120 Years of Christian Service

Greenville Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

It was III the latter part of the 19th century, III the year of 1897, that a few loyal Zionites found an abandoned one-room 

school house III a section of Charlotte known as Greenville with a sum of one hundred and fifty dollars ($150 00), they 

purchased the little school house for a place of worship from Rufus and Margaret Johnson, owners of the said property 

The congregation was called "Greenville Mission" when It was first organized The church property was located at the 

bottom of a hill popularly known as "Frog Bottom" 

On April 1, 1897, the Reverend Wright Perry, father of Mrs. Fannie P. Brown, a former member of this church, was 

appointed the first pastor, of Greenville Mission, Other early pastors included the Reverends Stewart, Graham, Robinson, 

I J. Jackson and Phinn Roy Flack On December 20, 1910, trustees W H. Young, N. Steele, B.B Scott, John Siglar, 

Charles Springs, and D P. Perry, with J S Smith as witness, borrowed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) from the 

Mechanics Perpetual Building and Loan Association for the purpose of building a new and larger one-room church for 


Unfortunately, a complete record of the founders and early members is not available, but the roll if recorded would 

include Brother W. Hugh Young, Sam Parks, Thomas Bloomfield, Verlie Harris, John Richardson, John Morgan, Govan 

Reeves, Clarence Aery, James Walker, Robert Alexander, Robert McKnight, Robert Gray-Sisters Carrie Garrell, Sallie 

Hunter, Lucinda Robinson, Johnsie Walker, Bessie Alexander, Mary Morgan, Annie Kirk, Emma Aery, Gaither Houston, 

Gertrude Gray, Daisy Martin, Minnie Collins, Catherine Bloomfield, Matilda Vance, Savannah McDowell, Ella Wright, 

Hattie Frazier, Sallie Hams, Julia Withers, Louise Miller, Lillie White, Cora J Alexander and Alma Frazier 

A few years later the church relocated from the bottom of the hill on North McCall Street to another location on the same 

street The small congregation worshiped III this location for more than thirty five years They were blessed during these 

years to have many of Zion’s outstanding minsters to lead them. Pastors who served this fast growing church in the early 

years included the Reverends B. F Martin, R T Mitchell, C C. Conyers, Austin Paul "AP" Morris, Thornton R Gaines, 

Frank Thomas Roberts and William A Blackwell 

120 Years of Christian Service cont.

Contributions made by the Bishops and Presiding Elders to the early development of this church must not be overlooked 

Bishops G W Clinton, G. C Clement, L W Kyles, B G. Shaw and W J Walls gave untiring of themselves to help 

nurture this young church on the upward way Credit must be given also to the Presiding Elders S. J Watkins, S W. 

Hamilton, R. L Simmons, W A Cooper, G. W Hunter, J. W Hayes, L C Clark and Dr. F R Blakey, for the services 

given to the development of this church 

By the forties, the church on North McCall Street had become too small to hold the growing congregation It was during 

the pastorate of the Rev J W Hayes that the first rally was launched to raise funds for a new church The work so nobly 

begun by Rev J W. Hayes was carried on by the ministers who followed him Dr. Walter R. Lovell, Rev H.C Reeves, 

Rev, F J Vorice and the Rev W.H Greenwood continued the drive for funds to build a new church It was however under 

the dynamic leadership of the Rev J E. McCall that a new church was begun III 1951 

Work on the new church was just underway when it was learned that one street away; the Statesville Ave A.R P. Church 

was to be sold the pastor called a church meeting and it was agreed that they would purchase the AR.P. Church at 1201 

Statesville Avenue Bishop W. J Walls, the Presiding Bishop, the pastor and trustees began negotiations to buy the church 

III February of 1952 a loan of $50,000 was secured from the Wachovia Bank, a balance of $17,500 was raised by the A. 

M. E Zion Connection, The Western North Carolina Conference and the local church. 

A total of $67,500 was paid for all church property including a five-room parsonage. The pastor, officers, and members 

were grateful to Bishop W J Walls for his leadership III securing this property it was through his hard work and 

determination that his small congregation was able to get the necessary funds to purchase this church. Bishop W. W 

Slade and Presiding Elder J W Hayes both worked closely with the congregation at this time offering guidance and 


The next sixteen years were not easy for this growing congregation; at times their goal seemed unattainable However, 

God in His infinite wisdom sent the man to this church equal to the task, the Rev Mayhew R. Cuthbertson finished the Job 

started by Rev J E. McCall Not only was the mortgage on the church paid during his administration, but the membership 

was nearly doubled as well 

Greenville Tabernacle, under the leadership of Reverend Cuthbertson, was among the first black churches to establish and 

operate a viable Day Care Center for the benefit of the greater Charlotte Community. He must be given credit for making 

Greenville Mission the frontline church It IS today 

120 Years of Christian Service cont.

The Rev. A F Johnson succeeded Rev. Cuthbertson He had the honor of burning the mortgage commemorating a job 

well done He also led the church in acquiring surrounding properties 

Honor and gratitude must be giving at this point to the late Bishop Raymond Luther Jones and the late Dr. Frank R. 

Blakey In a noble manner, peculiar to these men, they led the church forward they were both men truly committed to the 

high calling of God in Christ Jesus 

By the early seventies, under the able leadership of the Reverend Alton C Hunnicutt, the church was again presented the 

challenge of change Due to the Urban Renewal Program in the Greenville Community; the church had to be relocated. 

On September 16, 1973, a check for $70,000 was received for the sale of the property on Statesville Avenue From this 

sale, four acres of land in the northern section of Charlotte (Hidden Valley Area) was purchased Ground breaking

ceremonies for the building of the new church structure was held, June 1974. 

Due to the economy and the inflationary times, the church encountered many problems during construction. The first 

phase (the fellowship hall and classrooms) was completed in 1975 the congregation continued to worship in the 

fellowship hall until 1978, when the auditorium was finally completed 

The pastor, officers, and members were grateful to Bishop and Mrs. William M Smith for their interest and concern 

during these years Their dedicated leadership along with that of  Dr. Frank Murphy Allen Presiding Elder of the North 

Charlotte District, was invaluable to the church during these turbulent times Very special thanks IS owed to Bishop Smith, 

and Dr. Lem Long, Director of the Department of Church Extension, for their efforts and influence in securing the loan 

for the completion of the church 

Dedication services for the church were held on August 13, 1978, with the late Bishop George Juniors Leake, and the late 

Right Reverend William M Smith officiating at this celebration, Greenville Tabernacle became Greenville Memorial, 

dedicated as a lasting memorial to the old Greenville Community. 

A debt of lasting gratitude is owed to the Reverend Alton C Hunnicutt for his determination and perseverance.  A man of 

courage and vision, he led his loyal congregation in retiring the huge debt two years early under his leadership the church 

experienced an immeasurable Impact in Hidden Valley Community. 

Although the church no longer operates a Day Care, we operate an After School Program. Among other programs offered 

for the benefit of the community are an alcohol and narcotics rehabilitation programs, seasonal youth athletic programs 

and several scholarship programs. We also have a website gmamezc.org 

Future plans include the construction of a family life center for which the land has already been purchased. 

The church is eternally grateful for the outstanding contributions of Elder and Mrs. Smith Turner, III, during their tenure 

of office this capable leadership continues under the present district leaders, Dr. James M Sloan. 

Rev Alton C. Hunnicutt, Sr. served "The Church with a Warm Welcome" With dignity an honor as pastor for more than 

29 years after his tenure, Rev. George McNealy served for eight years 

In 2001, the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Rene Shipman was sent to Greenville to inmate a new era of Christian service and 


Many thanks to the late Mrs. Gretchen Chisholm and Mrs. Margaret Hunnicutt Historians: circa 1987.