African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church)
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.
Daniel Alexander Payne, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2 vols. (New York: Arno Press, 1969).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Darren Grem, University of Georgia
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