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Know Your Neighbor: Simone Jones serves Texas AME for 15 years

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    Simone Jones

Nearly 15 years ago on February 5, 2006, Elder Simone Jones began pastoring the first of many Sundays with the Texas AME Church congregation. I was excited, nervous, and anxious but ready to serve God’s people. February, as you know, is Black History month and the congregation informed me that on the 3rd Sunday in February, the Texas AME church family celebrates Hiram E. Little Day.

At that time, I had no idea who Hiram was nor the rich history at Texas AME Church. There was a great deal of preparation and work transpiring for the arrival of this hidden hero of Putnam County. I learned from Hiram, a humble man, that he loved coming home to attend his childhood church. Hiram was 87 years young when I met him.

Since the program was in his honor, it was always with great pleasure to hear words of wisdom from the honoree. One year, we hosted the program at The Plaza, and invited the Buffalo Soldiers, all elected officials in Putnam County, and Putnam County residents. It was a wonderful celebration of a living legend. After the program was over, I was speaking with Mr. Hiram and he stated that he truly enjoyed himself, but he really likes coming to the church.

At that moment, I knew all future programs had to be hosted at the church. Every year, the church went to great lengths to surprise Hiram with a something special in his honor. We purchased a chair in his honor at the Plaza, a flag at the Veterans Wall, and much more. One year, Mr. Hiram had a gift for me that I will always cherish. Mr. Hiram gave me a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor that he received from the President of the United States.

Mr. Hiram always arrived with a host of his friends, the Atlanta Chapter of Tuskegee Airman. The memories of meeting some of the original airman will be forever etched in my memory. Mr. Hiram informed me that the church played a part in molding him and loved that the church was still standing. It is such an honor to have met Mr. Hiram Little, and an even greater honor to pastor a church that has nurtured such greatness.

At the time Hiram attended Texas AME Church, it also served as a school site for African American children. This beautiful church, rich in history, has existed for 150 plus years. Throughout the years, the congregation and I completed numerous repairs to try and salvage the original structure. After the plethora of repairs, the church became structurally unsafe due to termite damage and resulted in the decision to rebuild.

We are currently in the process of rebuilding the church so the legacy can continue into future generations. This is a small church with a big heart. Every year we host a Community Thanksgiving Dinner for the families of Putnam County. We also host a Fall Festival for the families of Putnam County on Halloween Night. It is the mission of Texas AME Church to be hands and feet in the community.

We believe ministry exists beyond the four walls of the church. Our motto is “Everybody can’t do everything but everybody can do something”. The Texas AME Church family cannot wait to enter our new sanctuary that we pray will serve another 150 plus years.