History The AME Zion Alumni Association
In November of 2007 a group of former AME Zion Academy students began discussing the prospect of creating an Alumni Association for the purpose of establishing a national network of students around the world and leaders dedicated to the advancement and development of alumni of the AME Zion School. This group initially formed the Alumni Advisory Committee to undertake this task.
Based out of the East Coast, the Advisory Committee met on numerous occasions to draft the constitution and bylaws of the Alumni Association. With the full support of its members, they launched their first convention on the weekend of August 15th, 16th and 17th 2008. During this same weekend, they voted in its first officials of the AME Zion Alumni Association.
Since its inception in 2008, the Association has continually worked toward the mission of establishing an intranet of shared resources, information, and experiences for alumni. Over 300 students have registered with the association since it was founded. Some students go as far back as 1972. It is the intent of the Association to tap into these valuable alumni from around the world for the purpose of sharing experiences as leaders, professionals, and contributors to their school.
During the first two years, the Association has primarily focused on two goals: 1) to create and maintain a network of former AME Zion Students from around the world, and 2) To serve the growing number of alumni, support it with their work and to aid the Educational Institutions in Liberia
Thus far the Association has a website that is very informative to our alumni and also has been responsible for creating a comprehensive directory of former students containing information on alumni dating back to 1972. The alumni directory is an ongoing project that is being updated and maintained as a valuable resource to both former and current students. In addition, the Association has made a strong commitment to AME Zion Schools by coordinating events that connect students of the high schools, universities, colleges, parents, current students, friends and churches. These events have provided a great opportunity for alumni to mentor and share their valuable experiences with current participants of Alumni Association.
As the AME Zion Alumni Association continues to develop, it is always looking for ways to better accomplish its mission. One of proposed project is to create an AME Zion chat room on the internet as a better way for AME Zion alumni spread around the world to communicate live with one another. This will make it easier for AME Zion alumni to share information with each other and access information regarding the association’s events and activities. Finally, the Association will continue to play an active role in the development of their schools. With a representative of the AME Zion Alumni Association sitting on the AME Zion Board, the Association has an excellent opportunity to provide unique perspectives and valuable feedback regarding the association progress.
History of the Church
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME)Zion Church grew in 1820, out of the American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
It all began in 1796. In that year the "colored" people in a Methodist Episcopal Church in New York separated from the white members of that congregation. Their purpose was to hold "meetings in which they might have an opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts among themselves, and therefore be more useful to one another". Similar separations took place in other mixed congregations and in 1820 all the "colored" separatist groups organized themselves into one unit known as the "African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church" which was most strongly based in North Carolina.
The Christianizing of Africa was one of the aims of the AME Zion Church. Consequently, when the mission had the first opportunity, a station was opened in LIBERIA, West Africa. Toward the end of the 1870's, it was felt by the members of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church that they should "drive into the vast continent and develop (their) Father-land for Christ Jesus. In pursuit of this aspiration one of them the Rev. Andrew Cartwright offered himself as a missionary for Africa. He had had a rich experience of building churches in Plymouth, North Carolina, where it was estimated that in ten years he established twelve churches.
On 7th January 1876 he sailed for Liberia. On his arrival he settled at Brewerville and organized an A.M.E. Zion Church there on 7th February 1878. Soon afterwards, in November the same year, he established a second church at Clay Ashland and a third in 1880 at Antherton. The members were so enthusiastic that in May 1880 the three churches sent a formal report to the General Conference assembled in Montgomery.Alabama.
In the report they commended the splendid beginnings of Cartwright's work and requested that he be given power to call a local conference and also to recruit more preachers. Three years later, Cartwrigh furlough to America. He attended the meeting of Bishops on 28th March, 1883 at Petersburg, Virginia. There he was granted authority to hold local Annual Conference and appoint suitable preaches and teachers on the mission field.
On his return to LIBERIA, due to lack of funds, cartwright could not expand the fast enough to justify the inauguration of the Conference in Liberia. In 1886, for example, a new station was opened at Cape Palmas with 40 members and 50 Sunday School scholars. But the work collapsed because funds were not available to sustain it.
The work at Brewerville was, however, maintained through the sacrifice of the Rev. and mars Cartwright. During the period when no missionaries were sent from America because of financial difficulties Mrs. Cartwright was employed as a teacher to start a school for an annual salary of $300.00. This was the position at brewerville until 1892 when the General conference felt that its financial position had improved and so firmly resolved to rekindle its interest in the African work. In appreciation of the Cartwrights' devotion to duty, the Rev. Andrew Cartwright was made the Presiding Elder over his own work. He held this post until the first Bishop, John Bryan Small was appointed to oversee the African Mission Field.
In 1887 Bishop Small had his first pontifical visit to West Africa. He arrived in Liberia on 7th August and visited the Cartwrights at Brewerville. He noticed that the mission was in difficulty: there was lack of finance; the local members wanted a resident Bishop as the other denominations but the Home base was undecided about providing a resident bishop. In spite of all this, before Bishop Small left Liberia for Cape Coast in Ghana (then Gold Coast) he founded a Church at Johnsonville.
Bishop Small was convinced that the General Conference should provide spiritual and financial stimulation for the work in Liberia. Consequently,on his second visit to the coast in 1902 he ordained brother Lewis B. Dudley as a deacon at the request of the local members of the Brewerville Church. Unfortunately, however, Cartwright did not live to enjoy the fellowship of Dudley for long. On 14th January, 1903 he died leaving Dudley in loneliness.
The Rev. H. T. Wright succeeded Cartwright in 1903. After seven years' labors in Brewerville Wright was succeeded by the Rev. Drybauld Taylor - an African pastor who became the Presiding Elder. The next Missionary from America was the Rev. J.J. Pearce. He was appointed by Bishop Walters the successor of Bishop Small who died on 5th January, 1905. It was during the time of Taylor and Pearce that the Liberian Annual Conference was inaugurated on 3rd March, 1910.
From that time the Liberian work began to bear fruits of steady growth. Bishop Walters ordained pastors wherever he visited to carry on the work. As a result of the increase in the ministerial strength,new stations were opened in Monrovia, Po River, Roysville, Pleasant Hill, Suahn and Rive Cess.
During World War I Pearce returned to America in 1915 and because of travel difficulties during the war he was not replaced and the Liberian work was left without supervision from America until August 1919 when the Rev. Thomas E. Davis was appointed.
In the first decade after the war, together with the AME Church, it gained hundreds of thousands of new members in the South, who responded to its missionaries and organizing effort. Today, the AME Zion church has more than 1.4 million members, with outreach activities in many areas around the world, including the United States, Canada, Caribbean Islands, England, Africa, India and South America, and it is under the supervision of twelve elected Bishops. Through the years the AME Zion Church has provided educational opportunities for young people by establishing schools on a secondary as well as college level. Full-time educational programs continue to be offered by Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, Hood Theological Seminary also in Salisbury, NC, Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, SC, Lomax-Hannon Junior College in Greenville, AL and the AME Zion Community College, Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.