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Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr.Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
The legacy of A.M.E. forefather Bishop Richard Allen will be commemorated as African Methodists throughout the Southland come together for the Annual Founder's Day Service, on Sunday, February 12, at 4 p.m.
The spirited worship, held at First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, will be led by Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr., presiding prelate of the 5th Episcopal District and president of the General Board of the international A.M.E. Church.
"The indelible mark that Bishop Allen left upon America extends far beyond African Methodism. His incredible courage, godly wisdom and tremendous vision altered the course of societal norms and governmental policies and we, who have come generations later, are still benefitting from his actions," said Bishop Kirkland.
When Bishop Allen, a former Delaware slave, founded the A.M.E. Church, it was the first fully autonomous African American denomination in the U.S. He first successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution.
A highly regarded community leader and social activist of his time, Bishop Allen held the first Negro Convention in 1830 to address the concerns of Blacks in America. He also operated an Underground Railroad station for escaping slaves from 1787 until his death in 1831.
"As we pause this month to salute the heroes and sheroes in history, no one can deny that Bishop Allen and his wife, Mother Sarah Allen, are among the trailblazers who deserve applause and recognition for their lasting accomplishments."
Highlighting the service will be the keynote message by the Right Reverend Jeffrey Leath, presiding bishop of the 16th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church.
"You will be refreshed, inspired and on fire once you hear the preached word of God by Bishop Leath. His powerful message will definitely aid you in your walk with Christ," said Bishop Kirkland.
Bishop Leath was elected and consecrated as the 128th bishop in July 2008. He currently oversees 225 A.M.E. churches in South Africa. Previously, he served 15 years as pastor of the historic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, PA.
A graduate of Yale College, Bishop Leath earned a Master's of Divinity degree at Yale University and Doctorate of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary. Also, he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a 33rd degree Prince Hall Mason.
The Rev. Dr. John J. Hunter is the host pastor of the Founder's Day service at First A.M.E. Church, located at 2270 South Harvard Boulevard in Los Angeles. For information, call (323) 730-7750.