... About the AMEC
The Historical Preamble to our Mission, Vision, Purpose & Objective...
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, whose founders affirmed their humanity in the face of slavery and racism, stands in defense of disadvantaged and oppressed people in the 21st century. From the origins in the Free African Society through the involvement of the AME clergy and lay in the Civil War of the 1860's and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's, the AMEC has preached salvation from sin and deliverance from bondage. The mission expanded to others within the African Diasporas in the Americas, Africa, Caribbean, and Europe. Whether in schools, seminaries, hospitals or social service centers, the AME Church has lived the gospel outside its sanctuaries. This mandate sill informs its ministry, vision and mission in the Church's third century of existence.
1. The Mission
The Mission of the AME Church is to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people.
2. The Vision
At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the AME Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the AME Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and to serve the needy. It is also the duty of the Church to continue to encourage all members to become involved in all aspects of church training.
3. The Purpose
The ultimate purposes are: (1) make available God's biblical principles, (2) spread Christ's liberating gospel, and (3) provide continuing programs which will enhance the entire social development of all people.
4. The Objectives
In order to meet the needs at every level of the Connection and in every local church, the AME Church shall implement strategies to train all members in: (1) Christian discipleship, (2) Christian leadership, (3) current teaching methods and materials, (4) the history and significance of the AME Church, (5) God's biblical principles, and (6) social development to which all should be applied to daily living.
Why We are Called A.M.E.?
AFRICAN - Because we were founded and formed by people of African descent - though this does NOT exclude any person of color or ethnicity, because there is only ONE race: the HUMAN race. On the contrary, our beginnings are wrapped in the vision of human equality and unity.
METHODIST - Because Richard Allen believed that Methodism was best suited to his people and the original founders were strong believer's in the teachings and doctrines set fourth by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The A.M.E. church even adapted the Methodist Articles of Religion into our own 25 Articles of Religion.
EPISCOPAL - Because we use an Episcopal form of Government... the use of Bishops and Presiding Elders (Superintendents) and such.
God Our Father
Christ Our Redeemer
The Holy Spirit Our Comforter
Humankind Our Family
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During a worship service at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, some of African descent were praying, and while doing so were pulled up off their knees by some of the white members and ordered to the back seats. Nineteen walked out of the church. Amongst these there was one by the name of Richard Allen, whose leadership had helped form the Free African Society, which would later organize into the African Methodist Episcopal Church, of which Richard Allen became our first Bishop.
The A.M.E. Church was the first major black movement in America. A church founded not out of theological differences, but from the sin of racial discrimination. Today the A.M.E. Church extends over the continental United States and stretches into Africa and the world over.
For further information, please visit:
The Official Web Site of the A.M.E. Church
The meaning of the Cross is obvious to anyone with faith in God and a knowledge of the Holy Bible and the Christian Church: the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the power of Salvation through Him, and the immeasurable grace of God that covers the sins of the world and empowers His people to be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who strengthens us.
The Anvil, on the other hand, has a symbolic and a historical meaning which must be noted by all who call themselves African Methodist. OUR beginnings emerged from the depths of racism and bigotry and when our founding fathers chose to stay with Methodism they purchased a blacksmith's shop and converted it into their house of worship; they called it BETHEL, meaning "House of God." In the blacksmith's shop was an anvil used to pound and shape metal ores into a usable and functioning object. And, as any blacksmith will tell you, hammers may wear down, and many a man may loose his life to the exhaustion from the hard work of being a blacksmith, but the Anvil never fails. A man only need to purchase one in his or her entire lifetime, and it continues to last through MANY lifetimes. So it is with God; He cannot be beaten down and He is Eternal. The Anvil represents our beginning and the lasting Strength of our Lord and Savior that never ceases.
The Cross and the Anvil: Our Salvation and our Strength. Our beginnings in a blacksmith shop and our eternal ending in God's heavenly realm.
Our 25 Articles of Religion
The standard of faith for the A.M.E. Church is the Twenty-Five Articles of Religion. John Wesley extracted The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. Richard Allen adopted The Twenty-Five Articles of Religion as sufficient for the African Methodist Episcopal Church:
1. OF FAITH IN THE HOLY TRINITY
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this God-head, there are three persons of one substance, power and eternity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
2. OF THE WORD OR SON OF GOD, WHO WAS MADE VERY MAN
The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the God-head and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
3. OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
Christ did truly rise from the dead, and took again his body with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and sitteth until he returns to judge all men at last day.
4. OF THE HOLY GHOST
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
5. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES FOR SALVATION
The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scriptures, we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
The Names of the Canonical Books:
|Genesis||The First Book of Chronicles|
|Exodus||The Second Book of Chronicles|
|Leviticus||The Book of Ezra|
|Numbers||The Book of Nehemiah|
|Deuteronomy||The Book of Esther|
|Joshua||The Book of Job|
|Judges||The Book of Psalms|
|The First Book of Samuel||Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher|
|The Second Book of Samuel||Cantica, or Songs of Solomon|
|The First Book of Kings||Four Prophets, the Greater|
|The Second Book of Kings||Twelve Prophets, the Lesser|
All the books of the New Testamemt as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical.
6. OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and the New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore, they are not to be heard, who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments, which are called moral.
7. OF ORIGINAL OR BIRTH SIN
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.
8. OF FREE WILL
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God; wherefore, we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God; by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
9. OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF MAN
We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by faith, and not by our own works or deservings; wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.
10. OF GOOD WORKS
Although good works, which are the fruit of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgments: yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that they by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by its fruit.
11. OF WORKS OF SUPEREROGATION
Voluntary works, besides, over and above God's Commandments, which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required; whereas Christ said plainly," When ye have done all that is commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants."
12. OF SIN AFTER JUSTIFICATION
Not every sin willingly committed after justification is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God, rise again, and amend your lives. And therefore they are to be condemned who say they can do no more sin as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
13. OF THE CHURCH
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
14. OF PURGATORY
The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshipping, and adoration, as well as images, as of relics, and also invocations of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant of the Word of God.
15. OF SPEAKING IN THE CONGREGATION IN SUCH A TONGUE AS THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive Church, (to have public prayer in the Church,) or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.
16. OF THE SACRAMENTS
Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith faith in Him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord, in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel; being such as have partly grown out of the corrupt following of the Apostles; and partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not the like nature of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because they have not any visible sign, or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that received them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith.
17. OF BAPTISM
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference; but it is also a sign of regeneration, or the new birth. The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church.
18. OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a Sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch, that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
19. OF BOTH KINDS
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people: for both parents of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to administered to all Christians alike.
20. OF THE ONE OBLATION OF CHRIST, FINISHED UPON THE CROSS
The offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacraments of masses, in which it is commonly said that that priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable, and dangerous deceit.
21. OF THE MARRIAGE OF MINISTERS
The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore, it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.
22. OF THE RITES AND CEREMONIES OF CHURCHES
It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant of the Word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common order of the Church and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.
Every particular Church may ordain, change, or abolish rites and ceremonies so that all things may be done to edification.
23. OF THE RULERS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The President, the Congress, the General Assemblies, the Governors, and the Councils of State, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, according to the division of power made to them by the Constitution of the United States, and by the constitution of their respective states and the Councils of States delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, and by the Constitutions of their respective States. And the said states are a sovereign and independent nation, and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
24. OF CHRISTIAN MEN'S GOODS
The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally, to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
25. OF A CHRISTIAN MAN'S OATH
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord, Jesus Christ and James, His apostle: so we judge that the Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according tot he prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church is a connectional organization. Each local church is a part of the larger connection.
The Bishops are the Chief Officers of the Connectional Organization. They are elected for life by a majority vote of the General Conference which meets ever four years. Bishops are bound by the laws of the church to retire following their 75th birthday.
Presiding Elders are the assistants, like middle management, whom the Bishops appoint to supervise the preachers in a Presiding Elder's District. A Presiding Elder District is one portion of an Annual Conference, which in turn is one part of the Episcopal District over which a Bishop presides. In the Presiding Elder District, the appointed Presiding Elder meets with the local churches, that comprise the District, at least once every three months for a Quarterly Conference. The Presiding Elder also presides over a District Conference and a Sunday School Convention in his or her District. At the end of an Annual Conference year, the Presiding Elder reports to the Bishop at the Annual Conference and makes recommendations for pastoral appointments.
Pastors receive a yearly appointment to a charge (church), on the recommendation of the Presiding Elder and with the approval and final appointment of the Bishop. The pastor is in full charge of the Church and is an ex-official member of all boards, organizations and clubs of that Church.
1) The General Conference
The General Conference is the supreme body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is composed of the Bishops, as ex-officio presidents, according to the rank of election, and an equal number of ministerial and lay delegates, elected by each of the Annual Conferences and the lay Electoral Colleges of the Annual Conferences. Other ex-officio members are: the General Officers, College Presidents, Deans of Theological Seminaries; Chaplains in the Regular Armed Forces of the U.S.A. The General Conference meets quadrennialy (every four years), but may have extra sessions in certain emergencies.
2) Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops is the Executive Branch of the Connectional Church. It has the general oversight of the Church during the interim between General Conferences. The Council of Bishops shall meet annually at such time and place as the majority of the Council shall determine and also at such other times as may be deemed necessary in the discharging its responsibility as the Executive Branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Council of Bishops shall hold at least two public sessions at each annual meeting. At the first, complaints and petitions against a Bishop shall be heard, at the second, the decisions of the Council shall be made public. All decisions shall be in writing.
3) Board of Incorporators
The Board of Incorporators, also known as the General Board of Trustees, has the supervision, in trust, of all connectional property of the Church and is vested with authority to act in behalf of th Connectional Church wherever necessary.
4) The General Board
The General Board is in many respects the administrative body and is comprised of various departmental Commissions made up of the respective Secretary-Treasurer, the General Secretary of the A.M.E,. Church the General Treasurer and the members of the various Commissions and one Bishop as presiding officer with the other Bishops associating.
5) Judicial Council
The Judicial Council is the highest judicatory body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is an appellate court, elected by the General Conference and is amenable to it.