First African Methodist Episcopal Church ~ is founded in Phildelphia, Pennsylvania. Richard Allen led a small group of black Methodists. They formed the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1793. In general, they adopted the doctrines and form of government of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On February 4, 1794 Bethel AME was dedicated with Allen as pastor.
To establish Bethel’s independence, Allen successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an institution independent of white Methodist congregations. Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities also encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia in 1816 to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the "African Methodist Episcopal Church" (AME Church).
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique history as it is the first major religious denomination in the western world that developed because of sociological rather than theological differences. It was the first African-American denomination organized and incorporated in the United States. The church was born in protest against racial discrimination and slavery. This was in keeping with the Methodist Church's philosophy, whose founder John Wesley had once called the slave-trade "that execrable sum of all villainies."
Richard Allen from the frontispiece of History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1891) by Daniel A. Payne.