ALLEN, Richard, clergyman and founder of the African Methodist church, was born in 1760, of colored parents. In 1777 he joined the Methodist Society in Delaware, and five years later became a local preacher. He was instrumental in erecting the first African church in America, which was built in Philadelphia, in 1793. Some time previous to that difficulties arose between the white and colored members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and an agitation was started among the latter for a separate organization. Led by Richard Allen, a blacksmith shop was purchased in Philadelphia in 1794, and a separate place of worship was opened, which was dedicated by Bishop Asbury, June 29, 1794. The church was named Bethel, and Richard Allen acted as their chief pastor. In 1799 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Asbury, being the first ordained colored minister in this country. He remained in connection with the Methodist Episcopal church until 1816, when, owing to new difficulties having arisen, he withdrew with a large number of the colored membership, and assisted in organizing the African Methodist Episcopal church. On Apr. 9, 1816, a convention met in Philadelphia, whose members constituted themselves into the new religious body. Mr. Allen was elected bishop on the 10th, and was consecrated the next day by Rev. Absalom Jones, a priest of the Protestant Episcopal church, and four other regularly ordained ministers. Although a man of but little education, Bishop Allen was distinguished for his energy and sound judgment, and administered the new organization with much credit. He acted as its spiritual head until his death, which occurred in Philadelphia, Penn., March 26, 1831.
SOURCE: James T. White & Company, Publisher, The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 13, p. 200-1