Sadly, racist behavior and racial prejudice is alive and well throughout America, including within The Church. We cannot simply ignore it; pretend it does not exist and hope it goes away. It has to be spoken about, it has to be addressed.
The history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, or AME, dates back to 1787. Unhappy with racial discrimination, restrictions and “unkind treatment” towards worshippers of African descent, Reverend Richard Allen and Reverend Absalom Jones broke away from the St. George Methodist Church to form The Free African Methodist Society which later went on to become the AME.
It is important to remember that this all took place before the Civil War. Racism, prejudice and even slavery was a part of life for many Americans. Although John Wesley and other founders of the Methodist Church were against slavery and racism, the Church was still divided. This division came to a head in 1844when the issue of slavery split the Methodist Episcopal Church geographically. So it was that America is racist because the Church is racist. This continued until after the abolition of slavery. In 1939 the Methodists reunited and established six jurisdictions in the United States: five geographical and one made up of predominantly African American churches. Segregation was still a major issue with in the Church. Only in 1968 did they merge to form The United Methodist Church. This did not mean racism suddenly disappeared, it was progress but racism was still present, as it is today.
There is no doubt that the Church, as well as the people of America, has come a long way. There is long way to go still. There is however still pockets of racism that exists within the Church and indeed, America as a whole. We see evidence of it on a daily basis and cannot deny it. In a big part, America is racist because The Church is racist. If we cannot get it right in a place of worship, following Gods word, how is society as a whole going to eliminate racial prejudice and discrimination? We need to look internally, at ourselves, our society and our Church before we can hope to have better racial and religious relationships in the Church and America. You need to ask yourself, how racist is your church? The conversation has to take place openly and honestly. It is time for change. What should have been done years ago, has to be done now, before it is too late.
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