As the oldest African American spiritual pioneers in Onondaga County, we are obligated to be a haven of Hope, Healing, Help, and Resources to the People in our community.
This occurs through a relationship with Christ and the Core Values of his church.
We are a church that cultivates the community through
ministry and outreach
not just in Syracuse, but across the globe.
Our Church History
Where We Began
1835, Bishop Christopher Rush, presiding bishop of the Geneseo Conference (now Western New York Conference) of the A.M.E. Zion Church, sent Reverend Thomas James to Syracuse, New York to establish a church. By 1841, the A.M.E. Zion Church in Syracuse began with house meetings until July 4, 1842, at which time the church was formally organized under the administration of Reverend James, its first pastor.
After the church was organized, it was called “The First African
Methodist Episcopal Church of the Village of Syracuse.”
The first worship services were held in private homes of individual
members until 1848.
Where We Were
With the help of The First United Methodist Church, in downtown Syracuse, the A M.E. Zion Church purchased property at 114 South Crouse Ave from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brease and moved into it in 1848.” The building was dedicated by Bishop Christopher Rush and used by the A.M.E. Zion Church until 1863.
This building was used until 1911. The A.M.E. Zion Church was the meeting place for many abolitionist and public meetings during the pre-civil war period.
Between the years 1909 and 1910, under the leadership of Reverend Samuel Bailey and Charles E. Colton, a new building was developed at 711 East Fayette Street. It officially opened in 1911 and was formally dedicated by Bishop C.R. Harris.
In 1974, the Reverend Donald Holiness was appointed to the People’s A.M. Zion Church. During his two years at People’s he brought the congregation to the current location at 2306 South Salina Street on August 31, 1975.
In 1976, the Reverend Earl R. Cheek was sent to the People’s congregation. His administration lasted until 1985. The Reverend Earl Cheek was a very eloquent preacher and attracted listeners from all faiths to hear him preach.
In 1985, Reverend James F. Thornton was appointed to People’s. Under his vigorous leadership the church was able to burn it’s mortgage. He was founding Co-Convener of the Southside Clergy Cluster. During his tenure he served on numerous community boards and organizations.
In 1995, the Reverend Sherman G. Dunmore, Sr., was appointed to People’s Church. During his appointment he was instrumental in spearheading projects that updated the current edifice. Reverend Dunmore was bold and innovative in his ministry approach, he served as the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Syracuse as well as founded the Ten Point to Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence.
Said by Reverend Joseph Virgil, “it was then the name of the society was changed, previously having been called A.M.E. Zion Church, now People’s A.M.E. Zion Church.
Where We Are Now
In 2006, the Reverend Daren C. Jaime was appointed to the People’s Church. Under Pastor Jaime’s leadership, People’s formed the People’s Community Development Corporation (PCDC), bringing community, economic development and revitalization to the heart of the Syracuse’s south side. Since 2007, PCDC acquired a mixed-use commercial strip plaza property, two homes, and three vacant lots adjacent to the church.
In 2010, PCDC was awarded a grant for the commercial row resulting in a major exterior façade renovation and the rehabilitation of an existing three-bedroom apartment. Pastor Jaime extended his ministry by adding an 8:00 am Sunday Worship Service as well as a wide range of other growing ministries and outreach initiatives.
Bishop Dennis V. Proctor
Reverend Dennis V. Proctor oversees the New York, Western New York, and London-Midland Annual Conferences.
Presiding Elder Reverend Derrill Blue
Reverend Derrill Blue oversees the Rochester-Syracuse District.