The First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in San Jose was founded in 1864. Mr. William Smith, Mr. John Madden and the original Board of Trustees were among the founders. This first Board of Trustees included William Smith and James Lodge. These men saw the necessity for exercising their constitutional right just as the founding fathers of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church had done nearly sixty years earlier at the John’s Street Church in New York City. The City of San Jose had no other religious order serving the Black community in 1864. The (Black) parishioners met in each other’s homes until they could get more firmly established. In 1870, the San Jose City Directory listed First A.M.E. Zion Church as being at Fourth and San Antonio Streets, and it was the … “only religious organization among the colored people of the city”; The City Directory also noted that … “the church is in a prosperous condition, the attendance on Sunday always being sufficient to fill the church.”. Reverend A. Stephens was listed as the pastor in that year.
The building formerly located at Fourth and San Antonio Streets was paid for in 1883 as Deeds and Articles of Incorporation are dated September 6, 1883. In California, during that period, deeds were not grated unless the property was free and clear. The Deeds and Articles of Incorporation were signed by Henry Venable, William H. Davis, and George Caples, John Madden, Howard Franklin and the Rev. William H. Mitchell. Mr. Madden had donated the land on which the church was built. The congregation worshipped at Fourth and San Antonio Streets for more than 90 years in a structure that had been shipped from Sacramento by both water and land for the Black citizens of San Jose. During the ninety years the First A.M.E. Zion Church of San Jose had served for Freedom Fighters with the same purposes the Mother Church had served for Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas in years past.
About the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Logo
The symbol speaks loudly of the African Methodist Esiscopal Zion Church
The Ecclesiastical Color - Sign of the mood of a church festival. Within recent years, the interpretation of black has changed to encompass a texture of the whole life – all colors blended, melted together – joy, sadness, struggle, faith, hope, and finally life eternal.“V” - Widely used symbol of Victory. The “V” can be seen and represents a church born vistoriously under the leadership of James Varick, our First Bishop, 1750-1827. “V” for Varick.The Latin Cross - Is one of the most accepted symbols of Christianity the World over. The plain cross empty, “He is not here, He is risen victoriously.”
The Cross is Red - Is used with power, love, glory and honor as associated with our Lord^s passion, suffering, and the Christian^s Zeal.
“A” – African - refers to our African background in black suggests the cradle of civilization from where come all races, colors, and creeds.
“M” – Methodist - Refers to the doctrine about God and Christ to which we adhere; it is in Green, the universal color of growth, progress and hope.
“E” - Episcopal - Means they we are a church overseen by Church Fathers, called Bishops. Purple, so often worn by our Episcopacy denotes kingly authority in Godly judgment, the union of love and pain in humility.
“Z” - Zion - God^s holy Hill stands for our branch of Methodism which is a separate entity from our sister churches like, A.M.E., C.M.E., M.E., True to God – “true blue” it is symbolic of heaven and sincerely.