Hemingway Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in April 1950 under the leadership of the late Rev. Melvin Chester Swann, who was the organizer and builder.
In 1950, the flag of African Methodism was first raised in the all Black community of Cherry Hill, located in the southwest section of Baltimore, Maryland. The Rev. William E. Clapp came to Cherry Hill with much foresight and a determination to see that the Church of Allen would be among the fast growing churches of this community.
At the close of the 1948 General Conference when the Episcopal Committee read the assignments, the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Henry Hemingway, 65th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and wife, Mrs. Catherine C. Hemingway, were sent to the Second District, of which the Baltimore Conference is a part. The assignment of Bishop Hemingway was hailed by many, particularly those who had known him over a period of years because of his ability. Much love and hope existed with the laymen because they felt the new Bishop would usher in a “New Day”. Immediately, Bishop Hemingway began to make surveys and plans for a district-wide expansion program.
Although no permanent organization was started, many loyal African Methodists, notwith-standing Christians of all faiths, longed for a day when a church building would be erected in this progressive community.
During the 134th Annual Conference, held on April 26, 1950 at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Baltimore, Maryland, Rev. Melvin Chester Swann, a young, untiring, proficient and well trained minister, was sent to Cherry Hill to organize a new church which was to be called Hemingway Chapel A.M.E. Church. Later on, Mrs. Harrison J. Bryant suggested that the church be named Hemingway Temple A.M.E. Church.
After this session Rev. Swann immediately began to make survey of his new assignment without a single member to count on. He held his first service in the Hill Theater with just a few people. He didn’t become discouraged, for his faith in God, his commitment to the work of Jesus and his loyalty to his bishop proved unshakable. Rev. Swann was determined that Hemingway Temple would not be a dream, but a reality.
After many meetings with Bishop Hemingway, Presiding Elder Cox, and Mrs. Clara Harris (President of the Conference Branch Missionary Society), permission was given for the purchase of a lot. The lot was purchased for $2,000.00. As the summer months approached, the congregation grew slowly, but steadily. The Pastor was offered a tent by Rev. Emma J. Swann. Lumber was purchased to build a pulpit, a piano purchased and chairs rented. In this tent, located at Cherry Hill Road and Seabury Avenue, we held our first service. Services were held each night during July and August. Growth was very slow and sometimes discouraging. On July 21, 1950, the tent and all its contents were destroyed by fire. Was this an ending? No! This was the beginning of God’s success for a church nearly three months old.
A vacant store was discovered in the Cherry Hill shopping center, after contacting the owner and some city officials, permission was given to hold services in the vacant store. A group of loyal sisters and brothers - Brothers Ralph Blake, Robert Milburn, James Lewis, Burton Lisby, and George Lee -
Sisters Florence Lewis, Sina Harris, Cora Philmore, and Mildred Lee pressed on. They rolled up their sleeves and began to wash walls, scrub floors and build a pulpit. They were able to hold services giving praises to God Almighty for having brought us through the “Red Sea” of despair to triumphant Victory.
The groundbreaking for Hemingway Temple AME Church took place on Sunday, August 13, 1950 and on Saturday, March 31, 1951 the cornerstone was laid.
For years this church has stood as a sentinel pointing men, women, and children to the Heavenly Way. Persecutions have not crushed this church; the power of Satan has not stopped its marching forward for the church is founded on a "ROCK AND THAT ROCK IS JESUS".
This Church of God will stand in years to come as it has stood through the years as "The Church with the Community at Heart" and forever GROWing as God Rewards Our Work!
G.R.O.W. – God Rewards Our Work
“Whatever you do, work with all your heart, as
working for the Lord, not for human masters, since
you know that you will receive an inheritance from
the Lord as a reward”
Growing in God's Word, seeking His plan, working in His house and in the community, that His purpose may be fulfilled by drawing others to Him so all may receive the reward of eternal life which comes through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.”