The African Methodist Episcopal Church through its Fourteenth Episcopal District operates in five nations of West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. The AME mission to this region commenced in 1820 when Daniel Coker, the founder of African Methodism in Baltimore, arrived in Sierra Leone. Since Coker mounted an independent effort, John R. Frederick in 1886 became the first official AME representative in Sierra Leone. Frederick’s missionary successes, the strides of his colleague, Sarah Corham, and the adsorption of the Countess of Huntingdon Connection enabled Bishop Henry M. Turner on November 10, 1891, to organize the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. A month later Turner launched the Liberia Annual Conference. AME members whom Bishop John M. Brown organized in 1878 emigrated to Liberia from the United States. They eventually became the nucleus out of which Turner inaugurated African Methodism in Liberia. Bishop Edward J. Howard convened the first Ghana Annual Conference in 1936, five years after Mrs. Europa J. Randall, a missionary from Sierra Leone, founded a congregation at Essikadu. Not until the 1960s was the AME church firmly established in Nigeria although formal recognition had occurred in 1956 when the General Conference admitted delegates representing that country. Bishop John R. Bryant and the Rev. Cecilia W. Bryant inaugurated an evangelistic thrust which brought the AME Church into the Ivory Coast in 1989. Within three years five congregations had been founded.
The AME Church has had a broad impact on education. Mainly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ghana the denomination has operated numerous schools at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels. In Sierra Leone the Rev. H. M. Steady, who joined the denomination in 1890, founded the AME Boy’s Seminary and the AME Girl’s Industrial and Literary School. In 1960 the Sierra Leone Annual Conference sponsored eight educational institutions. In Liberia in 1902 Bishop Cornelius T. Shaffer purchased 100 acres near Arthington for the Shaffer Boy’s High School. Monrovia College and Industrial Institute, however, became the leading AME school in that nation. Founded in 1921 by Bishop William S. Brooks, the institution continued to grow under his episcopal successors who built additional facilities and attracted able faculty. Bishop Eugene C. Hatcher, for example, dedicated the new Hatcher Hall in 1955 and installed the Rev. John F. Little as the administrator of the school. The AME Church also supported numerous other institutions in the Liberia Annual Conference, including facilities in Cape Palmas, in the Gedebo Interior, and other areas. In the Ghana Annual Conference the Payne Collegiate Institute in Accra, which the Rev. J. P. B. Richards started in the 1930s, was an early venture in this jurisdiction. During this period 10 AME schools mostly in Accra were in operation. Other facilities impacted people in Essikadu, Essaman, Takoradi, Kumasi, and Sekesua.
The greatest growth in West Africa occurred during the 1988-1992 tenure of Bishop John R. Bryant. Phenomenal growth continues under the leadership of Bishop Adam J. Richardson who has undertaken an extensive building and renovation program, as well as the maintenance of fifteen primary schools, six secondary schools and one college with a collective enrollment of 9,000 students. The total number of churches now stands at 108 and nearly 13,000 members.
This week we pray for
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