Global Christianity Richard Allen
(1760 - 1831)
Global Christianity

African-American pastor and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Richard Allen

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 Churches.

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