The mission of Lee Memorial A.M.E. Church is to be God's ambassadors for Christ. To accomplish this, we must know and become doers of God's Word; We must worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth; We must become God's witness throughout the entire world and We must serve God by presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto the Lord.
Our vision for Lee Memorial A.M.E. Church is to boldly proclaim the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to win the lost, make disciples and train them to go and do the same.
“Travelin’ Too Far,” were the words that were used. “We need a meeting place to worship closer!” This was the beginning of Lee Memorial African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, the offspring of its mother church, Allen A.M.E. Church in Wheaton, Maryland.
During the late 1890’s the folk of Ken-Gar (in Kensington, MD) walked 2 ½ miles along Bonny Castle Avenue and Wheaton Road (now known as Plyers Mill Road and University Boulevard, respectively) and returned to attend Allen Chapel, as it is commonly referred. Since their children could not attend the public school just four blocks away in Kensington, they walked the same 5 miles daily to attend the black school at Allen Chapel.
In 1901 Alexander and Mary Ellen Datcher, who had been members of Allen Chapel for seven years, began holding Sunday School and Worship Services in their home as a branch of Allen Chapel. Reverend John N. Still, the school teacher and the Associate Pastor led the new branch in Ken-Gar. He was a graduate of Howard University and Princess Anne Academy of Divinity.
Rev. John Nelson Still
Founding Pastor, 1904
The services in the Datcher home grew to such an extent that the need for a new church was most evident. Rev. Still and Alexander Datcher worked in unison to purchase a piece of ground and build a church. The beginning and early progress was due to the vision, courage, and faith of: Rev. Still; Alexander and Mary Datcher; Cyrus Hall; Regim Curry; Joseph and Isabella Simpson; Ella Chun; Littia Miles; and other members from the surrounding area.
The present plot of ground was purchased in 1903 from Thomas Gates, and the church building of Lee Memorial A.M.E. Church was erected in 1904 with its first pastor, The Reverend John Nelson Still. The church was named as a memorial to Bishop Benjamin F. Lee, the twentieth bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Lee Memorial also became the first school in Ken-Gar with Rev. Still as its teacher. About 1915, the Montgomery County School Board built a two room school next to Lee Memorial. This was expanded to three rooms in 1937. In 1955 Montgomery County began to integrate its schools, and the school was converted into apartments. In the late 1970’s the building was converted to a community center which stands today next to Lee Memorial.
While Rev. Still’s first love was the Lord and His work, he fell in love with the Datcher’s daughter, Rosetta. They married in 1907. The A.M.E. Church moved Rev. Still to a Frostburg, Maryland church in 1909. John and Rosetta were blessed with a daughter, Rosetta Evelyn, born on January 2, 1910. Shortly thereafter he moved back to Ken-Gar and then to New Jersey where he pastored several churches. Rev. Still returned to Ken-Gar and died of pneumonia in 1928. Rosetta remained in Ken-Gar with her eight children: Evelyn, Mary, John, James, George, Violet, Geraldine, and Hamilton. Evelyn went to work after her father’s passing and married William Moses in 1932. She had always been a faithful member and officer of Lee Memorial.
Rev. Viola Holston, the Associate Minister, joined Lee Memorial in 1942. She worked with the Sunday School and was placed on the Usher Board. In 1948 she was elected to the Trustee Board and made class leader to the Junior Church. In 1950 she was appointed to the Stewart and Stewardess Boards, and served until 1957. She became a licensed missionary in 1960 and an evangelist on June 11, 1961. She was first ordained on April 21, 1963 at the 13th Session of the Washington Annual Conference of the Second Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church. Later, on May 7, 1976, she was ordained Local Elder. She faithfully served as Associate Minister of Lee Memorial until God called her home in June 1996. Rev. Holston provided the continuity and glue that held Lee Memorial together and active for more than fifty years.
Lee Memorial has been well maintained and improved throughout the years. Stained glass windows were donated by families of the congregation and installed by the Good Nature Club in the late 1940’s. One of the stained glass windows in the narthex was donated and installed by the Willing Workers Club in 1953. The carpet in the sanctuary as well as the pews which were obtained from Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1955 was replaced in 1991. Over the years, the exterior of Lee Memorial has included brown, yellow, and today, white siding.
Lee Memorial A.M.E. Church held excellent standards within the Potomac District, and was prominent in helping to keep the Potomac District in the foremost ranks of the Baltimore Conference. Today, Lee Memorial is a part of the Capital District of the Washington Annual Conference. Lee Memorial is a well known, friendly, and respected church, and from its beginning has been pastored and led by well trained Christian ministers and their families.