Second District AME Church Lay Organization
The History of the Baltimore Conference
The Baltimore Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has had the leadership in the origin and the continuance of the Church, of which it has been one of its oldest historical branches. Since Philadelphia was the seat of Bethel Church and the site of the separation led by Richard Allen, it is overlooked that the contemporary movement in Baltimore, led by Daniel Coker also had historical significance. Priority may be of little consequence, but as a matter of history it is important for the Baltimore Conference to know this fact and to realize the place of the Conference in the history of the Church.
The first of our Church historians, Bishop Daniel A. Payne states, The Baltimore Conference preceded that in Philadelphia by a little more than a month. The first session of record of the Baltimore Conference assembled on April 7, 1818, while the first session of the Philadelphia Conference met on May 9, 1818. However, there is a belief that a session of the Baltimore Conference met on April 12, 1817, although Bishop Payne says, if any Conference was held in 1817, we are unable to find any trace of the fact.
The first decade of the history of the Baltimore Conference closed with the session of 1826. This tenth session met on April 10, 1826 and was presided over by Bishop Richard Allen with Rev. Joseph Corr acting as secretary. Reverend Morris Brown served as assistant to Bishop Allen. In issuing a pastoral letter under date of April 13, Bishop Allen confidently stated, we have at present great prospects in the city of Baltimore of this being the greatest conference ever held in this place. Great harmony prevails among our preachers and the slain of the Lord are many.
The early organization of the Conference into districts, with their Presiding Elders and Pastors, was a part of its strength: the Baltimore District, the Potomac District, the Hagerstown District and the Easton District.
The first female consecrated and elected Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Vashti McKenzie, came out of the Baltimore Conference.
The History of the Washington Annual Conference
The Washington Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has been in existence for some 60 years. It grew out of the Baltimore Conference which, until 1951, had been one of the larger Conferences in the AME church, serving the State of Maryland, the city of Baltimore and the District of Columbia. In 1951, the Baltimore Annual Conference, at its 134th Session, decided that its work was not effective as it should be, and the Committee on Stations, Circuits and Missions presented the following resolution, which was adopted:
Therefore be it resolved firstly that the churches in the following counties be taken out of the Baltimore Conference and form the Washington Conference:
The Prince Georges, Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Montgomery Counties, and further efforts be made to organize churches in the underdeveloped Allegheny County. Be it further resolved that the following Districts will compose the new Washington Conference: The Potomac District, the Hagerstown District, and the Capitol District. The following churches will compose the Potomac District: Metropolitan, Brown, Campbell, Wheaton, Ebenezer, Allen-Garfield, Galesville, Charlotte Hall, Mt. Nebo, Lincoln, Jessup, DuPont and Lakeland. The following churches will compose the Hagerstown District: Ebenezer (Baltimore), Allen (Baltimore), Mt. Moriah, Cumberland, Petersville, Frostburg. The following churches will compose the Capitol District: Turner Memorial, Tee Bee, Frederick, Pilgrim, Ward, Kensington, Elkridge, Parole, Wayman-Good Hope, Wayman-Baltimore, St. Paul, Davis Memorial, Mt. Pleasant and Bladensburg.
In 1980, the Hagerstown District was dissolved and the churches added to the Capitol District and the Potomac District, forming the current structure of the Washington Annual Conference. Four Bishops have been elected from the Washington Conference � Bishops G. Dewey Robinson, Frank Madison Reid, Jr., Robert L. Pruitt, and William P. DeVeaux.
Since its inception, the Washington Annual Conference has been a vibrant institution. It has expanded from 41 to some 81 churches, circuits and stations, and the Conference continues to grow.
The Virginia Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized May 10, 1867 at Richmond, Virginia with Bishop Alexander Washington Wayman as the convener. The Reverend J. R. V. Thomas was elected secretary and Reverend William H. Hunter was elected assistant secretary.
At the invitation of St. John Chapel, Bishop Daniel A. Payne, Reverends Alexander W. Wayman and John Mifflin Brown went to Norfolk, Virginia in the fall of 1863. The members of this congregation had expressed a desire to unite with the Baltimore Conference of the AME Church. On October 13, 1863, the officers of St. John Chapel voted to unite with the Baltimore Conference. Bishop Payne appointed Reverend J. M. Brown pastor of the Norfolk church.
Other churches joined with the St. John congregation and became members of the Baltimore Conference and reported their work to that Conference until the formal organization of the Conference in 1867.
The Virginia Conference was composed of three Presiding Elder Districts Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond/Roanoke. Currently, there are two Presiding Elder Districts: Norfolk/Eastern Shore and Portsmouth/Richmond/Roanoke.
The North Carolina Annual Conference was organized in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1968. Bishop Alexander W. Wayman was the Presiding Bishop at the organizational meeting. The first annual session of the Conference met in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1869.
Prior to 1892, all of the churches in the state of North Carolina were in one conference, The North Carolina Annual Conference. The Annual Conference of 1892 divided the state into two conferences, the North Carolina Annual Conference and the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.
Kittrell College had its origin in the North Carolina Conference. The history of the college reflects the influence of the North Carolina Conference on the founding of the school.
Miss Louisa Dorr, a faithful teacher from the North, conducted a Bible Training class in connection with her school work in Raleigh. Several of the young men became enthusiastic over the studies and created a sentiment in favor of better facilities. The matter was taken to the North Carolina Annual Conference of the AME Church, and at once assumed definite shape, resulting in the proposition to establish a school in the state and the selection of the site at Kittrell, North Carolina.
On December 15, 1870, the North Carolina Annual Conference met at Newbern, North Carolina. This was its second annual session. G. B. Williams was chosen secretary. G. W. Brodie preached the Annual sermon.
The 21st Session of the General Conference of the AME Church met at St. Stephens AME Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, May 4-22, 1896.
The Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the AME Church had its beginnings on May 15, 1865 when Bishop Daniel Payne organized the South Carolina Conference in Charleston. This Conference included the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. On May 14, 1866, at the first South Carolina Annual Conference held in Savannah, Georgia, the Reverends George M. Broadie and Samuel B. Williams were among the Conference participants representing North Carolina.
The first North Carolina Annual Conference was held in Greensboro in 1869. At that meeting, a number of churches joined the Conference, especially churches in the Western part of the state. According to Bishop R.R. Wright, Jr. The growth of the North Carolina Annual Conference was so marvelous that it became necessary to organize the Western North Carolina Conference. On November 19, 1892, at St. James AME Church in Kinston, North Carolina, the North Carolina Annual Conference was divided into the Western North Carolina and the North Carolina Annual Conferences under the leadership of Bishop W. J. Gaines. The Reverend W. H. Giles was Conference secretary. Some of the ministers participating in the organization of the Conference were the Reverends Cornelius Sampson, Robert Lucas, Jacob, Homes, George Hunter, Harry Pope, Minto Crooms, Bryant Rudd and Henry Tucker. Boundary lines for the newly formed Western Conference were fixed to include, roughly, all areas from Wake County westward.
Throughout the years, in North Carolina, the AME Church has continued its contribution to fight for dignity and freedom of Black Americans. As a result, African Methodism in Western North Carolina continued to grow. Three Bishops of the Church, D. O. Walker, Frederick D. Jordan and Phillip R. Cousin, pastured in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.
At the 200th anniversary of the AME Church, the Western North Carolina Annual Conference was composed of two Presiding Elder Districts. Central Eastern and Central Western, currently the two Presiding Elder Districts are the Eastern and Western Districts.