(1760--1831) Denomination Founder. Allen was born a slave and grew up in Delaware in the United States of America. He was converted to Methodism and succeeded in converting his owner and thereby gaining his freedom. Almost entirely self-educated, he was accepted as a Methodist preacher in 1784 and served as an assistant to Bishop ASBURY in his preaching missions. Many African-Americans were attracted to his ministry and in 1787 he formed the Free African Society. In 1794 this became the African Methodist Episcopal Church and it was dedicated by Bishop Asbury. Allen was ordained to the new denomination in 1799 and he became its first Bishop in 1816. Through his determination and industry, the Church had achieved a national standing by the time of his death.
H.D. Gregg, History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1980) ; E. Lincoln, The Black Church in the African-American Experience (1990) ; G.A. Singleton (ed.), The Life, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt Rev. Richard Allen (1960).