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Founder’s Day Message and Litany – 2017

Founder’s Day 2017

“Let’s Not Forget”

An Extraordinary History – An Incredible Future

The African Methodist Episcopal Church: The oldest traditionally Black Protestant denomination founded on American Soil!  As we reflect and celebrate Founder’s Day 2017, we cannot afford to have a memory lapse about our extraordinary beginning.  Will and Ariel Durant wrote, “We are the best-informed people on earth as to the events of the last 24 hours; we are not the best informed as to the events of the 60 centuries.”

The African Methodist Episcopal Church begin in 1787 when Richard Allen, a former slave, refused to accept white Methodists’ racist and un-Christian behavior at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia. In April 1816, 29 years after Allen and others walked out of St. George’s, Allen and numerous black Methodists met in Philadelphia and formally organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Our founding fathers and mothers bequeathed us a great legacy. Their work and witness in our collective past gave birth to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, our inheritance. As we celebrate Founder’s Day 2017, we may need to remind ourselves that the past is the foundation on which we build. It was our forbearers who opened the paths and blazed the trails we now travel. They organized the churches in which we pray, preach and fellowship; they composed the songs that got many of us over; they erected the schools where some of us studied.

Given our extraordinary history, our future is incredible. We are called to transform the world, in Jesus’ name. We are called to share our extraordinary history at every level of our Zion with a vision to ensure that our future is Incredible. Who would ever have thought that our Zion would be in India, Brazil, and 40 other countries around the world with a motto of “God is Our Father, Christ is Our Redeemer, Holy Spirit our Comforter, Humankind our Family”?

Let’s not forget:

Stony the road we trod,

Bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed.

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,

We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,

Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last.

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast

(James Weldon Johnson)

As we celebrate our extraordinary history, our Incredible future is greater than our proud past — for the best is yet to come for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the Month of February, as we celebrate Black History Month in the United States and Canada and Founder’s Day of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, I invite the entire membership to read the book; Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen by Richard S. Newman.  It is my hope that the words from this inspired reading will both enlighten and enhance your knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our founder and the great legacy of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bishop John F. White
President Council of Bishops
Presiding Bishop, 4th Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church

 


Celebrating our Inheritance

Leader: We praise God for the prophetic witness and compassionate ministry of Richard Allen, our sainted founder.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage (Psalm 16:6 NRSV).
Leader: We thank God for the justice-seeking legacy of African Methodism given to all of us who serve in faith and live in hope.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage.
Leader: We celebrate the countless gifts of our sainted forebears who preceded us in the ageless struggles for love, justice and peace.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage.
Leader: We remember with thanksgiving their many labors and countless sacrifices.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage.
Leader: We are grateful to God for their ceaseless prayers, sacred tears, and perpetual longing for your “brighter day”.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage.
Leader: We praise God for their courage stamina and zeal.
People: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage.
Leader: We thank God for the gifts of their hands and knees, their hearts and backs, and their groans and sighs.
All: The lines have fall to us in pleasant places; yes, we have a goodly and Godly heritage. Amen. Amen. Amen.

The Right Reverend McKinley Young
Senior Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Published in The Anvil (2009)