Waterloo church celebrates a huge milestone - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo church celebrates a huge milestone


Hundreds of people fill Payne Memorial AME Church in Waterloo every Sunday.

"Between 180 to 210 mark on an average Sunday," said Rev. Steve Perkins.

Steve Perkins is the pastor of Payne Memorial AME Church. He has only been here since November, but is honored to now help continue the legacy.

"Really Payne Memorial AME Church birthed, in my opinion, all the other African American churches in this city," said Perkins.

Payne Memorial is the oldest African American church in Waterloo. It just recently celebrated 100 years, but this church started small with 12 members in a house.

Willie Mae Wright and Elizabeth Merriweather could share a lot of memories about this church. Wright has been a member since 1955, Merriweather started in 1944.

"(I remember) marching up the hill in the rain from the old church to this new church," said Wright.

The old church Wright is talking about is right down the hill from its current home on Mobile Street. In 1958 that church was built, years later they are celebrating a milestone in the community.

"The president (Barack Obama) sent us a proclamation from his office, and then on Monday, we went down to the mayors office and received a proclamation from the city," said Perkins.

For those at Payne Memorial AME Church this anniversary is great, and say it went by fast. 

"It's like a big happy family and most people want to be part of that happy family," said Merriweather.

Payne Memorial AME Church is also featured in the national ministry magazine, "Outreach," in it's September-October issue.

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