The History of the AMEN House

Most of the time, when we see a church that owns a house next door, we think, “That’s where the pastor lives!” or at least “That’s where they used to live.” Some denominations call this a manse (rhymes with “chance”); others call it a parsonage. It would be fair to assume that AMEN House was a manse at some point in the history of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church, but it never was! Over the last 100+ years, this house has held some amazing people and ministries. Here’s a little more about them:

Oak Hill Presbyterian Church was founded in 1895 and construction of the current sanctuary where we worship started in 1916. In between those dates, in 1913, this home was built. The house had residents like any other house in the neighborhood until the late 1940s. In 1950, Oak Hill acquired the house, right at a time when the church needed more space for Sunday School classes. In 1953, The Annex (the enclosed hallway that connects the church building and this house) was built and a whole host of new possibilities opened up for the church to use this space.

The congregation used this house for educational ministry for the next three decades. As the needs of the congregation changed in the early 1980s, so did the use of this house! In 1982 the congregation began a partnership with the St. Louis American Indian Center. For the next 20 years, the Center ran a robust food pantry and assisted tribal members with day-to-day needs. By 2001 the American Indian Center no longer used the house and it became a space for congregation and neighborhood youth again.

But the congregation kept wondering, How is God calling us to use this space for mission? And in 2011, we got the spark of an idea. Several church members had been on mission trips to other cities and they began to scheme - wouldn’t it be great for mission trips to come to St. Louis? Could this house be part of that plan? The spark became a flame and the congregation got in gear, adding showers, fixing windows, painting and upgrading the kitchen. Through all of these iterations, this house has been a means of expressing God’s Beloved Community: first as a family home, then as a place of learning and faith formation, then as the American Indian Center, and now as th AMEN House. God has continued to bless Oak Hill and the Tower Grove South neighborhood through all of the varied people and ministries that have called this house home. We are blessed to welcome you here and excited about the ways you will participate in this ministry.