Why are there so many AME Churches pulling out?

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Recently, we had a major church in the Cleveland - the Youngstown District of the AME church to pull out, the church paying the top budget in the Third Episcopal District. Now, I know the pastor had some problems with leaders such as the Presiding Elder, but I have noticed it is becoming a trend all over. Why is the AME Church losing congregations?

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2001


Hello Sister Time': Interesting observation. If true elsewhere, the implications are very alarming. But, what evidence do you have to support the trend regarding defections of AMEC congregations? QED

-- Anonymous, November 03, 2001

I have thought about this question for churches of all types, not just the AME. Part of it has to do with belonging to a denomination vs being independent. Both have pros and cons, so I won't take a position.

Being part of a denomination has one primary strength, and that is the pastor is accountable to others. This can become very important when pastors become involved in misconduct. At the same time that power exercised from a higher headquarters can also be abused. Headquarters leaders are capable of engaging in misconduct and "politics" as much as anyone. In that situation the independents have the advantage. The best situation for an individual church will depend on the personalities involved at the time. Of course God's will is that there would be no misconduct on anyone's part, and then it becomes a moot point.

-- Anonymous, November 03, 2001

Perhaps Ms. Time is referring to the disfellowship of "From the Heart Ministries" from the AMEZ connection, or the congregation (also in Maryland) a few years back that withdrew from the United Methodist connection. Although the concept of withdrawal is often mumbled in the halls of frustration, I don't think it is yet pandemic within African Methodism.

There is a thread discussing the previous two in our archives.

-- Anonymous, November 03, 2001

I think that Rev. Rodney Thomas, a native of Memphis, Tn, and an AME Pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, is the brother who has walked to another locale for exercising his spiriutal gifts. There were reports of another minsiter in the 9th Episcopal District going from an AME Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Someone form the 9th Distrcit can address this better.

Why did they leave? Each, I'm sure has there own story to tell. Some tire of politics, traditionalism (The AME way.) The late Bishop W F Ball had a saying, There's the right way, the wrong way, and the AME way.

One must really be a Christian to contend with matters wihin the Church of Allen. The late Rev. A Lewis Williams, fomer Eidtor of the AME Chrsitian Recorder, pastor, and Presiding Elder said "If GOD were not in the AME Church, then we would have destroyed it a long time ago!"

Be Blessed! WHS

-- Anonymous, November 03, 2001

Help me with this please. Are churches pulling out of the Connection or are pastors leaving the AME Church? For example, in Karnie Smith's case, I know for a fact that he left the church but St. John, Birmingham is still apart of the Connection. There is conflicting stories as to how many people left with Karnie, but St. John stands and has a new pastor, Rev. Bobby Cox. In the case of Rdoney Thomas, did he leave the AME Church or did he get moved to another AME Church in the Connection or both?

This does seem to have a ripple effect. I, too, some 12 or 13 years ago, wanted to leave the church -- and I was only in high school and was not preaching or pastoring then. When I asked for God's permission, God said, emphatically, "NO!!!" God assured me that the AME Church is where I needed to be and leaving it would not solve its "problems." But rather, if I were obedient and stayed, God would exalt me in the church. It was then I got my call to a two-fold ministry: Preaching and Music. I quickly gravitated to the music ministry and later surrendered to the preaching ministry. Being obedient, I stay in the church and within one year, I was elected YPD President for the 7th District, have served twice as a delegate to the General Conference and am now priviledged to serve 33 of God's most wonderful creation at Mt. Sinai AME, Bradley, SC just beginning my 3rd year there.

I don't know the other preachers' stories as to why they left (if they left) and whether or not God told them to leave the church. As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord in the AME Church as directed by God. Although right now, things look rocky and storm clouds are overhead, God controls them and the sun too, which will shine again. As many problems as the church does have, and I am not blind and don't recognize that the church does have its "issues"; I cannot leave the church, but will endeavor to make it the best church- the church that God isntructed me to stay in and be apart of the solution. It may be a mess, but it's the best mess for me.

-- Anonymous, November 04, 2001

Any person, pastor or lay person, has the freedom to leave the AME Church. No AME Church can leave the connection. There are numerous court cases resulting from pastors trying to "take" the church out of the connection. In every case, the decision has been that the "Church" remains in the connection and the individuals are free to choose.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, November 05, 2001

I have been keeping up with this discussion, but for some reason my comments were removed. I simply listed a few AME Churches that I know have split, pulled out or the pastor has begun a new work and several members have followed them. This is true in Cleveland- Youngstown District, Memphis, Birmingham, Cincinnati and others.

Something must be done. I am a friend of Rev. Rodney Thomas, the one who pulled out in Cleveland. He served under Percy Robert Tate (Elder) and Robert Vaughn Webster (Bishop). He was moved 2 weeks ago at the North Ohio Annual Conference to become a Presiding Elder, but he did not take the appointment. Instead, he began services for a Non denominational church the next Sunday and has reported over a hundred members leaving the connection.

This is a serious discussion. Why is this happening? and what can we do? Preachers want their leadership to follow the same rules as they have to and it is frustrating when this does not occur. What can and shall we do now to save our church?

-- Anonymous, November 06, 2001

The concern you lift up for consideration is one that shared among our brothers and sister in other denominations. Brother Rucker is right. While we must be constantly keeping the housekeeping in order within our Church let us not get side tracked from the reason we are called. Our Church does have problems and challenges. Hold on and keep pushing for the will of God.

God Bless You

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2001

I have a problem with this whole issue of pulling a church out because i feel as if a pastor wants to leave the church then leave but dont mess with the congregation that has been there in some cases for mant years. i am fortunate to pastor in the 1st Episcopal Disatrict in the New York Annual conference after pastorin gin 2 othere conferences within the first. i have never considered leaving Richard Allens church because its where Gods lives.Pastors knew what the church was like before they got in it so why all of a sudden they get amnesia and forget how the church has fed them clothed them put them through school and seminary and they want to leave the church that made all that possible? I have major issues with that I agree that thjere is much work to do in our Zion but we have a great Zion founded by a great man inspired by god to bring dignity to minority worship as we know it today. I was raised in a Baptist Church and left there after being called to do so and i have no intentions on leaving African Methodism because this church this church has housed me fed me and my children given me purpose and position so that I can help my race, how could leave her now? More than ever before we need the A.M.E. Church and trhe church needs us as well, because only togfether can we lft the creedo of our church "God our Father Christ Our Redeemer Man Our Brother". Im here to stay and my 2 daughters are here to stay in Allen's Church where God lives.

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2001

This is a discussion board, so I thought it necessary to share the truth. St. James - Cleveland has never had 2,000 members nor any other church in the Third Episcopal District. St. James reported 800 at the annual conference. And now, Rev. Thomas' new congregation has over a hundred ACTIVE members. (in 2 weeks)

He did not accept the appointment, because it was not "equal or better" as the discipline clearly states. His character was passed!

It is not fair for people to speak on situations they are not knowledgeable about. It leads others to believe false information, and we all know THE TRUTH SHALL SET US FREE.

In the Third Episcopal District, there were 2 churches recently to pull out in October. I do not blame anyone, and I think we have to revisit our true purpose. We are not called to be AME's we are called to be disciples of Christ and we do this in the AME Church. I am a loyal AME, and I am a loyal CHRISTian.

With these churches making "new starts", it leaves the AME Churches in a difficult position.

-- Anonymous, November 07, 2001

Dear pastor Augusta i am sorry that you feel the way you do but i want to be clear and state that it is not the "perks" that keep me here in this great church it is the awesome opportunity to serve Gods people. I feel as if you have a real issue with the denomination and I hope you bring some resolution to it so that you will not stay bitter because I hear bitterness in your words that you have typed. May God bless you my friend and I am praying for you as I am sure you will for me.

-- Anonymous, November 13, 2001

I am a AME myself. All I can tell my fellow brothers and sister is if all leaders would give their heart and soul to the Lord that no problem will be to big to resolve.'Leads by example' Leaders must every second of the day ask the Lords guidance as they must decide what is good for the poeple. Remember that you as a pastor, pe,pp is not working with poeple but with the soul of them, regard yourself as discipels for Christ. I believe that the AME church will never 'dies'. 'What ever you do don't do it for the church alone, do it for Christ'. May God bless all our leaders from the bottom to the top and grand them the wisom to decide what Jesus would do(wwjd) God bless you all. Jerome

-- Anonymous, November 20, 2001

I think to much has been spent on talking about the problem instead of how can we as a greater chuch help to ensure that that kind of things doesn't happend in the future. We need to formulate a plan of action to help ensure our mission. As I usauly tell my fellow ACF members, 'always keep a positive attitude and what ever you do pull in Jesus direction' then you will see what comes from it. "let the leaders be the assistent and God the true Leader.

May God grant you all the wisdom to adapt a positive attitude.

God bless you all and i love you all


-- Anonymous, November 20, 2001

many are pulling out also do to the type of leadership assigned to a charge. Most of our leaders are there for the money.People on the outside see our leaders not being true men and women of God, Some party, drink, have affairs and this is very disheartening to a new christian trying to get their life in order. It's the old cliche " Do as I say not as I do" and of course I'm human. God came to the earth in human form, but he ask for divine gudiance. We must pray for our leaders and hope some day the AME church will put into place some sort of mechanism that will guide these men and women back to the call they said they received. Prayer can and will change things. I am sending up prayes for ALL our leaders. I challenge you all to do the same. God will fix it and when he fixes it it's fix. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2001

As a minister in the AME Connection, I'm most aware of the problems that exist. Even though, as pastors and ministers, we are a part of the connection, our call was to the cause of Christ and it just seems that so many of our pastors and ministers have lost sight of the real meaning of the "Church". Someone has rightly said, you can not spell the word (church)without "UR" otherwise, it would simply be "chch". Rev. James Cone wrote a thought-provoking, eye-opening semi- autobiographical book some years ago, outlining the problems within our denomination. Only one of those points have been addressed, so far, the election of our first female bishop.

In order to rectify the problems we're having within the church, we must start with ourselves, then we must hold ourselves and each other accountable. We have a mechanism in place, and it looks good on paper, but the spirit of the doctrine and discipline has been lost because so many of us have our own interpretation of it.

A pastor has said to me on many occasions, there's a discipline way, there's an AME way (traditions) and then there's my way. So, when situations arise and pastors, PE's, and congregations don't stand up for what is right, we have discouragement and discontentment within the church.

There are churches that never hold official board meeting or quarterly conference and the church conference is merely the pastors chat and chew session. The congregation has no recourse because the person the pastor is accountable to, doesn't show up. So, when you have these types of situations, people leave, but the pastor stays with a "my way, no other way" attitude. It's sad, but true.

If all of this is going on within our denomination, then first we have to get back to the BIBLE and it's TRUTH, then TEACH, PREACH, and REACH. "Go ye into all the world...teaching them to observe all things".

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2001

I am not at all surprised that many pastors and members are leaving the denomination. We spend so much money at useless redundant meetings, we spend so much money trying to support a flabby bureaucratic structure that could be reduced by at least 50%. Let's take a look at how we spend money. The Christian Education Congress in Detroit, cost the connection and the local host church thousands of dollars for what? It was an eternal waste of time. Many very good churches are giving over 20% of their funds for pe district, conference, episcopal district expenses and then they have to scuffle to upgrade their worship centers, provide outreach and ministry services. Let's help build churches that work. I would propose an across the board 50% reduction of all assessments for all churches. We don't need 20 bishops plus 2 located. We don't need all this overhead. If presiding elders need income let them pastor churches.

-- Anonymous, November 24, 2001

There's a term called the "tooth to tail" ratio. Whatever an organization does (sell ice cream, play baseball, teach students, preach the Gospel) is the tooth. When you think of tooth think of EFFECT. Nurture the tooth.

Support areas are the tail. They're necessary and inevitable, but the tail is nourished at the expense of the tooth. When you think of the tail think EFFICIENCY.

Over time the tail has a way of growing and becoming inefficient. This contributes to shrinking the tooth and minimizing its effect. That's why from time to time an organization should ask, "what's our purpose? Where is the fat? How did we do this in the beginning? Where have we strayed? What no longer applies? What has changed?"

If you go through these threads you'll find these issues addressed indirectly several times. Denominational names, merging denominations, reasons churches leave. Good organizations are both static and dynamic. The foundations never change, but the outside areas are constantly questioned and adjusted. One pitfall though is getting foundations and other areas confused.

-- Anonymous, November 24, 2001

The devil is busy indeed! One might ask the question if there are serious attempts to undermine the strength of the black church. We must learn to hold tight to the faith of our fathers. We must resist the desires to be "independent" and "free". These are some of the same machinations that have undermined our family and our communities. "Doing our own thing". While I can not and do not feel it necessary to comment on individual circumstances, least we continue quarreling among ourselves to our own destruction, I do have experience with one of the churches under much discussion. Why must we kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Look around. Whose interest our we serving with confusion. We can and must stay at the table together. The devil is a master of deceit. Look at what has happened with other denominations! Ministers in and out of jail. Moral decadence. We must not abandon our culture. Look at "our" schools, "our children" "our families"; harboring morals and directions that heretofore were abomnible. Wake up. Keep your hand on the plow, and hold up the blood stained banner. Support the AME it was there for you when you were told that you were less than human. May the creator keep and bless you all.

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2001

The AME Church is falling apart because of greedy leaders and crooked pastors. I think if the AME focus on GOD and forget about money we would not hear so much about abandonment. I'm not saying this because I'm sour or upset about anything but it is the truth! We have so many AME Pastors that steal from the small churches and it is a shame that the entire organization get a bad rap. We also have many people in higher positions that take advantage of their titles. I think somewhere along the way we lost our identity what the AME was original about. We must go back and find Allenís purpose. Because right now there is no purpose nothing but MONEY AND STATUS!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2003

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