USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

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African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church


There are roughly 7,000 AME congregations globally and an estimated 2.5 – 3.5 million members.


The AME Church is organized in a hierarchical structure, in which each district is presided over by a bishop. A bishop serves for four to eight years. presiding elders and pastors serve at the pleasure of the bishop.


The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1787 by Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others in response to racial discrimination in St. Georges Methodist Episcopalian Church and other churches in Philadelphia at the time. The AME Church grew throughout the North and Midwest before the Civil War, and after the Civil War expanded south and west to California. Due to its rapid growth immediately after the liberation of slaves by the U.S. Army, the AME Church exceeded 400,000 members by 1880, and soon established districts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, bringing the church to a large area of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has 20 episcopal districts in 39 countries.