The AME Church & Black History Month : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Let me preface my comments by stating that until 1994 my Christian experience was primarily shaped and molded under the auspices of Baptist and COGIC churces. I am currently a member of Bethel AME in Talllahsssee, FL. Although I am fairly new to the denomination as a member I have been a student of the black church since my salad collegiate years in the 70s. Now the interesting thing I've noticed is that Black History Month in the US can offer an interesting framework for understanding the black church. Consider that the 19th century is unquestionably the century of the AME church. The Four Horsemen, Allen, Paine, Quinn & Turner defined and dominated the agenda about the black church and black emancipation. It's also worth noting that the 3 unsuccessful slave revolts were planned by three AME clergymen; Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey and Gabriel Prosser. In his classic book the Philadelphia Negro [circa 1908], WEB Dubois argued that the single greatest contribution towards improving the quality of black life was the AME Church. The 20th century however, appears to be the century of black Baptists. Benjamin Mays, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. & Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jesse Jackson, Sr. are all Baptist clergymen. The Civil Rights Movement during the 50s and 60s were also led by prominent black Baptist clergymen like Wyatt T. Walker, Gardner C. Taylor and Otis Moss, Jr. The AME Church appears to be conspicuously absent in the leadership makeup during the 50s and 60s. The clergymen above are practically household names on a national scale. Why were there no AME ministers of national identity? If current trends continue it appears that the 21st century may be led by black independents like T.D. Jakes, John Cherry or Frededrick K. Price.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2000


Being nationally known does not make one a "leader". Most of the contempory names (such as Jesse Jackson) you mentioned are doing more harm than good, feathering thier own nests. .

-- Anonymous, March 06, 2000

Pastor Paris, Your response is quite provocative. To be a leader surely doesn't require one having "national" status as you point out. However, I do find that historians appear to spill more ink about black Baptist as oppossed to AME ministers in their coverage of 20th century events. I just don't know why the disparity exists.

-- Anonymous, March 07, 2000

I think what is most important is that we as AME Pastors/Ministers focus our energies on meeting the needs of our congregations first and secondly extending our ministry to the greater communities in which we serve. One does not have to be a national leader to impact the african american community in a significant way. Many of our pastors have made and continue to make substantial contributions to the african american community through their current ministries which cut across denominational lines and cultural lines. However I do applaud the work of those of our Baptist Brothers who have been on the frontlines in the Media addressing many of our most critical concerns in the african american community. Everybody cannot be in the spotlight of the Mountain of Transfiguration. Some of us must remain in the Valley and perform the necessary day to day work of ministering to the least of these.

-- Anonymous, March 09, 2000

The comments are all so very interesting. The insight that Bill Dickens presented despecially is interesting as it seems to be an insightful view of the larger picture of what is happening religiously/socially in the world of the Black Church. I have noticed a similar phenomena here in Columbus, Ohio where I live and serve. Issues of civil rights, justice and the like SEEM to always be headed by the most outstanding Baptist and COGIC clergymen in Columbus.An exception is an AME pastor in our district who is frequently seen and heard "up front" on such critical issues that often confront the African American community. Sometimes I wonder if in our Zion that "Ichabod" has come to characterize what USED TO BE our forte, The glory of God has departed from us."

Peace, Rev. Harold L. Turner

-- Anonymous, May 30, 2000

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