Canadian AME Church History
In 1834, slavery was abolished in Canada and churches in Hamilton, Brantford, and Toronto had been received into the AME Connection. Many of these immigrants were either Methodist or Baptist and they looked forward to freedom of worship in their new home, Canada.
Jeremiah Miller was sent to Canada as a Missionary in 1832 by the New York Conference. In 1837, a petition was made to the New York Conference for St. Catharines, Ontario to be received into the AME Connection. Churches were planted in Niagara Falls, St. David, and St. Catharines by Reverend Richard Williams. In 1839, churches in Hamilton, Brantford, Malden and Toronto had been received into the AME Connection and were part of the New York Conference.
On July 21st in the year 1840, fourteen years after the immigration of runaway slaves into Canada from the United States, through the Underground Railroad, the Canadian Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Bishop Morris Brown under the authority of the General Conference. In 1842, the Conference comprised Toronto, the London Circuit, and the St. Catharine’s Circuit. Josiah Henson, the original Uncle Tom in ”Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, was the pastor of the Colchester Circuit. In 1842, the salaries received by the six ministers in the Canadian Conference totalled $97.84 – an average of $13.00 each.
By 1850, memberships in the black churches had significantly increased. Unrest was brewing in the AME churches in Canada. In 1854, Reverend Benjamin Steward started a movement to have all the AME churches become British Methodist Episcopal churches. Petitions were sent to the Mother church in Philadelphia for permission to form a church to be known as the British Methodist Episcopal Church .At this time slave owners were attempting to retrieve their runaway slaves. Some escaped slaves that were AME felt it would benefit them to be connected with a British Institution. Their petitions were granted at the AME General Conference in 1856 and the AME Church in Canada was said to be no more. There were however, some AME churches that kept their AME affiliation. The last session of the Canadian Annual Conference of the AME Church met in Chatham, September 23rd, 1856. It convened in a private house occupied by a Sister Taylor. Bishop D.A. Payne was presiding officer of the Conference. Bishop Willis Nazrey became the first Bishop of the British Methodist Episcopal Church. The first session of the Canadian Annual Conference of the British Methodist Episcopal Church convened in Toronto on October 7th, 1856.
The dissolution of the African Methodist Episcopal Church however was not final and in 1884, at the request of many who were loyal to the Mother church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was re-established and began a new era in her history.
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