A Liberating and Reconciling People
Antioch A.M.E. Church has the distinction of being the first black church of Decatur , Georgia , and was founded during the early reconstruction era, in 1868. Several faithful and progressive minded Christians decided to begin a church whereby they could have the privilege of worshipping in their own manner, among their own people; thus Antioch was born. They chose the name “ Antioch ” after the city in the scripture where the disciples were first called Christians. Antioch was incorporated in October 1993, under the leadership of the present minister, Rev. Dr. Stafford J. Wicker, whose assignment began on October 25, 1992.
Antioch A.M.E. Church began a spiritual renewal through high praise worship and positive preaching by the pastor. Bible studies, prayer meetings, workshop seminars, membership training, leadership workshops and retreats, revivals and other teaching vehicles designed to empower the laity of the church were established. Teaching and training are the cornerstones of Pastor Wicker’s ministry.
To continue its foothold in the community, Antioch in June 1998 purchased 16.5 acres of land on Elam Road, which is directly behind its current location. The property has a sanctuary with basement, an apartment building, a school, a gymnasium, a 5-bedroom rental house, baseball field, and two playgrounds. The church currently operates a child daycare facility on the property. In May 2000 Antioch purchased 32 acres of land on South Hairston Road, making Antioch one of the largest landowners in Stone Mountain . All of the churches acquisitions received the backing of the Sixth Episcopal District.
Now Antioch AME is working towards creating “Antioch Manor Estates” as a senior housing village that will provide housing and congregate care in an attractive upscale setting that both its congregation and the community will be proud of. Antioch AME Church has created Antioch A.M.E. Community Development Corporation, Inc. (“Antioch CDC”) as a separate wholly owned subsidiary to represent its interests in the to-be-formed limited partnership, which partnership will include the equity investor limited partner and the church controlled managing general partner. The board of directors of Antioch CDC includes Rev. Dr. Stafford J. Wicker and two senior members of the church trustees board, Richard Conley and Willie D. Greene.
Background of the A.M.E. Denomination
When the subject of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) was raised in discussion, W.E.B. DuBois said “ by long odds the vastest and most remarkable product of American Negro civilization.” Indeed, the formation of the A.M.E. church was a remarkable feat and proves that God will deny no one the opportunity to worship, no matter what the situation.
This was borne out of the necessity for Christians of African descent to have a place where they could worship in peace, without the prevailing racist climate that existed in this country at that time. As a result of an altercation in 1787 between Richard Allen and other worshippers at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia (the first Methodist church in America ) , it was deemed necessary for Allen and his fellow worshippers to find a more suitable house of worship.
What began as the Free African Society would help shape the vision for Allen to found the first black church in America , which would be called Bethel (meaning House of God in Hebrew). Later, as the years would pass, Mother Bethel (as she is affectionately called) would be the catalyst for the first major religious movement among people of color in this country.
Richard Allen would go on to be the first Bishop of the A.M.E. Church . Since that time, the A.M.E. Church has grown to over 2.5 million members, 8,000 ministers, and 6,200 congregations in 19 Episcopal districts and hosts 115 annual conferences. The A.M.E. Church has congregations in over 40 states in the U.S. , along with churches in Canada , Bermuda, and Europe and in Africa .
Bishop Richard Allen
Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church