The sovereignty of the African Districts of the African Methodist Episcopal church: A historical assessment
The worldwide African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) is divided into 20 regional districts. These include thirteen districts in the United States of America (Episcopal Districts 1-13), six districts on the African continent, namely Episcopal Districts 14, 15 and 17-20 and one that comprises Suriname-Guyana, South America, the Caribbean, Windward Islands, Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti Jamaica, London and the Netherlands (Episcopal District 16). Each of these districts is administered by a bishop assigned at the seat of the General Conference which is conducted every four year. The General Conference is the highest decision-making body of the AME Church. This research project focuses on the relationship between the American and the African districts of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during the period from 1896 to 2004. It investigates the factors which led to the tensions emerged in the relationship between the American districts and the African districts. It specifically investigates the reasons for the five secession movements that took place in the 15th and 19th Districts of the AME Church in 1899, 1904, 1908, 1980 and 1998. The research problem investigated in this thesis is therefore one of a historical reconstruction, namely to identify, describe and assess the configurations of factors which contributed to such tensions in relationship between the AME Church in America and Africa. The relationships between the American and the African districts of the AME Church have been characterised by various tensions around the sovereignty of the African districts. Such tensions surfaced, for example, in five protest movements, which eventually led to secessions from the AME Church in South Africa. The people of the African continent merged with the American based AME Church with the expectation that they would be assisted in their quest for self-determination. The quest for self-determination in the AME Church in Africa has a long history. The Ethiopian Movement was established by Mangena Maake Mokone in 1892 as a protest movement against white supremacy and domination in the Wesleyan Methodist Church.