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Lawrence County AME Churches

The early black settlers worshipped in various homes until June 4th, 1884, when the Rev. Jason Bundy organized the Pinkstaff Mission in a log structure east of town. The Mission was connected with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Conference and in 1887, Rev. J.H. Sydes was sent to minister to the needs of the little congregation. He and the members saw a need for a new church building almost immediately. Land was purchased from Francis and Charlotte Cole and the building was completed in 1888. The name was changed to Bethel AME Church. Some of its first officers were Riley Anderson, Clifton Goins, Harrison Mitchell, James Portee, and George Lyles.


Soon the need arose for a second church to serve the growing black population in Lawrenceville. St. James, the second AME church in Lawrence County, was organized in August of 1916 with the Rev. Mack Washington as its officiating pastor. Rev. Washington was pastor at both the Pinkstaff AME and Lawrenceville AME churches until 1922.The two AME churches merged in 1971. 


Mack Washington’s son, Roy was a graduate of Lawrenceville High school. Roy Washington’s son, Harold Lee Washington was elected the mayor of Chicago in 1983 and reelected in 1987. 

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