February 14, 1760 - March 26, 1831
Ever wonder where AME churches originated? Look no further than former slave, Richard Allen. Once freed from slavery, Allen founded the first national black church, the African Methodist Episcopal or AME. In addition to Allen's religious leadership, he was a staunch advocate for abolition and an important social justice champion.
His efforts were noticed by and inspired both Dr. King and Frederick Douglass.
Allen joined a Methodist Episcopal church after a religious conversion. But he soon became disenchanted with their poor treatment of blacks so he decided a new place of worship would solve the discrimination problem. His first independent church venture (along with ten other black Methodists) was Bethel Church, fondly remembered as, "Mother Bethel" for its role in AME churches' founding.
Allen helped runaway slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad by hiding them in the basement of Mother Bethel. The AME Church's first bishop was Richard Allen.
Allen was the first African-American ordained Methodist Episcopal minister. Seventeen years after earning this honor, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church.