July 28th, 2014
I was always curious about the word AME. As a kid, I regularly saw various churches bearing the acronym and even visited a few with my grandmother. However, I never knew what the AME stood for, that is, until ten years ago. My sister began dating my soon-to-be brother-in-law and like any responsible, overprotective brother, I had to see if this guy was worthy of my sister. So I took a trip down to Fort Walton Beach, FL. I did not know at the time of my investigation that my now brother-in-law was a pastor of an AME church which stands for African Methodist Episcopal. During my visit, I attended church on Sunday, hearing him preach and listening to the various melodic hymnals sung by the church choir, uplifting the congregation’s spirit.
Between songs and the sermon, I read the rich history of the AME church on the back of the church program. Founded in the 1800’s by Richard Allen, a former Delaware slave, AME grew out of the Free African Society who worshiped at a St. George’s Methodist church in Philadelphia. However, when members of the St. George Methodist church pulled blacks off their knees while praying, Allen and others members of the Free African Society willed and determined that they would form their own African Methodist church congregation. The split from the main branch of the Methodist church was not a result of doctrinal differences, but rather the result of man’s intolerance of his fellow man based on the color of his skin. The first church was called Bethel and Allen successfully sued the Pennsylvania courts for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution and formed the AME denomination whose principals are committed to those of Methodism.
The AME church continued to spread with major congregations in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore, where the first general conference was held. The church now has membership all over the US and in 39 countries on five continents.
If you would like to hear some great music that’s bound to move the soul, along with more about the AME rich history, then join us at the Elkton Central Library on August 23, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. as we host the Wrights AME Church Choir!
I look forward to seeing you there!