African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church)
The Episcopal, meaning that it is primarily governed by elected bishops. The bishopric is appointed by the vote of the General Conference, which meets every four years. The AME Church, whose official motto is "God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, Man Our Brother," places a strong emphasis on social service. As such, the denomination folds its primary mission of preaching and religious education into a secondary mission of service to the homeless, the imprisoned, the poor, and other needy persons.
Georgia is part of the sixth Episcopal district of the AME Church, and its current bishop is the Reverend William P. DeVeaux. There are more than 500 AME churches in Georgia, and the greatest concentration is in Atlanta, which has about 36 congregations. Columbus and Savannah each have about 12.
The AME Church did not make headway in Georgia until the closing months of the Civil War (1861-65). Missionaries from the denomination often followed Union troops into occupied parts of the collapsing Confederacy, adding numerous ex-slaves to their membership rolls. Henry McNeal Turner, the state's first AME bishop, played a vital role in organizing new churches during the Reconstruction era. Turner Chapel in Marietta was built and named in his honor in 1891 by the descendants of one of his first congregations. In 1973 the chapel was relocated to its current site, on Lawrence Street.
During the civil rights movement, AME churches sometimes served as organizational centers for black leaders. For instance, W. W. Law led mass meetings at St. Philip AME Church in Savannah. In recent years AME churches in Georgia have sustained their social vision by maintaining emergency food banks and homeless shelters, in addition to providing other social services for local communities.
Media Gallery: African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church)