The History of
Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church
New Church Denomination
Among the deprivations attributed to the institution of slavery, the opportunity for worship was not denied. In fact, religious life was a means of imposing Western culture upon African people. Careful control of the black man’s religious expression was maintained by keeping him in constant view during his religious exercise. To allow the Negro the right of assembly for any reason, created a potential for insurrection and rebellion. For this reason, a lave gallery was an important feature of the architectural design of a pioneer not be denied freedom of assembly and the choice of religious expression.
The organization of Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church dates back to the early period of reconstruction to the dark and dismal days of involuntary servitude, to bondage. Emerging from the days of involuntary servitude, to bondage. Emerging from the days of involuntary servitude came a Methodist society known as the African Methodist Episcopal Church prior to 1865 and continues to grow cautiously, yet steadily, progressing numerically and spiritually. In Quincy, Florida this group assumed the name Arnett Chapel A.M. E. Church. Like most pioneer churches, this congregation reported in the reconstruction years a tradition of meeting in either people’s homes or underbrush arbors. Having no pastor, the group was exhorted over by those who felt the urge or by those who were inclined towards the preaching of the gospel.
The first documental evidence of this church body was a deed or indenture, found in the records dated May 10, 1867, from Brister Gunn, a free man of the town of Quincy, Florida, to the Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Quincy, Florida. Viz: Lafayette Hargate, Harry Crews and Fred Hill, free men. These men purchased from Mr. Gunn at a price of $100.00 about one-fourth of an acre, 35-yards square, in the Northwest corner of Lot no. 172 in the Quincy community. Acquisition of this land accords this church body distinction of being the oldest black church in Gadsden County to present day.
On December 4, 1874, Samuel B. Love and his wife Martha deeded to the Trustees of this same body, viz. Colling Washington, A.C. Lightburn, Joseph Jones, Timothy Phillips and Titus Jones, an expansion of Lot no. 172 to two thirds of an acre, for the purpose of building a house of worship.” The date of the construction of the first church is not known. In an historical sketch prepared for Officer’s Day on July 11, 1965, additional information added a more comprehensive story. The congregation was admitted to the General Conference in 1866 by the rev. C.H. Pearce, acting Bishop of the Florida Conference, Presiding Elder of the Tallahassee District and Pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, Tallahassee, Florida. The Reverend B. Quinn was appointed as the first minister to serve this new congregation.
The first edifice was a white frame structure and was called African Methodist Episcopal Church of Quincy, Florida under the pastorate of the Reverend E.W. Johnson. A second frame structure was erected in 1898-99 named Arnett Chapel in honor of the Reverend Benjamin W. Arnett. [Insert: Benjamin W. Arnett (1838–1906) was an African-American educator, minister, bishop and elected official. He was born a free man in 1838 in Brownsville, Pennsylvania where he taught school from 1859 to 1867. In his youth, Arnett lost a leg to an infection suffered after an ankle injury while working on a steam boat between the years 1857-1858. As a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Arnett served parishes in Toledo, Cincinnati, and Columbus; under his leadership, St. Paul’s Church in Urbana completed. It has been designated as a historical landmark. In 1888, he was elected Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a position he held until his death in 1906.] The congregation met in that building until 1939. During the pastorate of the Reverend D.A. Russell. Russell, having knowledge of architecture and building construction, advised and assisted in the construction of the present day edifice. Even though the edifice was incomplete, first services were held in 1940.
The Arnett Chapel Church family has continued to improve this great historical monument. In the early 1960’s the parsonage was built to add comfort to the pastor and their family that was appointed to the church. Additional improvements included building a handicap ramp, a marquee, reconstruction of the ceiling and the Fellowship Hall was renamed the D. H. Jamison Fellowship in honor of rev. D. H. Jamison former pastor. Arnett also honored Rev. R. C. Snellings, another former pastor, by naming an office on the sanctuary the R.C. Snelling Room. The structure of this historic church is firm and only a few repairs on the front structure of the church. Some additional repairs have been made to the lower fellowship hall, additional of carpet, covered pews new P.A. system, piano, organ and computer lab. The computer labs are for FCAT tutoring community outreach programs. The church has also invested in two church vans for Transportation Ministry. The church has incorporated events such as Movie Night, a Dance Ministry and a Men Ensemble. This congregation has grown in faith and spirituality and the best is yet to come. Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church is “Where Ordinary People Meet An Extraordinary God.”
The following Pastors have served at this Historic Church:
Rev. B.W. Quinn, Rev. C.W. Stewart, Rev. M.J. Johnson, Rev. Allen Joseph Jones, Sr., Rev. D.H. Hamilton, Rev. S.L. Mims, Rev. A.J. Kershaw, Rev. Robert Meacham, Rev. J.H. Speights, Rev. Thomas Moore, Rev. D. N. Quarterman, Rev. J.H. Gilbert, Rev. J. H. Spears, Rev. M.A. Trapp, Rev. F. Lavaette, Rev. N.W. Edwards, Rev. J.T. Marks, Rev. W.H. Humphrey, Rev. John Taylor, Rev. I. Buggs, Rev. A. D. Ford, Rev. B.F. Dilworth, Rev. E.W. Johnson, Rev. S.L. Lewis, Rev. S.S. Herndon, Rev. C.A. Whitfield, Rev. H. E. Daniels, Rev. F.R. Doyle, Rev. I.H. Dixon, Rev. A.I.G. Richardson, Rev. P.T. Crenshaw, Rev. I.E. Fair, Rev. G. B. Williams, Rev. G.B.R. Grant, Rev. C.H. Burgess, Rev. P.M. Murell, Rev. G.W. Flemming, Rev. J.J. Dayley, Rev. J.F. Ivingston, Rev. L.D. King, Rev. D.A. Russell, Rev. C.H. Pearce, Rev. Mobley, Rev. A.F. Littles, Rev. R. Bowles, Rev. R. Thompson, Rev. M.L. White, Rev. D.H. Jamison (Former Presiding Elder Tallahassee District), Rev. R. C. Snelling (Former Presiding Elder Suwanee District), Rev. A. H. Hunter, Rev. H. Hannas, Rev. O.C. Williams (Former Presiding Elder Marianna District), Rev. Roosevelt Hardy, Rev. James Simon, Rev. Tony D. Hansberry (Current Presiding Elder Suwannee District) , Rev. Latanya W. Floyd, Rev. Willie Wormack, Rev. Willie E. Hagan, Rev. Bernard E. Hudson (Presently Serving as Pastor)
The Presiding Elders who have served at Arnett Chapel A.M.E. Church are as follows:
Rev. C. H. Pearce, Rev. W.M. Bradwell, Rev. Fuller White, Rev. Allen A. Attaway, Rev. C.W. Stewart, Rev. A.J. Crenshaw, Rev. S.S. Herndon, Rev. J.F. Lavette, Rev. S.L. Lewis, Rev. H.E. Danielsm Rev. J.E. Starkes, Rev. H.Y. Tookes, Rev. A.I.G. Richardson, Rev. A.L. Bennett, Rev. C.T. Skyes, Rev. F.S. Ash, Rev. E.L. Daniels, Rev. L.J. Walker, Rev. Henry R. Griffin, Rev. Oscar C. Williams, Rev. Mary Robinson, Rev. Lee Plummer (Presently Serving as Presiding Elder of the Quincy/Monticello District)