The African Methodist Episcopal Church, is a United States Methodist Church, not affiliated with the United Methodist Church
governmentally, that was formally organized in 1816. It developed from a congregation formed by a group of Philadelphia-area slaves and former slaves who withdrew in 1787 from St. Georges' Methodist
Episcopal Church in Philadelphia because of discrimination. They built Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, now fondly known as Mother Bethel. In 1799, Richard Allen was
ordained minister of the church by Bishop Francis Asbury of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1816, Asbury consecrated Allen bishop of the newly organized African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Confined to the Northern states before the Civil War, the church spread rapidly in the South after the war. The Church is Methodist in doctrine and church government, and it holds a general conference every four years. It has about 1,200,000 members.
Richard Allen was born on February 14, 1760 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, a slave to a Quaker lawyer, the Honorable Benjamin Chew, Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1774-1777. Richard Allen, his parents and three other children were sold to a Mr. Stokeley in Delaware, near Dover. Allen recorded that Stokeley was a very tender and humane man who was more like a father to his slaves than a master. As Richard and his brother grew older, they were permitted to attend meetings of the Methodist Society. In 1777, at the age of seventeen, Allen was converted by the preaching of free-born Garrettson and joined the Methodist Society. He later bought his freedom for two thousand dollars in Continental money. He commenced traveling in 1783 and later returned to Philadelphia and joined the white congregation at St. Georges' Methodist Episcopal Church. He was licensed to preach in 1784 and was permitted to hold services in the morning about 5 a.m. As the attendance of colored people at St. George's increased, the hostile attitudes of the officers and members also increased and on a Sabbath morning in 1787, the sexton met them at the door of the church and sent them to the gallery.