Turner Chapel AME has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. Even
though it is one of the oldest established churches in Marietta,
Georgia, it continues to evolve based on the needs of the community it
serves. African American residents of Marietta began their first
religious meeting shortly after the settlement of the town. This was a group of 37 persons of all denominations who desired a place to meet for prayer and worship. The
meetings were held in a log cabin on Task Street (no longer exists)
near an abandoned Coco-Cola bottling plant and a tobacco cigar factory. Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the second oldest AME congregation in Georgia. It
was established in 1865. In 1839, the Presbyterian Church vacated their
building on the north east corner of Waddell and Lawrence Streets in
downtown Marietta. The Presbyterian Church offered the use of the
building to the little group which had grown from their original number
of 37. In 1854, this Marietta Square location was purchased by freed men
and slaves and was called Trinity Church for Negroes and Indians. The
purchase was made and paid for while the free Negroes and slaves were
still members of the Marietta Methodist Church. During that time the
church operated under the direction of the First Methodist Church which
supplied its pastors until the end of the Civil War in 1865. During the Civil War Trinity’s church was used as a hospital for the Union soldiers.
1865, Rev. Henry McNeal Turner moved to Georgia and established St.
Phillip’s Monumental A.M.E. Church in Savannah as the first AME
congregation in Georgia. Thereafter, he began organizing AME churches
throughout Georgia. Upon his arrival in Marietta in 1865, he organized
Trinity Church for Negroes and Indians under the auspices of the African
Methodist Episcopal Church and became Trinity’s first Negro Pastor.
July 6, 1867, the trustees of the Marietta Methodist Episcopal Church
transferred the property deed to the trustees of Trinity AME Church for
the sum of ten dollars. The trustees of the Methodist
Episcopal Church were: Humphrey P. Reid, Lemuel Bennett, John T.
Burkhalter, George N. Lester, George R. Gilbert, William Phillips,
Rhodolphus W. Gable, James Y. Gaut and James F. Nutting. The
trustees of Trinity were: Simpson Jones, Peter Simmons, William Evans,
Washington Horace, Thomas Fair, Baileus Towns and Thomas Jackson. In
1891, under the leaderships of Rev. Dan Strickland, the church was
rebuilt and the name was changed to Turner Chapel African Methodist
Episcopal Church in honor of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner. An
eight-foot strip of land on the west side of the church was purchased
on July 28, 1899 from Mrs. Dorothy Stephens while the Rev. W. A.
Fountain, Sr. was Pastor. In 1902, pews were purchased
under the leadership of Rev. W. A. Lawrence. The choir loft was added
during the pastorate of Rev. J. A. Hadley in 1906 using a $450 grant the
church received from the federal government for using the church as a
hospital during the Civil War.
ladies’ lounge was built during Rev. R. E. Romans’ pastorate and the
vestibule was added when Rev. C. L. Williams was Pastor (1916-1921) . Under
the leadership of Rev. Doctor D. S. Jacobs, Turner Chapel AME added
$7000.00 of church property, increased the building fund by $3000.00 and
purchased a piano. Dr. Jacobs also served as the Director
of Turner Theological Seminary In-Service Training Center and the
Associate Director of Religious Education for the State of Georgia.
Due to urban renewal and revitalization of the downtown Marietta area, Turner Chapel AME was forced to relocate. The 548 Lawrence Street property was purchased from the City of Marietta on December 6, 1971. On
September 12, 1972, a contract was issued for the work to begin,
however, groundbreaking ceremonies were not held until April 8, 1973.
The first services were held on March 3, 1974 under the pastorate of
Rev. H. H. Kenner. Serving as trustees were: Kenneth Carter, Emory
Dennis, Derry Holmes, Thomas Kilgore, Walter Moon, Fred Reeves and Frank
Sexton. The cornerstone was erected in 1974 by Wilber Sanders and Ralph Russaw. The
cornerstone from 1891 was built into the Lawrence Street church
marquee, which still stands today along with the original church bell.
The altar from that building is also currently used in the Lawrence
A steady growth of members led to a need for additional space. A
new wing, designed and built by Walter Dean Moon, was added to the
original structure in 1988. The addition included: a pastor’s study,
choir room, classrooms, library/conference room, communion room and
storage space. Under the leadership of Rev. Ben Fortson:
the church purchased two new vans, paid off the church’s first mortgage
in five years, laid the cornerstone to the church, purchased a piano and
choir robes, organized several new ministries and increased the
membership to over 400 members.
June 12, 1988, Rev. Kenneth Marcus became the Pastor of Turner Chapel
AME. Under his guidance, Turner Chapel AME purchased vans, increased the
ministerial staff and number of choirs and purchased land for the new
Turner Chapel AME Church site.
1990, just two years under the leadership of our “Dynamic Duo husband
and wife ministerial team”, Revs. Kenneth and Cassandra Marcus, the Lord
continued to bless Turner with phenomenal growth. In 1993, Pastor
Marcus and church officers agreed upon a vision for Turner Chapel AME
that included a new sanctuary, educational facility, multi-purpose
center, childcare facilities and an activity center. In
1994, Turner Chapel members filled the church to capacity during each of
three Sunday services held at 7:00 am, 9:00 am and 11:00 am. A Church
Expansion Committee was formed to address the immediate and long-term
needs for worship space in October 1994. In January 1996, Turner Chapel
AME began worshipping at Wheeler High School’s 450 seat gymnasium. The move allowed Turner Chapel AME to return to two services. After
nearly a year and a half of setting up and breaking down chairs and
other furnishing for worship services, the church sought other options.
1997 due to Turner Chapel’s projected growth, it was determined that a
sanctuary seating 2500 to 3000 persons would be needed. The church then began acquiring the land for the future worship center. With
membership continuing to grow, Turner decided to build a recreation
center prior to building the worship center. In 1998 to alleviate the
moving, setting up and breaking down of chairs construction began on the
recreation center. On July 18, 1999, Turner Chapel AME opened the doors
of the new Turner Chapel Recreation Center which served as a “temporary
worship home” to over 4000 members until the new main sanctuary
building was completed. The Turner Chapel AME Recreation Center was
located at 545 Hyde Drive, which was later changed to Kenneth E. Marcus
Way. In 1999, the church was blessed to be able to retire the bank loan.
In 2000, Turner began to address current and future parking needs by adding the East Parking Lot. Each
Sunday, the church operated shuttle services from the East Lot to the
worship site. Blessed again, Turner was able to pay off the cost of the
2002, the Church Expansion Committee announced plans for the new
100,000 square feet worship center. It included three levels which
featured state-of-the-art audio/video technology, a generous narthex,
and ample facilities. In the same year, construction began
on the property at North Marietta Parkway and Fairground Street
bordered by Rigby Street and Roosevelt Circle.
one of the worship center is now complete. In subsequent phases, Turner
plans to construct a 1000 seat fellowship hall and a 65,000 square foot
Village, comprised of the children and youth ministries, has been a
vital part of Turner and its ministry. The first Youth Pastor, Rev.
Wayland Conner, was hired in 1993 and served until 2006. It
was under his leadership that the first Rites of Passage class was
started in February 2003. Since that time, over 250 youth have
matriculated. In March 2003, the first Spring Production was performed
with 40 participants. Since that time participants per
production has grown to 215+ with over 10,000 participants over the
period to-date. In July of 2007 Rev. Don Ezell was hired as Youth
Pastor. The Village took 18 youth on its first international mission
trip to Trinidad in June of 2010. In October 2009 the first College Fair
was held. The fair has grown to over 50 colleges and universities represented and over 1000 persons in attendance. In
May 2014, a record $4.3 million dollars of scholarships was accumulated
by 50 graduating students. Also as of May 2014, the 4th Gates
Millennium scholar from the Village in five years was announced.
its inception in 1865, Turner Chapel AME has been led by blessed by
highly qualified Pastors. Three of the pastors were elected to the
bishopric: Henry McNeal Turner, William A. Fountain, Sr. and Harold I.
Bearden. In addition to serving as Bishop of the AME
Church, Henry McNeal Turner also served as Morris Brown College’s first
President. Bishop William A. Fountain. Sr. and Reverend William A.
Fountain, Jr. both served as Presidents of Morris Brown College. A
number of former Pastors have served as Presiding Elders. They are: Dr.
D. W. Wiggs (1936-1939), Dr. J. S. Downs (1922-1924), Dr. J. R. Hurley
(1946-1948), Dr. D. S. Saunders (1931-1933), and Dr. A. J. Harris
January 12, 2018 God called our beloved Pastor Rev. Dr. Kenneth E.
Marcus from labor to reward. Pastor Marcus led Turner Chapel AME for
nearly 30 years. Pastor Marcus’ legacy will continue to lead Turner’s
June 1, 2018, Bishop Reginald Jackson appointed Rev. Dr. Tar-U-Way
Richard Allen Bright, Sr. as the 54th Senior Pastor of Turner Chapel.
Pastor Bright is married to First Lady Retta Bright. They are the proud
parents of two children, Tar-U-Way, Jr. and TaRetta.
Rev. Don Ezell, our former Youth Pastor serves as our Executive Pastor.
Turner Chapel AME Church has over 4,000 members and over 100 Ministries.