In 1891, Bishop M.R. Franklin was assigned supervision of the Atlanta Church.
Unfortunately, Bishop Franklin died shortly after this assignment. This did not deter the faithful members from purchasing a site near the corner of Boulevard and Irwin Streets. Early in the spring of 1891 a small frame building was erected known as Boulevard A.M.E. Zion Church. After the building was completed under the first acting pastor, The Reverend Love, the name was changed to Franklin Memorial Institutional A.M.E. Zion Church, in honor of the late Bishop M.R. Franklin.
Our Full History
Following the pastorate of Reverend Love, Reverend L.W. Taylor, Reverend W.E. McKiver, Reverend Tuggle, Rev. O.A. Russell and Rev. W. Q. Welch enjoyed their time pastoring the church in Atlanta. In 1924, Reverend A.M. Goodwin was appointed to serve as pastor. Reverend Goodwin, was a builder who urged and inspired the members to build a new brick structure at the Boulevard site. The frame church was moved back to Hogue Street and a brick building was erected facing Boulevard. Rev. Goodwin was instrumental in raising and soliciting funds from the white community of Atlanta to keep up mortgage payments held by the Black owned Standard Federal Bank. It was his hope to use the frame building as a home for the elderly. Reverend Goodwin served from 1924 until 1932.
Rev. Charles Cecil Coleman served as pastor during the 1930’s. (He was elected Bishop in 1956).
Following Reverend C.C. Coleman The Reverend H.M. Reid was appointed pastor. Under this pastorate our church split and another congregation was organized known as The Old Ship A.M.E. Zion. Reverend Reid’s pastorate was followed by Reverend Rutledge, Reverend Felix Anderson (elected Bishop 1960) and Reverend Tim Dumas. These ministers served short pastorates in Atlanta. Reverend. B. W. Fattis was appointed pastor by Bishop Benjamin Garland Shaw. Reverend Tim Dumas was instrumental in reuniting the two congregations together.
Under the leadership of Reverend Robert Hendrick, the church moved to the corner of Auburn Avenue at Fort Street, N.E., where an Episcopal church was purchased for $14,000. At this site, the name was changed to Shaw Metropolitan A. M. E. Zion Church in honor of Bishop Benjamin Garland Shaw. The next pastor that served Shaw Metropolitan was Reverend Leon Watts. Reverend L.J. Baptiste became the pastor in the 1940’s. Under his leadership, a new church club was formed which was “The Reaper’s Club.”
Reverend Baptiste changed the name of ‘Shaw Metropolitan’ to ‘Shaw Temple’ because he thought that the name was too big for the church. After the pastorate of Reverend Baptiste, Reverend George W. McMurray was appointed as pastor. He established the “Progressive Club” and involved the church in community church Thanksgiving Fellowships.
We were next served by Reverend Blakely, Reverend Benjamin Garland Shaw, Jr., and Reverend Edward L. Brothers.
In 1949 Reverend William Potter was appointed pastor. Under his leadership Shaw Temple became a significant part of the social, ecumenical and political life of “Sweet Auburn Avenue” and hosted the first national meeting of the A.M.E. Zion, A.M.E. and C.M.E. churches on Church Union.
In 1959 because of highway expansion the church moved from Auburn Avenue to 38 Hightower Road. Here they purchased Sharon Baptist Church. The facility included a sanctuary and an educational building. Also, Shaw Temple built a brick parsonage where once stood a barn. There was plenty of room with this property where young boys and girls gathered for “sock hops”, baseball games, Boy Scouts, and overnight trips to Camp J.K. Orr. Reverend Potter retired in 1965.
Reverend Cameron Jackson, Reverend Walter Beamon, Reverend George Thomas, (Dr. Ndugu G.B. T’Ofori-Atta), Reverend Robert Clayton and Rev. Owango Welo. Rev. Raymond Hart served from 1975 to 1979. These ministers made numerous improvements to the facilities, as well as forming new organizations and enhancing the spiritual life of the church. For the next two years, an innovative concept in church leadership was implemented: a ministerial team of Reverend Dr. Mozella D. Mitchell, Rev. Robert L. Clayton and Dr. George Thomas led the church. Later, Dr. Thomas became the sole minister. Under his leadership, the church started a credit union, a food bank, a clothing bank, children’s church and the renovation of the educational building.
In 1985, Dr. John Wesley Smith became the pastor of Shaw Temple and served until 1992. Under his leadership, Dr. Smith made other renovations, the installation of central air, new carpeting and a handicapped ramp. In 1992, under Dr. Smith’s leadership, Shaw Temple was the host church of the 44th Quadrennial General Conference.
In September 1992, Bishop George E. Battle Jr. appointed Reverend Dr. Louis Hunter, Sr.,(Bishop Louis Hunter – 2004) as pastor of Shaw Temple. Dr. Hunter led the church to become a tithing church, improved the attendance of Bible Study, heightened the spirituality of the church and formed a new choir, The Mass Choir, (not as the Mass Choir of today) and formed an Altar Guild.
In 1993, under Dr. Hunter leadership, the church voted to make an offer on Orange Hill Baptist Church in Austell, GA, and put the church property up for sale. However, Orange Hill changed their plans and took their church off the market, therefore the sale did not complete. In 1999, Shaw Temple voted to make an offer for the Fortified Hills Baptist Church property in Smyrna, Georgia.
Shaw Temple subsequently put the church property on the market again. This time, the church and parsonage at 38 H.E. Holmes Drive was sold to Grace Covenant Baptist Church. We remained in the building following the sale of the building, approximately 60 days. When we exited the building, Mr. Marshall Jones was asked to sing, until everyone had exited the building.
In search of a new place to worship during an interim period, Reverend Carlton Brown and members of New Life A.M.E. Zion Church, offered to share their sanctuary at 3300 Roosevelt Highway, College Park, GA with Shaw Temple. We held our Sunday School at 9:30 AM and Sunday services at 12:00 PM. We also held our weekly meetings and rehearsals there. New Life was very generous in sharing space, including office space. We had a split in membership, but we had a loyal group of dedicated choir members who came together from the Chancel Choir, Gospel Chorus, Men’s Choir and the original Mass Choir, to form a “Mass Choir”.
The loyal board of trustees, led by Mr. Fred Burks as chairman, were determined to lead the congregation to a new place of worship. Other members of the board were Mr. Brady Barnett, Mrs. Bertha Howard-Bray, Mrs. Odessa Huff, Mr. Bertram Jones, Mr. Windell Mayes, Ms. Candace Moore, Mr. Jerrell Swinney, Mrs. Dorothy Williams and Ms. Vivian Wright.
In January 2000, the purchase of the property known as Fortified Hills Baptist Church was completed. Our first worship services in our new church home were held on Sunday, January 23, 2000. The motorcade began at the old 38 H. E. Holmes location, and proceeded to the new edifice at 775 Hurt Road Smyrna, GA. It was a very cold and icy day. As one might imagine, the attendance was very low on that day, however, the majority, approximately 230 persons, maintained their membership at Shaw Temple.
The church and worship facilities were dedicated, Sunday, March 5, 2000. Bishop Joseph Johnson led the dedication ceremony. Shaw Temple hosted the Board of Bishops meeting in 2004 bringing the A.M.E. Zion Church connectional family to Atlanta to worship in our newly acquired edifice. Many new ministries were started in the new property. Mrs. Hunter led in the establishment of the hospitality ministry.
Later in 2004 Dr. Louis Hunter was elected the 94th Bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church.
In October 2004 Bishop Clarence Carr appointed Reverend Dr. George D. Crenshaw as pastor at the 137th Session of the Georgia Annual Conference. Bishop and Mrs. Carr became members of Shaw Temple. Under Dr. Crenshaw’s leadership, the church continued to grow spiritually, financially, and numerically. Several former members returned. Dr. Crenshaw captivated the congregation with his powerful preaching. Dr. Crenshaw proclaimed his motto as “Seeing, Speaking & Serving The Same Vision”. His vision gave birth to 66 new ministries serving under one or more of the Five-Fold Ministries: Discipleship, Worship, Evangelism, Fellowship and Service. Dr. Crenshaw authorized and participated in two of four Shaw Temple Evangelism and Medical Missions to Africa. This contributed to Shaw Temple being presented the Evangelism Church Award from the World Methodist Evangelism Institute in 2011. Dr. Crenshaw was also the “visionary” for the Shaw Temple Biblical and Leadership Institute (STBLI), which operated for five years. Classes were free to all members of Shaw Temple. A modest fee is charged for the community and conference members to attend. Bishop and Mrs. Warren M. Brown joined Shaw Temple after they moved to the Atlanta area. Dr. Crenshaw appointed Mrs. Laurena Crenshaw as director of the Shaw Temple Learning Center. Mrs. Crenshaw increased parent interaction and added a new media room.
Dr. Crenshaw’s powerful messages and impactful leadership continued to feed and nourish Shaw Temple until in July 2016 at the historic 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Dr. Crenshaw was elected as the 103rd Bishop in the A.M.E. Zion Church. Bishop Crenshaw was assigned to the newly created Central South Africa Episcopal District which included East Angola, West Angola, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Shaw Temple is the “mother church” of the Georgia Annual Conference and leading congregation of the South Atlantic Episcopal Area. Shaw Temple has stood as a citadel for God in Zion under 30 Presiding Bishops and by 33 pastors. From this, the “Mother church of Georgia Conference” three societies have been birthed and have evolved into vibrant congregations: Decatur A.M.E. Zion Church, New Life A.M.E. Zion Church and Faith A.M.E. Zion Church.
On August 13, 2016, Bishop Mildred B. Hines appointed Reverend Eldren D. Morrison as the 33rd pastor of Shaw Temple. The first Sunday in October 2016 Pastor, Mrs. Morrison and their daughter Ava, began ministry at Shaw Temple. Pastor Morrison came to Shaw Temple with a vision to build upon it’s great heritage and move Shaw Temple forward with a mission shaped by evangelism and excellence in ministry.
In February 2017, Shaw Temple welcomed leaders from around Zion to Atlanta as we hosted the Board of Bishops and Connectional Council Meeting of the A.M.E. Zion Church.
Pastor Morrison reorganized our church and started the “Shaw Temple Fixer-Upper.” Under this vision the ministries of Shaw Temple were revamped, revitalized and renovated as we also did the same to the physical structures of this 9-acre campus. From the stand alone buildings on our campus to the Welcome Center, new renovated Children’s and Youth wing, Hunter Chapel and Multipurpose space, Bertha Bray Fellowship Hall, Carr Administrative Suite, Kitchen, restrooms and to the Sanctuary, as low as the new $350,000 HVAC, as wide as new church vans and new digital church marquee, and as high as the painted steeple. The Church is being renovated and reconditioned to serve our current times. This great vision and work is ongoing as we return to in-person worship. Pastor Morrison has taught that this season is not reentry, but this is the opportunity to relaunch our church.
In July 2019, the Morrison’s welcomed the birth of their son, Ian, and our church was excited to welcome the first birth in a pastor’s family in many years at Shaw Temple.
Pastor Morrison envisioned a Shaw Temple Endowment and under the watchful guidance of Dr. Shirley Phillips and the Endowment Board our church started the Shaw Temple Endowment with a goal of $100,000 and we are well on our way to exceeding that initial goal. The first $1,000 contribution was made from the family of Mr. Fred Burge. Fred was an active and exemplary member of Shaw Temple who passed away in 2016. The Shaw Temple Endowment is all about improving our financial awareness as families and providing for the future of Shaw Temple right now.
With a love and passion for children, Mrs. Stachia Morrison took the reins of leadership of our Learning Center in 2016 as director. Included in the Shaw Temple Fixer Upper and under her leadership The Center went through a rebranding and is now The Shaw Temple Academy. Renovations and updates are on-going as we always want our finest accommodations for the early care and education for our children at Shaw Temple. We are pleased to finally be a Quality Rated Preschool in the State of Georgia and we believe there are greater things ahead for our Shaw Temple Academy.
In January 2020, we learned of Covid-19, March 15, 2020 was the last in-person worship service held at Shaw Temple. This pandemic has taken the lives of more than 600,000 U.S. Citizens, including some members at Shaw Temple. We have all been affected in some way. Our congregation has been connected only virtually for over a year. A small group of trustees, stewards, music department, administrative staff and AV and team who placed themselves in harms way for over a year, worked to insure that worship could continue. They are our “essential workers”at Shaw Temple. Because of God working through them improvements have been made and our congregation has remained connected and grown in the midst of this world pandemic. Jesus won again!
In 2021, Shaw Temple made history again and became the first church to host two connectional meetings at one time. July 28- August 5, 2021 our Church hosted the 51st Quadrennial General Conference and the 12th Quadrennial Lay Convention of the A.M.E. Zion Church. This was the first Connectional meeting that utilized virtual capabilities as we connected family and guests from all over the world.
Under the leadership of Pastor Morrison, Shaw Temple is poised to enter into this new post- pandemic season with a greater passion for Jesus and radical hospitality. We want the world to know the love of God in Christ. We are more intentional about inviting all into growing relationships with Jesus as we relaunch our church in this new era.
The Reverend Eldren D. Morrison
The Reverend Eldren D. Morrison is blessed to stand in the Shaw Temple pulpit and preach the Word of God with compassion, clarity and conviction.
Pastor Morrison's Full Bio
The Reverend Eldren D. Morrison is blessed to stand in the Shaw Temple pulpit and preach the Word of God with compassion, clarity and conviction.
Pastor Morrison was born in Charlotte, NC and raised in a Christian home; strongly influenced by his great-uncle, the late Bishop George Walter Pettice Sr., and his grandfather, the late Reverend R.A. Morrison Sr.
By the age of twelve, Pastor Morrison recognized the call of God in his life and was nurtured in the Christian ministry by his grandfather, and by, Reverend Marion R. Wilson, who was the Pastor of Steele Hill A.M.E. Zion Church Lancaster, SC.
Right out of high school Pastor Morrison was appointed to his first pastorate. During this time he matriculated at Zion’s chief institution, Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC. From beneath, “Thy maples and Oaks” at Livingstone to Albertus Magnus College, and then to the campus of United Theological Seminary, Pastor Morrison values the blessing of education and academic success in preparation for ministry and for life.
Pastor Morrison has been blessed to serve several congregations in Zion including: Warner Temple A.M.E Zion Church, Lancaster, SC. Pleasant Hill A.M.E. Zion Church, Heath Springs, SC. Metropolitan A.M.E Zion Church, ‘The Mother Church of Zion Methodism in South Carolina,’ Chester, SC. Liberty Hill A.M.E. Zion Church, Lake Wylie, SC, which during Pastor Morrison’s pastorate grew to became our largest congregation in the state of South Carolina.
After Zion’s second oldest congregation had fallen on hard times in Connecticut, in 2007 one of Pastor Morrison’s mentors, Bishop George E. Battle Jr. appointed him to Varick Memorial, New Haven, CT. During Pastor Morrison’s pastorate Varick Memorial dramatically grew and developed from about 250 members to well over 2,000 members, with 3 Sunday worship services. Often services had to be taken off site to house the amount of people who would attend at different time of the year. Varick became the cities church, and serving the larger New Haven Community was never a burden to the church. In 2009 recognizing the need for more high quality educational options for the New Haven community Pastor Morrison envisioned The Booker T. Washington Academy, a pre-k through 8th grade school serving the New Haven community. In 2014 Booker T. Washington Academy officially became a Connecticut State Charter School and presently is recognized as a Connecticut School of distinction and serves 400 over young scholars.
While in New Haven Pastor Morrison was a much sought after community leader and builder and was apart the redevelopment of The Dixwell corridor, a trustee of the Hannah Gray Home for seniors, Founder of (V.C.E.) Varick Center for Empowerment Community Development Corporation, Fire Commissioner, Trustee of the City of New Haven Pension Board, Yale Community Partners Board for Yale Center for Clinical Investigations and a founding member of New Haven Bridges of Hope.
He also served on the Advisory Board of the Greater New Haven Community Foundation and led Varick Memorial to become the first Black Church in New Haven to establish an endowment fund at the Foundation.
He received awards from numerous organizations mayors and local officials. Governor Daniel P. Malloy valued a close working relationship with Pastor Morrison and honoured him on several occasions and Pastor Morrison was recognized as New Haven’s Person of the Year.
After a successful pastorate in New Haven on August 13, 2016 Bishop Mildred B. Hines appointed Pastor Morrison as the pastor of the Shaw Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Zion’s flagship congregation in the South Atlantic Episcopal Area. Most recently Pastor Morrison led Shaw Temple in historically hosting both the 51st Quadrennial Session of the General Conference and the 12th Quadrennial Lay Convention in 2021. Pastor Morrison is working to ensure that Shaw Temple continue to grow and enlarge its impact in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. Through partnerships, education and civic engagement Shaw Temple is deepening its roots in Cobb and Fulton counties.
August 3, 2021 Bishop Hines appointed Pastor Morrison as the Presiding Elder of the South Korea Annual Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, which is apart of the South Atlantic Episcopal District.
Pastor Morrison is married to the former Ms. Stachia L. Coleman. Lady Stachia has a great love for children and education, which is her own ministry. Lady Stachia is unquestionably Pastor Morrison’s number one supporter. Pastor and Mrs Morrison are the proud parents of Ava Elizabeth and Ian Alexander.
Currently Pastor Morrison serves on several boards and organizations; Founder of (EDM) Encouraging Disciples Ministry INC. The Connectional Budget Board the A.M.E. Zion Church, Yale University Community Partners Board, Booker T. Washington Academy- New Haven. The Shaw Temple Academy Board Chairman, Cobb County Ministers Alliance, Trustee of Clinton College, Trustee of Stonehaven School and Cobb Country Sherriff’s Department Chaplain.
However, at the end of the day Pastor Morrison is proud to still a “South Carolina preacher.” He absolutely loves preaching and preachers, often you will find him talking about preaching giants he admires like the late, R.A. Morrison Sr. W.O. Thompson, Manuel Scott Sr., Caesar A.W. Clark, or G.E. Patterson.
By the grace of God Pastor Morrison’s life is described in Romans 8:28 “For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and to those who are called according to his purpose.”