AME Zion Church2

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church will hold its 50th Quadrennial Conference at the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel & Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C. from July 20-26 to take care of denomination business that includes electing new bishops, one of whom may come from Baltimore.

The Rev. George E. McKain II is the director of public affairs for the denomination and told the AFRO that thousands of people that consist of senior-level officials, clergy, lay and visitors are expected at the conference.

“We estimate that 10,000 to 12,000 people will be at the conference,” McKain said. “We have some important business to attend to such as installing bishops in the newly created jurisdictions in eastern West Africa and western West Africa as well as electing new bishops here in the U.S.”

The AME Zion Church was founded in New York City in 1800 as a response to the racism Black worshippers experienced at White-ruled Methodist Episcopal Churches. The early AME Zion churches were a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church denomination but the congregations were independent.

Many of the early AME Zion churches were ministered by White Methodist ministers but in 1820, six of these churches met to ordain African American James Varick as an elder. In 1821, Varick was made the first general superintendent of the AME Zion Church and on July 30, 1822, he became the first bishop of the denomination.

Presently, the AME Zion denomination has 1.4 million members with churches in most U.S. states and in many areas throughout the world. The denomination has 10 episcopal districts, excluding the West Africa districts.

The senior bishop of the denomination is George E. Battle, who also serves as the presiding prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District that covers the nation’s Blue Ridge Mountain region, West Central North Carolina, Cornwall-Middlesex-Surrey of Jamaica, West Indies, as well as east and west Angola in Africa.

At the conference, the Rev. Lester A. McCorn, who is the pastor of the Pennsylvania Avenue AME Zion Church in Baltimore, is seeking to become one of the denomination’s newest bishops. McCorn is campaigning for bishop on a platform of strategic planning, spiritual health and vitality, support for clergy, social justice, stabilizing and strengthening, stewardship and scholarship.