A FOUNDER’S DAY MESSAGE
Jeffrey N. Leath, 128th Bishop
The Council of Bishops
Today marks the 254th year since the birth of Bishop Richard Allen. The African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates each year on the second Sunday of February and other days near this day. It is a time to honor the man and his special gifts. We gather in awe of the moving of God in Allen’s life and times, and we reflect on our challenges with an eye on the divine instructions for our age.
Allen passed to us noble values including: liberation, justice, self-determination, education, and economic empowerment, to name a few. Foremost, he preached Jesus; he issued the call for salvation and encouraged the pursuit of holiness through a life of discipleship. In addition, Allen showed flexibility and openness to change that made him agile in leadership. Are we so available to the Holy Spirit that we can modify goals and expectations to meet the realities of present trials?
We are proud of the establishment of a day school for the education of children by Allen, the pastor of Bethel Church in Philadelphia. Although the school did not survive, Allen did not abandon the mission to uplift our people. Rather, he accepted the limitation of resources and charted other courses. The accomplishment is recorded, but Allen moved forward without looking back.
Allen categorically denied Jarena Lee the opportunity to preach on her first request. Yet, he stretched his experience of custom to embrace a new work of the Holy Spirit. Today, we are reaping the fruits of exceptional women in ministry as God moved through Richard Allen.
We face new issues of institutional development and social evolution. What does the spirit of Richard Allen say to us? How will the Holy Spirit direct us to preach salvation and nurture disciples; liberate the oppressed and advocate for justice? Rise up Church of Allen, the present age awaits ministry! Indeed, children of freedom, the Church is moving on!
Let us pray.
Gracious God, we thank you for the life and labors of Bishop Richard Allen. We thank you for his ministry of liberation. We praise you as the mantle of personal and social ministry falls to our hands. We are grateful for the expansion of the Allenite passion for service to and by people of color beyond the shores of the United States. We celebrate your loving kindness in numerous languages and in many nations.
Forgive us for not always choosing the best paths. Deflate those passions which blind us to your will. Grant us wisdom and courage to address the needs of our day.
Yellow fever was a test for Allen; help us with the holy response to HIV/AIDS. Patriot Allen gathered a militia; make us vigilant patriots in our respective countries by exercising the right to vote.
We ask you to break the chains of health and economic disparities. Bring peace and understanding in places of war. Hear the cries and heal the wounds of suffering humankind. Reinforce our testimony of the love of Christ. Strengthen us to make strong disciples. Bless us in every land, and pour out your Holy Spirit to give us the courage and direction to fulfill your will. Amen