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Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest African American Church in the State of Arizona. It was established during the pioneer days when Charles Ward, N. D. Valentine, Laura Valentine and Sister Bell met with the Reverend H. H. Hawkins proposing the establishment of a Christian mission to foster “family life.” Courthouse records show that in 1886, property was owned by an African Methodist Episcopal Mission. The African Methodist Episcopal Mission grew, and in 1899, another piece of property was acquired at Second Street and East Jefferson Street. With this addition, the African Methodist Episcopal Mission was named Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner. Some years later, Tanner’s Sarah E. Tanner Women’s Missionary Society was established and named in honor of Bishop Tanner’s wife.


Years later, the property at Second Street and Jefferson Street was sold, and the present Eighth Street and Jefferson Street site was purchased. Reverend A. H. Hamilton, Tanner’s pastor from 1926-1932, served as the inspiration for building the new church. The “new” Tanner Chapel was completed in 1929. The Reverend John L. Shaw led Tanner Chapel in its Centennial Anniversary Celebration in November 1987.

On December 15, 2010, the Phoenix City Council voted to approve Tanner as a designated historic landmark. Phoenix’s Historic Preservation Ordinance offers two historic designations, standard and landmark. The landmark designation recognizes properties that possess historic or architectural significance, integrity, distinctive visual character and quality that is a level of exceptional significance among historic properties. According to Phoenix architect, Lloyd LeRaine Pike, Tanner is a significant example of Gothic Revival architecture, which is rare in Phoenix. Historic Tanner Chapel is one of the only 14 properties in Phoenix to receive landmark status. Historic Tanner has the distinction of being the first African American Church to be granted historic designation.


Today, Historic Tanner Chapel continues its concern for the saving of souls and Christian living, quality family life, economic development, responsible citizenship, civic action and social welfare. Under the pastoral leadership of the Reverend Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas, Sr., and enabled by God, Tanner Chapel fosters an outreach ministry of Christian care beyond its walls. This is accomplished through its faith-based 501(c)3 organization, Tanner Community Development Corporation (TCDC), TCDC’s efforts reach out especially to the physically challenged, the aged and sick, needy children, families, and the homeless. TCDC provides to the community various programs for health and housing, literacy, education, financial, and employment opportunities. Historic Tanner Chapel A.M.E. Church continues to strive to bridge the gap between church and community.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE ! ! !

We are who we are because of the laborers in the vineyard here at Historic Tanner. As a Christ-centered body of believers we serve our church in a spirit of excellence. Please click here for a list of Tanner's auxiliaries, commissions, and organizations that make up our church.

To stand up to any challenge, spend time on your knees.

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