The African Methodist Episcopal Church, or AME Church, is one of the historic black Methodist churches in the United States. It was founded in Philadelphia PA by the Rt Revd Richard Allen, at that time a black Methodist minister. The Revd Allen founded the first AME congregation in 1816 when African Americans grew tired of the abuse and discrimination founded in the racism of the predominantly white Methodist Episcopal Church.
The AME grew out of the Free African Society founded earlier by Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others in 1787. They resolved to turn their mutual aid group into a black congregation. At first nondenominational, Allen and others eventually wished to remain connected to Methodism. They originally founded an MEC congregation specifically for black Methodists, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church with Allen as its first pastor.
Eventually, Allen and others sued in the PA courts in 1807 and again in 1815 for the right of the Bethel church to be independent of the white Methodist churches. Bethel church’s independence soon attracted the interest of other black congregations in the Mid-Atlantic area who also sought independence from the white Methodist church. Called by Allen to a meeting in Philadelphia in 1816, those attending formed a new Wesleyan denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Absalom Jones and others of the Free African Society wished to affiliate with the newly organized Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA and founded the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas in 1792. This was the first Episcopal parish founded by African Americas in the US. In 1804, Jones became the first black priest ordained in the Episcopal Church.
Today the AME is a protestant denomination founded in Weslayan doctrinal beliefs strongly influenced by the African American experience in the US. It’s polity is the connectionism of Methodism, led by bishops. The membership of the AME today is around 7.5 million organized into 22 episcopal districts in 39 countries on 5 continents. Comprising a huge majority of African Americans, the AME is decidedly welcoming to folks of all national origins.
The AME Church is in full communion with other Methodist churches; the United Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the African Union Methodist Protestant Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church.
It is also a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), World Methodist Council, Churches Uniting in Christ, and the World Council of Churches.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church website.
Posted by David Allen