History of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church:
John Wesley, the great founder of the Methodist Movement in England, held firm to a commitment. In addition to his religious philosophy, Wesley believed that there should be an organized, systematized approach to promote the organization of this new church of England from the outset of its earliest beginnings in 1739. With great opposition, he and his followers continued in their plight to save souls.
Some of the earliest founders of Methodism in America settled in New York City. There the famous John Street Church was established around 1768. Major decisions around the practice of slavery had now evolved into the church, where Negroes had reportedly been welcomed as they were assumed to be servants of the white congregants. Around 1784, as tensions arose, it was decided to provide Negro congregationists a worship place of their own. A separate Negro society evolved, but remained associated with the General Conference of the Methodist Church. The separation between the newly formed “African Chapel” and the Methodist Church became sanctioned at the General Conference in 1800. Led by James Varick, founder and first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, a church building had been erected and appropriately called Zion Church. The A.M.E.Zion Church was officially established in 1820, when the leaders voted themselves out of the Methodist Episcopal Church and published their first discipline.
Over the next several years the A.M.E. Zion Church arose to become a strong force as it expanded throughout the country. Consequently, the A.M.E. Zion church established their own rules and regulations and adopted the hierarchy of ministers, presiding elders, and bishops as had been exhibited within the Methodist Church. To date the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church has expanded to twelve global episcopal districts both in the United States and overseas. The connectional church is governed by the Board of Bishops of the A.M.E. Zion Church and has over 1 million members across five continents.
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