The idea of Christian Education is deeply rooted in the traditions and history of African Methodism.
Christian Education in the form of Sunday School work was organized in 1794. Richard Allen, founder
and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, organized the first African American
Sunday School at Mother Bethel, Philadelphia.
A formal plan for a Sunday School Union did not develop until 1884 when the General Conference,
adopted it and elected Charles S. Smith, M.D. as its corresponding secretary.
Christian Education in the form of higher education was established by Rev. Daniel A. Payne,
bishop and founder of Wilberforce University in 1856. Rev. Payne is called the Apostle of Education
in the AME Church.
Christian Education in the form of youth fellowship was organized by Rev. B. W. Arnett in 1900 as the
Christian Endeavor Society. In 1904 the name became the Allen Christian Endeavor League led by Rev.
Gregg, led by Dr. J. C. Caldwell in 1908 and Rev. S. Morris in 1920.
Christian education in the form of a connectional organization was established at the 1936 General
Conference and Rev. Solomon S. Morris, Sr., was elected to serve as its first General Secretary. The
new Christian Education department now combined the functions of the Sunday School and Allen Christian
Under the leadership and direction of Dr. S. S. Morris, Sr., the Richard Allen Youth Council experienced
rapid growth among youth leaders and workers. Dr. Morris served as general secretary until 1956.
Dr. Andrew White, who served as assistant to Rev. S. S. Morris, Sr., became general secretary in 1956.
Dr. White's writings on the tradition and heritage of African Methodism expanded significantly, and
likewise did printed curriculum resources for our Zion. Dr. White held office until 1980.
Dr. Edgar L. Mack became general secretary in 1980. Dr. Mack's passion for ecumenism led him to
strengthen interdenominational relationships and to build enduring church partnerships. Dr. Mack
held office until his death in 1991.
Dr. Kenneth H. Hill became executive director in 1991. Dr. Hill's pursuit of excellence led to the
establishment of the scouting and music ministries in the connectional church and the expansion into
technology in the church through several innovative programs. Dr. Hill held office until 2004.
The Book of Discipline charges the Department of Christian Education with responsibility for
"Developing standards, preparing programs, offering classes, teaching Christian education, publishing
material, training people for pastoral ministry and other church vocations" in accordance with the
tradition and doctrine of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.