St.Paul A.M.E African Methodist Episcopal Church Serving Christ By serving all

The AME Church

AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The word African means that the church was organized by people of African descent and heritage. It does not mean that the church was founded in Africa, or that it was for persons of African descent  only. The church’s roots are of the family of Methodist churches. Methodism provides an orderly system of rules and regulations and places emphasis on a plain and simple gospel. Episcopal refers to the form of government under which the church operates. It means that the church is governed by bishops. The chief executive and administrative officers of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination are the Bishops of the church.

Our Mission

The Mission of the AME Church is to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people.

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 Church to continue to encourage all members to become involved in all aspects of church training.

THE PURPOSES

The ultimate purposes are:

• make available God’s biblical principles,
• spread Christ’s liberating gospel, and
• provide continuing programs which will enhance the entire social development of all people.

THE OBJECTIVE

In order to meet the needs of 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.

Our Motto

“God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer,
the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family.”

Bishop Daniel A. Payne proposed to the 1856 General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church convening in Cincinnati, Ohio that the episcopal seal should include the denominational creedal statement, God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Man Our Brother. This declaration of A.M.E. faith identity became the denominational motto until 1908, when a surge of pentecostalism in 1906 in Los Angeles at the Azusa Street mission, the former site of First A.M.E. Church, convinced African Methodists to alter the motto. Hence, the 1908 General Conference meeting in Norfolk, Virginia placed on the published minutes, God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Ghost Our Comforter, Man Our Brother.

The 1912 General Conference convening in Kansas City, Missouri retained the altered statement of A.M.E. belief. The centennial General Conference of 1916 meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, however, made no reference to new the A.M.E. motto, and since that time Bishop Payne’s original formulation of the motto appeared on all denominational documents and published materials.

At the 2008 General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri an inclusive motto was adopted and now declares God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family. The evolution of our motto demonstrates that African Methodists engage in ongoing assessments of our theology and how God speaks to us in changing circumstances.

Dennis C. Dickerson
Retired General Officer

Our Structure

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 every four years. Bishops are bound by the laws of the church to retire upon the General Conference nearest 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/Presidents of Theological Seminaries; Chaplains in the Regular Armed Forces of the U.S.A. The General Conference meets quadrennially (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 of 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 the 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 Executive-Director, the General Secretary of the AME Church, the Chief Financial Officer, 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.