thumbnail of Africans in America; 103; Brotherly Love; 
     Interview with Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church,
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ok richard allen was born a slave and the family have been to meet you who was trying to become a supreme court justice in the outcome of the pennsylvania he was sold long way and his brother to gain stokely sturgis who had a plantation just outside of dover delaware any age of how about sixteen he came under the influence of our methods preaching he got permission from his master to hear preaching and our was converted the preacher was a notable methodist by the name of free born gerritsen which is an interesting name in fact is inscribed all st george church which he passed to be a bed at one point or gels conversion was typical love of the day he went through a period of mourning and grieving about his sinful nature and then to this glorious awareness of the mercy of god through
jesus christ in fact his wording for his experience was that it is denton show and his chains who often and in his words and glory to god i cried i ate it is this sense of release an end and the sense of freedom that comes when one has a spiritual experience and and and this was the same experience which richard allen sought to help others to to come to realize and their own lives the person with the aggressive than it is the truth still hope a huge win less time but it what i'll take them all so that if i do move them they'll make as much noise
or is there you know just being a burden and i'm really interested in the conditions are somewhat thin as their cash well actually the feeling of despair and wretched nurse is something that is common to the human condition and it is interesting when you read the conversion accounts love bob persons were not slaves and and those who were you have the same sense of richness disparity that had nothing to do with the outer condition of life ah as much as indeed we have how one was morally and spiritually interacting with one's outward condition i'm so that even john
wesley talks about wretchedness though by most of our standards heat he was a pretty clean living guy but town on you was using the death and i think that it is in important too take note of how individuals were reflective about their inner nature in their inner condition something which we often are ignorant today in our own and busyness we don't take the time to really reflect on on who we are buffered generally and for richard allen there was this deep sense of their moral condition which was i'm not important enough to them to focus upon as a while longer daily life i'm wondering what the room a christian in the mind of someone who lives in this song for someone who is in this situation he's
been a moral situation the moral life becomes the response to one's life of faith tim to be merely a moral person i does not necessarily indicate that one has religious commitment it all hence we have humanist i'm but two the moral as a fruit of one's really fit with god is i'm at a different approach and and that's the approach of the richard allen and and others effect abolitionists cause as it was routed among people of faith is the fact that their faith to lead them to be more oil but there are some people who did not have much of a relationship with god yet who advocated a more alive despite that because i thought it was the right thing to do because according to their humanistic values
ok after canals conversion it becomes clear that he bought an item was more serious about in that industry being industrious himself but also he is like begins to take on meaning and purpose and gas for christianity idea for richard allen and an end and as for for an item those who are genuinely converted they have a sense of meaning he says a purpose and as a result their lives take on often new definition and that's true whether you're talking about charles colson when you talk about richard our dream a leader jeffrey week
it's it's the young ones like its own definition as result of the young relationship that one has with god which is mediated through iv jesus christ i had this sense of release from sin does that are in the for forte for richard allen had this this newfound freedom which was extensive because it was spiritual first and i then it became translated into aa and an experience of the physical freedom through his spirit of mass influence the young his slave owner who was not a believer i was mad it's the subject to hearing preaching and while hearing preaching on his plantation rich
jones slave owner stokely sturgis was himself convert and they'd be the famous text that was preached was one of i've been weighed in the balance and found wanting and hearing their store was hers was so impressed that stokely sturges and then i was offered richard allen the opportunity to purchase his freedom end et was an opportunity because he allowed him to work beyond the normal day out for wages for other islands for other slave owners in the area is essentially read richard helms account there was this there was this effort that one had a show that religion made a person better religion did not make a person lazy or you're a person an excuse not to do things they ought to do so allen as he's thinking back on how it was that he lived on a plantation he still serves plantation was always a little ahead of everyone else is in terms of his work because there is a sense of commitment
people solve their lives as being tied up to their faith and down and in any governed every day kinds of things what about that the roads here and everyday life which he's feeling frightened families from sandy relief funds and three he wrote that you've learned ah the release from sandy's is is freeing be because it allows one's mind to end an m one spirit to be dedicated other things to be open to other things so many innocent are so preoccupied when i mean what we aren't and what we are and down week we carry you around these burdens of of guilt in
terms of wrongdoing where we know that we've done wrong end and we don't have meaning we don't have a purpose in our lives we don't see any direction and these days there's no five minute plan let alone a five year plan for allies did it we don't see an end for conversion one oversight and cizik there's a purposeful life from the cradle to the grave one has direction one has focused and so with that market now one is open to experience other things one is open to auburn due to the inspiration and sometimes as an artistic high in some ways the music or or art or or or in literature one becomes one becomes open because one does not have to be of the blockages of of the finitude conversion opens at infinity either one is connected to an infinite god and anyone is connected to get to is if we got any positive way
where it is not one of them of dread but it is one of of love and sure they're really some sense that is important in the experience of richard allen because it put him in touch with and yourself that he was free from that this sense of guilt for things that he was personally responsible for nba is interesting because slaves who in other ways were our were project is people who always dependent for everything on the master a massive provided the food mass revive the shelter master by the close and you provide belabor it but there was this sense that that humanity is more than just food and shelter and labor
humanity is about this inner self and that the slave is a live human being with emotions and with a spiritual self just like everyone else and so as a result the slave takes on this responsibility for his or her moral self and as being responsible for this moral self what we see is in indy and richard alan arkin at the conversion experience released him out to do greater things ah yes so all the sudden had it for richard allen crew is life is wrapped up and i'm at a meaningless experience of of of bondage of servitude he has this new hopi has this
new direction and this comes about because he now has a relationship with this eternal god i'm it has personal meaning for him endowment business person meaning is that he is released a responsibility first personal sense because of a relationship with god that christ died for him not just for the oppressors before him and enters this message of liberation that pike is is going to determine the rest were jails life his mission in life becomes to share this experience of love of lease weird we were the world end and especially with people of color are core in both physical as as well as spiritual bondage but what but what this experience does is it eight it puts one in contact with the eternal with the
infinite so this finite person all of a sudden has an opening to the flawed creative powers has this this this energy to apply oneself because one has purpose one sees that direction and our end it becomes an opportunity for a four four person whose life has no meaning i am and there's nothing but despair and they don't see any option except i may as well die today is to die tomorrow and now there is this purpose are created where i mean i can go on i have something to do her as the more current gospel loving song that says i feel like going on an end and that's the experience for eight richard allen and others who have this religious experience i feel like going on i feel like not only going on with work but i feel like going on with my marriage i feel i got my kids are acting crazy
i feel like i just feel it moving forward because i can do that is the true religion of the show yes so genuine religion is not the opiate of people i think that our theme to religion is the open to people because a false religion is something a way to know ok calm from the beginning or the middle here ok the being in touch with you being in touch with the infinite being in touch with ah the eternal that all the sudden does one purpose endowment it
energizes him they're that religion is not the opiate of the people if israel religion because to be and an opiate means that one that has something that is keeping putting won in a fantasy world and keeping one from dealing with reality and religion for richard allen did just the opposite religion of richard allen did not make him i mean i'm oblivious to reality but it actually opened up a brand new reality for him because it was now the reality of the external world but there is a reality the internal world and in in terms of what religion was doing for four richard allen and an end for others is this bringing about a life in a new world which was so natural way which is so african i ain't in in terms of the religion of the religion religious experience on a couple of africa where one sees davies
had this this is dual nature an end and of course it was only the oppressor who thought that ok let's play this is ok annie richard allen was born in philadelphia to
pay the conversion of richard allen is central to the way the rest of his life unfolds indeed being born again for richard allen it was a literal as well as spiritual because like really begins for him with his conversion he describes it airs in in very classical terms as as it relates to what other christians would've been experiencing at the data either grieving over his sinfulness feeling a sense of of the wretchedness feeling as though he deserved eternal damnation and then he comes to this experience of the gospel here's as good news that jesus died for sins and because he believes this and because he's able to internalize this sense of jesus died for my sins he
experiences what we call conversion com this this release he did he is description of it is interesting because it though he was a slave at the time his is imagery was against classical my dungeon shook my chains flew off and glory to god i cry out while many people focus in on the dungeon shaking in the chain's flying off the the really significant point is that aa is the glory to god i cry part because what that says about the conversion experience is not only is it in an and burdening in terms of guilt and in terms of sin but it is a matter of coming into relationship with god so they all of a sudden the glory of the lord is is is central to one's life and what that did for allen is a put his entire life into a brand
new perspective he suddenly has purpose for living he sees meaning in his daily existence he sees life in terms of the long run as well as the short run and four forty four allen then everything else that he is doing is connected i am to this conversion experience of the problem when you are people down there that i did not know yes sir he found christianity puts in the indiana an individual him i encountered a cosmic perspective that one does not see oneself as just a slave just a labour hire someone who's dependent on the slave master for
our clothing food and one who does gets a slave master labor but christianity opens up this odd sense of a whole person i am a spiritual person as well as a physical person i am a person who has emotions i am i am a person who has a chase old and i am a person who can relate to god that despite what the world around you may be saying in terms of my humanity or my being less than human the fact of the matter is i am very much human and and hide do have the ability to relate to the divine i n and for richard allen and four and for christians in in every uses this sense of being able to relate to the divine absent jones and the other americans took their seats where they thought they belong and the elder said let's pray and so absent owns naturally
melton and was in prayer when one of the trustees of st george church came up and said you have to get up and i have some jones is wondering why any says you're in the wrong place you must get up and allison jones says well if you just wait until the prayer is over i'll get up in trouble you know more and he said no us get out now and as a result some jones got out and the others around him including richard alan decided they would walk out and about forty to walk down to st george church that day and that's the beginning of the independent african church in philadelphia for richard allen religion was anything but an opiate for richard allen and envy and for christians influenced by the spirit which males preaching religion became in fact the stimulant for her life to be an opiate means that one seeks shelter in a false world so that
one does not have to face reality and forty down to was just the opposite he began to see now in the real world that he saw a larger world there was a world of exteriors basin there's also the world of interior space and the two are related it was something that that ah it is is very african in terms of its origin where african people basically recognized this this this sense of calm different layers of different worlds so that they're a spirit in the treaty an end and that they're a spirit in nature as as well as in me and this is what opens up four of which are now and he sees a world that is larger than the small world and as a result because the worlds bigger it means that the person can be bigger and what we find is that when when people
accepted the faith he did not make them content to be slaves what it did was it opened up to them the possibilities that are available to those who see themselves as children of this eternal an almighty god so christianity's boys so christianity's boys christianity help slaves recognize that slavery is wrong and it also provided them it's really a very interesting and gang and
complex mechanisms for dealing with slavery on the one hand it help the slave to relate to their daily experience so they continue to have hope in terms of facing the challenges of everyday they did not necessarily make them docile and and that's where many critics of christianity i think have missed the point because the slave was converted does not become more docile instead the slave or was converted sees a certain fullness of life which day then r r r r challenge to to address not elisa which becomes a whole realm of morality not only how do i treat others but how my being treated and and there is there's a sense of a lot of judgment how will nasa deal with god on judgment day and jess as the master has a deal gone on to be a civilized as an individual
ms bhutto thank you richard allen clearly was so deeply committed and soon that knowledge you are looking at his conversion but also he says a coal to preach and that that becomes important point because every christian has this cold to witness with richard allen clearly i had his call to actually preach the gospel endowment we did when we see that being connected to the conversion experience for him in a many years is which is not uncommon farm so when he comes to philadelphia he's preaching in
effect preaching brings him basically to two philadelphia i'm he preaches on etfs farms he eat preaches in an open air situations where he gets an opportunity and is preaching to a mixed audience at which is a significant point because he was not preaching just to get to the africans an end even though he was a he was preaching to a mixed audience still we see an odd his autobiography is that this was his calling he had a calling to preach specifically it the good news the gospel to people of african descent i'm so he was not forced into that but that was something that you that he chose palm and in terms of the interest being inspired to be there so good philadelphia was that that the center of the nation i filled up you
was not only with the place where the government was information and if things were hustling and bustling because continental congress was in session and the constitution was soon to be completed but ah ee had notable person's george washington popping in and out of town ii and it was also a place of great commerce it was a place where immigrants were coming and selling saws a place of many cultures many languages the same thing to start instantly ninety three okay okay we are a nation in
seventy nine the three fold up it was a bustling burdens situation you you had a lot of commerce you have people who are emigrating from around the world is a place of many languages and as as was cultures and because of that it was a place that was open to hire some of the new ideas whether it's a balloon ride or or or whatever might be we're talking about a levee being the center of the nation in many respects science and i'm other things out of a progressive nature were all coming through philadelphia so absolutely and the reason region at one reason for challenges such a prominent figures because he was in philadelphia high end pizzas the eyes of the nation were on philadelphia and the eyes of the nation were on a ridge
down there were other black preachers and other cities and down they do not rise a similar promise in large measure because he just wasn't philadelphia pa calm in the end they buried there it is this isn't nominations that can be back for example peter spencer in wilmington delaware got spencer was a tremendous leader but he was in wilmington and he wasn't in philadelphia and so you you have this focus in terms of our fold up to being at aig a major place of commerce and and as such buildup was also at a place along the underground railroad so that the message of liberation and what richard allen and what rick and what mother bethel actually met in the spirit of african americans was being carried along with slaves they pass through they had a good word to say about philadelphia a good word to say about the lead in to the
way they were escorted through filled up on the way to free me in that way no rally in the woods away at benjamin rush describes is the balloon as being a fulfillment of of of scripture and it's interesting how aa even for someone with a reasonable liberal outlook there is this sense of where scriptures allies and vigils and they'd look at the progress of humanity as being an unfolding scripture so that for rush out to point out a text from our eye genesis where god gave me man dominion over all of the creation so ok matt is already i've donated see with ships and and the land is a litter would traverse it now amanda's able to
conquer air and down good eats is indicative of the kind of excitement that was a tampon like philadelphia seventy nine days eccentric benjamin rush was at a bit eccentric some descriptions of him have him walking briskly to town he he associated itself with a number of different denominations i'm always kind of research or is it guards who are in religious matters but i clearly a person who is devoted to to humanity and
that right end of the african church wealthy east is an interesting episode where you have both white and and and and africans african americans who are in any situation of fellowship and appreciation it showed how independent and interdependent they day they were and dumb an early point that there was that there was this this reaching out in terms of fellowship it was not a matter of arm in there was no condescension it really was a matter of hospitality was a matter of joy is a matter of lifting some of the more more common aspects of life which are common as rush describes it i think he was pleasantly surprised at the fact that there could be fellowship come across class barriers
as well as racial barriers well i think i think richard allen would have shared america at that occasion like mine but keep in mind that richard allen was on friendly terms with bishop asbury and and and others he was a person who was well known in the city of philadelphia by quite as well as by blacks so forth for richard allen that would then appropriate that their time there should be some mutual sharing unusual celebration this is just about the time when the map of the nominations and women and old e fourth grade and i just think that we're talking about what
the wealthy have what it shows is the fact that prejudice is something that is a matter of individual heart is not anything that has to be a part of the system or saying i'll do yet the russian other prominent white says the thought of him sitting at a table i'm being served by african americans and then serving african americans and eating at the same place but at the same time in terms of lives to shoot you haven't riffs incarnations arm across land where people don't want to partake of the sacrament from the yeah the same shouts and so there is this sense ah there's a sense of this fellowship that is possible for people have the right spirit and write my two thousand and there ain't no one in the building and
how is it now because they cut because that is our god sure the yellow fever epidemic of seventy nine the three prison an interesting time and in philadelphia philadelphia being this hustling bustling metropolis suddenly became like a ghost town the streets were we're basically i'm empty because p were free to leave their homes on folks would take the corpse of those who had died and just leave them lying in the street which is creating a health hazard something or dying inside the house and no one knew they were really did or they fear that they might be dead and so no one would be would go in our mind that the city was in better term while
i'm hot alone would have coffee town that had been tainted was as running at the dock which down they suspect what they suspected was the cause of the yellow fever or not having any idea that maybe this ship actually broaden am mosquito bearing the air the disease those who braved the elements so to speak or soaking handkerchiefs and vinegar and breathing through this handkerchief with the niggers add vinegar soaked handkerchief or their face and hoping not to catch this germ that just mysteriously thought was was in the air i am in the midst of the panic though there are those who with a more calm of approach realized that something had to be done in order to safeguard the city and we see an interesting alliance between people psilocybin and russia and our people had at aig civic responsibility about them like richard allen and absalom jones course for some
there was a the myth that i'm african americans could not contract the disease they were somehow knew the fact of the matter is that many african americans didn't didi indeed die from the disease the they were not immune and it was even thought that as a result of this epidemic are soaring some other ritchie valens first wife laura died but at the issue was not so much to risk the issue was what do we have to do to save our community what we have to do to keep the disease are ravaging the community end and the response was i'll do well will will will go into whatever's necessary benjamin rush use richard allen and housen jones and others they recruited to bleed patients are which was the ya propose cure the day one of them anyway and they also i went into
homes took out baby piglet the corpse and woodberry them armed and in all this was was done i am i have a spirit of wanting to help a lady was there's no profit motive it was a matter of civic responsibility and down nico the world you know i don't i'd i don't think that the issue is a worthiness as much as if we're going to be citizens then it is our responsibility they say they saw themselves as as full citizens and because they were citizens they saw that they had a responsibility an hour that they were also a christian it's now so they've they're christians and their citizens and they saw le says as civic as was a religious responsibility matt
welcome it's certainly hurt them because you know i don't know that the fact that they're being an acquisition by matthew carried it then there was impropriety their album only the volunteers for the most part some receive some compensation but very very little in a strict accounting i was provided in terms of an exchange of fines and the reason that i think they did it hurt rich allison jones and we get a little bit of fear rich in response to the accusation a public written response is the fact that they were living like at a citizen who is involved and who's responsible and instead they're being treated like a criminal i'm in and we
we see this all over again with richard allen and have some jones more or more of their lives they are trying to claim the american experience and the american dream and because of the reactions of others they are finding that these efforts to be rebuffed yes to a certain extent i think that he was a solution in that arm at paris's were not received even as well as some others perhaps om all immigrants in general not well received in philadelphia and the french for example were not well received endowment i am you you you have prominent french citizens who became involved in an
effort to show a civic and community spirit but i think that we found was more realistic because he recognized that in addition to civic responsibility with yellow fever seven to ninety three and i am i'm a willingness to defend the city in eighteen twelve against me i'm against the attacks of the british army he also recognize that what would make the difference is money and so at the arm being a good business person and being industrious i'm i'm being one who employs and and anyone who is productive that was going to make a difference and richard allen recognize that early on so that business matters i'm it take on a much greater says a promise problems with original sure after the crisis in philadelphia a pasture
basically because of the four came the mosquitoes died ii then kulik a more reflective on the the experience and richard allen and asked jones came under attack basically because it was thought that the african americans had acted inappropriately they were charged with robbing the dead eye they were charged with not providing accurate count a number people who were buried in there for over charging him in terms of the small fee that that was that was given hour herb trimpe her body i'm exorbitant wage being charged for people to act as a nurse for example and amber challenge and asked jones promptly responded to the charge which
it later became clear that the charge is undeserved but it he was such an indignity was unnecessary and and had to have been disappointing to regard nasa just after they and others liken that basically put themselves their lives on the line for the sake of the public good and why but i think richard allen was wise enough to know that even though one i'm liz in american society with some of the benefits of american society that basically prejudice is
something which we just the hearts of individuals and when prejudice takes over reasoned quits as a result i think that in terms of rigid on dealing with whites whether be the the indian in the church or civic way he can expect and act rationally because he really recognizes that the don't look upon him as the man which he indeed indeed was what happened here the hour they did the details are pretty sketchy we know that mother bethel church arm was up on the auction block is suspected that some technicality was found and basically be the yeah i'm a methodist church was trying to get that building beyond the reach of richard allen so that he ended up
paying exorbitant amount in order to buy back the land or redeem the land basically whichever person seventy nine he won ah ah it was a it was a matter of a love of trickery and i got was again it was a reminder that even though they were in the north they were in the promise land they thought still lived in the ravages of a prejudice were are being being felt richard hours of proud man was a man of principle the very purchase of the property always my duffel now stands out was a matter of principle he knew he made a deal for the land and even though i had the society and not want to build originally on the slant he already made commitments so there is a matter of one's
words matter of pride and so here after having gone through so much to have the land taken away land is important even for a city dweller land is important richard allen and as it as it is for people of color and i mean we we see the after merkin heritage we have to see the importance of land is not just africa is a plot of ground in philadelphia and other places across the country where i african americans have been severe their heart their soul they're bled and that's what makes america special place african americans and outed as white colonization was so unpopular with richard allen because the feeling is this is something that we haven't worked for is something we fought for and has something will do you think it happened that all of this information
and thinking and thinking he had to really separate when we hear the agreement the nomination well one of the best theories that i've heard so far is it that were just waiting for as buried by richard allen asbury had a varied good relationship and asbury was thrilled to death that richard allen end and the mother beth lights were devout meth addicts become a part of the fellowship and so what we what we see is the thought of separation was around early in and in fact when we knew you look at the afghan soul supplement eighteen know seven i mean what we find is that there was this fear that there might be separation armed but when as barry died and i think it does
where they eat these points to commit harm i'm interested as barry he did not necessarily trust or methodists or all whites he had a relationship with asbury with asbury offered the seat i am i think that he was little he leaves little uneasy about where the future might be in order for that for the church to grow and thrive separation was the only viable alternative because whether it's i i there were constant threats that the the the threat of the sheriff's sale was unnecessary the navy's these attempts to take control over i'm a bethel church where were were seen as as being something that one had always protect
oneself from an individualistic to a declaration the supreme court of the state of the current venue to declare mother bethel are an independent institution arm in arm but the but the issue here is whole is the one person to be who called division rights and so the heart of the bethel experience is we will not printed the exclusive hands of whites the ability to control our lives especially as it relates to our religion and as a result independence meant we now have a black bishop week we now have blacks were making these decisions for black people who would think about going to the region and i think they were in fact the burden that the nomination were the board of the puerto rican
it is a diverse group is diverse group it you had people obviously who economically had some resources although baffling eighteen sixteen was primarily made up of folks of odd very meager income one figurehead duffel with as many as three thousand members but at eighteen or so armed and then compared to fifteen hundred which morris brown head in charleston around the same period so you're you're you're you're talking about perhaps a large fellowship clearly the building did the comedy three thousand in in terms of worship but tom be the reason that people wanted to be a member and wannabe part was because it was again this issue ownership this was a church which the people of color oh and they didn't owe anyone for it because it was there is that they didn't have to answer to
anyone else for it was there as it was he was told within their control and that's the legacy of the independent black church movement and an embattled church and in particular because it was this sense of this is something that the oppressor can where the oppressor cannot reaches this is truly refugees because of the pain her mother the church is a is a special place in all the world because he disappeared richard allen and what richard allen has represented to people of color throughout the world on eh it kind of resonates from this place when you look at
the chair on which he sat or a pulpit which he built with his own hands you get a sense of his very presence in the eu when there's the ballot box it was used to like trustees which which was in of itself something tremendous if you can imagine these disenfranchised black folks who come and they are able to vote it has been mother better bethel church is a special place for people throughout the world because you can feel the spirit of richard allen as well as the movement which richard allen was certainly a prominent feature of an end and end of which he was the leader whether it's the chair which he sat or the pulpit which was
made with his own hands and from which he preached it you can feel richer now mary you have a sense of his presence and the symbols of army of a freedom and in fact the pulpit is called the liberty pulpit because it represents freedom of people something with which people could identify something that was their own and an end at that symbol itself is a victimized in the ballot box of people who were disenfranchised in terms of the their civic responsibilities many of them not being able to vote could come to church and their voters there were selective trustees would represent them they were able to choose leadership for themselves and that when you look at the ballot box and you imagine these people many of whom could not rita wright i'm looking at images in a slot on the ballot box and being able to decide
one or against another and dropping a marble in the box it eat it it makes it may make the difference it it does something when you think about sea around about who owned very little was said but who was clearly a prominent figure and a very important part of our ritchie valens our success in terms of her red book here's a woman who makes a mark yet she was awesome fixing tattered clothes for preachers she was giving money to slaves corps on their way north out to finalize a freedom and she was able to manage business affairs and i'm thinking keep track of our finance in an open a way that was efficient an end to see it you know it becomes an inspiration because it let's do it let's you know that out we as a people have not come a long way and i do have a
long way yet to go but it lets us know that the spirit is still alive and end and his motivations still present the police well i think richard allan it certainly would short end by the time of his death you'd you can see a person who has odd in many years says more reflective read an impulsive island it natural kind physician yet richard allen is even more comedic apart and a big part of
the habitat richard allen is the fact that he courageously fought in a long period of illness i'm before he finally succumbed and endowments i thought i think what we see is that the courage of this man in life became the courage in which he entered into a new life and it had to keep in mind this is not a fearful thing for economic pie because the death was a part of this plan this life plan that was set into motion with conversion death was something i had to do to be i mean i cherish because he was intrigued to the other world yes i mean i think now with all of the black boxes in philadelphia to change because they realize that they were not going to be accepted by the majority
culture with ease are biting thirty don't forget we have the bomb first national convention which richard allen convened hear it at at bethel endowment as as a result what we see is folks beginning to dig in and become entrenched for this long struggle that they saw on the horizon so we have this how live for today and also how we live for tomorrow what is it that will make things better for our children and our grandchildren and this plan and strategizing it was beginning to form in earnest as well we don't have a lot in terms of the sermons with richard allen preached but one one sermon that is mentioned
by an observer is a sermon was preached in baltimore in eighteen seventeen i am resound trees twice that day the first sermon didn't go over well endowed one of richard allen i will say a detractor but an adult i've been a coke or the pastor of bethel church in baltimore i was trying to make an excuse for how an after that our first sermon but in the act in the evening sir richard allen priest on this text from revelation the twentieth chapter twelve verse and i saw the date small and great stand before god and the books were in another book was open which is the book of life and the dead were just out of those things but written in the books according to their works and the observers say ow notation i'm a bit about this episode is that when richard our fish preaching on this text you could feel the
transition of power from baltimore and even from coker who was a prominent person in his own right i to ours so that he firmly head the entire pod fellowship in his great people now saw him as this genuine bishop as is genuine father figure or he was he was in place and the text is significant i think because it's it pulls out so many of the themes theological as well as our moral and social that would have been awesome the foundation of originals preaching on the whole the suggestion that even in the conversion of g really we wish she talks about how richard out open the door the church he is very traditional sentence if you're willing to flee the wrath of god and end on that particular occasion to really really went forward because she wanted to flee the wrath of god and so here in this
text week we had those of judgment will say this element of if i am going to if i'm going to go to heaven then i must live i'm right in this life i was walk according to the way that the bible teaches me to walk and it i can imagine for someone as sincere as richard allen was in terms of his preaching i am i going marvel's places with the tech surge is that chef but they the conversion of vibe to really carry the conversion injury really once again is in many as is typical of conversion experiences which we have record from the time on the what is a little bit different badge a real
leader in terms you're right cocaine the conversion spirit experience and really was very much like the conversion experience of others of the day on the columns are the same and there's a typical pattern however what is a little bit different about julia lee is this depth of spirituality that you don't see even as allen talks about his own conversion arms it's brought on end in some measure because of this encounter with a class leader who talks to her and invites her to look at some deeper things of god is a release your own spirituality then she goes far beyond that her class leader to get to the point where
we see now is a matter of conversion but also this woman has this incredible gift of connectedness of connection with the eternal so there she is in in an ongoing communication beyond this world and an end then is and then is able to i have one foot in this world and spiritually one foot in another world seemingly i am drinking again and and and helping others and inspiring others with her own preaching ses their bridging the gap her clinic has been a hit right right he's big that's been the
case it really was an incredible woman and a pioneer in the real sense of the word because she was traversing ground which was absolutely i am brand new at their may have always been a number of women in the church but not in a leadership position opposite end leadership not necessarily in terms of being a pastor a form to be a spokesperson for woman to speak and to declare to claim a position of authority as during a leading and the preacher kind of power that we can imagine she i would which he preached arm the eight is it is just it is almost beyond measures comparison she had no role models there were there were no caucasian preachers female preachers after whom she might patter sell their
sophistication and then the social ritual not only did she had to withstand a ritual of being an african american but she also had to withstand a ritual of being a preacher which was a way to be a woman preacher we're in the end what was still very much a man's world had to have been difficult and what it shows i think is the depth of her commitment in the fact that being obedient to god was more important than all the perks which side you might offer her party came from on high end should see their teeth she has this sense of awe bishop allen didn't call me to preach no one call made to preach god called me to preach and i have to respond because god called to preach it's its lack of the prophets old with jeremiah
talk about pot if i don't preach it's like fire shut up in my bones and for jerry lee i am sure that there is a same sense of if i don't preach it's like fire showed my bones and so less i think let me preach and this is like a common thing in my denmark vesey and often at this idea in america being like open the show yes for the the parallels between african americans and the children of israel in the bible i am are our consistent you have it at every stage i'm richard allen uses a phrase for example that tom diaz question is there not enough corn in egypt
i'm endowment is he was describing the american experience in and why americans or why after americans should remain an american and not immigrate auburn so what i and there is this isn't the key kinds of billy as deliverance and i'm of course a different for different ones and the times it meant everything for example if you're in the south the north became the promise land however many in the north the promised land was not there was no longer a place but it was an experience it was a time of acceptance was a time of being able to it colder the american dream of light liberty and and the pursuit of happiness so what we will we see is in terms of an exit this is something that is physical going from slavery to a place where freedom is at least possible but i saw something that is spiritual it's something where i think by people even today are grappling with this
whole does is out of an exodus they're feeling this sense wanting to reach and wanted to claim this promise land and end and anderson that spiritual social sense that town we we see richard allen others are costly for england and enforce the year that really necessary now but i the interesting thing about nat turner end it got game or be easy and in the end the insurrection says they admit to places that they had religious fervor about them that the issue here is god made us to be free god is empowering us to claim his freedom which god has promised
to us and end so what we eat what we see is that we went with nat turner ah for some that's a sociological phenomenon but in fact it was really a religious phenomena it would not have been possible one historian and as common in that arm in order to get people too goat a warning do something significant like that one has to make important enough to them to the level of religion in pasture you don't just check freedom itself is not going to carry the weight there that we think it might carry unless you raise it a level of religion he mentioned the video it is typical whether
zimmerman easier benjamin rush the bible is the dive for what people are believing thinking and how they want to live i n and it was no accident that in charleston the churches were shut down because they believe that the churches were fomenting i'm insurrection is thinking in a sense they were right because the church was opening this horizon p were experiencing this conversion so they all of a sudden ah they see themselves as a part of this larger world is larger goddess cosmos where they have rights that the slave master had denied thank you absolutely the old tesla has the stories in the old testament is where we see got acting as a liberating the new testament comes in many respects more abstract but for for the old testament
that it is very clear the exodus is is very much i am i'm physical in the old testament in in in the new testament this sense of liberation is it is more abstract at his spiritual but in the old testament you had every day life and you have these odd you have these personalities who threw the spirituals are are really brought to light end and you have an experience of oppression which is easy communicate so that for that for the african americans they can relate to shatter any second let me go i am a baker later daniel and outlines than they can really to moses and an end this are crossing the river into a promised land because and in their own experience of life on that they are in a wilderness and in his bonnet and end and life liberty joy are within reach is not a pass when asked why they have hope
because this life is just beyond the river is right here we can get there is possible and end as long as they have that hope ii then then their lives take on fuller meaning an ending and everytime significance in including this revolutionary spirit because of god is the god who has helped joshua and the battle of jericho got is also the one who will help me if i have to take my freedom by force it's been in the press with that st george's church methodist episcopal church was home to a number of african americans in including richard allen when richard allen finally settled in philadelphia he became a preacher at st george's often given the responsibility of preaching the five o'clock service and no doubt because it was a service
that was attended in large part by lee i'm african american members st george's gets a renovating and they had a progressive policy of segregation and a first down black members were allowed to sit intermingled in the in the congregation ii then as time went on the eu were forced to sit along the sides and it's interesting in the pattern of st george because that means that in the middle you would have white males i had to do it the league did next section out would have white females and then the outer sections would have black males and an end and females are among the young the the process of segregation that reached a point it at pinnacle and i have seventeen at seven november it and it was at that point when the average american members came and worship they fought and they heard the new policy the new paulson was you should go to the gallery
i'm we're not sure whether gallery was about the mayor what it was but it was an area which richard allen members is being called the gallery and when they got there and the elders said let's pray and so they know in prayer farm the yom frayer has the fray air arm i was interrupted though for apps and dolls because he was so much to see that you get up on his knees and had to move a mistake he made was he was sitting at the front of the gallery is set in the rear of the gallery and so for i asked the joneses fosse was if you just wait till prayer is over then i will get up and leave in trouble you know more but the trust he was insistent that he should get immediately and as a result after jones richard allen and about forty two of the aftermarket members walked out of st george sc is a group and i that was the beginning of the independent african church in philadelphia
Africans in America
Episode Number
Brotherly Love
Raw Footage
Interview with Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Jeffrey Leath is interviewed about Richard Allen and his conversion to Christianity and the conversion of his owner, the role of spirituality in everyday life, Richard Allen's mission to share his religious experience, the beginning of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Christianity as a means to deal with slavery, Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1793 and accusations of African Americans for impropriety, Philadelphia during the Federalist period, Richard Allen's loss of his land and repurchase, Mother Bethel Church and the Liberty Pulpit, Richard Allen's sermons, the conversion of Jarena Lee, longing for The Promised Land.
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
(c) 1998-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
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Moving Image
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Identifier: Leath_Jeffrey_03_merged_SALES_ASP_h264.mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 1:18:05
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Chicago: “Africans in America; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia ,” 1998-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 30, 2023,
MLA: “Africans in America; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia .” 1998-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 30, 2023. <>.
APA: Africans in America; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia . Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from