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The Historial Review


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In 1813, Bishop Peter Spencer and Bishop William Anderson were inspired to lead in organizing The Union Church of African Members, which was variously called The African Union Church, The African Union Methodist Church, The Union Church of Africans, and The Union Methodist Connection. The new church was born during the peculiar institution of slavery in America. The first African American independently controlled church was incorporated in Dover, Delaware in September 1813. It soon instituted connectional form with the acquisition of small congregations in New York and Pennsylvania. In 1866, The African Union Church united with The First Colored Methodist Protestant Church. The merger formed The African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church of The United States of America or elsewhere, ordinarily known as The African Union Methodist Protestant Church. In 1941, the church strengthened its connectionalism, under the religious corporate name of The Conference of African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church. The new African Methodist denomination was and remained primarily a Methodist Church with articles of religion, general rules, and discipline.

 

In 1867, the First Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of The African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church in the United States or elsewhere was published in Wilmington, Delaware. However, in 1813, the first edition of Discipline of The Union Church of Africans was compiled. The system of classes and class leaders, as well as the procedure and practice of trustee election, conformed to The Wesleyan and Methodist tradition. The earliest editors of The African Union Hymnal, published in 1822 and 1839 included selections from John and Charles Wesley. The hymnals also included hymns arranged by Bishop Peter Spencer. The multiple conference includes General, Annual, District and Quarterly Conferences. The Annual Big Meeting, known as August Quarterly served appropriately the purpose of a general conference in that its drew representatives from numerous congregations in The Union Church of Africans to Wilmington for weekend of business affairs, festivity, worship and celebration. The members could sing with loud voices and high spirits. The notable hymn arranged by Bishop Peter Spencer:

 
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Let Zion and her sons rejoice,
behold the promised hour.
Her God hath heard her mourning voice,
And comes to exalt His power.
It shall be known when I am dead,
and left on long record.
That ages get unborn may read and trust,
and praise the Lord.
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In the 1843, the climax of great years in The Union Church of Africans was witnessed. On March 25th of that year, Bishop William Anderson passed on to be present with The Lord.

 

Exactly four months afterward on July 25, 1843, Bishop Peter Spencer died. For more than thirty years, the two leaders had ministered together in the general service of spreading the Christian gospel and building churches. Bishop James Hill and Bishop Ralph Gilmore replaced Bishop Spencer and Anderson and Bishop Isaac Barney remained in charge of the congregations in New York and New England. Reverend Daniel Bailey, who had served as a deacon under Bishop Spencer, was appointed to pastor Mother Church in Wilmington. By 1846, Bishop Hill had passed away and Bishop Gilmore was retired. In April 1846, Bishop Barney and the ruling elders "set apart" Ellis Saunders to assist Bishop Barney in presiding over the congregations.

 

While Elder Ministers Barney and Saunders were undoubtedly highly capable religious leaders, their ministries were frequently challenged by the forces of evil. Only five years after Saunders became an Elder Minister, internal bickering erupted forcing a division within the Union Church of Africans which has never been healed. All of the early African Methodist Churches were filled with a common tendency to rivalry, contention and schism. This unfortunate factor was found in The AME Church also. The Spencer Churches were weak and demoralized when The Civil War started. The split involving Barney, Saunders and others was a serious shock to the already weak and unstable African Union Methodism.

 

Immediately after the merger in 1866, the Union Church of Africans and The First Colored Methodist Protestant Church adopted a form of church government. The ministerial hierarchy of the church was to include presidents, vice-presidents, elders, deacons, and licensed preachers and exhorters. Presidents, who were equal in rank to Methodist Episcopal bishops, were installed rather than consecrated. The annual conferences were vested with the power of electing presidents, who were expected to serve four-year terms. They were eligible for re-election. This represented a move away from The Spencer style of organization. Also adopted were Episcopal Methodism system of classes and class leaders, its methods and modes of trustee election, and its multiple conference system which included annual, district, quarterly, and general conferences. The general conference made provisions at the outset to insure the growth and organization/system was adopted from The Episcopal Methodism to expansion of The AUMP Church. The church's membership increased from about 1,500 in 1865 to approximately 4,000 by 1900.

 

In May 1950, The General Conference nominated, elected, and installed Reese C. Scott as General President of The AUMP Church. After taking office, Scott moved fast to strengthen connectional authority. The law of incorporation of The AUMP Church was carefully reviewed, and a ruling which placed the properties of local congregations under conference control was passed. All congregations and districts were now subject to the general conference.

 

In 1966, during The General Conference of The AUMP Church, there were discussions at the leadership level regarding the need to adopt the episcopal form of polity. At The Annual Session of 1967, which was held May 16 - 21 at The Ebenezer AUMP Church in Norristown, PA, the conference voted to elect and consecrate two bishops. Reese C. Scott was consecrated Senior Bishop while Robert F. Walters was consecrated Junior Bishop. The consecration of Scott and Walters meant that AUMP Church denomination was similar in polity to The AME, AME Zion, CME and UAME Churches.

 

In 1974, Bishop Reese C. Scott retired. Bishop Robert F. Walters became The Presiding Bishop of the AUMP Church, and George F. Brown was consecrated Junior Bishop at The General Conference in September 1974. His untimely death a year later left the AUMP Church with only one active bishop until the election and consecration of The Right Reverend Doctor Delbert L. Jackson as Bishop Coadjutor in September 1986. Bishop Jackson became The Presiding Prelate in April 1988 after the passing of Bishop Robert F. Walters.

 

Recorded By:

Bishop Delbert L. Jackson, Presiding Prelate

 
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TENETS OF
AFRICAN UNION METHODIST PROTESTANTISM (AUMP)
 
  1. The inspired Word of the Bible the sufficient guide to eternal life.

  2. The acknowledgment of one supreme and infinite God, His Son, one Christ and the Holy Spirit.

  3. Faith in the Holy Trinity.

  4. The Word of the Son of God who was made man.

  5. The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.

  6. Belief in the Resurrection of ChriSaint

  7. Belief of the Holy Spirit.

  8. Belief of original or Birth Sins.

  9. Belief in Justification by faith.

  10. Belief of Sin after Justification.

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