Turner Memorial AME Celebrates Anniversary

Ed Laiscell | 7/22/2009, 11 p.m.

Eleven people gathered in the home of Mattie Throckmorton on U Street in Northwest 94 years ago for the purpose of organizing an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in the District. Their intention was to build a tabernacle €to the glory of God.€

What started as a small group grew to become the congregation at Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, now located in Hyattsville, Md.

The members celebrated the church€s anniversary on Sun., July 19, with the unveiling of several stained glass windows highlighting significant milestones in AME history. One window features AME founder Bishop Richard Allen, and his wife, Sarah. Another window highlights the election and consecration of Reverend Vashti McKenzie, the denomination€s first female Bishop, who currently serves as Presiding Prelate of the 13th Episcopal District. Another window depicts civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

€The future of Turner is more in front of them than it is behind them,€ said McKenzie, who delivered the anniversary sermon. €We look forward to seeing the vision God has for this new administration here at Turner and to lift the arms of the pastor who follows the leading of the Holy Spirit.€

McKenzie encouraged the members of Turner to serve in their church and the community. And, she spoke to the congregation about moments in time that affect everyone€s life.

€Moments are rich with potential and filled with unending possibilities,€ she said. €Moments are intersections between the past and the future and there are divine moments.

€Don€t let this moment pass you by,€ she told the congregation during the closing portion of her 45-minute sermon. €Be proactive not passive. Put yourselves in position to act and to inspire others,€ McKenzie said.

Rev. Daryl Walker, who has been pastor at Turner for nine years, described the church as a €unique congregation with a great history.€ The church occupied buildings at Fifth and P Streets in Northwest and Sixth and I Streets in Northwest before moving to its current location in Hyattsville, Md.

€Turner has always been a community church. We knew we needed to relocate to serve a community. Downtown D.C. or Chinatown, as we know it, has become so commercialized that we were not able to serve the people of the community. So we came back to the community to serve the people,€ Walker said.

Walker said Turner Memorial will continue its community service by reaching out to other congregations in the area to build coalitions €for the saving of souls.€ Walker said the church will also work with other congregations on political and civil matters.

Senior Steward Lizzie Corbin, 76, who has been a member of Turner since 1955, expressed excitement about the continued growth of the church under Walker€s leadership.

Stained glass window featuring Bishop Vashti McKenzie and Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was dedicated during Turner Memorial AME Church's anniversary service Sun., July 12 in Hyattsville, Md. Photo by Ed Laiscell

€We€ve gone to different heights under every minister,€ Corbin said. €Rev. Walker has given us a new light. He implemented a youth afterschool study program, motivated the men, reactivated the women in ministry, and improved the Christian walk of the church.€

The church€s anniversary also featured musical selections, both contemporary and anthems, as well as a performance by Agape, Turner Memorial€s liturgical dance ministry, which featured dancers ranging in age from seven-years-old to 83-year-old Emily Wright.