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Saunders Memorial is committed to loving God and serving its community. Our greatest desire is for all to experience God’s unconditional love through meaningful worship and community outreach.  We strive to strengthen our understanding of God and how He has uniquely created us, so we may walk in the fullness of God’s Divine Purpose for our lives. Come join us on the journey! We are a church with open minds, open hearts and open doors. All are Welcome! Whosoever Will, Come! 

Our History

   In 1948, under the leadership of Bishop George Wilber Baber the Fourth Episcopal District, Michigan Conference launched "The Expansion Drive". In April, 1950, a Charter Member of Saunders Memorial A.M. E. Church, wrote to Rev. Carlyle F. Stewart, asking why there was no AME Church in his community. Rev. Stewart shared the letter with Presiding Elder David A. Blake, who in turn, contacted the letter-writer.

   This correspondence served as the genesis of Saunders Memorial, one of the first ventures of "The Expansion Drive".  Negotiations for the property located at the corner of Mack and Pennsylvania Avenues began in the summer of 1950, by the Rev. J. A. Aiken, Founder and first Pastor of Saunders. The Conference Attorney, Mr. H.L. Dudley, handled all legal transactions with information furnished by Rev. Aiken. Bishop Baber gave very close support to every move made in the negotiations. Saunders was named in honor of the late Rev. John W. Saunders, who was one of the outstanding pastors, presiding elders, and leaders of the Conference and Connection. Pastor Aiken and the Congregation of Saunders Memorial AME Church held their first service at 4209 Pennsylvania Avenue, the home of Charter Members, Mr. and Mrs. Henley C. Smith. Saunders had a membership of twenty-two on October 22, 1950. The First Officers of the Church were: Stewards: Mr. Paul Perkins, Mr. Charles L. Warren, Mr. Hugh E. Smith, Mr. John Kelly, Mrs. Mary E. Webb, Mr. Preston Davis, and Mr. Charles Saxton. Trustees: Mr. Theodore Van Buren, Mr. O.T. Murray, Mr. Elliott Rice, Mr. Curtis Harden, Mr. J.B. Montgomery, Mr. Eugene Lester, and Mr. Henry P. Talbert.  Mr. Clarence Bradley was the first Church Treasurer.


Bishop John F. White and Pastor Joelynn present the Man of the Year Award to Bros. Curtis Harden, founding member and trustee of Saunders Memorial (2018)

   On Sunday, December 17, 1950, at 9:00am the Congregation marched in procession from Mr. and Mrs. Smith's home to their new Church edifice located at 3542 Pennsylvania Avenue.  At 9:30am the first Sunday School Session was held and at 11:00am was the Holy Communion Worship Service. A General Fellowship Service was held at 3:30pm with the Opening Address given by Bishop G. W. Baber. At 7:30pm the Organized Lay of the Michigan Conference held their meeting. For four years Rev. J. A. Aiken and his wife, Mrs. Mamie L. Aiken, labored earnestly to assure Saunders Memorial AME Church served as a credit to God, the Community, and the Conference. Having served faithfully, Pastor Aiken was elevated to Presiding Elder and Rev. Handley A. Hickey was appointed to pastor Saunders Memorial.

Revised from history written by Eva Murray circa 1955


     Subsequent pastoral appointments to Saunders Memorial include Reverends: Dr. Cecil W. Cone**, Gerald Haden, Carl Fuqua, Wesley Whorden, Edgar Vann, Sr. (Presiding Elder), Albert Preston, Lloyd Jenkins,  Isaac Clarington, Andre Spivey, Dwayne Gary, Dr. Cecelia Green Barr and Joelynn T. Stokes, Esq.**

    When Rev. Joelynn was assigned to Saunders Memorial in March 2018 (mid-conference year) the church had received a City Violation Order of Immediate Correction, plus 16 other code violations. God blessed the work and within 5 months all of the issues were addressed, and Rev. Joelynn took Saunders Memorial to the Annual Conference in August 2018 with a full report and a certificate of occupancy.

     In 2019, the bathrooms in the church building (which was built in 1901) were completely gutted and renovated. Also, in August 2019, Saunders Memorial and Allen Temple AME Church merged as one community of faith--Saunders Allen. With the merger, Saunders Allen was blessed to have Rev. Renee Johnson, Local Elder and lifelong member of Allen Temple, join the ministerial team.

     In 2020 God continued blessing in the midst of the pandemic and allowed the complete renovation of the lower-level fellowship space, which had been unusable for years. The church also had new furnaces and air conditioning systems installed. In August 2023, the renovation of Saunders Allen cathedral ceilinged sanctuary, entry way, office and balcony were completed. To God be the Glory!! The renovation included leveling the inclined sanctuary floor to allow multiple configurations of the space.

     Believing the closing of church buildings during the pandemic was God’s wake up call to the Church, Rev. Joelynn led the congregation to the streets to minister to the community. Serving in a community severely impacted by the disparate health care system, Saunders Allen hosted numerous community events offering Covid 19 testing, vaccinations, education and health screens as well as food and clothing.

     During Rev. Joelynn’s tenure, Saunders Allen hosted community events such as A Christmas Wonderland with Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus (which garnered print and TV news coverage); Winter on Ice, setting up an ice rink in the church parking lot and offering free ice skating and lessons; Yoga in the Yard with a Certified Yogi Master; and a Back to School Rally’s with mobile bowling alley and gaming vans. The community events all offered needed health resources such Covid 19 testing and vaccinations, health screens, eye exams and dental screens.

     In August 2023, Rev. Joelynn heeded the call of Isaiah 58, and requested leave from the pastoral ministry.  She turned her focus to the ministry of community outreach, and development, endeavoring to do her part as a repairer of the streets.



Rev. Joelynn T. Stokes, Esq. an ordained Itinerant Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church,  serves as General Counsel for the 4th Episcopal District of the AME Church. She is also the founding visionary of Isaiah 58, a faith based non-profit worshipping God through ministry to the community with a focus on health and housing.


Rev. Joelynn served as pastor of Saunders Memorial from 2018-2019, and the merged congregation of Saunders Memorial and Allen Temple from 2019-2023. She also served as 2nd Vice President for the Connectional AME Women In Ministry from 2016-2024.


 Rev. Joelynn earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Biblical Studies, from the University of Detroit-Mercy.  She received her Juris Doctorate degree from Hofstra University Law School in New York and her Bachelor’s degree in Business and Psychology from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Most recently she was honored to be invited to join the inaugural class of Duke Divinity School’s Black Church and Community Development Institute.

Rev. Joelynn is blessed to have her own law practice, J.T. STOKES & ASSOCIATES, P.C.. She has gained the respect of the legal community for her thoroughness, objectivity and compassion. As a result, she is frequently appointed by judges to recommend rulings on pending cases, and as a mediator to facilitate resolution of disputes.  Joelynn has served on the faculty of Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University; and as a lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the State Bar of Michigan’s Ethics School. 

Rev. Joelynn is also active in the community and serves on the Detroit Public Schools Faith Based Advisory Council, the Interfaith Leadership Council, Wayne Metro Regional Advisory Council, Helping Kids Get To School, Coalition for Black & Jewish Unity and Making It Count/Detroit Wayne Oakland Tobacco Free Coalition.  Joelynn is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Rev. Joelynn’s first love, however, is preaching and teaching God’s word.  She has taught at Ashland Theological Seminary. She has also been a workshop presenter for Princeton Seminary Women Clergy Institute and The Power of A Thinking Church held at Emory and convened by Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown. She has received the distinct honor of having sermons published in Judson Press’ The African American Pulpit and New York Theological Seminary’s The Living Pulpit.  In addition, her Biblical analysis and insight is quoted in Joshua and Judges: Texts @ Context, a journal of scholarly essays.  She has preached throughout the US and Bahamas and is featured in Pardon My Dust, I’m Under Construction, a motivational book which highlights the journeys of inspiring Michigan women.


While Joelynn is thankful for all of her blessings and accomplishments, she hopes the most important thing you will remember about her is simply this…SHE IS A CHILD OF GOD!

Rev. Joelynn Bio

Come Worship with Us!

Service begins at 11am Sunday Morning

Saunders AME .jpg

 Saunders in the Community  @ Hutchison Howe delivering back  packs and  school supplies to students.


3542 Pennsylvania St, Detroit, MI 48214, USA

(313) 921-8111

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