Highland AME finds itself without a pastor

Darrell Cole
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Slaughter starts at her new church in Chicago

Highland AME Church is without a pastor after Christine Slaughter was transferred to a new church in Chicago.

Pastor Christine Slaughter has left Highland AME Church in Amherst to move to another church in Chicago. Slaughter arrived in Amherst in December 2010 and oversaw the church’s 140th anniversary celebrations in June. There’s no word on a replacement.

AMHERST – It’s something the congregation at Highland AME Church will never get used to.

Pastor Christine Slaughter, who arrived from Indiana in December 2010, has been transferred to another church closer to home, leaving the Amherst church without its leader.

“You think we’d be used to this by now, but it’s always hard to say goodbye,” church steward Elizabeth Cooke-Sumbu said. “We’re going to miss her immensely. She did so many wonderful things here and we really bonded with her.”

Cooke-Sumbu said Slaughter helped open Highland AME up to the community.

Slaughter left Amherst late last week to attend meetings in Toronto and performed her first service at Robinson Chapel in Chicago on Sunday.

During her tenure in Amherst, Slaughter oversaw the Highland Church’s 140th anniversary in June and also helped mark Martin Luther King Day in Amherst. While her new church is bigger than Highland AME, Slaughter said there will always be a special place in her heart for her congregation and the community.

“We did very well in Amherst and we saw a lot of growth,” she said. “We did quite a bit at Highland. Those things did my heart great. The first thing people ask me is how many people did we have, but I really don’t care if we have one member I would still stand up and preach.

“My heart was so heavy leaving Highland, but one of the things about an itinerant ministry is that the pastor moves,” Slaughter added. “I was very involved in the community and met some great people. They’re all going to hold a big place in my heart. I won’t be gone forever, though. I will come to visit.”

Slaughter is now only three hours from her mother and has a lot of friends living in the Chicago area.

Canada’s work laws played a role in her departure. Since she was a U.S. citizen she wasn’t able to work in this country and the congregation was too small to pay her a salary. She said that’s one of the reasons her bishop opted to move her closer to home.

“A lot of people think churches are big but in fact they’re actually quite small and the pastors have to work to earn a living,” she said. “That wasn’t possible there.”

Trustee Theresa Halfkenny said assurances have been given that a new pastor will be located for Highland AME. She’s hoping some members of the church leadership will continue to hold gatherings.

“We’re going to miss her. She brought a lot of skill to our community and she had a lot to offer,” Halfkenny said. “She provided some great leadership for the church.”

Cooke-Sumbu said a number of fundraisers are being planned in the coming months to keep the church going, including a radiothon and more concerts. She’s confident the wait won’t be long for a new pastor.

“Our elder has assured me we won’t be forgotten,” Cooke-Sumbu said.


Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Highland Church, Amherst church

Geographic location: AMHERST, Highland, Chicago Indiana Toronto Canada U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Vince Kennie
    November 06, 2013 - 06:34

    Real sorry to hear that the church has no pastor at the present time. I have attended services here on several occassions and was blessed by the great fellowship displayed by the members of the congregation. Hope they find a replacement pastor sooner than later.