African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church [AMEZ]
- Birgitta J. Johnson
The second-largest black Methodist denomination, with 1.4 million members in the United States and abroad. The first AMEZ congregation was organized in New York in 1796. Its members were African Americans who left the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church due to rising racial discrimination, especially in worship, from the predominantly white members of the congregation. Similar circumstances had previously led Richard Allen and the black Methodists in Philadelphia to found the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1794. In 1801 the AMEZ denominational charter was established, and in 1821 James Varick was appointed the first bishop. In order to distinguish themselves from the AME Church, the New York group officially added “Zion” to their name in 1848. The Zion Church became known as the “Freedom Church,” with abolitionist members such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass, and missionary efforts that emphasized social service and education.
Hymnody was very important in English Methodism and was the main music tradition in Methodist churches of the northern United States in the late 18th century. In ...