Experience Something Greater
Greater Grant Memorial AME Church, known as GREATER GRANT, is a thriving church congregation in the city of Jacksonville, offers members, supporters, guests - a chance to become part of something greater. To grow in their love of God and for one another within our beautiful community.
We are rooted in the stories of the Bible and believe worship is something that can be expressed in everything we do. Our philosophy is founded on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. No matter who you are, there’s a special place for you at our church. Get in touch today or come and visit us in person.
Greater Grant Memorial A.M.E. Church (GAME) has a rich and deep history; steeped in tradition, focused on the future and rooted in Christianity as well as the African Methodist Episcopal doctrine of self-help, self-esteem and spiritual integrity. It has served as a place of worship on the northside of Jacksonville, Florida for the past 118 years - from downtown Jacksonville at Orange and Clay to Sherwood Forest on Gilchrist Road- Grant continues to thrive. Exceptional leadership has brought the church thus far: from Reverends Badgett and Andrews to our present pastor, Tony DeMarco Hansberry.
GAME’s history began in 1889, when a small group of devout, conscientious Christians built a Bush Harbor on a little spot in Dewdrop Alley. This diminutive group was led by the Reverends Badgett and S.S. (Parson) Andrews. Realizing a need for a structure in which to worship, they pooled their pennies, double their faith and trust in God and eventually was able to purchase a plot on which they built a small church known as Grant Chapel. Experiencing significant growth, the Reverend G. C. Bledsoe was appointed to take charge and lead the group. He initiated plans to lay the foundation for another church. The church’s name was changed to Grant Memorial. Tremendous progress was made under his leadership.
In August 1970, under the leadership of the Reverend Charles Shepherd Henry Hunter, Jr., Grant Memorial moved from Clay and Orange Streets to its present location, 5533 Gilchrist Road. The church’s name was changed to Greater Grant Memorial A.M.E. Church. The members saw the fruit of their labors and dreams turn into realities. Included in the purchase of 5 3/4 acres of land was a church edifice, educational and recreational buildings, offices, a fellowship hall, a kitchen with a dining room, music wing, many other spacious rooms, pianos, a church bus, a paved parking area, and a beautiful brick parsonage. In addition, Rev. Hunter, Jr. and the late Mrs. Lucille M. Baines were the driving forces for implementing the Head Start Program at Greater Grant. This location was the furthest site north available to eligible children in the area.
A new era began at Greater Grant Memorial A.M.E. Church in November 1980 under the spiritual leadership of the Reverend John F. White, Sr. During his initial years at Greater Grant, he saw a need to hire full-time staff and purchase a new church bus. Under his leadership, the original Gilchrist Road mortgage was paid off; he built and paid for a new $90,000 parsonage; and purchased an additional 4.8 acres of land located to the south and east of the church. The IBM Church master System was purchased to improve the administrative work of the church.
The Reverend George L. Champion, Sr. appointed in January 1988, provided great leadership as pastor and administrator, and continued the movement toward spiritual growth and expansion. He began a Spiritual Development Program, restructured the Sunday (Church) School, initiated a Youth Christian Development Program on Saturday’s, commenced renovation of the Educational Building, purchased a 30-passenger bus, installed a new sound system, expanded the Fellowship Hall, enhanced church’s landscaping, and expanded the auxiliaries (boards) from 16 to 36.
In October 1989, the Reverend Waymon T. Dixon, assumed leadership and continued the programs established. Most of the organizations were later redesigned into commissions by the church. During his administration, improvements were made to the church building. Along with his wife, the Reverend Debra L. Dixon, an itinerant elder, the Dixons were Greater Grant’s first ordained ministerial couple.
The Reverend Henry Elmore Green, Jr., was sent to Greater Grant November 15, 1991. Some of his accomplishments included: the establishment of television and radio ministries; reduction of the church’s mortgage; payment of the 30 passenger bus; land clearance and enlarged parking area; refurbishment of the exterior and interior of the church and educational buildings; renovated the food preparation center; established the Full Gospel Choir; hired a full-time Minister of Music and Assistant Pastor; established the Children’s Church; instituted a Tape ministry; and established a Married Couples’ ministry. Additionally at the time of his pastorate, he had more “sons” and “daughters” in the ministry than any other pastor in the district.
On Easter Sunday, April 16, 1995, the Reverend Y. Benjamin Bruce, Sr. was appointed to lead the flock at Greater Grant. His efforts were dedicated to a physically energetic, spiritually gifted, and positive approach in spiritual growth. He desired to live and lead God’s people in worship and praise, Christian education and community involvement. His wife, Gloria, was involved and provided leadership for several of the ministries. Some of their work included: a church library; the Media ministry, the Grant Gazette newsletter; and four new ministries, the Women’s Ministry, the Singles’ Ministry, the Married Couples’ Ministry and the Family ministry. Other accomplishments during his assignment were: first pastor in the history of Grant to appoint a female pro-tem of the Trustee Board; Haiti Shoe Project; purchased and enhanced sound system with new control booth; renovation of the church and educational building included the bricking of the facilities. The Rev. Bruce was elevated to the Middle Level Management Position of Presiding Elder of the Orlando Florida District of the Eleventh Episcopal District, and the helm of Greater Grant was placed in the hands of the Reverend Dr. Damone A. Anderson.
Under Reverend Anderson’s leadership, Greater Grant continued to set strides as a lead church in the Jacksonville area. Anderson brought to Grant a wealth of intuitive insight and a desire to research and explore the Bible. Through his teaching, Grants’ Bible Study mushroomed in excess of 100 attendees. The bus ministry was enlarged with the purchase of a new 24-passenger bus. The Sisters Circle ministry was initiated under the watchful eye of Reverend Anderson. The Rev. Pauline Tucker joined the membership of Grant while under his tutelage. In November 2003, Reverend Anderson was elevated to the position of Presiding Elder of the Suwannee River District of the Eleventh Episcopal District.
Several pastors who have led Greater Grant have gone on to become Episcopal leaders and officers of the AME Church. Those elected Bishop include Henry Y. Tookes, Robert A. Grant, William F. Ball, Sr., and John F. White, Sr., who presently serves the Office of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs. The Reverend Henry E. Green, Jr. currently serves as the Eleventh Episcopal District President of the Sons of Allen; the Reverend Waymon T. Dixon serves as the Eleventh Episcopal District Director of Continuing Education; the Reverend Dr. George L. Champion, Sr. served as the AMEC Connectional Director of Worship and Evangelism as did the Reverend Dr. Y. Benjamin Bruce, Sr., who along with the Reverends A. Joseph Reddick and Dr. D. A. Anderson and Henry Elmore Green, Jr. became Presiding Elders.
The Reverend Tony DeMarco Hansberry was assigned to pastor Greater Grant November of 2003. Grant observed a new spirit of worship and a new zeal for serving the Lord. Focused on evangelism, Pastor Hansberry instructed and energized the congregation to serve the surrounding community. Highlights thus far under this leader are: Hosted the 129th and 134th the 133rd Sessions of the East Annual Conference; initiated the “All About Him” Radio ministry; produces CD’s of worship services; previously housed Victoria Academy of Higher Learning (a private school) and North Florida Education Institute (a private school) within the facilities; continues to house a Head Start Program; liquidated debt on 24-passenger bus; initiated a liturgical dance ministry; and renovated the Church, educational building, and parsonage which is being utilized as rental property. The Music Ministry was greatly enhanced through the hiring of a full-time Minister of Music and the support of five musicians who play various instruments (piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboard). Hansberry was elevated to the position of Presiding Elder of the Suwannee North District of the East Conference of the AME Church in November of 2010.