Also known as the A.M.E. Church for short, we are Methodist in terms of our basic doctrine and order of worship. Born through adversity in the Methodist church, to this day, the A.M.E. does not differ in any major way from what all Methodists believe. The split from the main branch of the Methodist Church was a result of a time period that was marked by man’s intolerance of his fellow man, based on the color of his skin. It was a time of slavery, oppression and the dehumanization of people of African descent and many of these non-Christian practices were brought into the church forcing Richard Allen and a group of fellow worshipers of color to form a splinter denomination of the Methodist Church. One needs to look no further than The Apostles’ Creed and The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion to discover the basic foundations of the beliefs of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
For more information on the history of St. Joseph A.M.E. Church specifically, please click here.
our church staff:
Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine
Rev. Eboni Brickhouse
Church Business Administrator
Rev. Valerie McIver
Rev. Dr. Linda Norflett
Reginald J. Johnson
Chair Pro Tem, Board of Stewards
William (Drew) Marsh, III
Chair Pro Tem, Board of Trustees
Minister of Music
About our pastor:
Rev. Jay Augustine was appointed senior pastor of the St. Joseph AME Church on May 4, 2019. He is also national chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He brings to St. Joseph a history of leadership and service in addressing some of the twenty-first century's most pressing social issues. Immediately prior to his current pastoral appointment, Rev. Augustine was senior pastor of Historic St. James AME Church in New Orleans (1844), the birthplace of African Methodism in the Deep South and oldest predominately Black, Protestant church in the city. He was also an adjunct professor at Southern University Law Center.
Rev. Augustine authored The Keys Are Being Passed: Race, Law, Religion and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement (2014), a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Civil Rights Movement. He has also authored numerous scholarly articles appearing in national publications, including the Hastings Race & , Richmond Public Interest Law Review, and the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal. His written scholarship has also been cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court in .
As a litigator, Rev. Augustine successfully represented a class of plaintiffs in Carter v. St. Helena Parish School Board, one of the oldest desegregation cases in the United States, having originally been filed by Thurgood Marshall, then-counsel for the NAACP. He served in the administration of Louisiana’s 55th governor, as executive counsel & director of legislative affairs for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and office as vice president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. He is a former judge ad hoc of the Baton Rouge City Court, silver life member of the NAACP, and life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
A nationally recognized leader, Rev. Augustine was named “Outstanding Alumni Brother of the Year,” by Alpha Phi Alpha (2017), having also won the fraternity’s “Belford V. Lawson Oratorical Scholarship Contest” while in college (1994). He received President Barack Obama’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” (2016), the National Bar Association’s “Forty Lawyers Under 40” Award (2011) and Ebony Magazine’s “30 Leaders of the Future” recognition (2001). He earned an economics degree from Howard University, along with an active duty commission as a U.S. Army infantry officer. Following four-years of decorated military service, he earned his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University and served as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice (then-Associate) Bernette Joshua Johnson. He later earned his Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary, as a Beane Fellow and National Rainbow-PUSH Foundation Coalition Scholar, before completing a fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry degree candidate at Duke University.
Rev. Augustine is married to St. Joseph’s First Lady, Sister Michelle Burks Augustine, and together they have two children, Mason and Jillian.
St. Joseph AME Church history:
The history of Saint Joseph African Methodist Episcopal Church records legacies of spiritual dedication, diligence in service, and unity of purpose. The founder, Rev. Edian Markum was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on April 23, 1824. In 1868, Rev. Markum and his family came to Durham and purchased a parcel of land that he used for preaching and for holding prayer meetings with persons who sat on boxes and homemade stools from Mr. Minerva Fowler. History reports that “the newly found church was nothing more than bushes supported by long poles, which were fixed in the ground, with God’s ‘grassy earth’ as the floor”. Shortly thereafter, a log cabin was constructed.
On August 20, 1869, the church, with its six members officially organized and the church was named Union Bethel A.M.E. Church. Mrs. Molly Markum, wife of the founder, diligently worked with her husband’s programs and placed special emphasis on the missionary endeavors until her death in February, 1941. He was succeeded by Rev. Lewis Edwards and Rev. George Hunter, respectively. Rev. Hunter accepted the challenge of initiating the construction of the first frame church building, which was later replaced by a more stable frame edifice. The second frame building was completed by the Reverends Ofley Edwards, and W.D. Cook.
The cornerstone was laid in 1892 at 804 Fayetteville Street while the Rev. Andrew Chambers was Pastor. A successive line of Pastors: W. Jordan, W.E. Walker, D.J. Beckett and J.E. Jackson, shepherded the completion of the “stately” brick edifice. The name of the church was soon changed to St. Joseph African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the administration of the Rev. J.A. Valentine, the basement of the Church was completed to street level.
On November 28, 1948, Rev. David Johnston with his wife, Mrs. Verdelle Johnston and their two children arrived at Saint Joseph. Rev. Johnston established the Edian D. Markum Memorial Educational Building and a new parsonage. After the completion of the education expansion program, Dr. Johnston organized a Nursery School and a First Grade. Rev. Melvin Chester Swann succeeded Dr. Johnston as pastor, in 1964.
In September of 1965, the Rev. Philip R. Cousin, Sr., his wife Mrs. Margaret Joan Cousin and their sons came to Saint Joseph. A new parsonage was constructed in October, 1968, and seven acres of land at the corner of Fayetteville Street and Burlington Avenue were secured for the purpose of erecting a new edifice. The dedication service for the land was held in 1974, and the cornerstone was laid, October 1975, at the new parcel of land. February 15, 1976, marked a historic milestone for the Church when the congregation marched from 804 Fayetteville Street to 2521 Fayetteville Street. The new facility was officially dedicated on April 11, 1976.
The year 1976 also marked a second milestone in the history of St. Joseph. During the month of June, Rev. Cousin was elected the 96th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at the General Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the first elected Bishop from the State of North Carolina.
Bishop Cousin was succeeded by Rev. William Webster Easley, Jr., his wife Mrs. Ora Easley, and son on August 15, 1976.
On August 16, 1992, Rev. Philip R. Cousin, Jr., the eldest son of Bishop and Mrs. Philip R. Cousin, Sr., was presented as the pastor of St. Joseph. The Rev. Philip R. Cousin, Jr., completely renovated the church’s parsonage, and in 1993 an aggressive plan to liquidate the church mortgage was instituted. Under the leadership of Rev. Cousin, the Church celebrated the burning of its mortgage in 1996.
On June 16, 2013, Bishop William P. Deveaux appointed the Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens as St. Joseph's Senior Pastor. Dr. Owens, along with his wife, Mrs. Gwendolyn Owens, and daughter, Ronnise, embraced the rich history of the church and implemented a twenty-first century vision and commitment to the Saint Joseph church family and the surrounding community.
On May 4, 2019, at the conclusion of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, Bishop James L. Davis appointed the Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine as St. Joseph's 31st Undershepherd. Pastor Augustine, along with his wife, Michelle, and children are leading the church in celebrating150-years of excellence and service to the community.
A more comprehensive record of St. Joseph's history was published in Church History: Celebrating 149 Years in the Kingdom, by Attorney William A. Marsh, Jr.