ST. PAUL AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL (AME) ZION CHURCH was the first church of the AME Zion denomination established in Cleveland in 1912. As large numbers of AFRICAN-AMERICAN migrants made their way to Cleveland from the South in the early years of the twentieth century, they sought to institutionalize their religious life. Among them were members of the AME Zion church. In 1912, a group of adherents of the AME Zion denomination, led by Rev. S. C. Harris, gathered at Mrs. Oldfield's restaurant on Central Avenue and East 34th Street to establish an AME Zion church in Cleveland. They worshipped at a storefront church on East 30th Street near Cedar Avenue under the direction of Rev. Harris before moving to Clayton Hall on East 46th Street. In 1917, the congregation of St. Paul AME Zion purchased the present (2009) church building on East 55th Street and Quincy Avenue for $62,500. Since its inception, St. Paul AME Zion had seven pastors: Rev. S. C. Harris (1912-17); Rev. E. D. W. Bell (1917-25); Rev. James P. Foote (1925-38); Rev. Dr. James Albert T. Fuller (1951-64); Rev. Dr. Novie S. Chaney (1964-87); and Rev. Dr. Audie V. Simon (1988-present).
Dr. Simon broke new ground in the inclusion of women in the executive work of the church. In addition to selecting women to the Trustee and Steward Boards, he appointed a woman to serve as the Superintendent of Sunday School. Dr. Simon also oversaw a Physical Healing Drive to renovate and maintain the historic church building. St. Paul AME Zion has hosted annual Men's and Women's Days as well as Friends and Family Day. It also operates its own credit union with assets of nearly half a million dollars.