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African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

by Allyson C. Criner, 2006

Related Entries: African Americans; Orishatukeh Faduma; Hiram Rhoades Revels

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is a Christian denomination dating back to 1787, when a number of black worshippers withdrew from the interracial St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia after the removal of a black member, Absalom Jones, while he was praying. Led by Richard Allen, a local black preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the group formed the Free African Society and, in 1793, established the Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia. In 1816 representatives from the Bethel AME Church and African American churches in four other cities officially organized the AME Church in Philadelphia, elected Allen their bishop, and adopted the doctrine and form of government of the Methodist Episcopal Church with minimal changes.

As a result of its active role in the antislavery movement, the AME Church was restricted almost entirely to northern states during its first 50 years. After South Carolina whites came to suspect the AME Church of masterminding the thwarted Denmark Vesey plot of 1822--in which Vesey, a wealthy ex-slave, had attempted to organize a massive slave revolt to kill whites in Charleston and burn the city--slaveholders did not allow the church to operate among slaves in the South. Not until the Civil War and emancipation did the AME Church advance into North Carolina and other southern states. Through its work with recently liberated blacks after the war, the denomination grew considerably. The North Carolina Annual Conference of the AME Church, organized in Wilmington in 1868, enlarged to such an extent that the Western North Carolina Conference branch was added in 1900. In 1886 the AME Church established Kittrell College in Vance County; the institution provided blacks a higher education until 1975.

The Christian Recorder, the official organ of the AME Church, is the oldest newspaper in the United States continuously circulated by people of African descent. North Carolina, located in the church's Second Episcopal District, hosts two annual conferences: the North Carolina Conference and the Western North Carolina Conference. In the early 2000s there were more than 150 active AME churches in the state.


Reginald F. Hildebrand, The Times Were Strange and Stirring: Methodist Preachers and the Crisis of Emancipation (1995)

Daniel A. Payne, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1968)

Richard R. Wright Jr., Centennial Encyclopaedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1916).



My father, Rev. Warren A. Page was the Pastor of an AME Church in Goldsboro, NC, around 1945-1950. This place was my first memory. I was hoping to see a picture of the the Church and the first house I remember as home. I could not remember If it was St James or was it on St James Street. Imagine names or locations may have changed. We left there over 70+ years ago headed to Gaston Chapel, Morganton, N.C. BLESSINGS, Minister Wilhelmina Page Pearson



Thanks for visiting NCpedia and asking your question.

I am forwarding your query to our Reference services who can assist you:

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


I am looking for information regarding New Light African Methodist Episcopal Church which is located in the Tabor City NC. Our corner stone suggest that it was started in the 1800s, but there's no paperwork. Do you have any information that will help aid this search.


I am True Flowers of Wilmington NC. Tabor city I've been there. I am affiliated with Allen Cathedral AME and Union Missionary Baptist Church of the Greater Wilmington area. It's good to hear that you all are still in active status during this Covid pandemic. God Bless and hopefully we can get together for further details.


One suggestion is to contact your local library's history room to see if they have information. Another suggestion is to contact the County Register of Deeds to see the history of the land the church is one - when what it last purchased? that is likely the when the church - or whoever may have donated the land for the church - bought the land or gave the deed to the church. That would at least help narrow down when the church was built.

Good luck!

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage LIbrary


I am doing research on New Light African Methodist Episcopal Church which is located in the Dothan Community of Tabor City NC. I trying to figure out when and how the church was first started. On our corner stone is has the year of 18--. Could you point me in the direction that i need to go.


I am the historian for St Stephen AME Church in Wilmington NC. Your site indicates the BC Conference began in 1868 but it actually began in 1869 with the first annual conference being held in Greensboro. The SC Conference met in Wilmington in 1867 and again in taleigh in 1868 before the decision was made to establish a NC conderence (ref. A History of the AME Church 1856-1922, Smith, Vol. 11

I am seeking information regarding the establishment of the northern and southern districts of the current North Carolina Conference (district divisions having occurred in the twentieth century).


I'm in Wilmington NC affiliations with Union Missionary Baptist Church. I am a daughter of Allen Cathedral of the Greater New York area and would be pleased to visit your congregation from time to time.


My Great Great.....Minister London Payne (London Mills) was an AME preacher who married people in Rutherford North Carolina. I am looking for any records (certification) giving him license to marry. He was born in 1845 and possibly lived to 1892 in Spartanburg SC. Since he was designated at that time as an AME minister where would I go to get some information?


To whom it concerns:

I am researching the history of my hometown Church in Tabor City NC. I was told that my grandmother drafted the letter to the AME Church to establish the Church. It was organized in 1914 as St Peters AME in Tabor City NC, the trustees purchased the land were the Church currently located ub 1920, They changed name to St Matthew AME . Some questions I have are where did theythy worship prior to and after 1920 until the Church was rebuilt in 1945 on the land purchased in 1920. Is there a listing of the pastors, when was the name changed from St Peters AME to ST Matthew and why did they change it. Do you have any photos of the church prior to 1945?

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