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Wichita's Oldest Black Church Celebrates 141 Years

Carla Eckels
St. Paul AME Church at its current location at 17th and Piatt.

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest black church in Wichita, began 141 years ago. The anniversary coincides with this year’s bicentennial incorporation of the AME Church worldwide.

Wichita was founded in 1870; St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, 5 years later, by a handful of African-Americans. The church was established in a house, then in downtown Wichita, and for the last 60 years at the corner of 17th and Piatt.

Credit Courtesy St. Paul AME Church
A historical photo of St. Paul AME Church in downtown Wichita.

  The mission of the AME Church is to minister to the social, spiritual and physical development of all people. Recently named pastor Godfrey Patterson will receive a proclamation from the City of Wichita on Sunday.

"It’s a miracle," he says. "First of all, when you look at how many institutions may have started during that period of 141 years and how many of them are now defunct, no longer in existence, it shows that our theme is correct we've come this far by faith."

St. Paul has produced two bishops, including church builder H.H. Brookins and Vinton R. Anderson, who lead the World Council of Churches. The AME Church has nearly 12,000 congregations worldwide.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.