Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church

Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church

Opelika’s A.M.E Zion Church was organized in 1872 by Minister Rev. John Ford and a team of laymen. The congregation of Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church built the church in its current location by 1878. The one-story building is supported by wood and brick with interior walls plastered over an original wood frame. Six stained glass windows enclosed by wood sashes are on both sides of the church and four stained glass windows are in the choir loft. The ceiling of the church consists of the original wood with heavy beams running horizontal and vertically, and the wood floors are stained. The main entrance faces Torbert Boulevard (now Columbus Pkwy) with second entrance facing west. A connecting parsonage was added in 1919; the one-story home is made of brick and contains six rooms, a hall, and one bathroom.

The Church’s membership includes the first African American doctor in Opelika, Dr. J.W. Darden, and Mrs. Bessie Brady and Mrs. Eugenia Parks who established kindergarten classes for African American students. From 1964 to 2014, Dr. A.L. Wilson led the congregation and the church experienced significant growth. Wilson immediately became involved in the community leading the church and followers to participate in and promote the Civil Rights Movement. The church was listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage October 19, 1979.

Over the years, the church has suffered significant water damage due to a leaking roof. The intrusion has also caused the plaster of the sanctuary walls to buckle and peel and the trim to rot. The floors also exhibit damage. This present condition makes it difficult to hold comfortable services. Repairs are needed soon to ensure preservation and prevent further damage.

For more information contact: Alabama Historical Commission