(TOPKEA) KSNT — As one of the oldest, black, historic landmark churches in Kansas — St.. John AME has played a huge role in shaping the Topeka African American community.
“St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church traces its roots way back to 1868 and we have been in for almost 150 years,” said Rev. V. Gordon Glenn III, pastor of St. John AME Church.
In the early era of the 1950’s civil rights movement- St. John became the center of efforts to end segregated education in Kansas.
St. John assistant pastor, Oliver Brown, was the father of Linda Brown, the girl who became the symbol in the Brown v. Board of Education case.
“When we think about brown I look out into the congregation every Sunday and I see pastor brown’s widow sitting right there. It just makes the history so much present,” said Rev. Glenn.
As portrayed in the movie “Selma”, Martin Luther King and his followers gathered in an AME church in Selma, Alabama – to talk black voting rights and civil rights.
And what was talked about in that church – was then talked about in this church…
“It has always been the place where we can feel like we are somebody. Where we feel like we can speak our minds and be free amongst our people,” Rev. Glenn said.
Local pastors say the black churches across the country have always played a huge part in the fight for freedom…and they and their pastors will continue playing that role.
“The day is constantly coming and the interesting and the beautiful thing about that no one can stop it,” sais Rev. Wallace Hartsfield, retired pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.
Because of its role in the civil rights movement – St. John AME was designated a national historic landmark in Topeka in 2008.