Birmingham, AL – An aggregate body of the of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church accompanied Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., Senior Bishop of the AME Zion Church and Presiding Prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District, to the 38th Quadrennial Session and the 39th General Conference of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church on June 27, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama, as he gave the Ecumenical Homily to the CME Church. For this Ecoumnical Service, Bishop Battle preached “When You Think You’ve Had Enough” taken from 1Kings 19:4.
Since the early 20th century the CME Church has explored the possibility of merging with other African American Methodist churches that are very similar in doctrine and practice. In 1918 representatives of the CME Church, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and the AME Zion Church met in Birmingham where they agreed to propose a merger. This “Birmingham Plan” Was approved by the CME General Conference but did not win enough support in the annual conferences. In the late 20th century, the CME Church engaged in new talks with the AME Zion Church on a merger, with the CME General Conference delegates approving a union in principle 1986, and the AME Zion delegates giving the same approval in 1988. Bishops of both denominations reopened the question in 1999, adopting a timeline for an eventual merger ( “Two Black Methodist Denominations moving toward union” United Methodist News Service. May 2000).
In May 2012, The CME Church entered into full communion with the United Methodist Church, the AME Church, the AME Zion Church, the African Union Methodist Protestant Church, and the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church. These churches agreed to “recognize each other’s churches, share sacraments, and affirm their clergy and ministries ( “Methodist Reach Across Historic Racial Boundaries with Communion Pact”, Adelle M. Banks, May 7 2012, Christianity Today)
How ironic that 100 years later since the initial discussion on the topic of merger, that the CME and the AME Zion denominations reconnected again in the very same city, under the some of the same social injustices of time, and broke down denominational walls to worship, praise and honor our God!