Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is the oldest African-American congregation in Jersey City. New Jersey. The church was organized in 1846 by Rev. Timothy Tate, in the Fourth Street home of Mrs. Ashby, Named Saint Mark A.M.E. Zion Church, the congregation made its first annual report at the New York Annual Conference in May 1847. St. Mark moved into a location on Monmouth Street, near First Street, and worshipped there for many years. In an 1869-1870 directory of the A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. Josiah Biddle was listed as the pastor.
In May 1913, Rev. J.M. Hoggard was sent to Jersey City. The congregation moved three times before building a church of its own at 679 Communipaw Avenue. In 1929, Rev. Elias S. Hardge was sent as pastor. The Great Depression made it difficult for the church to maintain its property; it turned it over the New Jersey Conference.
The members worshipped in Long Branch, NJ for a several years before moving back to Jersey City and worshipping with Calvary C.M.E. Church. In 1936, Saint Mark bought a club house and bowling alley at 37 Virginia Avenue, reorganized and changed its name to Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church. Rev. Hardge served for 20 years.
Rev. David Cecil Lynch was sent to Metropolitan in 1949. Under him, the church purchased a parsonage at 702 Ocean Avenue. A sanctuary was built in the Virginia Avenue location for $64,800 and dedicated the first Sunday of April 1962.
Following the retirement of Rev. Lynch in May 1965, Rev. Andrew Wesley Mapp was sent to Metropolitan the first Sunday of September 1965. When the opportunity arose to purchase a house next door to the church that would serve as the parsonage, the members approved.
Later that year, Brother Cornelius Parker advised Rev. Mapp that the Emory Street Methodist Church at 597 Bergen Avenue was for sale. The officers and members inspected church, liked it and sought the approval of Bishop Smith to purchase the property for $80,000.
Two years later, on Wednesday, March 27, 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made one of his last speeches in New Jersey to an overflow crowd at Metropolitan. Eight days later, on April 4, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, TN.
The year 1970 marked two more milestones for Metropolitan. The church mortgage was burned and a parsonage at 14 Highview Road was purchased. Sadly, Rev. Mapp was called to receive his heavenly reward on October 24, 1985.
Presiding Elder Rochester served as supply pastor until the first Sunday of February 1986, when Rev. George W. Maize II was sent as pastor of Metropolitan. He soon launched an effort to renovate the sanctuary and the Price Building. With the support of the Trustee Board and Chairman Augustine Montgomery, the church secured a $250,000 bank loan for a major renovation. In August 1997, a break-in and fire caused extensive damage to the Price Building. Trustee Board Chairman Rodney Hairston spearheaded the restoration effort, and when the work was completed, he stepped down and was succeeded by Chairman Myron Bush. In 2007, Metro-Spec, Inc., Metropolitan’s community development corporation was awarded a $250,000 grant for modernization of the Price Building. The work was done under Trustee Chairman James Woods and continued under Chairman Theodore West
At the May 2007 New Jersey Annual Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, Rev. Maize was elevated to Presiding Elder of the Jersey City District of the New Jersey Conference. Presiding Elder Theodore Calhoun Sr. served as supply pastor until Bishop Nathaniel Jarrett, Jr. appointed Rev. Nathaniel B. Legay as pastor of Metropolitan on Sunday, July 1, 2007. Rev. Legay, who some 30 years earlier had received his calling at Metropolitan, had returned home. In 2008, he was reappointed by Bishop Louis Hunter, Sr., the Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic 1 Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Zion Church.
Inspired by the scripture Mark 12:29:31, “Love God and love others,” Rev. Legay seeks to establish Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church as a church with a heart to Love, Lift, and Liberate with the Gospel through Evangelism, Education, Emancipation, Empowerment and Edification.