1st. Bishop of A.M.E. Church Daniel Coker or Richard Allen?

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I have studied AME History throughly. I want to know why Daniel Coker is not mentioned concerning being the first Bishop of the AME Church. According to the account written by Bishop Alexander Payne in Vol. 1 of the History Of the AME Church, Coker was the first Bishop but was not officially elected because of his skin color (mulatto)and other disagreements among the members. Because of the disagreements Coker stepped down and Allen became the official first Bishop of the Church.The members felt Allen should be the bishop and not Coker. Due to the social climate and confrontations encountered by the members they believed Coker would sell out so they ask him to step down.

Now, when you really look into the details Allen was not the first but Coker. Does not Coker receive some credit? Or, will we continue to play the color game of old that has been played among the Negro, Colored, Afro-American, Black community. What's my point? I am very concerned that we tell the WHOLE STORY and not just what we want to hear. The white man used certain passages of scriptures from Christianity to try to enslave the black man. The black man though found out that there was more to Christianity than what the white man was saying. Instead of putting him into slavery the black man found freedom.

It's important for our children to learn about the WHOLE PICTURE of the beginning. With that concept they will realize how much our foremothers & fathers went through to get things together. They will also understand that a lot of our struggle was due to our OWN ENABILITY TO GET ALONG WITH ONE ANOTHER. IT WAS NOT ALWAYS THE WHITE MAN THAT KEPT US BACK.

I am proud of this church. Let's tell the WHOLE STORY so we won't continue to make the same old mistakes of the past. It may not stop everything but it will definitely curtail old bad habits and perhaps pick up some good ones to keep us together.

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2001


Mr. Webb:

Your statement was factual and is well known throughout the connectional church (at least by the clergymen). It is true that the full history of the church is often not taught and that there is some discrepencies concerning certain dates and events, but it is the same with all oral and written tradition including the Bible. I must emphasize the fact that Richard Allen was the first consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Church history does not dispute what you have stated. A great book to read concerning the AMEC history is "The life and Gospel labors of the Right Reverend Richard Allen." It is his autobiography written by his hand and it is available throught the church publishing board.

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2001

Brother Webb,

The presentation of your information is enlightening. I have always glossed over the Coker v. Allen situation because it is indeed true that Allen was the first consecrated bishop. Distinction is made between election and consecration, the former consisting of a simple polling and the latter involving the laying on of hands in the tradition of the apostolic succession.

As I have said before in matters of AME history and tradition, we should not allow these things to obscure our view of the true mission and purpose of the Church, that of illuminating the gospel of Jesus Christ and building the kingdom. A fixation on the human foibles of the founders of our denomination would be a faulty brick in the wall of the kingdom of God. Research is wonderful. An accurate telling of history is of utmost importance. But the motives behind investigations, while they may be pure, may dilute the potency of our message: the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings!

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2001

It seems that you have grasped the concept of this well known historical tidbit, but I think using the term "apostolic succession" is an overstatement. As AME's we don't believe in such a succession. The historical tradition is simply that Allen went through the mechanics of the consecration ritual. Coker did not.

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2001

Yes yes! tis true. According to my research Rev. Coker was an especially light black man, who according to more detailed history did gracefully fade into the shadow of the bishopric. This act in and of itself is an admirable trait of said office. I would be most interested to know just what his remaining years of ministry was to the African church. Should anyone have knowledge of this great man's fate after "the decision" occured,....please share.

Another side note I did find in the History of the A.M.E. ZION church concerning our Biship Allen was this:

Apparently while on a visit to New York for a meeting or revival in one of our churches, he also did meet later with the discouraged black methodists from that area. They were in the midst of forming an independent society, and heard of his being in town. They met with him and, knowing that he had been consecrated the first African bishop, asked him to lay hands upon them and consecrate their leadership into that office. The story goes, he said that he would do so only if they agreed to join with our Philidelphia (AME) society. They refused, and so he refused to perform the consecration. They were later consecrated by whites... Again I read this in the official history of that Zion. So the story is told from their perspective, and we don't know what God and Bishop Allen were dealing with or the specifics behind such a story. If true, then it offers another facet to the personality and thinking of our first CONSECRATED bishop. I wonder if Danial Coker would have done the same.... "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." - Jesus (Matthew 5:5)

-- Anonymous, November 01, 2001

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