By: Tony McCray
Pastor Freddie Nathan Tellis of Allen Chapel A. M.E. Church of Pensacola, Florida, located at 500 N. Gillemard Street, led the dedication celebration of the renovation and recovery of the church’s beloved Irene Patterson Fellowship Hall on Friday, April 29th. The lowest section of the church was severely damaged when the rain downpour hit Pensacola on April 2014. The church was established in 1868 and is one of the oldest churches in Pensacola and one of the oldest in the African Methodist Episcopal Connection. Notable Pensacolians from this church family include public officials from Reconstruction, a former HBCU president, three Tuskegee Airmen, and the history of having hosted Mrs. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Allen was the church home of Ella Jordan, General Daniel “Chappie” James, J Lee Pickens (of which J. Lee Pickens School was named after) and Alice S. Williams (of which a branch library and day care center were named after). The church served as one of the Pensacola’s vanguard civil rights institutions, having formed a Freedom School during the Escambia High School Race Riots, in addition to the congregation organizing the Pensacola 1905 Street Car Boycott.
Bethel AME Church Choir rocked the church with Holy Spirit filled gospel music. Bethel AME’s Associate Minister Andrew Toms introduced the AME Church Retired Presiding Elder Mary Robinson, a member of Bethel AME Church as the guest speaker. She brought a strong delivery of the message, “Holding onto God’s unchanging hands and letting others know about the goodness of God’s love”! Allen Chapel fought against the odds of not receiving an SBA loan, FEMA would not help, and the insurance company would not pay. Allen Chapel with Pastor Tellis’s vision and leadership and the loyal support of the committed membership, were able to resurrect the Irene Patterson Fellowship Hall and won the battle against all of those odds.
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