African Methodist Episcopal Church< Back to author list
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the AME Church or AME, is a predominantly African-American Methodist denomination. It adheres to Wesleyan-Arminian theology and has a connexional polity. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is the first independent Protestant denomination to be founded by black people, though it welcomes and has members of all ethnicities. It was founded by Richard Allen (1760–1831) - later elected and ordained first bishop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from calling together of five black congregations of the earlier established Methodist Episcopal Church (originally founded December 1784 in the famous "Christmas Conference" / first of their General Conferences at Lovely Lane Chapel meeting house in old Baltimore Town) on the East Coast / Middle-Atlantic states area in the first General Conference, who wanted to escape the discrimination that was commonplace in society. It was among the first denominations in the United States to be founded for this reason, rather than for theological distinctions, and has persistently advocated for the civil and human rights of African Americans through social improvement, religious autonomy, and political engagement, while always being open to people of all racial backgrounds. Allen, an previously ordained Deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church, was elected by the gathered ministers and ordained / consecrated as its first bishop in 1816 by the first General Conference of the five churches - extending from the three in the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania to one in Delaware and one in Maryland of Baltimore. The denomination then expanded west and through the South, particularly after the American Civil War (1861–1865). By 1906, the AME had a membership of about 500,000 (half a million), more than the combined total of the two other predominantly Black American denominations - the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, making it the largest major African-American denomination of the Methodist traditions. The AME Church currently has 20 districts, each with its own bishop: 13 are based in the United States, mostly in the South, while seven are based in Africa. The global membership of the AME is around 2.5 million members, and it remains one of the largest Methodist denominations in the world.
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