies’ luncheon featuring the Mayor of Tacoma Victoria Woodards.”
The anniversary celebration closed out on Sunday with a visit from the AME Church’s Fifth District Bishop Clement Fugh, where he recognized the FAME’s history in Oakland and its importance in the AME church nationally
This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post.