History of Bishop Richard Allen
Richard Allen was born on February 14, 1760 in Dover, Delaware as a slave. He was blessed with the spirit of “The Young and the Restless.” As a young man he was converted to Methodism. He worked constantly and energetically spreading his religious beliefs among his people. He was a hardworking and hard saving entrepreneur. In the push to purchase his freedom, many times he worked two physically exhausting jobs at the same time.
It was his dream that drove him to cut cord wood, work as a brick mason and a Teamster; driving a salt wagon during the Revolutionary War. Even after God blessed him to purchase his freedom, he understood that he could not stay free unless he worked diligently to throw off and keep off the economic shackles that threatened him. Richard Allen worked as a pastor, a shoemaker, in addition to owning a chimney sweeping franchise.
While preaching in Philadelphia in 1786, Allen noted that the religious services were dominated by the whites and blacks were restricted from participating. Allen and his followers protested those unfair practices. The
following year, 1787, Allen led a group of black worshipers out of St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia and they formed the Free African Society. The general purpose of the Free African Society was to
improve the social and economic conditions of free Negroes. The group used the Free African Society as a steppingstone. They were able to persuade others around the Philadelphia area to launch the African
Methodist Episcopal Church. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is the first major religious institution founded as a result of racial injustice in the world.
When God called him from labor to reward in 1831, Richard Allen left his family with an estate in excess of $46,000, a 2022 value of $1,486,529.66.
Richard Allen, his first wife Flora and second wife Sarah, are entombed in the Museum at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church on the corner of Sixth and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia.