MEMPHIS, TN -- The Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church will celebrate its 140th birthday on December 16, 2010. Organized in Jackson, Tennessee by forty-one ex-slaves, the C.M.E. Church currently has more than 1.2 million members across the United States, and missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations. The C.M.E. Church has a celebrated rich history of salvation, education and liberation, and its quadrennial theme, "An Essential Church: Poised for 21st Century Ministry," defines the urgency to meet the challenges of today's changing world.
Over the past 140 years, the C.M.E. Church has been a major participant in the ecumenical, educational and civil rights movements in local communities, across the nation and around the world. Our denomination is proud to work with many ecumenical organizations including the National Council of Churches, Churches Uniting in Christ, Conference of National Black Churches, World Methodist Council, Bread for the World, Church Women United, World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women and the National Council of Negro Women. During the civil rights movement the C.M.E. Church was at the forefront and marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., worked with the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Urban League, Rainbow Push, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and other civil rights organizations to advance the cause of freedom and justice.
Education has been a strong denominational priority, extending from the efforts of our first generation pioneers to develop an educated clergy despite the fact that during slavery it was against the law for blacks to learn how to read. The C.M.E. Church was determined to educate the minds of its members by planting schools throughout the South. Five CME schools, Lane College (Jackson, TN), Miles College (Birmingham, AL), Paine College (Augusta, GA), Texas College (Tyler, TX), and Phillips School of Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA) have provided thousands of men and women with a quality education.
The C.M.E. Church is under the leadership of Senior Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr. and the College of Bishops, which consists of eleven active Presiding Prelates in eleven Episcopal Districts and seven retired bishops. Five bishops were elected during the 37th CME Quadrennial Assembly held in Mobile, Alabama, June 26- July 4, 2010. They were Bishops James B. Walker, W. E. Lockett, Sylvester Williams, Theresa Snorton; the first CME female bishop, and Godwin Umoette; the first CME African indigenous bishop.
The departments and ministries of the C.M.E. Church, under the leadership of ten General Officers, cover every phase of the mission and the work for Jesus Christ, and assists CME churches throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Africa in providing ministries to all of our members and the community. Additionally the various departments of the C.M.E. Church including the Women's Missionary Council, Lay Ministry, Christian Education and Ministers' Spouses provide a significant number of scholarships to young men and women attending CME colleges, Phillips School of Theology, and other US colleges and universities. The C.M.E. Church is proud to work with the One Church One School Community Partnership Program that encourages churches around the nation to partner with public schools to improve the academic achievement, social behavior and personal development of students, and provides scholarships to students.
Celebrations commemorating the 140th anniversary of the CM.E. Church will be held worldwide in CME churches during the month of December. Special Founders' Day events will be held in Jackson, Tennessee under the leadership of Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick, III, Presiding Prelate of the First Episcopal District. The first established CME Church, Mother Liberty, will host a banquet on Thursday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the site of the denomination's organizing meeting in 1870, First United Methodist Church (located at 200 Church Street). The guest speaker will be Bishop W.E. Lockett, Presiding Prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District. On Sunday, December 19 at 3:00 p.m., Bishop James B. Walker, Presiding Prelate of the Ninth Episcopal District, will deliver the sermon at Mother Liberty CME Church located at 456 S. Highland. The Rev. Dr. Daryll Coleman is pastor of Mother Liberty.