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AME Church Celebrates Bicentennial at 50th Quadrennial Conference in Philadelphia
Published:
7/20/2016 3:57:18 PM
Last Updated:
7/24/2016 11:48:47 AM


AME Church Senior Bishop John Bryant is retiring
 
By Zenitha Prince


(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Two centuries ago, former Delaware slave Richard Allen and other Black worshippers formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, fleeing discrimination in the segregated Methodist Church.

Today, the AME Church has membership in 20 Episcopal Districts in 39 countries on five continents. And, from July 6-13, thousands of those AME congregants returned to the birthplace of their denomination to celebrate its bicentennial during the 50th Quadrennial Session of the church’s general conference.

“It was a significant moment for us to gather in Philadelphia,” said the Rev. Ronald Braxton, Presiding Elder of the Washington Conference, “Two hundred years for an African-American institution to survive but to also be thriving is pretty significant.”

The bicentennial milestone was a key focus of the conference, including the dedication of a Richard Allen statue at founding church, Mother Bethel AME in Philadelphia, a torch run from Delaware to Philadelphia and a Bicentennial Banquet at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Beyond the anniversary festivities, luncheons, worship services and other opportunities to fellowship, the general conference is the forum where much of the church’s business is conducted.

A chief part of that business is legislating new church by-laws, debating religious, community and even political issues and deciding on official church positions on those matters.

With a presidential election underway, conference attendees also addressed political matters such as get-out-the-vote efforts and new impediments to voting—although the church does not make official candidate endorsements.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas police officers—Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—saying, "We have to find a way to repair these wounds and close these divides. The great genius and salvation of the United States is our capacity to do and be better. We need to find a way to do that again today—because it’s critical to everything else we want to achieve."

Clinton emphasized her commitment to reforming our criminal justice system, supporting great police departments, and reducing gun violence, reiterating the bold and progressive platform she has set on these issues.

During elections, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, the longtime senior pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, became the new bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bishop is the highest position in the Christian denomination of some 2 million. Reid's election this week at the quadrennial meeting of the church's leadership body in Philadelphia means he will be leaving Baltimore and Bethel, the pulpit he has held for 28 years.
 

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