The Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion congregation, led by James Varick, was formed in 1796 by African-American members of the predominantly white John Street Methodist Church. At that time the “colored” membership were not permitted to take Holy Communion until all the white members had communed. This overt discrimination caused James Varick, our first bishop, to help our people break away and founded the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (New York Conference) in New York City in 1821. The original membership of approximately 100 met at several locations in Manhattan before moving and settling at 151 West 136th Street in Harlem in 1914. The current address is 140-148 West 137th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue. Mother Zion is the oldest African-American church in New York City.
We are referred to nationally as the “Freedom Church” because of our vital role in the abolitionist movement. Sojourner Truth was an active member of the Mother A.M.E. Zion Church and spoke against slavery from the pulpit. Other well-known abolitionists, Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass were members at other congregations.
The New York Conference, North Eastern Episcopal District, is under the leadership of Bishop Dennis Vernon Proctor, Presiding Prelate and our lovely Missionary Supervisor, Mrs. D. Diane Proctor. The conference is comprised of three districts: Westchester District (Presiding Elder Isidoa Branch, Sr.), New York City District (Presiding Elder A. Alfred Carson) and the Long Island District (Presiding Elder Keith I. Harris).