6th Episcopal District
With approximately 6,000 congregations and 2.5 million members in 39 countries on 5 continents (North & South America, Africa, Europe and Asia), the African Methodist Episcopal Church is a global denomination. The state of Georgia, which is called the 6th Episcopal District, is one of 20 Episcopal Districts worldwide. With 543 churches and 100,000 members in the state of Georgia, the 6th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church is a vibrant connection of Christians who share a rich and deep history and heritage. With its roots running back to 1787, the A.M.E. Church is the first independent black denomination founded in the Western hemisphere.
2.5 million - A.M.E. members
6,000 - A.M.E. Congregations
20 - A.M.E. Episcopal Districts
39 - Countries
5 - Continents
100,000 - A.M.E. members
543 - A.M.E. Churches
Daniel Alexander Payne, the sixth Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Charleston, South Carolina on February 24, 1811 to free colored parents, London and Martha Payne.
He attended a private school in Charleston, South Carolina and Gettysburg Seminary in Pennsylvania. He also did a great deal of studying on his own. Payne was the first Bishop to have formal theological seminary training. He, more than any other individual, is responsible for the A.M.E. Church's attention toward trained ministry.
Bishop Payne was ordained an elder in the Lutheran Church in 1837. He was admitted to the Philadelphia Annual Conference in 1842. He pastored churches in Washington, New York and Baltimore. He was elected the Historiographer of the A.M.E Church in 1848. Payne was elected a Bishop at the General Conference in New York City on May 7, 1852. During his tenure, he presided over the 1st, 3rd , 2nd and 7th Districts. He organized the South Carolina Conference in 1865, and founded Wilberforce University in 1856 where he became the first Black President of a college in America. Payne served as the President of Wilberforce University for 13 years.
He was an author of considerable merit. His book, "History of the A.M.E. Church", is his greatest work and has been an authoritative source of history of the first 75 years of the Connectional Church. Bishop Payne spent twenty years gathering material for his book.
Payne was married to Eliza Clark Payne. He was the father of one child and the stepfather of four children- Julia, John, Laura, Augusta and Peter.
Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne died on November 2, 1893.
The mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level the A.M.E. Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved; which is to bring souls to Christ and salvation, and serve the needy through a continuing program of:
- preaching the gospel
- feeding the hungry
- clothing the naked
- housing the homeless
- cheering the fallen
- providing jobs for the jobless
- administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, senior citizens' homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed, and
- encouraging thrift and economic advancement.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church is a connectional global organization. Each local church is a part of the larger international connection.
The Bishops are the Chief Officers of the Connectional Organization. They are elected for life by a majority vote of the General Conference which meets every four years. Bishops are bound by the laws of the church to retire following their 75th birthday.
Presiding Elders are the assistants, like middle management, whom the Bishops appoint to supervise the preachers in a Presiding Elder's District. A Presiding Elder District is one portion of an Annual Conference, which in turn is one part of the Episcopal District over which a Bishop presides. In the Presiding Elder District, the appointed Presiding Elder meets with the local churches that comprise the District, at least once every three months for a Quarterly Conference. The Presiding Elder also presides over a District Conference and a Sunday School Convention in his or her District. At the end of an Annual Conference year, the Presiding Elder reports to the Bishop at the Annual Conference and makes recommendations for pastoral appointments.
Pastors receive a yearly appointment to a charge (church), on the recommendation of the Presiding Elder and with the approval and final appointment of the Bishop. The pastor is in full charge of the church and is an ex-official member of all boards, organizations and clubs of that church.
1) The General Conference
The General Conference is the supreme body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is composed of the Bishops, as ex-officio presidents, according to the rank of election, and an equal number of ministerial and lay delegates, elected by each of the Annual Conferences and the lay Electoral Colleges of the Annual Conferences. Other ex-officio members are: the General Officers, College Presidents, Deans of Theological Seminaries; Chaplains in the Regular Armed Forces of the U.S.A. The General Conference meets quadrennially (every four years).
2) Council of Bishops
The Council of Bishops is the Executive Branch of the Connectional Church. It has the general oversight of the Church during the interim between General Conferences. The Council of Bishops shall meet annually at such time and place as the majority of the Council shall determine and also at such other times as may be deemed necessary in the discharging of its responsibility as the Executive Branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Council of Bishops shall hold at least two public sessions at each annual meeting. At the first, complaints and petitions against a Bishop shall be heard, at the second, the decisions of the Council shall be made public. All decisions shall be in writing.
3) Board of Incorporators
The Board of Incorporators, also known as the General Board of Trustees, has the supervision, in trust, of all connectional property of the Church and is vested with authority to act on behalf of the Connectional Church wherever necessary.
4) The General Board
The General Board is in many respects the administrative body and is comprised of various departmental commissions made up of the respective Secretary-Treasurer, the General Secretary of the A.M.E. Church, the General Treasurer and the members of the various commissions and one Bishop as presiding officer with the other Bishops associating.
5) Judicial Council
The Judicial Council is the highest judicatory body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is an appellate court, elected by the General Conference and is amenable to it.
The word "African" means that the Church was organized by people of African descent and heritage. In 1816 the Church was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and although its members are predominantly of African descent, the doors of the A.M.E. Church are open to all people of all nations regardless or race, color, class or creed.
The Church's roots are of the family of "Methodist" churches. Methodism provides an orderly system of rules and regulations and places emphasis on a plain and simple gospel.
"Episcopal" refers to the form of government under which the Church operates. The chief executive and administrative officers of the A.M.E. denomination are the bishops of the Church.