St. John AME Church History

Columbus, Ohio

In 1896, the population of free black people increased in Worthington.  Several worked to organize a church for black people.  Initially, prayer meetings and worship were held in homes.   

In 1897, a lot was purchased.  The building moved to it was named Bethel A.M.E. Church.  Bethel A.M.E. was presented to the Ohio Annual Conference for admission the same year.

By 1914, a new church at 682 Plymouth Street was built in Worthington, dedicated, and renamed St. John A.M.E. Church.  For many years, St. John was on a circuit with Hilliard, Westerville, and Plain City. 

In 1969,  Negro History Week was celebrated for the first time at St. John under the leadership of Pastor Vance Milligan.

In 1981,  Dr. Alice P. Franklin organized the first observance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday in Worthington; the celebration was held at St. John.

In 1986,  the St. John AME Church Foundation was established.

In 1998, the church burnt its mortgage for the property at 682 Plymouth St in Worthington Ohio.

In 2003,  the Lay Organization was renamed the Nellie B. Russell Lay Organization.

In 2004, under the spiritual leadership of Pastor Hurdie Billingslea, Jr., the church was relocated to 7700 Crosswords Drive, Columbus, Ohio. 

In 2005,  the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS)  name was changed to the Juanita Jones Missionary Society; providing Food Pantry providing support to Wilberforce University.

In 2005,  in November, Pastor Billingslea retired, and Rev. Dr. Jermaine D. Covington was assigned as Pastor. 

Under the leadership of Pastor Covington, the church continued to grow physically and spiritually.  The establishment of new ministries and activities including the Youth Ministry, Gospel and Jazz Brunch, Visual and Dramatic Arts, Family & Friends Day, and various outreach programs including foreign missions.

In 2020,  the COVID Pandemic resulted in increased use of technology, such as streaming, email, and texts in worship services and communication with the congregation. 

In 2021,  Pastor Ruth McCants Locke was assigned to pastor St John in the midst of the Pandemic.  She quickly enhanced the already active technology ministry and started virtual ministries for the youth.  St. John is looking forward to what God will continue to do through Pastor Locke and the church’s leadership as He orders her steps to continue the spiritual and physical growth of St. John A.M.E. Church in the 21st century!