HISTORY CHALLENGE
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ABSALOM JONES

Co-Founder of A.M.E. Church (1746-1818)

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.