In America, it is generally conceded that Methodism first shed its light in the city of New York. About the year 1765 when a plot of ground on John Street was leased and two years later purchased and the first chapel built. During the entire early struggle of the new organization, Black people figure prominently in Methodism even to devoting of the building for the first organization. Between the years 1765 and 1796 the number of Black members increased greatly. So much so that caste prejudice forbade their taking the Sacrament until the white families were all served. This and the desire for other church privileges denied them induced them to organize among themselves.
The first church organized in 1796 and built in 1800 was called Zion. The founders chose this name because, “it was the name most frequently used in the Bible to designate the church of God,” even Zion Hill before there was a worship house. Among the leaders of the movement was James Varick, who was the first Bishop and to whom is attributed the founding father of the Zion Church. Zion church was incorporated in 1801 by the name “The African Methodist Episcopal church in New York.” Methodist Episcopal was always in the title to exhibit the retention of the doctrine and form of church government under which the denomination originated. “African” was prefixed to the rest of the title of this church because it was to be controlled by descendants of Africa, in the interest of humanity, regardless of race, color, sex, or condition. Therefore, these people of African descent, with an indubitable pride in the Fatherland and abiding love of kinship, desired to maintain their identity, their ancient cultures and background for posterity. Because another organization came into existence around the same time, with the same title, and so much confusion was brought about, the General Conference of 1848 voted to make ZION a part of the denominational name, henceforth, to be known as the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church.
From the very outset the Zion Church has been in the forefront in the battle for full citizenship and freedom in this country. The AME Zion Church encompasses all of the United States, Canada, Caribbean Islands, England, Africa, India and South America, and it is under the supervision of twelve (12) elected Bishops. The New York Conference, of which we are a part, is a part of the North Eastern Episcopal Area. This Episcopal Area includes New York, Western New York, New England and The Bahamas Conferences.
Methodist – It’s Beginning
WHERE: The Methodist Church started in Oxford, England, in the Holy Room on the campus of Oxford University.
WHO: John Wesley, an evangelist and his brother, Charles Wesley, a writer.
WHY: Out of protest. The religion of England was Roman Catholicism, a faith which gives the Pope all the authority in to how one should worship God. The Wesley brothers felt that each individual should be free to worship God at will. So, out of protest, the Protestant Church, which is simply a Christian Church or a group of Christians, split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century because of a desire to study the bible and worship God in their own way, was organized.
HOW: These brothers along with a few other students held services daily in the Holy Room. Other students on the campus; in an attempt to make fun of them, would say, “… there goes those Methodists.” This was in reference to their methodical worship. From the repetition of this scenario, the name “Methodist” was accepted.
What Methodists Believe
We believe that all men are sinners.
We believe that God the Father loves all men and hates all sin.
We believe that Jesus Christ died for all men to make possible their salvation from sin through their belief.
We believe that all who repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ receive the forgiveness of sin.
We believe that all that are accepted as the children of God may receive the inward assurance of the Holy Spirit to that fact.
We believe that all that are made “new creatures” in Christ Jesus are accepted as the children of God.
We believe that all who truly desire to seek it may love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength and their neighbors as themselves.
We believe that a man born of god is consecrated and set apart for service unto God and that the process of growth begins and is followed by degrees of development ever having as its goal entire sanctification and Christian perfection.
We believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit is possible unto all men as a guide, a teacher and a light.
We believe in the Kingdom of God which means the reign of God in every area of human life and society.
We believe that all who persevere to the end shall be saved but that souls may lapse from grace and become partially corrupt or even fall wholly away from God and be lost forever.
We believe that God is eternal and Jesus is the conqueror of the grave and we, being united by faith with Him share His everlasting life.
What Zion Methodists Believe
Zion Methodists believe in the basic rules of Methodism.
Zion Methodists believe in the spirit of evangelism and a heat warming experience that operate in the areas of thought, feeling and action.
Zion Methodists believe in the practice of democracy and brotherhood in all relationships.
Zion Methodists believe that every man is a free man and should not be shackled by chains of discrimination and prejudice.
Zion Methodist believes in every man having a full opportunity of exercising his spiritual and natural gifts within the Christian fellowship.
Reference Link: AME Zion Website