Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest establshed Black Church in Riverside, California. Allen Chapel Riverside was founded in November 1875, where a group of people dedicated the cause of Christ met in the home of Mrs. Dobbs on Seventh Street in Riverside and organized themselves into a viable community. One of the reasons for meeting in that home was to greet Black people as they arrived in town by train. They soon purchased the lot on the corner of Sedgewick and Tenth Street and immediately built a small room on the property which was used for worship and church school.
In the early years of African Methodism in Riverside, this small group of settlers wanted to enlarge their Sanctuary. The opportunity came when the First Congregational Church of Riverside donated an edifice. The edifice was moved in sections to their property where it was erected into a needed Chapel. This a major step in the life of Allen Chapel. Allen Chapel, like its mother Church Bethel, has the unique distinction of being the oldest Black Church in Riverside.
One of the charter members Brother Walter Williams, fondly known as “Dad Williams”, was an inspiration to these pioneering Christians who brought African Methodism to Riverside. Brother Walter Williams lived to be one hundred and one years old. Dad Williams was a contributing member not only to our church family but also to the wider community. He helped lay the foundation for the Riverside Country Court House.
Some of the first families to join the church were the John Culpeppers, Eudell Williams, Robert J. Boyd, Henry Strickland, John Gordon and his brother Frank and Viola Gordon, Oscar Harris, the families of Rev. Frank Johnson, Russell Scott, Sr., John Norris, A.L. Williams, Rev. C.J. Lockhart, the McDowells, Rutledges, Mackeys, and the Davises. Also, there were the Porters, DeBeals, Walter Mayses and C.H. Daugherty. Margaret Patterson was the first member to marry at Allen Chapel. She was born into the Allen Chapel family. Wellington Porter and Maxine Williamson hold the oldest membership in our church.
During the 115 years of existence Allen Chapel has had 41 ministers who served its people and wider community. Each one exhibited great spiritual power with dynamic personalities, along with sublime courage and indestructible, passionate faith. Allen Chapel will always be indebted to the forefathers and leaders who administered, guided and charted its course in achieving its many objectives and goals.
Those who served during the period of 1875 to 1912 were Reverends D.R. Jones, Halvord Johnson, S.E. Arrington, Kennedy, J. Holmes, J.H. Wilson, G.W. Bussey, W.H. Williamson, S.E. Edwards, Red, Augusta Simpson, Fletcher, T. Edwards, and C.J. Lockhart. During the period 1913 to the present: Reverends W.G. Williams, House, Frank Hohnson, C. Harris, R.R. King, T.A. Washington, T.A. Patterson, Rutledge, Hadkins, B.E. Jones, Theron Cobbs, X. Runyan, T.L. Scott, Slocum C. Whitlock, Felix Dancy, J.S. Bagneris, Warren Vampbell, U.S. Carr, Thornton, Norman Copeland, Joseph Forbes, J. Curtis Foster, Jr. and presently, Rev. Shermella Garrett-Egson, Rev. Noella Buchanan, and presently Rev. Dr. Barry Settle.