From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Kentucky Conference, AMEZ (African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church)

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, an independent body, was established in New York City in 1820. The Kentucky Conference of AMEZ was formed June 6, 1866, by Bishop Sampson D. Talbot at the Center Street Church in Louisville, KY. Membership included AMEZ churches throughout Kentucky. Over 1,800 members attended the first conference meeting, and at the second meeting there were over 3,200. But by the third year, members had been lost to the newly formed Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME).

The Kentucky Conference of the AMEZ Church should not be confused with the conference by the same name that was formed with white members of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in 1852. For colored members of the MEC, the Lexington Conference was developed in 1869 out of the MEC's Kentucky Conference. William H. Miles had been a member of the MEC but left to become a member of the AMEZ Church; he was a founding member of the AMEZ Kentucky Conference. Miles would return to the MEC and help develop the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church in 1870.

Miles also led the development of the short-lived Kentucky Colored Conference (1868-1870) of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The MEC went to court and won back the Center Street Church property from the AMEZ, and the 3rd and final Kentucky Colored Conference was held at the church in 1870.

AMEZ's Kentucky Conference struggled off and on for a few years but was able to bounce back with the conference expanding into four adjoining states. The Arkansas and Missouri Conferences grew out of the AMEZ Kentucky Conference. Quinn Chapel in Louisville, KY, named after Bishop William P. Quinn, became the main church for the AMEZ movement in Kentucky.

For more see the "Methodist Church" entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia; One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church..., by J. W. Hood; and History of the A.M.E. Zion Church in America, by J. J. Moore [both available full text at the UNC Documenting the American South website].

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kentucky Conference, AMEZ (African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-14 17:47:45