Previous Site of the Month: December 2011
Redeemer’s A.M.E. Zion Church
110 Whiting Street, Plainville, CT 06062
As early as 1875, money was being raised by the Plainville A.M.E. Zion Sabbath School to build a church for Plainville’s African Americans. Members of the community were still having meetings regarding the same and putting on various entertainment programs to raise money. Some African Americans attended white churches but were not necessarily welcomed. It was suggested that "they" worship at the white churches on Monday afternoons as the churches were not being used on that day. In 1896 Douglas Mason, Plainville’s first African American Entrepreneur, purchased some land on W. Main Street in Plainville to build a church for the town's African American citizens. That never materialized.
On Sept 23, 1900, Rev. J.R. Cannon, of New Haven and Samuel Baker of Plainville, started a movement for a separate church under the Bethel Order. Meetings were held in various community halls throughout the town. The church withdrew from the Bethel order and came under the fellowship of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion connection. The charter members were, Rev. J.R. Cannon, John C. Baker I, John C. Baker II, Samuel H. Baker, Thomas Baker, ( the Baker family came to Plainville after the Emancipation Proclamation), Hezekiah Gibson, Charles O’Neil, and Sarah Wheatly. The charter members adopted the name Redeemer’s A.M.E. Zion Church and established a legal status.
In 1903 a lot was purchased and the cornerstone was laid in June of that same year. In September 1904 the church was dedicated.
In 1921, Redeemer’s became active in the NAACP and a Plainville chapter was formed at the church.
In 1938 A social and athletic club was formed by the youth under the Pastorate of Rev. Van Catledge. It was called Ramez Youth Progressive Club, aka RAMEZ. There were two softball teams, and two basketball teams, male and female. The girls played boys rules basketball. The teams played against teams from other churches in Plainville and out of town. The church club also participated in an interfaith bowling league. They held spelling bees, dinners, talent shows and dances to raise money for the church.
In 1939 Boy Scout troop #26, the first Black Troop established in Connecticut, was formed at Redeemer’s. Norman Johnson was the troop leader.
In the 1960’s the pastor was Rev. William A. Paris. Redeemer’s was on the move fighting for Civil Rights . Members of the church marched through Plainville for the right to get a hair cut in the barber shops in town. They marched again when Constance Baker Motley came to speak on "equal Rights" and again when Roy Wilkins came after the killing of Medgar Evers. Redeemer’s members met in the wee hours of the morning and drove in a cavalcade to the Berlin CT train station to participate in the 1963 March on Washington.
Submitted by: Valerie Williams, Redeemer's AME Zion Church Historian