pastor and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Richard Allen was
a slave who was converted in 1777 by a Methodist
preacher. Allen soon began preaching and his sermons converted his owner,
from whom Allen purchased his freedom. From 1781-1786, Allen preached
in Methodist circuits, with the support of the Methodist Bishop Francis
Asbury. He returned to Philadelphia, where his preaching attracted many
African-Americans to a Methodist church. When whites demanded segregated
seating during worship, Allen and several colleagues departed, creating
the Free African Society to provide worship and economic support to its
members. In 1794 Allen established the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal
Church (A.M.E.). He was ordained a bishop in 1799, although the A.M.E.
Church was not legally recognized until 1816. Allen blended evangelicalism
with a message of dignity and advancement for African-Americans. He was
a leading figure in African-American