Shown l-r are: John Thomas, III,  Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams, and Marcus T. Henderson, Sr.

By Erskine W. Lytle, III

NASHVILLE, TN — Founded in 1863 by Bishop Daniel Payne, St. John AME Church, Nashville is the Mother Church of African Methodism in Tennessee. 

The church currently celebrates having two General Officers serving and one retired General Officer, who was elected and served while an active member of St. John. 

A fourth layperson, the late Eustace Alexander Selby (1887-1986), served as Secretary-Treasurer of the AME Church Sunday School Union from 1936-1964. 

Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams, Ph.D., was the first woman elected a General Officer in the denomination’s history in 1984, serving as editor of the AME Church Review for eight years. She was the AME representative to the National Council of Churches of Christ USA, Board of Trustees of Wilberforce University, and the 13th Episcopal District Lay President. She was the 1st recipient of the Living Legacy Award given at the thirty-fourth session of the Connectional Lay Organization and has been a delegate to every General Conference since 1964.  During her forty-five years of membership in St. John, Dr. Williams’ service included the Pastor’s Aid Board and the Lay Organization. 

She was active in the Nashville community with the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Red Cross, and human relations and historical commissions, among others. Dr. Williams lives in Atlanta with her daughter Mrs. Donna Williams. Though retired, Dr. Williams remains a source of inspiration and sought-after counsel. 

John Thomas, III attended Morehouse College, Princeton University, and is currently completing doctoral work at the University of Chicago.   John Thomas III listened ardently to his father, Dr. John Thomas, Jr., a renowned clinician, epidemiologist, and research scholar who taught students at Meharry Medical College for more than half century.  He was  a lifelong member of the AME church.  Dr. Thomas often engaged in long discussions about St. John and AME  with his close friends, Doctors Jayme and McDonald Williams. Young John listened with an insatiable curiosity, not just about St. John AME,  but the denomination as a whole. That same energy and intellect he had listening to those adult conversations began unfolding as he progressed in his education. Some of this was evidenced as Thomas participated with the Morehouse College team in the Honda College Bowl. The same was true when he represented Saint John in Bible bowls sponsored by the Board of Christian Education of the AME Church. 

John Thomas was very active in all church youth activities at all connectional levels of the church. The support of his parents, Harriet and Dr. John Thomas Jr., along with the mentorship of Doctors Jayme and McDonald Williams, nourished his desire to work and serve the AME Church at the connectional level. His energy and willingness to serve are a source of pride and excitement about his future with the church.

Marcus T. Henderson, Sr., was elected the Chief Financial Officer of the AME Church in 2021. He is President and Chief Financial Officer of the Henderson Financial Group, Inc. Among his many memberships include the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the Financial Planning Association, the Million Dollar Round Table, and the Top of The Table – Million Dollar Round Table, which accepts 5% of its members internationally. 

A lifelong member of St. John, Marcus T. Henderson, Sr.  has served as a Steward,  member of the Lay Organization and is the national AME treasurer. He is the son of the late Reverend and Mrs. Samuel Henderson as well as the nephew of the late Reverend Joanne Allen. 

He and his wife Yolanda are the.proud parents of five children and live in Franklin, TN.