As members and friends gathered in the church sanctuary, it was obvious that there was excitement in the air about this celebration.
Never before has any community shared such a joyous occasion as this.
Beginning at 3pm, Reverend Theyuka Thomas, Pastor of Edward Chapel AME Zion Church, headed the worship service. Even then His Holy Spirit was present in the service. Joy was everywhere.
The Processional began and everyone stood to their feet followed by a musical selection by the Houser Memorial combined choir.
Old Testament was read by Ms. Grace Davis and New Testament was read by Bro. O’Neal Thompson.
The welcome was extended by Mr. Rodney Wiggins. The Anniversary sermon was delivered by Reverend Donald Harris, Pastor of Ebenezer AME Zion Church, Mobil, Alabama, who set the house on fire. Even dry bones had to come to life with this dynamic sermon.
A little history: The church was officially formed in 1816 by Richard Allen and Darniel Coker in Philadelphia. The denomination was made up of AME churches in the Philadelphia region, including Delaware and New Jersey. The newly formed AME Zion Church had a separate meeting place and time apart from the Methodist Episcopal Church. Autonomy was key for the newly formed church.
A general conference is the supreme administrative body of the church (s. 1988). Between meetings of the conference, the church is administered by the Board of Board of Bishops. “The Book of Discipline is the instrument for setting forth the laws, plan, polity, and process by which the AME Zion Church governs itself.”
The church grew rapidly with the ordination of black ministers, but was mostly confined to the northern United States until the conclusion of the American Civil War. In the first decade after the war, together with the AME Church, it sent missionaries to the South to aid freedmen. The two African-American denominations gained hundreds of thousands of new members in the South, and they have responded to their missionaries and organizing efforts. Today, the AME Zion church has more than 1.4 million members, with outreach activities in many areas around the world. An individual member is sometimes referred to as being a “Zion Methodist”
The AME Zion church has been in negotiations for many years to merge with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church into a tentatively named Christian Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The plan was originally for unification by 2004. The AME Zion church has insisted on continuing to have “African” in the name. AME Zion church is very similar in doctrine and practice to CME church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
AME Zion missionaries are active in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean region (s. 1988). In 1998, the AME Zion Church commissioned the Reverend Dwight B. and BeLinda P. Cannon as the first family missionaries to South Africa in recent memory. These modern-day missionaries served from 1997 through 2004. Dr. Cannon is now Administrative Assistant to Bishop Richard K. Thompson, who oversees the work of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
The AME Zion Church has performed mission work in the countries of Nigeria, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, England, India, Jamaica, St. Croix-Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Tobago, and others.