Shorter Community AME Church, organized in July 1868, by Bishop Thomas M.D. Ward, was the first African-American Church established in Colorado. The Church has grown form a log cabin erected in lots at the corner of 19th and Hollladay Streets (now Market Street) to its current locations, “Freedom Crossroads”, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Richard Allen Court.
The Church and Church Buildings
Historically, the Shorter family has always BUILT its house of worship and never has occupied a previously owned building.
St. John AME Church was organized by Bishop Thomas M. D. Ward. The first church building, a log cabin, was erected on land donated by Major Fillmore, a Union officer in the Civil War. The church began with eighteen members, including six trustees: Gibble Burrel, Samuel Cook, Alvin Cummings, Gilbert Phelps, Lewis Price and Irving Williams.
The cabin served as the first church structure from 1864-1878. In 1878, a larger, brick structure was built on the corner of 19th and Stout Streets for $2,000.00. In 1880, to honor the presiding Bishop, James A. Shorter, St. John AME Church was renamed Shorter Chapel.
In 1886, the structure at 19th and Stout (currently the U.S. Federal Court House) was sold for $15,000.00, and other sites were considered to build a new church home. For almost a full year and at three different locations, Shorter Chapel experienced considerable opposition from neighbors against having a Black Church in their community.
24th and California Streets
- Land purchased for $10,000.00
- Land sold due to opposition for $2,000.00 profit
17th and Glenarm Streets, across from the wealthy Denver Club
- Land purchased for $10,000.00
- Land sold, after the ground breaking and excavation, due to opposition, for $4,000.00 profit
- The Midland Savings and Loan Company was later built on the site.
E. 19th Avenue and Lincoln Street
- Land purchased and sold due to opposition from local white homeowners.
23rd and Cleveland Streets
In the fall of 1887, three lots on the corner of 23rd and Cleveland Place were purchased for $9,000.00. One of the homes purchased with the lot was converted into the church parsonage. The church was built for $24,000.00 and after the financial gains during the community battles, only $7,000.00 remained on the church mortgage.
The church site at 23rd and Cleveland Place served as the place of worship from August 5, 1889 until April 9, 1925. In April, it is alleged that the Ku Klux Klan set fire to and completely destroyed the building. The Shorter Family Shared worship facilities with Peoples Presbyterian Church until Easter morning April 4, 1926. On this morning, the first service was held in the new building erected over the same location of the previous building; 23rd and Cleveland Place.
Richard Allen Court and Martin Luther King Boulevard
Shorter Community AME Church is currently located at the intersection of Freedom Crossroads. The effort to move from 23rd and Cleveland Place was initiated in the 1970’s under the leadership of Rev. Carter. The first services in the Shorter Education Center, our temporary sanctuary, were held July 11, 1981.
The ground-breaking ceremony for our permanent sanctuary was held in the fall of 1988. The permanent sanctuary was completed in June 1990 with the dedication services being held during the month.
Shorter currently owns and operates the Richard Allen Center Corporation, Richard Allen Gardens-Senior and Handicapped Housing Facilities, Bishop Richard Allen Center-Community Classroom and Meeting Facility.
Other property owned and managed by Shorter AME is the Shorter Arms Low Resource and Handicapped Housing Facility.
Every pastor of Shorter has served to help affect early liquidation of debts on church property has been actively involved in church and community concerns and has led in the spiritual growth of the membership. Through these efforts, Shorter AME has become a leader in the Denver community and the AME connectional church.