|Christian Methodist Episcopal Church|
|Separated from||Methodist Episcopal Church, South|
The Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church is a historically black denomination within the broader context of Wesleyan Methodism founded and organized by John Wesley in England in 1744 and established in America as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. It is considered to be a mainline denomination. The CME Church was organized on December 16, 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee by 41 former slave members with the full support of their white sponsors in their former Methodist Episcopal Church, South who met to form an organization that would allow them to establish and maintain their own polity. They ordained their own bishops and ministers without their being officially endorsed or appointed by the white-dominated body. They called this fellowship the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, which it remained until their successors adopted the current name in 1954. The Christian Methodist Episcopal today has a church membership of people from all racial backgrounds. It adheres to Wesleyan-Arminian theology.
In the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, bishops are the Chief Officers and are elected by "delegate" votes for life until the age of 74, when he/she must retire. Among their duties are the responsibilities of appointing clergy to serve in local churches as pastors, performing ordinations, and safeguarding the doctrines and discipline of the Church. The General Conference, held every four years, comprises an equal number of clergy and lay delegates and is when a bishop can be elected. In each Annual Conference, CME bishops serve for four-year terms. CME Church bishops may be male or female.
In 2006, there were an estimated 850,000 members in 3,500 churches. Currently, the CME Church has grown to more than 1.5 million members across the United States with mission and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations.
The foundational doctrines of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church are found in what is commonly referred to in Wesleyan Methodism as The Articles of Religion. The Articles of Religion were derived from the Church of England and abridged by John Wesley, Founder of Methodism, for Methodists in America in 1784.
Sunday worship services in the CME denomination commonly include a Responsive Reading from scripture. A leader reads a line of scripture and the congregation reads a response. Bible passages are not arranged by topic; responsive readings are. Often, a single responsive reading consists of excerpts from several Bible passages.
The CME Responsive Readings are published in The Hymnal of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Items 1-545 are songs, and items 546-604 are Responsive Readings. The official Responsive Readings are from the King James Version of the Bible.
The official logo or symbol of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was originally authorized by Bishop B. Julian Smith for the Centennial General Conference held in Memphis, 1970. It was officially adopted by the General Conference in 1974 as the denomination's connectional marker.
Designed by Will E. Chambers, the logo shows the place of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in the rapidly changing urbanized society and its relation to God's people. The logo is composed of:
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 African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church met in Birmingham, Alabama 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 CME General Conference delegates approving a union in principle in 1986, and AME Zion delegates giving the same approval in 1988. Bishops of each church reopened the question in 1999, adopting a timeline for an eventual merger.
In May 2012, The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church entered into full communion with the United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, African Union Methodist Protestant Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Union American Methodist Episcopal Church. These Churches agreed to "recognize each other's churches, share sacraments, and affirm their clergy and ministries."