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Our History



805 Bladen Street, Wilmington NC

815 North Eighth Street, Wilmington NC

In 1917 teenagers, David and James McRae, Nathan and Henry Brooks, started having prayer band meeting in front of the McRae’s home on Second and Cowan Street. Mrs. Flora Russell, sister to the McRae brothers, and Mrs. Dora Solomon were the adults who helped with the meetings. James McRae was the preacher, Mrs. Russell beat the tin pots and David played the washboard for music in their “play church.” They started going from house to house holding prayer services. As the congregation grew, they rented a vacant house on the corner for $1.50 a week. They knocked down walls and made one large room. James McRae continued to be the preacher for their meetings. They decided to secure a preacher after several years of play church.


Rev. I.D. Dunlap graciously consented to serve as their pastor. Rev. and Mrs. Dunlap purchased the building where they were holding services. The deed was place in their name. In 1919, the building was torn down and work was started on a new church building. In 1921, the members moved into their new church, which Rev. Dunlap named “Saint Phillip Church.” James McRae was called to the ministry and preached his initial sermon in Saint Phillip. 


In November of 1924, the Annual Conference was held at St. Stephen A.M.E. Church, at which time, Rev. Dunlap took St. Phillip Church to the conference to be admitted. St. Phillip Church was accepted into the conference. Bishop Davis was the presiding Bishop at that time. 


At the next conference, Rev. L.E. Grady was sent to pastor St. Phillip. Under the leadership of Rev. Grady, the members worked hard to raise funds to purchase land on Bladen Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets. St. Phillip was rebuilt in 1939 to where the parsonage now stands. That piece of land was purchased by Mrs. Mary Davis, President of the Willing Workers Club. Later, the congregation purchased and renovated the house next door to the church for the Parsonage.


The Pastors that followed Rev. L.E. Grady were as follows: Rev. A.H. Douglas, Rev. J.C. Grady, Rev. A.P Pearce, Rev. A.C. Sinclair, Rev. B.C. Fields and the Rev. R.P. Harrison. Rev. Harrison expired and Rev. Mackle was sent to finish the unexpired term.


In November 1968, Bishop G.W. Baber appointed Rev. Joseph Wesley (J.W.) Smith to St. Phillip Church. He remained at St. Phillip for fifteen years. During this time, he purchased property to build our third S. Phillip Church. In 1971, we marched from Bladen Street to 815 North Eighth Street into a new St. Phillip A.M.E. Church building. This event took place on the 4th Sunday in May, 1971. In 1975, Rev. Smith and his family moved into a new parsonage at 801 Bladen Street.


In June 1984, the Rev. L.E. Humphrey was appointed to St. Phillip A.M.E. Church by Bishop John H. Adams. The entire church moved forward under his leadership. The St. Phillip A.M.E. Church Fellowship Hall was completed under his administration, and dedicated January 17, 1988 by Bishop Adams.


In May 1990, Bishop Harford Brookins appointed the Rev. Walter V. Howard, Jr. to St. Phillip A.M.E. Church. Under his administration, the indebtedness on the Parsonage had been liquidated, the pews cushioned, the carpet installed and many more things had been done to beautify the church and make it more comfortable.


Following the Rev. W. V. Howard, Rev. William J. Stewart was appointed Pastor of St. Phillip A.M.E. Church in 1993 by Bishop Hartford H. Brookins. Rev. Stewart created a Wednesday Noonday Prayer service, established a ministry for the chemically dependent and created a witnessing and feeding program for the lost and homeless through the Missionary Society. Rev. Stewart passed away on January 7, 2000.


Bishop Vinton R. Anderson appointed the Rev. A.O. Carmichael as Pastor of St. Phillip A.M.E. Church after the death of Rev. W.J. Stewart. Rev. A.O. Carmichael preached his first sermon as our new Pastor on Sunday, February 27, 2000.


In 2007, Rev. Dr. DeOther Melvin was appointed Pastor to St. Phillip A.M.E. Church by Bishop Richardson. Rev. Dr. DeOther Melvin served as Pastor at St. Phillip A.M.E. Church until his retirement in May 2013. He still preaches at various churches during his retirement.


At the NC Annual Conference in May 2013, Bishop William Phillips DeVeaux appointed the Rev. Dr. Patricia L. Freeman to St. Phillip A.M.E. Church. Pastor Freeman made history by being the first female pastor to serve at St. Phillip A.M.E. Church. Under her administration the church has added a noon day Bible Study, the members purchased their first church bus and started beautifying the Fellowship Hall. Pastor Freeman was reappointed to St. Phillip A.M.E. Church by Bishop DeVeaux at this year’s North Carolina Annual Conference on May 30, 2014. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!


After the retirement of Bishop DeVeaux, Bishop James Levert Davis appointed Rev. Dr. Patricia L. Freeman to St. Phillip AME Church in May 2017. At the North Carolina Annual Conference in May of 2018, Rev. Dr. Patricia L. Freeman was appointed to St. Phillip by Bishop Davis.

The Presiding Elders who served St. Phillip were: Rev. W.H. Capehart, Rev. G.O. Carnes, Rev. D.L. Grady, Rev. Claude L. Stephens, Rev. R.H. Greene, and Dr. W.T. Holland and Rev. Dr. L.E. Humphrey.



Majority researched and prepared by the late Sis. Lillie Mae McKoy

Current information was added by Greta Charles, Administrative Assistant.

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