St. Paul A.M.E. Church members stand in the renovated historic sanctuary where they will greet several hundreds of A.M.E. members from across the state this coming weekend.
St. Paul and Valdosta will host the A.M.E. Church’s South Georgia Conference and Bishop Preston Warren Williams II. The Valdosta conference is scheduled for March 2-7, with numerous events, many scheduled for St. Paul A.M.E.’s 419 S. Ashley St., location and at Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St., said the Rev. Johnnie L. Cook, St. Paul pastor.
Cook expects an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 A.M.E. members from throughout Georgia to attend the conference. Major events include the bishop’s reception, 6 p.m. Sunday, March 3, Mathis City Auditorium; and an 8 a.m. Monday, March 4, breakfast meeting at Mathis with area leaders to discuss how St. Paul and the A.M.E. church can be more involved in the community.
For events at the church, visitors will be met by a congregation that’s nearly 150 years old in a church that’s nearly 120 years old.
Last October, St. Paul began a renovation campaign that revitalized attributes already available in the sanctuary and renewed pieces within it.
Under the leadership of the planning committee of Cook, Janice Young, Ron Baxter, Yvette Council-Waters, Bettye O’Neal, Hubert Reddick and Valerie Bryant, the church refurbished the chandeliers, the pews, the choir stand. A new coat of paint was added to the sanctuary’s walls. For the floors, in certain areas, the church’s original yellow pine flooring was restored while new carpeting was laid in other areas. A new sound system was installed.
During the work period, rather than the sanctuary, the congregation gathered for Sunday services downstairs. Renovations were finished by the end of 2012, and the congregation returned to the renewed sanctuary by the first Sunday of 2013.
Now, St. Paul is ready to welcome the community and A.M.E. visitors from across the state.
A schedule of events for the 101st Session of the South Georgia Annual Conference, hosted by St. Paul A.M.E. Church, with Bishop Preston W. Williams, AME Sixth Episcopal District bishop, presiding.
Saturday, March 2: Youth Summit.
Monday, March 4: Women's Missionary Society, noon day service and 7 p.m., St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 419 S. Ashley St.
Tuesday, March 5: Opening Worship, 10 a.m., Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St.; 7 p.m., Lay Organization, St. Paul A.M.E.
Wednesday, March 6: noon, 7 p.m. St. Paul A.M.E.
Thursday, March 7: Ordination Service, 11 a.m., St. Paul A.M.E. Closing Commissioning Service, 7 p.m., Mathis City Auditorium.