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By Ruth Tucker, who is continuing her weekly series at Jesus Creed.
The “coloured people”, poor as they were, had been paying their pledges for remodeling Philadelphia’s St. George’s Methodist Church, “and just as the house was made comfortable, we were turned out from enjoying the comforts of worshiping therein.” These are the plaintive words of Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).
Philadelphia - Today - Stop - Corner - Sixth
“If you go to Philadelphia today and stop at the corner of Sixth and Lombard streets, you stand on hallowed ground,” writes Richard Newman in Freedom’s Prophet. “Here one of early America’s leading reformers built an internationally famous church, wrote pamphlets of protest that served as models for generations to come, and championed liberty and justice for all.”
In 1777, at age 17 Allen was converted at a Methodist revival. Three years later he purchased his freedom and at the same time discarded his old name, “Negro Richard.” When he was 26, he settled down in Philadelphia where he began a Methodist society that soon numbered more than forty committed members, a congregation that wanted to form its own church. But the local Methodists would have none of it. One particular leader “was much opposed to an African church, and used very degrading and insulting language to us, to try and prevent us from going on.”
Allen - Congregation - St - George - Methodist
Allen was told that he and his congregation must associate themselves with St. George’s. As a faithful Methodist he agreed. That’s when the real clash began. Word of his effective ministry had spread, and soon his followers could no longer fit into their assigned seats. Then one Sunday, during the morning prayers they spilled into the whites-only section. The “coloured people” stayed on their knees, not wanting to make a commotion, that is until two church leaders began to forcibly push them...
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