Should the AME & AME Zion Churches Merge? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I am new to this board and anticipate intellectually stimulating viewpoints and spirited, spiritual discussion. I would like to start a thread about the future of African Methodism as we approach the next millenium. Why not join forces with our estranged cousins [AME-Z] and unite to become a stronger denomination empowered with scriptual sophistication and an eagerness to serve humanity? Must these artificical divisions continue to prevent us from enjoying the Biblical mandate of Psalm 133:1?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 1999


That would seem to be the logical thing to d. However, what will we do with the bishops? All strains of methodists could come together if we could solve that problem. In the meantime, the CME's, AME's, and the AMEZ's will become UMC's and non-denominational members if we continue the path we have chosen to take.

-- Anonymous, August 20, 1999

I think our two branches of african methodism should have spirited discussions on the issue and then work together toward making that a reality. I believe the two can merge and utilize all of the bishops that are on both benches. It will take some creative and imaginative thinking but all things are possible! We can pool resources and expand the greater ministry of our church and become an even greater beacon of hope and liberation for all people. This could be one of the greatest achievements in the new millennium.

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2000

True! We could use all the bishops . . . and some preachers without pastoral charges. Can you imagine sending a bishop and several pastors to states that have few AME congregations with the charge to emulate William Paul Quinn?

-- Anonymous, February 08, 2000

YES!!!!! We should begin as soon as possible.

-- Anonymous, February 16, 2000

If enlightened believers like ourselves can see the common-sense to unifying African Methodism , why, why, why, can't our "spiritual leaders" DO THE RIGHT THING and end the long years of denominational separation? I know it's a cliche' but United We Stand & divided We Fall. Major white denominations have overcome their speration why can't we? Personally, I'm ashamed that many of our leaders refuse to entertain the thought of reconcilliation. Thanks for your thoughts.

-- Anonymous, February 18, 2000

Bill, the Commission on Church Union (COCU) has been gathering over the past quadrennium to address exactly the issue of which you speak, reconciliation of various methodist branches.

There are two ways to do this. One is for the three major black denominations to join together under one banner, the other is for all of us to Unite again with "the Mother Church". I believe the concern of the latter is the loss of influence in a much larger body, which itself has at least 50 bishops (active), has a lower episcopal retirement age (I think it's 70, but not sure), and has a number of other features that perhaps our leadership regard as a challenge to our "uniqueness".

Union among the black denominations offers an interesting timing opportunity. By my calculations, and assuming no premature retirements this year, our bench will be half clear in 2004. There are 10 CME bishops. We could conceivably embrace ALL of them with no discomfort to our current lineup. The addition of more churches also may give us pause to realign our districts in a different way. If we were to do so, then realignment this year should be postponed until we can find an alignment that serves the need of the conjoined congregations effectively.

It is interesting to note that some of the problems and concerns we're experiencing as AMEs also appear to be happening with our AMEZ brethren. I refer to the recent disengagement of "From the Heart Ministries", formerly Full Gospel AMEZ in Temple Hills, Md., pastored by John Cherry. A number of concerns were cited as reasons for the pullout - denominational drain on the local church, assessed offerings, accountability of general funds. If either of our astures are to grow, we must become serious about resolving these very complex issues.

Another feature of AMEZ is that some of the bishops (in the early 80s, don't know if it's still true) also pastor. I would welcome updated information on this, but that would be an interesting solution to some of our salary funding demands. I can imagine a local church paying the bishop his/her pastoral salary, while the connectional church pays any episcopal travel expenses. This would also necessitate appointment of an Assistant Pastor for that charge, so it may mean that all bishops would be at larger, connectional pulpits (from which many run anyway).

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2000

I may be incorrect, but I think I read recently (i.e., within the past month) that the AMEZ and CME's have approved a framework for merger. It seems I saw it in the local daily paper one day, but when I went back to clip the article, I was unable to find it, but I'm SURE that I saw it.

-- Anonymous, September 01, 2000

Yes, you are correct they have approved a merger. I believe it was also reported in the August issue of the Christian Recorder.

-- Anonymous, September 01, 2000

The responses to this question all have valid points, one other point I'd like to make is this: There is a book by G. Lovelace Champion, Sr., that we AME's know, the book also has contributions by Bishops from AMEZ,CME, & UMC and others, titled "Black Methodism Basic Beliefs", copyright 1980. the book contains a "Dedication" page that says: " I didicate this book to all Black Methodists who pray and hope for the three (3) Churches of Black Methodism to be united in mission and services toward the liberation of Black people and the wholeness of "broken humanity", this dedication indicates to me that Dr. Champion would like to see a joining of Black Methodists. Upon reading the book and learning the history of the start of each of the denominations, it is my opinion that each of their historic beginnings would be lost if we all merged, and believe me each of them have very interesting and colorful beginnings! Our order and method is very simiar, but each has that little something that is different from the other.

-- Anonymous, September 01, 2000

WOW!!! This is great!! Thanks Larry & Jerome for the update. News about a tentatively approved merger between AME-Z & CME make me more sanguine now than when I broached this subject over a year ago. I wonder why the mainstream media didnot pick up on this development? Regardless, the process is beginning towards unification in Black Methodism and I believe it is a good thing despite the likelihood of a historically unique identity being a casualty in the process. While I'm not an opponent of historic preservation or the counter- argument presented by Barbara, I do feel Vulcan logic should prevail "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" - Star Trek Movie, circa 1990.

-- Anonymous, September 01, 2000

I believe we can be inclusive of our varied uniquenesses, sharing them rather than obliteraqting or obscuring them. Instead of learning the names of Richard and Sara Allen only, we shall also know the name of James Varick, and of the CME critical leaders as well. Of course, learning the combined roster of older bishops may be trickier :-).

I would welcome such an act as more embracing of the African American story. But let us not forget that we are a global connection. I believe AMEZ performs mission work in Africa. Perhaps with the aggregate talent we in America will be better positioned to offer resources to our African brethren. THis would be of tremendous value to all.

I don't think the general press has picked up on the merger because the general press is not particularly interested in the church, except when it reflects the world, or imposes itself into the mainstream of life. COnsider here in Texas, where tonight a "spontaneous" prayer was called for tonight (but few in attendance did, sadly) before a football game, because prayer over the loudspeaker is outlawed. Consider also the flurry over our election of a fwemale bishop. Other than that, when have we heard of an active or sizable press presence at GenCon?

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one" (Spock & Kirk, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan,, 1982).

-- Anonymous, September 01, 2000

Why not call it the Black Methodist Episcopal Church?

The Washington Times

August 12, 2000, Saturday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 223 words

HEADLINE: AME Zion delays merger with CME


BODY: GREENSBORO, N.C. - Delegates to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church convention have delayed plans to merge with another historically black denomination until at least 2008.

Leaders of the AME Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church had hoped delegates to the AME Zion meeting last week in Greensboro would approve a plan that calls for the denominations to merge in 2004.

But delegates voted to delay a merger to give leaders time to work out details, including what the name of the unified denomination would be.

"The name is a problem," said Bishop Cecil Bishop of Charlotte, N.C., the senior bishop of the AME Zion Church.

A merger committee proposed that the name of the new denomination be the Christian Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Delegates to the AME Zion meeting objected, saying that "African" must be in the name.

Merger would create a denomination of more than 2 million members. The two denominations are theologically close and have worked together for years.

The AME Zion Church was formed in 1796 and has more than 1.2 million members, making it the country's second-largest body of black Methodists, after the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Members attend 3,100 churches, most of them in North Carolina.

The CME Church, with about 800,000 members, was formed in 1870.

LOAD-DATE: August 12, 2000

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001

With no disrespect to the CME or the AME Church, I have been a life long member of the AMEZ Church. I am very proud of our heritage, religious structure, rules, governing body and most of all our Board of Bishops. From what I have ever learned about the CME and AME Churches, they do allow their Bishops to do certain things or take part in certain "worldly" instruments that AMEZ Bishops are not allowed to indulge in. I have high respect for my Episcopal Leaders and I do not want them or their integrity compromised by unifying with other denominations. I think there is room in the world for us all! God Bless!

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

According to R.R. Wright's "Centennial of African Methodist History", the first consultations on church union predate the creation of the CME church, going back to 1846.

It seems like it may never happen...

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

This may be a change in my position but I don't think that we have to merge. It is an option but to what end? What would be the advantage to a merger? The pat answer is that the resulting denomination would be stronger but that may not be the case. Our commission is to make disciples of all people and would being larger help or hinder that commission? Right now my thoughts are that it would hinder rather than help. I base this on the fact that churches seem to have lower growth as they become larger. Can this be true of a denomination? Blessings

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, February 26, 2001

I appreciate all the dialogue on the possible merger of the two denominations. I have been AMEZ all my life and there is a lot of heritage that should not be overlooked and left out when deciding what to do.

Meridian - Kosciusko District, South Mississippi Conference, Eighth Episcopal District

-- Anonymous, April 06, 2001

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