African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Metropolitan Church

In colonial and post-revolutionary America, the Methodist movement was strong and spreading across the country due to its simple methods of preaching the gospel. However, in the North where slavery was illegal, black Methodists separated from the church in search of greater freedom and greater influence within the church. This separation is notable because, although it came with little doctrinal and practical difference from original Methodism, it marked a sense of independence among African Americans choosing to take charge of their spiritual lives. In 1816, a convention was assembled to address the issues of freedom and influence within the church and to formally separate from the Methodist Church. From this convention, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was born. 

James Varick, First Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

There were other separations of the AME Church, with little actual distinction between them except for the fact that they were separated. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church was formally incorporated in 1801 and worked to endorse religious freedom and to eliminate racial prejudice in the country. The AME Zion Church was considered the most racial church in America. Other separated churches included: the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, Congregational Methodist (Colored), African Union Methodist Protestant, Union American Methodist Episcopal, and the Colored Contigent of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Somewhat ironically, while northern Methodist churches were focused on becoming independent African American institutions, southern communities focused on racial community. 

By 1865, following the Civil War, the AME Church was able to expand southward to grow its membership with newly freed slaves. The belief of AME that states that God views all people equally, regardless of race, was particularly appealing to southern blacks who underwent slavery, and continued to suffer through discrimination and prejudice.