African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
- USA: 1,202,195
- Africa: 170,600
- Caribbean: 60,000
The African Methodist Episcopal Church dates from 1796 when it was organized by a group of black members protesting against discrimination in the John Street Church located in New York City. Their first church, built in 1800, was called Zion; later it became part of the name of the new denomination. The first annual conference was held in this church in 1821, with Philadelphia and Newark, NJ, represented by 19 clergy preachers, and presided over by a representative of the white Methodist Episcopal Church. The leader of the John Street dissension was elected as the first bishop at this conference. The name African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was approved in the general conference of 1848.
The AME Zion Church spread quickly over the northern states, and by the time of the general conference of 1880, there were 15 annual conferences in the south. Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary, located in Salisbury, North Carolina, are the largest educational institutions operated by the church. Both institutions are fully accredited. The general secretary's office was established in 1872, followed by the departments of missions, education, and publications, which were established in 1892. Administrative boards were established to direct work in church extension, evangelism, finance, ministerial relief, etc. Home missions are supported in all of the annual conferences. The church has sent foreign missionaries to Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, South America and the West Indies. The AME Zion Church now has conferences on five continents. There are three colleges, two seminaries and several foreign stations under the church. It also operates 2,508 Sunday schools with a total enrollment of 72,969.