Richard Allen

1760-1831. Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Born a slave, he was sold to a farmer near Dover, Delaware. Converted under Methodist influence, he was permitted to hold services in his home which resulted in the conversion of his master-and freedom for Allen and his family. He educated himself and preached while working at woodcutting and hauling. He was accepted as a Methodist preacher at Baltimore in 1784 and made preaching journeys with Richard Watcoat and Bishop Asbury.* He preached occasionally at St. George Methodist Church, Philadelphia, where his forceful approach attracted many Negroes, resulting in white protests. The former withdrew and formed the “Free African Society” (1787). From this body Allen influenced the majority to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which Bishop Asbury dedicated in 1794. Fifteen other Negro churches joined them. Allen was ordained in 1799 and became first bishop in 1816. Before his death he won national standing for the denomination.