African Methodist Episcopal Church

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African Methodist Episcopal Church
Amesheild.png
God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family
ClassificationProtestant
OrientationMethodist
PolityConnexionalism
AssociationsNational Council of Churches;
World Council of Churches;
Churches Uniting in Christ
FounderRichard Allen
Origin1816
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Separated fromMethodist Episcopal Church
Congregations7,000[1]
Members2,510,000[1][2]
Official websitewww.ame-church.com
 
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For individual church buildings/congregations of this name, see African Methodist Episcopal Church (disambiguation).
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Amesheild.png
God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family
ClassificationProtestant
OrientationMethodist
PolityConnexionalism
AssociationsNational Council of Churches;
World Council of Churches;
Churches Uniting in Christ
FounderRichard Allen
Origin1816
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Separated fromMethodist Episcopal Church
Congregations7,000[1]
Members2,510,000[1][2]
Official websitewww.ame-church.com

The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church, is a predominantly African-American Methodist denomination based in the United States. It was founded by the Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the mid-Atlantic area that wanted independence from white Methodists. Allen was consecrated its first bishop in 1816. It began with 8 clergy and 5 churches, and by 1846 had grown to 176 clergy, 296 churches, and 17,375 members The 20,000 members in 1856 were located primarily in the North.[3][4] AME national membership (including probationers and preachers) jumped from 70,000 in 1866 to 207,000 in 1876 [5]


Church name[edit]

Motto[edit]

"God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family"

Derived from Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne's original motto "God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, Man our Brother", which served as the AME Church motto until the 2008 General Conference, when the current motto was officially adopted.

History[edit]

Richard Allen
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2013.[9]

The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society (FAS), which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and other free blacks established in Philadelphia in 1787. They left St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church because of discrimination. Although Allen and Jones were both accepted as preachers, they were limited to black congregations. In addition, the blacks were made to sit in a separate gallery built in the church when their portion of the congregation increased. These former members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into an African congregation. Although the group was originally non-denominational, eventually members wanted to affiliate with existing denominations.

Allen led a small group who resolved to remain Methodist. They formed the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1793. In general, they adopted the doctrines and form of government of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1794 Bethel AME was dedicated with Allen as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence, Allen successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an institution independent of white Methodist congregations. Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities also encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia in 1816 to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the "African Methodist Episcopal Church" (AME Church).

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique history as it is the first major religious denomination in the western world that developed because of sociological rather than theological differences. It was the first African-American denomination organized and incorporated in the United States. The church was born in protest against racial discrimination and slavery. This was in keeping with the Methodist Church's philosophy, whose founder John Wesley had once called the slave-trade "that execrable sum of all villainies." In the 19th century, the AME Church of Ohio collaborated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly white denomination, in sponsoring the second independent historically black college (HBCU), Wilberforce University in Ohio. Among Wilberforce University's early founders was Salmon P. Chase, then-governor of Ohio and the future Secretary of Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln.

Other members of the FAS wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church and followed Absalom Jones in doing that. In 1792, they founded the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the first Episcopal church in the United States with a founding black congregation. In 1804, Jones was ordained as the first black priest in the Episcopal Church.

While the AME is doctrinally Methodist, clergy, scholars, and lay persons have written works that demonstrate the distinctive racial theology and praxis that have come to define this Wesleyan body. In an address to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett reminded the audience of blacks' influence in the formation of Christianity. Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner wrote in 1895 in The Color of Solomon – What? that biblical scholars wrongly portrayed the son of David as a white man. In the post-civil rights era, theologians James Cone,[10] Cecil W. Cone, and Jacqueline Grant, who came from the AME tradition, critiqued Euro-centric Christianity and African-American churches for their shortcomings in resolving the plight of those oppressed by racism, sexism, and economic disadvantage.[citation needed]

Beliefs[edit]

The AME motto, "God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family", reflects the basic beliefs of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The basic foundations of the beliefs of the church can be summarized in the Apostles' Creed, and The Twenty Five Articles of Religion, held in common with other Methodist Episcopal congregations. The church also observes the official bylaws of the AME Church. The "Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church" is revised at every General Conference and published every five years.

Church mission[edit]

1918 A.M.E. Church, Cairo, Illinois

The Mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the social, spiritual, physical development of all people. At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the AME Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy. It is also the duty of the Church to continue to encourage all members to become involved in all aspects of church training. The ultimate purposes are: (1) make available God's biblical principles, (2) spread Christ's liberating gospel, and (3) provide continuing programs which will enhance the entire social development of all people. In order to meet the needs at every level of the Connection and in every local church, the AME Church shall implement strategies to train all members in: (1) Christian discipleship, (2)Christian leadership, (3) current teaching methods and materials, (4) the history and significance of the AME Church, (5) God's biblical principles, and (6) social development to which all should be applied to daily living.

  1. preaching the gospel,
  2. feeding the hungry,
  3. clothing the naked,
  4. housing the homeless,
  5. cheering the fallen,
  6. providing jobs for the jobless,
  7. administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, senior citizens' homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed,
  8. encouraging thrift and economic advancement.,[11] and
  9. bringing people back into church.

Colleges, seminaries and universities[edit]

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has been one of the forerunners of education within the African-American community.

Former colleges & universities of the AME Church:

Senior colleges within the United States:

Junior colleges within the United States:

Theological seminaries within the United States:

Foreign colleges and universities:

Structure[edit]

The General Conference[edit]

The General Conference is the supreme body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is composed of the Bishops, as ex officio presidents, according to the rank of election, and an equal number of ministerial and lay delegates, elected by each of the Annual Conferences and the lay Electoral Colleges of the Annual Conferences. Other ex officio members are: the General Officers, College Presidents, Deans of Theological Seminaries; Chaplains in the Regular Armed Forces of the U.S.A. The General Conference meets every four years, but may have extra sessions in certain emergencies.

Council of Bishops[edit]

The Council of Bishops is the Executive Branch of the Connectional Church. It has the general oversight of the Church during the interim between General Conferences. The Council of Bishops shall meet annually at such time and place as the majority of the Council shall determine and also at such other times as may be deemed necessary in the discharging its responsibility as the Executive Branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Council of Bishops shall hold at least two public sessions at each annual meeting. At the first, complaints and petitions against a Bishop shall be heard, at the second, the decisions of the Council shall be made public. All decisions shall be in writing.

Board of Incorporators[edit]

The Board of Incorporators, also known as the General Board of Trustees, has the supervision, in trust, of all connectional property of the Church and is vested with authority to act in behalf of the Connectional Church wherever necessary.

The General Board[edit]

The General Board is in many respects the administrative body and comprises various departmental Commissions made up of the respective Secretary-Treasurer, the General Secretary of the AME, Church the General Treasurer and the members of the various Commissions and one Bishop as presiding officer with the other Bishops associating.

Judicial Council[edit]

The Judicial Council is the highest judicatory body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is an appellate court, elected by the General Conference and is amenable to it.

AME Connectional Health Commission[edit]

The Connectional Health Commission serves, among other tasks, to help the denomination understand health as an integral part of the faith of the Christian Church, to seek to make our denomination a healing faith community, and to promote the health concerns of its members. One of the initiatives of the commission is the establishment of an interactive website that will allow not only health directors, but the AMEC membership at-large to access health information, complete reports, request assistance. This website serves as a resource for members of the AMEC, and will be the same for anyone who accesses the website. Additionally, as this will be an interactive site, it will allow health directors to enter a password protected chat room to discuss immediate needs and coordinate efforts for relief regionally, nationally and globally.

It is through this website that efforts to distribute information about resources and public health updates, and requests for services may be coordinated nationally. This will allow those who access the website to use one central location for all resource information needs.[12]

Overview[edit]

The World Council of Churches estimates the membership of the AME Church at around 2,500,000, 3817 pastors, 21 bishops and 7000 congregations.[13]

The AME Church is a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), and the World Council of Churches.

The AME Church is not related to either the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church (which was founded in Delaware by Peter Spencer in 1813), or the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (which was founded in New York by James Varick).

Bishops (past and present)[edit]

The Four Horsemen: important bishops[edit]

Current Bishops[edit]

Retired Bishops[edit]

General Officers[edit]

Dr. Richard Allen Lewis, Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer[14]

The Rev. Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer, AMEC Sunday School Union[14]

The Rev. Dr. George F. Flowers, Secretary-Treasurer, Global Witness and Missions[14]

The Rev. Dr. Jerome V. Harris, Executive Director, Annuity Investments and Insurance[14]

The Rev. Dr. James C. Wade, Executive Director of Church Growth and Development[14]

The Rev. Dr. Daryl B. Ingram, Secretary-Treasurer of Christian Education[14]

The Rev. Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor of The Christian Recorder, the official newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church[14]

The Rev. Dr. Jeffery B. Cooper, General Secretary/CIO[14]

The Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, Director, Research and Scholarship and Editor of The A.M.E. Church Review[14]

Notable clergy and educators[edit]

Ecumenism[edit]

In May 2012, The African Methodist Episcopal Church entered into full communion with the racially integrated The United Methodist Church, and the predominately Black/African American members of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, African Union Methodist Protestant Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and Union American Methodist Episcopal Church, in which these Churches agreed to "recognize each other's churches, share sacraments, and affirm their clergy and ministries." bringing a semblance of unity and reconciliation to those church bodies which follow in the footsteps of John and Charles Wesley[16]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "African Methodist Episcopal Church — World Council of Churches". oikoumene.org. May 14, 2014. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ Zavada, Jack (May 14, 2014). "African Methodist Episcopal - Brief Overview of the African Methodist Episcopal Church". christianity.about.com. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ James T. Campbell, Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (1995)
  4. ^ A. Nevell Owens, Formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Nineteenth Century: Rhetoric of Identification (2014)
  5. ^ The Annual Cyclopedia: 1866," (1867) p 492; The Annual Cyclopedia: 1876 (1877) p 532
  6. ^ Beck, Carolyn S. (1988). "Our Own Vine and Fig Tree: The Authority of History and Kinship in Mother Bethel". Review of Religious Research 29 (4): 369–84. JSTOR 3511576. 
  7. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2007). A Will to Choose: The Origins of African American Methodism. Introduction by Woodie W. White. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 8–11. ISBN 978-0-7425-5264-7. LCCN 2006034686. OCLC 73993826. OL 10721694M. 
  8. ^ "Our Church". ame-church.com. June 14, 2014. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (January 20, 2013). "Obamas attend church prior to White House swearing-in - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. Image credits: Hamil Harris/TWP - (Washington DC: WPC). ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 464372658. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. "The president has not a joined a church in Washington and most frequently attends St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church close to the White House." 
  10. ^ "Dr. Cone is an ordained minister in the (A.M.E.) church." (Union Theological Seminary's URL)
  11. ^ The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (2012). p. 13
  12. ^ AMECHealth.org AME Connectional Health Commission
  13. ^ World Council of Churches - AME Church page
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "GENERAL OFFICERS | African Methodist Episcopal Church". ame-church.com. May 17, 2014. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ Harger, Jim. "Lyman Parks, first black mayor of Grand Rapids, dies at 92". Online Newspaper. Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (7 May 2012). "Methodists Reach Across Historic Racial Boundaries with Communion Pact". Christianity Today. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]