This history of Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal is deeply ingrained in the history of its parent body, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, organized as the Free African Society in 1787.
Because records of the early church were destroyed by a hurricane in 1870 thy exact beginning of the congregation cannot be ascertained.
A search of the records, however, verifies the fact that the church property was bought in 1870. One Nabor Yard, acting as power of attorney for Henry H. Bower of Monterrey, California, formerly of Galveston, Texas, sold the property to the three trustees. They were Peter Burns, Solomon Reily and William Davis. A release shows that the Tree tugs executed a promissory note in the amount of $500.00 to be paid in yearly installments of $100.00 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Galveston, Texas. It included the transaction on the property known as Lot one, block one of the Love and Groesbeck Survey, church property granted on June 29, 1870. The document was filed and recorded in February, 1871.
That date of purchase, however, is a history of only the land. The most valuable information would be in the church minutes; but even those records, twice destroyed by disaster did not document the actual beginning of the church congregation. We know that if there were trustees to negotiate transactions for the A.M.E. Church, then there had to be an organized group. We also know that Bishop Shorter had been told that another location was needed in Galveston, for the people who lived west of 25th. Street. (Reedy Chapel the Mother Church on the East end) The congregations probably worshiped together, possibly in the homes for several years, before being able to make the financial investment of buying the land and building a church.
One piece of evidence dates the congregation back to 1876 when the late Mrs. Rita Marshall was baptized as a baby. The church had a membership of 50 – 60 members. With faith in their God and with modest funds, the members paid-off $500.00 property debt by 1877.
In 1878 under the leadership of the first pastor assigned to the church, Rev. Trawel, the first structure was built. The members named the church Shiloh – after the city of Ephraim in the Bible meaning “Peaceable.”
Some of the early members, besides the trustees mentioned, earlier, were Mrs. Catherine Renoir, Mrs Sylvia Kelly, Mrs. Mary Emerson, Mrs. Rita Marshall and Mrs. Hannah Barnes and families.
The 1894 Storm destroyed the structure that was considered to be the original sanctuary. Under the leadership of Rev. Warren a new building was erected. However disaster struck again, the building was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1900. Once again the members struggled and built the church the third time. The late Mrs. Hortense Mavis Smith gave us an oral account of how the women and children helped in the effort to rebuild, by picking up nails and salvaging lumber from the old building debris, in order to rebuild.
The problems of the church were not over. The frame structure began to weaken and during a revival members noticed definite signs that indicated the church building was not safe. Under the leadership of Rev. B.T. Reese the structure was torn down and the present structure was begun at the present site, 1310 29th Street (now known as 1310 Martin Luther King Blvd.) The cost was 36,000.00
We are fortunate to have had members of the early church who were appreciative of art as evidenced by the beautiful stained glass windows which edify our sanctuary. There are twenty-four very impressive windows in the sanctuary, the beauty of which are magnified each time the sun rises to illuminate the glorious artistry embodied in each one Windows in the sanctuary carry the names of more than 60 families of Shiloh who purchased them in the name of the Lord.
Perhaps the most important windows are those in the entrance; two rectangular windows above the main entrance doors with the words “WELCOME” on each side. We shall never know the countless number of persons who had no home, who knew no one in the city, but found great satisfaction in knowing that they were indeed invited in to experience with the members, the warm love and friendship of Shiloh.
A historical marker dedicated by the Galveston County Historical Survey Committee on September 18, 1971, officially proclaimed Shiloh as one of the oldest churches in Galveston.
Records reveal 33 ministers have been assigned to the congregation. All have been dedicated men and one woman of God, each contributing to the growth and improvement of the church.
Twenty or more men and women have been called to the ministry from Shiloh.
In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike damaged the structure of Shiloh. Over $250,000.00 of damages was sustained. The sanctuary had approximately 3 ½ feet of water, and the annex suffered approximately 4 feet. Worship Services were temporally held at the Mainland Preparatory School in LaMarque, Texas until the restoration work was completed.
Shiloh African Methodist is a church dedicated to Christian excellence as we endeavor to Advance the Ministry and Expand the Church through dynamic worship, powerful proclamation of the Word, anointed teaching and effective evangelism. The Church is dedicated to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Our Church Motto:
The Manifestation of the Expectation
We are proud of our grand and wonderful past, but we must look to the future just as our fore-parents did. We must have that same kind of faith the God is with us and that He has a glorious and wonderful future for Shiloh and its people always remembering the motto of the African Methodist Episcopal Church: God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit our Comforter, Humankind our Family.