Co-Founder of A.M.E. Church
In 1786 the membership of St. George's' Methodist Episcopal
Church in Philadelphia included both Blacks and Whites. However, the White
members met that year and decided that thereafter Black members should sit only in the
balcony. Two Black Sunday worshippers, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, whose enthusiasm for
the Methodist Church had brought many Blacks into the congregation, learned of the
decision only when, on the following Sunday, ushers tapped them on the shoulder during the
opening prayers, and demanded that they move to the balcony without waiting for the end of
the prayer. They walked out, followed by the other Black members.
Absalom Jones conferred with William White,
Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia, who agreed to accept the group as an Episcopal
parish. Jones would serve as lay reader, and after a period of study, would be
ordained and serve as rector. Allen wanted the group to remain Methodist, and in
1793 he left to form a Methodist congregation. In 1816, he left the Methodists to
form a new denomination, the African Methodist
Episcopal church (AME), Jones and Allen were reportedly the first two Black Americans
to receive formal ordination in any denomination.
The Methodist split into North and South
before the War of 1861-1865, and
have since re-united. These three Black groups, the United
Methodist Church, and some other denominations of Methodist origin, are committed in
principle to eventual union, but bureaucracies move slowly. Meanwhile, the groups
are united in doctrine, and members of each are free to worship and to receive the
sacraments with members of the others.
Revised: July 18, 2013.