Mt. Bethel Church in Philadelphia is the oldest AME church in the United States. It was organized under the leadership of Richard Allen in 1794 by African American members of St George’s Methodist Church. They walked out of that building to protest racial segregation. Mt Bethel stands today as a memorial against racial bias within the Body of Christ. When King Solomon dedicated the Temple in ancient Israel, we read in 1 Kings chapter 8 that he stressed its purpose this way: “I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. And I have prepared a place there for the Ark, which contains the covenant that the Lord made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.” King Solomon recognized God’s hand in setting his people free and giving them a home where they could worship Yahweh and learn of Him. With a similar purpose in mind, Richard Allen led his people to protest the injustice African Americans received at the hands of those who professed to be followers of Christ. Still, today when we affirm the unity of Christ’s Body we can be a powerful model for our fractured society.
Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More