Origin of the AME Church...
The Pioneers, Origin,
of the AME Church
The Pioneers of
the AME church are Richard Allen, Daniel A. Payne, William Paul Quinn and Henry
The African Methodist Episcopal is an offspring of the Methodist
which was founded by John Wesley in England and America in the eighteenth entury.The
Methodist movement itself began in 1739 when John Wesley,an Anglican started
within the Church of England a movement to improve the spiritual life of his
Church. The movement became widespread. Many of the followers of the movement
emigrated to America. Wesley,realizing the future for the spread of Methodism
in the Colonies, ordained Dr. Thomas Coke, an Anglican priest, and sent him
to organize the Church in America. Dr. Coke arrived and called a General Conference
in Baltimore, Maryland in December 1784. At this "Christmas Conference, Richard
Allen (founder of the American Methodist Episcopal Church),was present as an
observer only, and was not a delegate or a voter. Methodism grew as the Methodist
riders went from point to point, from settlement to settlement,and from plantation
to plantation. The African Methodist Episcopal Church sprang from the American
counterpart of the Methodist Church.
ORGANIZATION OF THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL (A.M.E.) CHURCH
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique and glorious
history. It is unique in that it is the first major religious denomination
in the Western world that had its origin over sociological rather than theological
beliefs and differences. The immediate cause of the organization of the A.M.E.
Church was the fact that members of the St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church
in Philadelphia Pa., in 1787 segregated its colored members from its white
communicants. The Blacks were sent to the gallery of the Church, to use the
venerable Richard Allen's own words. One Sunday as the Africans, as they were
called, knelt to pray outside of their segregated area they were actually pulled
from their knees and told to go to a place which had been designated for them.
This added insult to injury and upon completing their prayer, they went out
and formed the Free African Society, and from this Society came two groups:
The Episcopalians and the Methodists. The leader of the Methodist group was
Richard Allen. Richard Allen desired to implement his conception of freedom
of worship and desired to be rid of the humiliation of segregation,especially
Richard Allen learned that other groups were suffering under
the same conditions. After study and consultation, five churches came together
in a General Convention which met in Philadelphia, Pa., April 9-11, 1816, and
formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The name African Methodist came
naturally, as Negroes at that time were called Africans and they followed the
teaching of the Methodist Church as founded by John Wesley. The young Church
accepted the Methodist doctrine and Discipline almost in its entirety.
African means that the church was organized by people of African descent
and heritage. It does not mean that the church was founded in Africa or that
it is for people of African descent only. It does mean that those Americans who
founded it were of African descent, and we proudly recognize this fact.
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodist refers to the church's membership in the family of Methodist
churches. Richard Allen, the founder and first active bishop, felt that the
form and format of methodism would best suit the needs of the African community.
Episcopal refers to the form of government under which the church
operates. The episcopal form of government means that the chief executive
and administrative officers of our denomination are our bishops. Their
authority is given them by the General Conference, elected representatives
of the entire denomination. Their responsibilities are to oversee the
spiritual and temporal affairs of the church, including presiding over
annual conferences, making pastoral appointments, ordaining deacons and
elders, organizing missions, and generally promoting the interest of
Church refers to the "Christian Church," which is a community
of people who believe in God and who have accepted jesus Christ as the
guiding example of their lives. We also believe in the third person of
the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, who enables the believer to become a true
and effective servant of God. Jesus Christ is the spiritual head of the
The General Conference is the legislature of the A.M.E. Church. It meets
every four years to elect bishops and to make laws. The A.M.E. Church has
a Bishop’s Council and a Judicial Council.
The Departments of the A.M.E. church are there to serve the needs of
the church. The work of each department is directed by a General Officer,
who is elected by the General Conference.
Bishops are elected and serve our churches which span
the globe. A.M.E. Churches can be found in more then twenty-four
Presiding Elders are appointed by the Presiding Bishop.
The Presiding Elders superintend the work of the church
by presiding over sub-districts of each annual conference.
The pastor is appointed by the Presiding Bishop to a
mission, circuit, or station. The Pastor appoints stewarts
in the local church who serve as the administrative body.
Trustees are elected by the local church and oversee the
physical plant of the church.
The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church serves as our ecclesiastical constitution,
outlining the Articles of Religion, the General Rules
and Rituals, and other services of the Church.
Finally, there are five conferences in the A.M.E. Church.
They are: The General Conference, the Annual Conference,
the District Conference, the Quarterly Conference, and
the Church Conference.
There is a book published every four years by the A.M.E.
Church called the "Doctrine and Discipline of the African
Methodist Episcopal Church" or "The Discipline." The first
edition was issued in 1817 by . Bishop Richard Allen and
Elder James Tapisco and others of Philadelphia, and is
one of the oldest books published by American Blacks.
The AME Emblem
The emblem displays characteristics which
can be equated to a significant aspect of the African
Methodist Episcopal doctrine and belief.
The shape of the emblem is in the form of a three pointed
shield; the three points being symbolic of the official
motto of the A.M.E. Church. "God our Father, Christ our
Redeemer, Man our Brother."
An anvil and cross occupy the center of the Emblem. The
anvil represents the blacksmith shop in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania where the founder, Richard Allen, with a
few followers, established the first African Methodist
Episcopal Church; the cross represents the Church.
The Basic Colors are White and Purple. White
represents Purity; that state which all True Christians
constantly strive to achieve. Purple Represents Christ's
Blood on the Cross.