Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, knew two centuries ago that Black Lives Matter.
He proved it in 1787 when he walked out of a segregated white church to protest racial intolerance in worship.
He proved it in 1816 when he defied religious bigots and took his case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which affirmed his right to incorporate a denomination that was free of white control.
He proved it at the historic First General Conference in 1816, when he was elected and consecrated the first Bishop of the AME Church, the oldest denomination in the world to be organized by people of African descent.
• Come learn the rest of what Richard Allen knew—and did—about racial inequality, civil rights and social justice 200 years ago.
• Come learn how the AME Church, in partnership with the ecumenical community, is addressing these social ills today.
• Come learn what you can do to make a difference in the future.
8 April 2016 marks exactly 200 hundred years since the first General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was called into session and one of the oldest historically Black churches in the United States was founded – its incorporation confirmed by the gathering of five congregations and the election and consecration of Bishop Richard Allen. This gathering marked a culmination and continuation of an ecumenical struggle for justice since Allen’s and Absalom Jones’s principled departure from St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church and the establishment of the Free African Society in 1787 with the help of Philadelphia’s Quakers amidst social challenges such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Yellow Fever Epidemic, women called into ministry and full status in church and society, and, generally, Black churches in a burgeoning America. In different ways and at different paces, these social challenges became opportunities for social witness.
In honor of this rich legacy of ecumenical partnership and ecclesial formation in the name of Christian discipleship through principled social witness, we mark this bicentennial with a day of reflection, dialogue, and recommitment. Especially, given the current social challenges that we yet face in and far beyond the United States, it is necessary, at once, to look forward and to look back. Our social witness as African Methodists cannot be simply a relic of our incredible history, but must be a technology of our extraordinary future. In this spirit nationally and internationally renowned speakers – primarily from our broader ecumenical community – will come together for a day to reflect back and to plan forward especially with respect to the following thematic pairs:
1. The historical challenge of slavery and and the contemporary challenge of mass incarceration;
2. AME history of women in ministry and contemporary challenges of gender and sexuality facing Black churches including the AME Church;
3. This historical Yellow Fever epidemic and 19th Century health crises, on one hand, and contemporary 21st Century challenges of poverty, race, and illness, on the other hand;
4. The historical and contemporary call for Black Churches to be focused on social justice agendas and the movements for Black lives.
Confirmed speakers on 8 April 2016 include: Albert Raboteau, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Dennis Dickerson, Richard Newman, Traci Blackmon, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Yvette Flunder, M. Jocelyn Elders, Jamal H. Bryant, William Watley, Monica Coleman, Stephen A. Green, Anthea Butler, and Vernon Jordan – as well as Bishops of the AME Church. This event marks a significant moment in which the AME Church opens its doors to hear from a broad community of those concerned with the justice history and future of Black churches and, the AME Church itself, engages in critical self-reflection to discern its forward direction.