The AME Church Scene, 1968
In this scene, the Winger family attends the African American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Newt first sees Arcella Jefferson and immediately develops an interest in her. Arcella’s entire family is welcomed with open arms as newcomers to the community by Pastor Broadnap. Toward the end of the scene, Newt’s friends rush out of the church while Newt has a conversation with Uncle Rob.
The church was located on the southwest corner of 3rd and Lowman (the address is 301 South Lowman). The entrance of the church was on the corner of 3rd and Lowman, and the pulpit and choir seats were located toward the direct east end of the church. Several church members and other Fort Scott residents were extras in this scene.
This was the actual church Gordon Parks and his family attended. The AME Church is the first and oldest Black Church in Fort Scott, established in 1866. Between 1866 and 1884, the church was located at two different locations. In 1885, the AME church occupied a new brick church building on the southeast corner of Third and Lowman Streets and had a viable congregation. However, the Church had a reduction in members throughout the years and was eventually condemned due to unsafe conditions, and was torn down.
The largest congregation was believed to have been in 1888. The Fort Scott City Directory of that year indicates that the Church membership was 260 and the Sunday school membership was 100 individuals
Members of the choir in the church scene were the actual choir and members of the church
One of the church's stain glass windows and two of the Church pews are on exhibit at the Gordon Parks Museum.
The second oldest African American church in Fort Scott was the Shiloh Baptist that was organized in 1868. It is now called the United Missionary Baptist Church and is located at the same location as the Shiloh Church at 16 North Ransom.