Historic Foundation honors AME Zion in annual Christmas ornament

Published 9:24 pm Friday, December 9, 2016

Each year, the Washington Area Historic Foundation singles out a structure of historic significance to add to its Christmas ornament collection. Freezing a moment in time, and an image of place, the ornaments reflect the rich history of Washington both past and present: the old courthouse and city hall, the long-demolished Bug House, the steeples of three downtown churches — First Presbyterian, First United Methodist and St. Peter’s Episcopal — that make up the waterfront town’s skyline along with 20 others.

This holiday season, the 21st ornament of the collection features the historic Metropolitan AME Zion Church, located on West Fourth Street.

“Metropolitan is proud to be included in the annual Christmas ornament from the historic foundation,” said the Rev. David Moore, who has presided over the church for nearly three decades. “It’s an honor that they, first of all, considered us, and we are grateful our legacy lives on.”

The church and its congregation have a long history. Built in 1909, it grew from a humble beginning in a small hall — Farmer’s Temple — once located at Respess and Fifth streets and later moved to the back of the West Fourth Street property. Led by one of its ministers, Elder Farmer, a small frame church was built in front of the hall, but as Metropolitan AME Zion Church continued to grow, the need for a larger building became apparent. Through bake sales, selling bricks for 5 cents each, picnics, music recitals, mock weddings and other fundraisers, the money was raised to build the current structure. Designed by a Mr. Foxhall, the modest Gothic brick church is studded with stained glass windows on the outside; inside, the handcrafted woodwork of Jesse Martin, a master builder from New Bern, frames the church. Of particular note is the buttressed cathedral ceiling in the church sanctuary that’s made entirely of wood.

On Thursday, Moore was officially presented the Metropolitan AME Zion Church ornament by WAHF ornament committee co-chairs Dee Congleton and Rebecca Clark.

Twenty-one years ago, Congleton, along with the late Hazel Lassiter, was instrumental in coming up with the idea to start an ornament collection of Washington’s historic buildings. Proceeds from the sale of each year’s ornaments support WAHF projects throughout the year: landscaping maintenance of the parks on Water Street, at Harding Square at the end of Market Street and the Bug House property off of East Third Street at Jack’s Creek, in addition to projects such as historical markers at historic sites that no longer exist.

The ornaments have become a collector’s item for many, and the Metropolitan AME Zion Church ornament can be purchased for $25 at the North Carolina Estuarium, Coffee Caboose, on MacNair Street and at Randolph Funeral Home, neighboring Metropolitan AME Zion on West Fourth Street.

Mildred Randolph, owner of Randolph Funeral home and a member of Metropolitan AME Zion Church since 1967, was also on hand to receive the ornament.