Bethel AME Church is part of the Connectional (Global) African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church which has membership in twenty Episcopal Districts in thirty-nine countries on five continents.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a unique and glorious history [since 1787]. It is unique in that it is the first major religious denomination in the Western World that had its origin over sociological and theological beliefs and differences. It rejected the negative theological interpretations which rendered persons of African descent second class citizens. Theirs was a theological declaration that God is God all the time and for everybody. The church was born in protest against slavery - against dehumanization of African people, brought to the American continent as labor.
The Mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the AME Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy.
What Does "African Methodist Episcopal" Mean?
The word African means that the church was organized by people of African descent and heritage. It does not mean that the church was founded in Africa, or that it was for persons of African descent only.
The church's roots are of the family of Methodist churches. Methodism provides an orderly system of rules and regulations and places emphasis on a plain and simple gospel.
Episcopal refers to the form of government under which the church operates. The chief executive and administrative officers of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination are the Bishops of the church.
Each local AME Church is part of an episcopal district, annual conference, and presiding elder district, respectively. As such, Bethel is a congregation of the Tenth Episcopal District, Southwest Texas Annual Conference, and San Antonio District, respectively. Our current leaders are:
Rt. Rev. Adam J. Richardson, Jr., Presiding Prelate
10th Episcopal District
(North Texas, Northwest Texas, Southwest Texas and Texas Annual Conferences)
Rev. Dr. W. Raymond Bryant, Presiding Elder
San Antonio District
(of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference)
Rev. Dr. Juan N. Tolliver, Pastor
Bethel AME Church
(Excerpts from "African Methodist Episcopal Church." African Methodist Episcopal Church. Web. 15 Jan. 2013. <http://ame-church.com/>.)