2014 National Black History Theme: “Civil Rights In America”
The Revolutionary American, Thomas Paine, held that “civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society.” From the beginning of our Republic, free people of African descent have seen themselves as citizens, members of society, and therefore due equal rights. From the nation’s origins, Americans believed that religion should not be a basis for abridging a citizen’s rights, but very few believed color should be treated similarly. The resulting struggles over civil rights have remade our nation for more than two centuries.

AME Zion Heritage
Zion Methodism grew out of the merciless enslavement of our African forefathers. They were kidnapped from their native land, chained, shackled, and shipped as beasts in deplorable conditions to a strange and distant land, having no family, no culture and no language. Yet, our fathers and mothers were comforted by the Lord God, through Jesus Christ, in the cotton fields and every place of their humiliation and degradation revealing to them that He would always be with them as He had been with them in the past. When Jesus, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord had descended, was preached at John Street Methodist Church, they united with that fellowship. However, bigotry and oppressively cruel barriers confronted them. The Spirit of the Lord led them in the establishment of Zion Chapel (which later became The Mother Church of Zion Methodism) where the gospel of His redeeming grace could be experienced. Taking with them the doctrines, discipline, and polity of The Methodist Church, they proceeded in the establishment of Zion Methodism. They believed that God had called them out of their bondage and had chosen them to be His people and a channel of His redeeming love for all people.

As the ministry expanded, so did the denomination's emphasis on education. "In order to succeed in American society as productive citizens, we [the newly freed slaves] need to become an educated citizenry," an early AME Zion member once said. In keeping with that goal, the Church maintains four colleges and universities today, which are Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, S.C., and Lomax-Hannon Junior College in Greenville, Alabama, and A.M.E. Zion University in Monrovia, Liberia. Additionally it maintains two theological seminaries, Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, NC and Hood Speaks Theological Seminary in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. (emphasis and information added)

Devoted to religious, educational and social causes, the AME Zion Church and its members have been instrumental in many of the freedom struggles of this nation, dating back to the days when former slaves Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman led the first wave of Black social activism. Since that time, AME Zion members have made other significant contributions. AME Zion Bishop Alexander Walters, along with Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, helped to found the NAACP. Bishop Walters was also a pioneering member of the Pan-African Congress. And many of the denomination's clergy and lay people were active participants in the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s.

Along with its emphasis on ministry and social change here in the United States, the denomination has focused much of its attention and energies on outreach abroad. To date, the AME Zion Church has member churches on all continents except Australia. In West Africa, in particular, the denomination has set up numerous schools and clinics throughout Ghana and Nigeria. The Church also has facilities in Liberia, though some of its main structures have been destroyed by civil war. Overseas missions are a crucial component of the AME Zion Church's outreach, but the denomination believes in charity starting at home. That is why, over the years, several individual churches have implemented programs to help families to find low-income housing, jobs, financial planning assistance, health care and day care services.

"Our concern is for the whole person," says Bishop Cecil Bishop, the (retired former) senior bishop of the AME Zion Church. "We have a holistic approach and a holistic gospel. We don't feel that we live in a kind of compartmentalized sense, but that life is a complete whole. So we have to be concerned about all of those amenities of life that help make up wholeness in an individual."

The outward person is important, but the primary focus of the AME Zion Church remains spirituality and "sharing the good news of the gospel," says the former senior bishop. We believe and understand today that, in the Divine Economy, Zion Methodism is to make disciples of all persons throughout the earth, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the Year of the Lord’s favor. We are to continue this mission until Christ, God’s Son, shall come again.

 

  • April 3, 2018
    A.C.T. NOW
    Awaken Confront Transform!
    Then and Now: An Ecumenical Gathering to End Racism immediately following the Orthodox Christian Bridegroom Service of Holy Tuesday. Service begins at 6:00 pm, Program begins approximately 8:00 pm. All are welcome to both.

AMEZ Featured Site

The People's AME Zion Church :: Syracuse, NY :: Reverend Daren C. Jaime, Pastor

CED Winter Meeting 2017

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