Our church began with house to house prayer meetings in 1865. After meeting from house to house for several months, the group went into its first church at Fourteenth and Market Street. It moved from this location to Cass Avenue where it became a part of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Reverend Jeremiah M. Washington was appointed the pastor.
A lot was purchased and a church building was erected at 2625 Morgan Street, now Delmar Boulevard. This lot was purchased after the church could not retain the lot on Lucas Avenue. Lucas Avenue was a neighborhood of white residents who did not want a Negro church as a neighbor. They paid the trustees five hundred dollars more than was paid for the land to relinquish it.
Reverend Jeremiah M. Washington served about four years, became ill, and was replaced by Reverend A.J. Warner. The following ministers came after him in this order:
- Reverend Smith Clairborne
- Reverend J. Thompson
- Reverend W.A. Chambers
- Reverend W.A. Wakefield
- Reverend John F. Moreland, Sr.
- Reverend E.D.W. Jones
- Reverend John Holland
- Reverend E.H. Curry
- Reverend Dr. Bruce
- Reverend J.C. Temple
- Reverend Dr. Puryer
- Reverend George W. Gains
- Reverend Benjamin Garland Shaw
These names represent years of creditable service given by pastors from 1865 to 1915.
Reverend Benjamin Garland Shaw
With Reverend Benjamin Garland Shaw as leader, the church purchased the edifice in which it is now housed. On a chilly Sunday morning, March 7, 1915, the congregation marched from 2625 Morgan Street to Garrison and Lucas Avenue (now, Dr. Samuel Shepherd Drive).
Reverend T.J. Moppins
Following Reverend Shaw was Reverend T.J. Moppins; then in 1924 Reverend Harrison H. Jackson was appointed pastor. Reverend Jackson, a graduate of Livingstone College, served diligently until his death in 1932.
Reverend Dr. W.A. Cooper
Reverend Dr. W. A. Cooper was appointed pastor in 1940 and remained until 1961, at which time he retired and became Pastor Emeritus. Reverend Dr. Cooper was an individual of extraordinary personal gifts and graces. He was an authoritarian leader, attorney, author and artist. Through his knowledge of and association with Mr. Joseph Sunnen, a philanthropist, the church was able to make needed restoration and renovations.
Reverend Dr. Arthur Marshall
The retirement of Reverend Dr. Cooper in 1961 ushered in an unprecedented era in the life of Washington Metropolitan and Zion. Succeeding Dr. Cooper was a fellow native of North Carolina, Reverend Dr. Arthur Marshall. He was a gifted pulpiteer of peculiar eloquence and vision. He directed Christian Education in our Episcopal District. Our influence as world Christians was projected as he actively participated in the worldwide Christian program known as the Ecumenical Movement. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, our denominational institution of higher education.
The Livingstone College Alumnae Associates was organized by him, which caused the church to focus its attention on its own school, from which some of our finest leaders EMERGE. Through this group of diligent workers, finances were raised for the school and talent among the Junior High and High School students was revealed inter-denominationally and inter-racially. The Lucas Heights Redevelopment Corporation was also established. It was Reverend Dr. Marshall’s vision to repopulate the community and what better way to realize this vision than to construct housing. However, prior to the fruition of this vision, Reverend Dr. Marshall accomplished the ultimate goal. In 1972, Reverend Dr. Marshall was elected the seventy-third Episcopate of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. He became the first of a trinity who stepped from the pulpit of Washington Metropolitan to the Board of Bishops.
Reverend Dr. Richard L. Fisher
Reverend Dr. Richard L. Fisher succeeded Reverend Dr. Marshall and carried out his vision. He was an energetic gifted individual who immediately set about making plans to improve the physical appearance of our church both inside and out. He led his followers in giving both service and money and began seeking funds necessary for the construction of living quarters in our area. Reverend Dr. Fisher’s most significant achievement was the implementation of Lucas Heights Redevelopment Corporation (LHRC). On June 4, 1978 we witnessed the ground breaking diagonally across from Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church on the northeast corner of Garrison and Lucas Avenue (now Dr. Samuel Shepherd Drive). The LHRC involved 3 phases:
Phase 1: Lucas Heights Village, a 192 garden apartment and two-story townhouse complex. Phase 2: Metropolitan Village, 147 apartment complex designed exclusively for the elderly. Phase 3: A 228 housing complex for small families.
Reverend Dr. Fisher received able assistance and support from Mr. Joe Brown, a member of the Board of Trustees. Mr. Brown also served as the first president of the LHRC Board. An African American contractor and developer, Mr. W.A. Thomas provided indispensable guidance and consultation in the development and construction of the housing. On July 22, 1982, the City of St. Louis honored Reverend Dr. Fisher by presenting him with the Multi-Housing Civic Quality of Living Award.
Our numbers continued to increase, and new missionary organizations and usher board groups were formed. Our joy in the Lord was greatly increased as we observed the young ministers work in prayer and class meeting services.
In 1984, Reverend Dr. Fisher closed twelve years of service with Washington Metropolitan when he became the second pastor in succession to be elevated to the position of Bishop. Reverend Dr. Richard L. Fisher became the seventy-ninth Episcopate in succession of the A.M.E. Zion Church. He was elected and consecrated here in St. Louis as Washington Metropolitan hosted the 42nd Quadrennial Session of the General Conference.
Reverend Dr. Clarence Carr
In 1984, Reverend Dr. Clarence Carr was appointed pastor of Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church. Under Reverend Dr. Carr’s leadership, Phase 3 of Lucas Heights Redevelopment was completed. Washington Metropolitan’s visibility in the community was high due to Dr. Carr’s pervasive involvement in the St. Louis Metropolitan Community. Most notable was the leadership he provided during his tenure as President of the St. Louis Clergy Coalition.
In July 1992, Reverend Dr. Clarence Carr became the third person in succession, from Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, to be elected to Zion’s Episcopal Ranks. During the forty-forth Quadrennial session of the General Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Reverend Dr. Carr was elected the eighty-ninth Episcopate in succession of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Two decades later, the Washington Metropolitan Episcopal Trinity is complete.
Reverend Dr. Staccato Powell
In September 1992, Reverend Dr. Staccato Powell was appointed pastor of Washington Metropolitan. Under Reverend Dr. Powell’s leadership, the church acquired two tracts of real estate, a lot on the corner of Cardinal and Samuel Shepherd Drive, and most notably the historic reacquisition of the land located directly across from the church. Originally owned by the church, the property had been sold to the City of St. Louis to house the 9th District police Station. Several new ministries were developed and ground was broken on April 4, 1999 for a new Multi-Ministry Complex to more efficiently accommodate the growth in service-oriented ministries.
Reverend Dr. Powell was socially active at the local and national levels and brought recognition to our church through various leadership positions. He was elected to the position of Deputy General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in November 1997.
Reverend Dr. Anthony Witherspoon
Following Dr. Powell, our current Pastor, Reverend Dr. Anthony Witherspoon was appointed in November of 1999. A vibrant man full of ambition, determination and the Holy Spirit, Reverend Witherspoon continued the dream of his predecessors. His firm belief in the Church family began to draw the membership closer together. He strongly believed in the new millennium that it was time to join the young with the old. In a concerted effort to reach further into the community the Lay Council organized Church in the Street.
Immediately, Reverend Witherspoon allowed the spirit to guide him as he carefully selected new Board Members. His strategic planning reached fruition as the new Board moved forward. They worked diligently to get minor repairs made to the Church (i.e.): purchased land east of the church for extending the parking lot, refurbished the main sanctuary, tuckpointing, updated microphone system and named the church nursery in memory of our first lady Sherry Witherspoon. They also focused on avenues of available funding for new projects. Grants were submitted to private and Government Agencies. Applications were made to obtain 501C/3 status and most notable, Metropolitan Inc. was established and the mortgage on the church was burned in 2007.
Reverend Anthony Witherspoon was appointed to the Connectional Budget Board for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, for 2008-2012 and serves as Administrative Dean for the Midwest Episcopal Area Leadership Training Institute, for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.