African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E. Church)

The African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church was formed in Philadelphia in 1787 by Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and other free African Americans after leaving St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church because of discrimination. They formed the Free Africa Society (FAS), a space free from the discrimination of the St. George Church. While the Society was not religiously affiliated, its core values are reflected in what became the A.M.E. church. One core belief is that through Christian teaching and guidance, members by lifting themselves will lift all black people. The first brick and mortar church was dedicated in 1794, the Bethel A.M.E. church. In 1807 and 1815, Allen successfully sued the white Methodist Episcopal Church on the grounds of discrimination in order to establish Bethel as an independent church, making his the first church to develop out of sociological rather than theological differences. The church rejects the negative theological interpretations of the period that relegated those of African descent to second class citizens. Its motto is “God our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family.” The church incorporates both Methodist and Episcopal elements. Mostly Methodist in philosophy, the foundational beliefs of the church are in keeping with other Methodist Episcopal congregations, which can be found in the Apostles’ Creed and the Twenty five articles of religion. The church uses an Episcopal form of government for the structure of church operations. The A.M.E. Church adheres to more than the needs of people as it incorporates a community minded philosophy- providing for the intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people through the spreading of “Christ’s liberating gospel.” In the beginning, the church maintained strong congregations in major east coast cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. It also spread to parts of the mid-west and the south, but quickly spread during the Civil War, reaching a height of dissemination throughout America during the Reconstruction era. After the war, the Union Army encouraged the spreading of the A.M.E. Church in the south in order to serve the needs of the newly freed slaves. It is due to these roots, that the church remains a centralizing component of Black America.

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