Nine people were slain in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This tragedy breaks my heart. But, there is positive history about the church and it’s founders that I would like to remember at this sad time.
In 1760, Richard Allen was born a slave. He became a Christian in his late teens just after he lost his mother and three other siblings; they were sold to another plantation far away. But Richard experienced God’s love and comfort and began telling others about God’s love. He worked hard as a slave because he didn’t want to hurt his witness for Christ. As a result he led his master to relationship with Jesus Christ.
Richard’s master, because of his new faith, was convicted of slavery and gave Richard a path to freedom. After Richard earned his freedom he preached to both black and white congregations. Then, he moved to Philadelphia where he was asked to preach at the black congregation at St. George’s Methodist Church along with another pastor, Absalom Jones.
Richard and Absalom saw the discrimination against the black people in the Methodist church and decided to start the AME church. It was the first black denomination in American history and some famous people attended there. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Fredrick Douglas were part of the congregation. The story of AME is a big part of our spiritual heritage in America.