The Development of the Third Episcopal District
of the A.M.E. Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was born Sunday, November 4, 1787. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and other persons of color walked out of St. George Methodist Church because of racism and organized Bethel Church at 6th and Lombard Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1816, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated and Richard Allen was the first elected and consecrated bishop during the first General Conference.
As early as 1822 a debate arose in the Baltimore Annual Conference relative to the Western Territories, and the Annual Conference under whose jurisdiction they should be placed. The record refers to it as "the country west of the Allegheny Mountains." The record is silent as to whether at this time there were African Methodist Societies in any part of this vast territory. In 1824 the Philadelphia Annual Conference included five churches in Western Pennsylvania and six in Ohio, one of which was in Cincinnati.
By the meeting of the third General Conference of 1824 the missionaries had made their way across the mountains into the valley of the Monongahela. The mighty leaders were none other than the same Boggs, William Paul Quinn, and John Charleston. Quinn's labors carried him through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. He is to African Methodism what Peter Cartwright was to Methodism in the frontier period of the Church. John Boggs left his footprints in Ohio, and nearly five hundred miles beyond the western spur of the Alleghenies. In 1823 only seven years after the Philadelphia Convention, the advancing missionaries had founded the church at Steubenville, Ohio. By February 1824, Moses Freeman had established what is now Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cincinnati.
John Charleston, another Virginian, by his evangelistic and pioneering endeavors, entered the Ohio country and left a record of heroic Christian service that will stand out more gloriously with the flight of time. He was the first convert of an American Sunday School, organized by Francis Asbury in Hanover County, Virginia. This was in 1786. As a boy, Charleston came to Ohio and lived in Chillicothe, where he was a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. When the missionaries entered the territory to establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church, he was one of the first to join, and was commissioned to work. He co-labored with John Boggs, Noah Cannon, and William Miller.
The Christian Advocate of February 22, 1828, copied the following from the Zion 's Herald:
The Reverend John Charleston is now in his sixty first year, jet black, between six and seven feet in height, weighing two hundred and thirty pounds; his short hair inclined to be gray. During eighteen years of his life he would walk thirty miles in a day and preach three times. He could not be stopped by trifles; would wade up to his neck through streams of water. He had taught his dog to swim rivers and brooks, and carry his hymn book and Bible in his mouth without getting them wet. He is a correct and powerful preacher. Hundred and thousands have, I doubt not, been converted through his instrumentality. During his ministry he had been severely persecuted, but out of all, the Lord delivered him. The earliest Sunday School in the United States of which any record is known was abundantly fruitful, even if it achieved no other result than the conversion of that colored youth.
On August 28, 1830, the Western Annual Conference was organized at Hillsboro, Ohio , embarking all the territory west of the Allegheny Mountains. There were 15 ministers and 1,194 communicants.
In 1830, Richard Allen organized the first national meeting of the Black Americans, a precursor to such organizations as the NAACP and National Urban League. Bishop Allen died in 1831.
Bishop Quinn was the presiding officer of the Ohio Annual Conference which convened in Washington, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1853. A.R. Green and Hiram Revels were the secretaries. These two subsequently attained great distinction; Hiram Revels was the first of his race to be elected a United States Senator.
In January, 1866, Bishop Quinn called an Episcopal meeting in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Wylie Street African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishops Quinn, Payne, Wayman, and Campbell were present. Bishop Wayman was chosen secretary. The object of the meeting was to consider the status of the several districts and the educational work, and to arrange for the holding of a semi-centenary of African Methodism during the year. Bishop Campbell was appointed to write an address to the Black people in the United States.
Third Episcopal Districts
1876 Third District:
Ohio, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Tennessee
Annual Conferences - Bishop A. W. Wayman
1888 Third District:
Ohio, North Ohio, Pittsburgh, Indiana
Annual Conferences - Bishop J. P. Campbell
1892 Third District:
Ohio, North Ohio, and Pittsburgh
Annual Conferences - Bishop D. A. Payne, Presiding Bishop
1896 Third District:
Ohio, North Ohio, Pittsburgh, Demerara, Ontario
St. Thomas Annual Conferences - Bishop B. F. Lee, Presiding Bishop
1904 Third District:
Ohio , North Ohio , Pittsburgh, Windward Islands, West Indies,
South America, Sierra Leone, Liberia
Gold Coast Annual Conferences - Bishop W. B. Derrick
Congregations in Western Pennsylvania were a part of the Ohio Annual Conference. In 1869 from April 3rd through April 9 th Bishop Daniel A. Payne convened the first session of the Pittsburgh Annual Conference at Wylie Avenue ( Bethel ) A.M.E. Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Besides congregations in western Pennsylvania there were two appointments in West Virginia.
The General Conference of 1908 which met in Norfolk, Virginia recommended that West Virginia should set aside separate annual conference and comprise all of the state of West Virginia . All congregations claimed by both the Pittsburgh and Virginia Annual Conferences yielded to this new jurisdiction. The General Conference of 1952 that convened in Chicago, Illinois authorized the division of the Ohio and North Ohio Annual Conferences to create the South Ohio Annual Conference.
Map of the 3rd District
|Bishops who Have Presided Over the Third Episcopal District|
|Alexander Washington Wayman||1876-1880||7th Bishop|
|James Alexander Shorter||1880-1884||9th Bishop|
|Jabez Pitt Campbell||1884-1891||8th Bishop|
|Benjamin Franklin Lee||1896-1900||20th Bishop|
|Benjamin William Arnett||1900-1904||17th Bishop|
|William Benjamin Derrick||1904-1912||23rd Bishop|
|Cornelius Thaddeus Shaffer||1912-1919||29th Bishop|
|Joshua H. Jones||1919-1928||38th Bishop|
|William H. Heard||1928-1932||35th Bishop|
|Reverdy Cassius Ransom||1932-1948||48th Bishop|
|Alexander Joseph Allen||1948-1956||62nd Bishop|
|Eugene Clifford Hatcher||1956-1964||73rd Bishop|
|William Reid Wilkes||1964-1972||69th Bishop|
|Harold Irving Bearden||1972-1976||83rd Bishop|
|Vinton Randolph Anderson||1976-1984||92nd Bishop|
|Richard Allen Hildebrand||1984-1992||88th Bishop|
|Henry Allen Belin, Jr.||1992-2000||104th Bishop|
|Robert Vaughn Webster||2000-2008||110th Bishop|
|Bishop Cornal Garnett Henning, Sr.||2008-Present||112th Bishop|
The Mission and Purpose of the Church
The Mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy through a continuing program of 1) preaching the gospel 2) feeding the hungry 3) clothing the naked 4) housing the homeless 5) cheering the fallen 6) providing jobs for the jobless 7) administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, senior citizen's homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed, and 8) encouraging thrift and economic advancement.