Around 1899, a few believers gathered under a brush arbor made of tree limbs, branches and leaves laid the foundation for Turner Monumental AME Church. Located in the Pittsburg community of Atlanta, Turner was organized by the Reverend Samuel Peter Carey (1847 – 1919), a freedman and cabinetmaker, under Presiding Elder Dr. John R. Harmon and Bishop Henry M. Turner. From 1898 or 1899 to 1906, the congregation called Turner Mission and Pittsburg Circuit was led by four pastors -- Carey, Leary, James T. Addie, and C. Hamby.
Beatrice Chase used her column in the Washington Bee (Washington, DC) to announce, “A movement towards the erection of the Turner Monumental AME Church in honor of Bishop Turner was started last week in Atlanta, Georgia.“ She was referring to a March 1906 resolution passed by Jackson Hill Baptist Church authorizing sale of a church building on Randolph Street to Bishop Turner and P.E. Harmon. Later that year Bishop Turner admitted our brush arbor to the North Georgia annual conference as Turner Monumental. He appointed the Reverend William H. Prince as pastor but Prince left Georgia. It appears that Presiding Elder John R. Harmon was our supply pastor until the next conference when the pastorate was passed to the Reverend Fuller A. White, Jr. (1880 - 1928). After four months, White was replaced by the Rev. Edward K. Nichols (1876 - 1965), a well-educated seasoned pastor from Atlanta who oversaw purchase of the first church property.
Turner’s first trustees were William P. Sloan (1852 - circa 1917), David Andrew Perry (1881 - circa 1940) and Dock H. Bullock (1867 - 1941). Sloan was a blacksmith, Perry was a pipefitter, and Bullock was a city drummer (traveling tea salesman).
TMC’s first home was an old building inadequate for its vision serving the community. In 1910, the church launched a campaign “to raise $7000 to erect a new edifice.” The campaign included preaching, carnivals, and a concert/minstrel show with instruments and “a large chorus of trained voices.”
TMC did not get a brick building until 1922 under Pastor A. A. Duncan. The church bought more property but the 1929 stock market crash seriously harmed its finances. Throughout the 1930’s the church held more revivals including women preachers, gospel concerts, and movie screenings to raise funds.
World War II and President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal for economic recovery helped uplift TMC’s finances. Much change came to the church in the 1940’s. Pastor Henry Jackson successfully led the church in getting new loans to improve their physical facilities. The trustee board was enlarged and for the first time included female members. In 1946, the board had a female majority and female president, Ida Candies. Was this gender progress a result of male absence due to the war, or more a reflection of evolving roles for women?
In 1949, under Pastor D. S. Sanders TMC bought a second parsonage. In 1961, under the Reverend L. J. Jones, the congregation moved from Randolph Street to 1401 Boulevard Drive SE. The church motorcaded down Randolph Street to their new home and celebrated with a week of ecumenical and interracial preachers.
TMC purchased its present location at 66 Howard Street NE in 1966 under the Reverend Christopher C. Hughes. In 1984, Pastor Gabriel S. Hardeman led the burning of the church mortgage and purchase of a church parking lot.
Throughout its history, Turner Monumental has had an unbroken line of strong visionary leadership. Pastoral assignments to Turner Monumental began under Bishop Turner - the Reverends William H. Prince (1906), John Harman (1906), Fuller White (1907), Edward K. Nichols (1908-1910).
Bishop Charles Smith appointed the Reverends Edward K. Nichols (1908 - 1910), J. D. Fitzpatrick (1911 - 1913.)
Bishop Joseph S. Flipper appointed the Reverends James S. Downs (1913 - 1915), Enoch N. Martin (1916 - 1917), Mentus T. Flournoy (1918 - 1922), J. S. Jenkins (1922), A. A. Duncan (1923 - 1926), John S. Drake (1927 - 1928). Flournoy died in office and Jenkins finished his term.
Bishop William A. Fountain appointed the Reverends Samuel H. Rome (1929 - 1931), W. C. Kelley (1932), McFarlin (1933), Aquilla L. Brewster (1934 - 1937), E. H. Warley (1938 - 1940), Henry Jackson (1941 - 1948).
Bishop Richard R. Wright, Jr. appointed Dr. D. S. Saunders (1949 - 1951), Dr. W. L. Brown.
Bishop Sherman L. Green appointed the Reverends John Robert Hurley (1952 - 1955), Samuel H. Giles (1955). Dr. Giles began a radio program on WERD-AM that subsequent pastors continued until 1971.
Bishop William R. Wilkes appointed the Reverends Giles (1956), W. Walter Stephens (1957 - 1959), L. J. Jones (1960 - 1961), C. C. Hughes (1962 - 1970).
Bishop Ernest Lawrence Hickman appointed the Reverends Hughes (1964 - 1970), Staples (1970), W. L. Reynolds (1971 - 1972).
Bishops Richard A. Hildebrand, Harold I. Bearden and Fredrick H. Talbot reappointed the Rev. Reynolds to TMC. Reynolds renamed the church’s radio show “The Church Where Old Friends Meet New Friends, and Where All Friends Meet Christ.”
Bishops Fredrick Talbot, John H. Adams, and Donald Ming appointed the Reverend Gabriel S. Hardeman (1984 - 1993).
Bishops Ming and Frank Cummings appointed the Rev. J.C. Reynolds (1994 - 2000). Reynolds led the church in spiritual, fiscal and congregational growth, however, he died in office. Bishop Cummings brought the Reverend Hayward White, Jr. (2003 - 2004) to guide the church through its grief. White instituted the Wednesday Night Pastoral Teaching and Commodity Food Program.
Bishop William P. DeVeaux assigned the Reverends Hayward White (2004 - 2009) and Bruce L. Francis (2010 - 2012).
Bishop Preston W. Williams II appointed the Reverends Francis (2012) and Jai S. Haithco, Sr. (2013 - 2019). Through “TEAM Turner, Haithco focused on leadership, launched the Women’s Ministry, youth Bible study and Youth Church.
In 2019, Bishop Reggie Jackson appointed the Rev. Mark S. Pierson who brought powerful preaching and teaching, health initiatives, leadership, financial stewardship to TMC. Pastor Pierson faced the challenge of leading the church through a health pandemic with restrictions on worship services and meetings. Using social media streaming Pastor Pierson’s leadership, preaching and teaching are keeping the church intact through this crisis.
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