AME Church’s Bicentennial Celebration Comes to a Close In Philadelphia With Election of New Leaders

Six bishops were preparing to be consecrated during the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s general conference held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. — ABDUL SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
Six bishops were preparing to be consecrated during the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s general conference held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
— ABDUL SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

The African Episcopal Methodist Church wrapped up its bicentennial celebration this week by electing new leaders to propel the denomination forward.

An estimated 30,000 participants attended AME’s General Conference held July 6-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The conference had an estimated economic impact of more than $20 million.

AME officials said the conference’s theme “An Extraordinary History, An Incredible Future,” encapsulates the remarkable journey of the denomination from past to present, and communicates hope for an even greater future based on a foundation constructed by leaders resolute in creating social change.

Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram, presiding prelate, First Episcopal District, AME Church said the church’s best days lie ahead.

“When you look at the historical backdrop of the AME church, we have always been socially and economically involved and inclined to speak truth to power,” Ingram said. “I think that at the end of the day people were very upbeat and excited about the history of the AME church but also as we talk about trying to lay out what I call some guideposts for the future.

“Sometimes the tragic thing that a lot of people do is spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror, as opposed to dealing with the windshield. I think that best days of the church are not behind us, but really in front of us,” Ingram continued. “I am eternally optimistic about the future of this denomination and what we are doing. This is the church’s finest hour.”

An estimated 30,000 participants attended the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference which was held July 6-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The celebration kicked off with the unveiling of the Richard Allen statue and mural. A bronze statue was unveiled on July 3 at the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

As a Methodist attending St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Allen grew tired of having to worship in the upstairs of the church, segregated from white members. Out of this, Allen formed the AME Church in 1816 and would become the first African-American elected bishop in the United States.

The First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church unveiled “The Legacy of Bishop Richard Allen and AME Church Mural” on July 4. The four-story high colorful portrait graces the AME Church’s international headquarters at 38th and Market streets in West Philadelphia.

Those events led up to an action-packed conference for attendees.

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SOURCE: The Philadelphia Tribune
Ayana Jones