History of the AME Church
The AME Church was formed out of the Free African Society which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. When white leaders at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pulled Blacks off their knees while praying, Free African Society members discovered just how far American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination even in church. The Black members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into a full fledge African/Black congregation. Although most who were protesting wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, Allen led a small resilient group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794, Bethel AME was dedicated in a blacksmith shop with Richard Allen as the first pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware slave, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. Black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities had encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, so Allen called his group to meet in Philadelphia to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church(AMEC).
The geographical spread of the AMEC prior to the Civil War was mainly restricted to the Northeast and Midwest. Major congregations were established in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, and other large Blacksmith’s shop cities. The AMEC did not move in great numbers South until after the Civil War. Numerous northern communities also gained a substantial AME presence. Remarkably, the slave states of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, and, for a few years, South Carolina, became additional locations for AME congregations. The denomination reached the Pacific Coast in the early 1850’s with churches in Stockton, Sacramento, San Francisco, and other places in California. The AMEC did move North of the border when Bishop Morris Brown established the Canada Annual Conference.
The most significant era of denominational growth occurred during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Often, with the permission of Union Army officials, AME clergy moved into the states of the collapsing Confederacy to pull newly freed slaves into the denomination. “I Seek My Brethren,” the title of an often-repeated sermon that Theophilus G. Steward preached in South Carolina, became a clarion call to evangelize fellow blacks in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, and many other parts of the south. Prior to the Civil War the AME Church had been mainly a regional church, and then the church began to increase and spread throughout the South. In 1880, AME membership reached 400,000 because of its rapid spread below the Mason-Dixon line. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner is known for bringing the AME Church south and even across the Atlantic. He founded the AME Church in Liberia and Sierra Leone in 1891 and in South Africa in 1896. The AME now laid claim to adherents on two continents: North America and Africa.
While the AME is doctrinally Methodist, clergy, scholars, and lay persons have written important works which demonstrate the distinctive theology and praxis which have defined this Wesleyan body. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has always been at the forefront of sending out the message that God is a God of all the people. Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett, in an address to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, reminded the audience of the presence of Blacks in the formation of Christianity. Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner wrote in 1895 in The Color of Solomon that biblical scholars wrongly portrayed the son of David as a white man. In the post-civil rights era theologians James H. Cone, Cecil W. Cone, and Jacqueline Grant who came out of the AME tradition critiqued Euro-centric Christianity and African American churches for their shortcomings in fully impacting the plight of those oppressed by racism, sexism, and economic disadvantage. Today, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has membership in twenty Episcopal Districts in thirty-nine countries on five continents. The work of the Church is administered by twenty-one active bishops, and nine General Officers who manage the departments of the Church. The African Methodist Episcopal was the first independent institution that was completely run by African Americans in this country. It is a great legacy that every member wears proudly for the world to see. The AME Church has been at the forefront of fighting for equal rights and justice since its inception. The AME Church has been a bedrock of the African American community in America for over 200 years.
 AME Church, "Our History," AME Church, History, accessed November 18, 2018, https://www.ame-church.com/our-church/our-history/.
History of First St. Peter AME Church
St. Peter AME Church was formed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and organized in the Atlanta home of the Nelson family in February 1913. From its organization in the Nelson home to a basement, located on Alexander Street in the northwest section of the city, the humble beginning of this great church has been a source of inspiration and a spiritual beacon. The ﬁrst church home was purchased and located on Cain Street in northeast Atlanta, near downtown, during the period of 1944-55. The congregation grew and worshipped there until the second worship facility, located at 637 Highland Avenue, also in northeast Atlanta, was built in 1955. During the City of Atlanta's Urban Renewal Project, the facility was moved back to accommodate the city's effort. At that time, the church was renamed “Greater St. Peter A.M.E. Church.” The church remained in this location until October 1998. In October 1998, the church went through a church split. One half of the congregation wanted to move south into the suburbs of Atlanta. The other half wanted to stay in downtown Atlanta. The church was eventually sold, and this led to the formation of two congregations. The group that moved south of the city kept the name of Greater St. Peter. The other group was left without a pastor and a building to worship in. This group became known as the Concerned Members of Faith. On May 6, 1999, First Saint Peter A.M.E. Church, “The Church Where Love Abides,” was organized into a new congregation under the auspices of the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. R.D. Powell, III, served as the interim pastor at the request of Rev. Dr. Earle H. Iﬁll, Presiding Elder of the Atlanta East District, until the Atlanta North Georgia Annual Conference convened later in the month. On May 28, 1999, Bishop Donald George Kenneth Ming appointed Rev. Alexis Brookins I, as pastor of this congregation. In 2002, the group was able to purchase a church building in Stone Mountain, Georgia. This facility is still our current place of worship. The membership doubled from the original one hundred and twenty-seven charter members to two hundred, ﬁfty-four under Rev. Brookins’ leadership. Rev. Brookins pastored the church from 1999 to 2017. In 2017, Rev. Marcus Green was appointed to pastor First St. Peter AME Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
 Members of First Saint Peter AME Church, "History of First St. Peter," interview by author, June 2018.