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African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church


An estimated 1.4 million members globally, with 3,200 congregations and roughly 3,700 pastors


Like the AME Church, the AMEZ Church is hierarchical, with each district presided over by a bishop, who serves for four to eight years. Presiding elders and pastors serve at the pleasure of the bishop.


Officially born in October 1796, the new Black denomination was chartered in 1801 and established in 1820, when the leaders voted themselves out of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The next year, church founders agreed to call the church the African Methodist Episcopal Church in America. But to distinguish this New York-based group from the Philadelphia-based Black Methodist movement that emerged about the same time, the word “Zion” was added to the title during the church’s general conference in 1848. The church emphasized advocacy for religious, educational and social causes from its beginning, and its rapid expansion brought it across the U.S. and, in the early 20th century, to a number of African nations. AME Zion members played significant roles in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, as well as other social justice movements throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.