I am curious about "Mother Churches"

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I love A.M.E history and I am having a ball being an A.M.E pastor. There is so much love and joy in our denomination. I know about Bethel Church in philadelphia, but I was wondering about other "Mother Churches" in this country and around the world. Does each state have a "Mother Church?" if your state does tell us a little about it. If your country or region has one please share with us about your mother church?

-- Anonymous, May 15, 2002


South Carolina's Mother church is Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Emanuel is presently pastored by Dr. William Smith, Jr., candidate for Bishop. It is the burial place to the parents of Bishop Decatur Ward Nichols, the older living and longest serving bishop in METHODISM, and 101-year young!

Emanuel was founded in the 18-teens after the AME Church moved southward. It was a thriving congregation until the Denmark Vesey insurrection (Vesey was a local minister in the AME Church). The SC government ordered all public assemblies of blacks to be closed; thus, Emanuel went "underground" for some time. After the emanicaption proclamation, Emanuel was re-opened and the AME church was formally organized in the South. At the first SC Annual Conference held in 1865, Bishop Daniel A. Payne, a Charleston native, called the conference together comprising of preachers from NC, SC, GA, Fl, AL and MS. Although the conference was held at a Presbyterian church (that eventually became an AME church, now known as Mt. Zion AME on Glebe Street, Charleston), the premiere church was clearly Emanuel AME.

Today, Emanuel is conference seat of the SC Annual Conference. Its stately structure, built by the father of our beloved Bishop Nichols, seats 1500 people with a huge sanctuary, a good-sized balcony and a commodious basement which houses the church offices, Church school rooms and dining facility. The crowning glories of Emanuel are its huge stained-glass window over the pulpit, the spire which is the largest steeple for a black church in Charleston, and its choir loft, located in the rear of the church instead of behind the pulpit. In order words, the choir and pipe organ are above the heads of those seated on the ground level, facing the pastor. Morris Brown AME Church, SC largest AME Church, is the only other church whose choir loft and organ face this direction.

Emanuel is a beautiful church and is the Mother Church in SC!

GA's mother church is St. Philip on MLK Drive in Savannah and FL's mother church is Mother Midway in Jacksonville.

-- Anonymous, May 16, 2002

Here in the New York Conference of the First District the "Mother" Church is First AME Bethel on 132nd between 5th and Lenox in Harlem USA. The Pastor is the Rev. Henry A. Bellin III, the son of Bishop Henry A. Belin, Jr. of the 7th District. We are 182 years young and moving about God's business. Althought Bridgstreet AME and Macedonia are older by founding, Bethel was the first AME church in New York and the founder was sent to NY by Bishop Allen to start an AME congergation. It was begun in lowe Manhattan, but eventually the people pulled together to build the present edifice. When in NYC please feel free to visit.

-- Anonymous, May 16, 2002

The Mother Church in the Sixth Episcopal District is "Saint Philip Monumental" in Savannah, GA--founded in 1865. This is true because it was the first church received into the original "Georgia Conference" after the AME Church established this Conference in 1867. The Reverend Walter E. Daniels is its present pastor.

As is noted above Morris Brown founded Emmanual, in Charleston in 1808. Thus, the South Carolina Conference predates the founding of the Georgia Conference, which was later formed from the South Carolina Conference.

The Denmark Vesey Revolt, South Carolina Laws and the Civil War hampered the establishment of other AME Churches in the South until the conclusion of Civil War. It was then that the Georgia Conference could be established.

Denmark Vesey was affiliate with Emmanual and Morris Brown was also implicated in this revote as well. However, Morris Brown was able to escape to Philadelphia and join Richard Allen at Mother Bethel. He later became the second consecrated Bishop of the AME Church. One of the two Sixth District institutions of higher learning bears his name. The other bears the name of Henry McNeal Turner.

What is interesting to note is that Big Bethel in Atlanta and my own church predate the founding of Saint Philip Monumental. Thus, it is believed that some of our churches were originally members of the South Carolina Conference. It should also be noted that there are two churches in Savannah named "Saint Philip". History shows that they were originally one congregation. A storm destroyed the original building on Hull Street and the congregation relocated on West Broad (MLK Jr. Drive).

Twenty-five years later some of the congregation moved back to Hull Street, while the rest remained on West Broad (MLK). Bishop Turner then designated the Hull Street Church as "Monumental" and declared it to be the Mother Church.

One of the pastors of Saint Philip on W. Broad Street (MLK) was Bishop Henry W. Murph whom I believe is now he second oldest living Bishop.

Saint Philip Monumental is now located at Park and Jefferson Streets in Savannah. It contains the original pulpit furniture and chancel rail of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner. It also contains historical documents and markers of the founding of each Annual Conference in the Sixth Episcopal District.

-- Anonymous, May 16, 2002

Thank you, Bro. Matthews, for straightening me out in which one of those St. Philips is the Mother church. I knew I should not have posted the street address . . .

-- Anonymous, May 16, 2002

The "Mother Church" of Texas is Reedy Chapel. For its history, Click here.

-- Anonymous, May 17, 2002

Thank you everyone for your responses! It is so exciting to hear this info. Sorry I have not been on the board for a week, I was getting some new software installed on my computer and I just got it back today. When I read about our mother churches it is a reminder that God is still watching over our denomination. I hope I will here some other reports.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2002

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