THE A.M.E. ZION STRUCTURE of Our *CONNECTION*
The A.M.E. Zion Church is guided and governed by the Holy Bible and it’s rules and regulations outlined in The Book of Discipline. In the Book of Discipline are the Doctrines of The A.M.E. Zion Church. (Articles of Religion)
LOCAL CHURCHES – The Local Churches are the cornerstones of The A.M.E. Zion Connection. The Pastor is ordained and appointed by the Bishop to a Local Church. Pastors are to preach/teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ by knowing both Old and New Testaments and continue in Kingdom Building. Pastors are to also pursue education and be trained in administration.
Quarterly Conferences – which meet 4 times a year. (Forms)
This Conference is unique in that it is a local barometer reflecting the conditions existent in the local church. Members of this conference, which meets every three months, consist of traveling ministers Local Elders, Deacons, Preachers, Exhorters, Class Leaders, Trustees, Stewards, Stewardess, Deaconess, all Missionary Departments. Superintendents of Church School, presidents of clubs, Secretary and Treasurer of Christian endeavor. All General Officers and ministers are amenable to the Quarterly Conference within whose bounds they reside. The Presiding Elder appoints time and place of the Quarterly Conference. The Quarterly Conference is quite important as it is a law making body. Its duties Include:
- Examining the officers of our fellowship.
- Granting or withholding approval of the character of the members of the Quarterly Conference.
- Local Preachers, renew or revoke license and makes recommendation to the District Conference.
- Recommendation of suitable candidates to the Annual Conference for ordination.
- Hearing appeals and determining appropriate redress.
- Election of delegates to the Annual and District Conferences.
Class Leaders’ Meeting – usually meet once a month as a group. Individual Class Leader meets with their members once a week to see how their soul is fairing, via seeing class member at church, phone call, email, etc.
Members’ Meeting/Conference – meets when called by the Pastor. Varick Memorial A.M.E. Zion is our local church. We are part of the Mid-Atlantic I Episcopal District; New Jersey Annual Conference; Jersey City District of The AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH Whenever there is any business to be attended to by the local Church not otherwise vested in the Steward’s meeting, Board of Trustees, Leaders Meeting or Quarterly Conference, the members in Full Connection shall be called together in a Member’s Conference to consider the matter. The Pastor in charge shall have the sole right to make the call for and preside over the Member’s Conference.
The agenda of a member’s conference may include the following:
- Organizational Plans
- Development Plans (update Budget)
- Expansion Plans
- Other Ideas, Plans, Discussions that shall promote the general good of the fellowship.
DISTRICT CONFERENCES – Which meet once a year and is presided over by a Presiding Elder, who is appointed by the Bishop. The District Conference is a division of the Annual Conference. It is composed of all the traveling ministers, superannuated supernumerary, local Elders, Deacons, Local Preachers, Exhorters and all officers in the Missionary and Christian Education Department, Laymen Council Pres. etc. The District Conference duties include looking into the spiritual and temporal affairs of churches, schools and benevolent societies within its bounds; to inquire into the recommendation of the quarterly conference, grant new or renew local preacher’s licenses. The District Conference also examines preachers who are studying to be admitted to the Annual Conference.The District Sunday School Convention is the name of the meeting where the church school’s organizations are separate from the District Conference. The District Directors of Christian Education Preside alternately under the leadership of the Presiding Elder.
ANNUAL CONFERENCES – The Annual Conference is composed of a Bishop, all traveling ministers, preachers in full connection, lay delegates duly elected from the various churches within its bounds, the missionary and education officers. The Bishop is the presiding officer. The Annual Conference has power to make laws for its operation as long as those laws are not in conflict with the laws of the Connection. It can make other annual conferences with limitations, examine the domestic affairs of its missions, hear complaints against any of its members and dispose of them according to law. Support for the general church commitments comes from the Annual Conference. It is divided into a convenient number of Presiding Elder Districts. It hears reports from Presiding Elders, Pastors, Delegates, District Officers of Missionary and Christian Education Departments, committee on audit and treasures. It receives the prorata for General Claims and the attendant levies. The Annual Conference admits ministers and assigns them, according to law, to their respective churches. The Annual Conference can drop Ministers that has not answered roll call. This body also elects Delegates to the General Conference.
GENERAL CONFERENCE – Meets every four (4) years, Makes laws, church policy; approves budget. Our supreme body also elects both:
The General Conference. The church denomination you have joined is unique in its connection. Its affiliation is Methodist made possible by John Wesley and retained by our protesting and founding fathers. It has twelve Bishops. The General Conference is the major gathering of the denomination which meets every four years beginning the first Wednesday in July (date subject to change) and lasting for two weeks at a place designated by a commission which sets the place two years before the sessions begin. It is the law making body of the church which is empowered with the responsibility of making and changing or amending the laws that are changeable with special exceptions alluding to our articles of faith, doctrine and existing standards. The episcopacy shall not be done away with nor the plan of itinerancy. Laws granting trials to ministers and appeals shall remain intact. The same applies to our laity. Our general rules shall not be destroyed. The General Conference elects bishops and assigns them to their Districts. It tries, expels, impeaches or disrobes Bishops, elects General officers, guards the destiny of the Connection, hears and receives reports of departments and regulates the work, discipline and polity of each. There is no appeal from the General Conference. In the interim of the General Conference, the Bishops govern the church and interpret its laws and mandate.
THE CONNECTION IS DIVIDED INTO:
EPISCOPAL DISTRICTS – There are twelve (12); They are sometimes called ‘Episcopal Areas’. Each presided over by a Bishop. We have twelve (12) active Bishops. We have over 6,600 churches worldwide. We are located on 5 continents, i.e., North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
BOARD OF BISHOPS – Meets twice a year; oversees the general supervision of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which also includes hearing the reports of our General Officers and the report from each President our six (6) Church supported schools (seminaries/universities/colleges).
Who oversee the operation of the Departments of the Connection. There are 13 General Officers and the general church pays their salaries. Each post is elected every 4 years.
CONNECTIONAL COUNCIL – Which meets once a year, and these Administrative Boards make recommendations to the Board of Bishops and the General Conference.
Each member of the local church is called on to pay money set aside for our support of the CONNECTION.
Class or Quarterly Dues – This money helps pay the Presiding Elder’s salary on a quarterly basis)
General Claims – Each dollar is broken down in this manner:
- 44 cents to educational institutions
- 15 cents to operate departments of the Connection
- 13 cents for the Pension Fund and death benefits
- 4 cents for widows and rural minister
- 4 cents pays our General Officers and operates their offices
- 4 cents pays for our Bishops and their office needs
- 3 cents operates our Publishing House
- 2 cents for Harriet Tubman House and camps
- 1 cent reserve
These figures are not exact, but are very close.
District Askings – Helps with the general expense of the District office.
The Methodist tradition requires that the local church (the roots), support the CONNECTION. The Connection, at the General Conference, determines what amount each conference must pay and, in turn, the conference determines what each local church must pay. These amounts are determined by the number of persons on the rolls of each church. If each member does not carry his or her own weight, other members are burdened with a heavier load. This is why it is so very important that every member of the local church help by carrying his/her own share of the responsibility to support the local church and, in turn, support the worldwide CONNECTION of ZION
There are two (2) classes of Membership in ZION:
Probationer – each new member is received on probation unless that person has a ‘letter of transfer’ from another recognized Christian Church. That person is not required to wait for the full six (6) months probationary period.
The Probationer is admitted to the next step after spending a period of study with the pastor and when they have given satisfactory evidence of a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Member in Full Connection
– a person who has completed the study for probation and is enrolled as a member of the Connection as well as the local Church.
- Participation in local church boards and auxiliaries.
- Voting in local church meetings.
- Can represent the local church as a delegate to a District, Annual or General Conference
- Can become involved with the worldwide program of the Connection
- Regular attendance at Sunday Worship.
- Daily Prayer and Bible Reading<
- Receiving Holy Communion – first Sunday of each month.
- Giving –
- Tithes – one-tenth of your income,
- General Offering – regular amount weekly, or
- as God hath prospered you (I Cor. 16:2)
- Paying Class Dues and General Claims.
- Support of Church Rally Days.
- Membership in at least one church ministry.
- Attendance, when possible, of weekly church meetings, Bible Study, Prayer Service. Officers are strongly encouraged by the Pastor to attend.
Baptism – One must be Baptized before becoming a full member. (Para. 91 – A.M.E. Zion Disicipline) – There are 3 modes of Baptism, ie; Sprinkling, Pouring and Immersion. If you were baptized as a child or as an adult, that’s fine. We discourage being baptized more than once, but if you insist, we will honor your request.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF OFFICERS, LEADERS AND MINISTRIES
The prerequisite: All serving must be SAVED!
PREACHER’S STEWARD – The Preacher’s Steward is appointed by the Pastor, confirmed by the Quarterly Conference. The Preacher’s Steward is Chairperson of the Steward Board.
The duties are as listed:
* The Preacher’s Steward is to make sure that the responsibilities of the Steward Board is carried out by all Stewards.
* To see that all necessary provisions are made for the temporal relief & comfort of the Pastor in Charge.
* To be responsible for making such appeals to the congregation as necessary for the financial support of the church and Pastor.
* To meet the Board of Stewardess and advise them as to the Pastor’s and family comfort and needs temporarily.
* To provide the elements of the Lord’s Supper.
STEWARDS – The duties of the Stewards are as follows:
* To make provisions for the moving expenses of the Pastor and provide a parsonage for the Pastor and family.
* To make sure the needs of the Pastor and his/her family are met.
* To seek and relieve the needy and distressed members.
* To be stimulants for the spiritual life of the church by being present at all services, willing to lead devotion and assist with worship when needed.
* They are expected to support and promote all projects, programs and financial obligations of the church.
* The Stewards are to receive monies collected.
* They are to have at least two representatives to assist in counting monies received each Sunday or any special service.
* Stewards should be present at all board meetings called by the Chairperson or Pastor.
* Stewards should attend weekly Bible Study and/or Sunday School.
* Stewards are to lead the way in keeping harmony and peace.
The Trustee is a man/woman over 21 years of age and in good standing in his/her local church. Trustees, except for the Pastor, shall be elected annually by the Members of the Church, upon the nomination of the Pastor in charge. At their first meeting of the new conference year, the Trustees are to elect a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. The Chairperson is to call all meetings to order and preside over said and to direct the affairs of the Board. Further, he/she is to work in concert with other officers of the Church and Pastor for the good of the church. The duties of the Trustees are as follows:
* To take care of the physical property of the Church.
* To see that such property is clean at all times, properly heated and properly ventilated.
* To receive and disburse according to the budget for the church, monies turned into their hands.
* Trustees should be present at all board meetings called by the Chairman or the Pastor.
* Trustees should attend weekly Bible Study and/or Sunday School.
* Trustees are to lead the way in keeping harmony and peace.
All Class Leaders are sub-pastors who are urged to be concerned with the welfare of their members.
* The Class Leaders are to advise the Pastor of any sickness, death or distress of any member of his/her class.
* Class Leaders are requested to hold Class Meetings at least twice in a quarter for the purpose of instruction and group support.
* All Class Leaders are required to attend weekly Bible Study and/or Sunday School, as well as encourage their class members to do the same.
This Board is appointed by the Pastor, approved at the members meeting. The treasurer and Asst. Treasurer are to be a part of this Board and are amenable to this Board.
* This Board is to aid in raising money to meet the needs of the local church’s commitments.
* It handles and pays out the money upon presentation of vouchers with proper endorsement.
* This Board is to keep the membership informed as to its economic assets and liabilities.
* This Board is to keep membership informed as to how well or how poorly the worshippers give, thereby alerting the church to raise its level of giving to strengthen the church’s total program commitment.
The word deaconess can be synonymous with the word helper.
* The Deaconess will go about doing good – ministering to the poor, visiting the sick, pray for the dying, seek the wandering, comfort the sorrowing, serving the sinner and be ever ready to take up any duty for which willing hands cannot otherwise be found.
* The Deaconess are also responsible for attending to the preparation of the Sacraments of the church.
* They are to maintain the appearance and apparel of the altar.
* They are to keep flowers on the rostrum and to cover chancel rail on occasions.
* Deaconess are to be consecrated to serve in this capacity.
The duties of the Stewardess are:
* To assist the Stewards, Preacher’s Steward in making provisions for the support and comfort of the Pastor and his/her family.
* To lead in the spiritual welfare of the church.
To be available to assist the Pastor in any way on Sunday morning or special services.
* To serve in any other capacity the Pastor deems necessary.
BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
This is the Church School Board. It is made up of various departments of the local church: the Pastor, Director of Christian Education and all Directors of Christian Education in the local church, superintendent, etc.
Its duties are:
* To make provisions for the organization, guidance and supervision of the Christian Education of children, youth, YACM (young adults in Christian Ministry) and adults in the local church.
DIRECTOR OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
This person will provide that all areas of this department are supplied with a Director. The Director of Christian Education will:
* Have oversight as to the function of the various departments (children, youth, young adults and adults).
* See that the Department is supplied with necessary materials to ensure a successful program.
* Provide that all special days are observed with programs.
* Provide that our children, as well as adults, are instructed in Zion Methodism.
The Director of Christian Education is also responsible for doing whatever is necessary to promote a successful Sunday School program and Vacation Bible School. The Christian Education Department is encouraged to take part in as many District, Conference, Connectional Christian Education activities as possible. They are to make certain that the church is always properly represented at these activities.
SUPERINTENDENT OF SUNDAY SCHOOL
* The Superintendent of Sunday School is responsible for the effectiveness of the school and the departments in meeting prime objectives of the Sunday School.
* At times, with limited resources, space and personnel, the Superintendent must improvise, keep the teachers encouraged, and provide opportunities for advancement.
* He/she must encourage learning and make room for developing skills, which may lie latent in teachers and pupils alike.
* The Superintendent must work closely with the departmental heads in evaluating and preparing ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the work.
(Ministry of Kindness)
This officer serves as Treasurer for the collection of funds for the less fortunate among the membership and beyond. He/she keeps a faithful account of all monies received and pays it out according to the dictates of the Board of Leaders (Class Leaders) and Pastor. There are no other duties assigned this person by the Discipline.
A servant of the Church. A person whose duties are many:
* Attend his/her own meetings and obligations, to oversee the church congregation and visitors as to seating direction, ventilation, order and decorum, to spot trouble, illness and any other necessity.
* To be on time, greet people warmly and be at one’s station early in order to acquaint oneself with the order of the day.
* To observe when to admit worshipers to the service, help provide for babies and young children and be a good public relations person.
* The usher must observe the Pastor so as to respond to cues, which he/she may flash, unobserved by untrained eyes.
* The usher must be a person of great patience and understanding, not easily riled or ultra sensitive.
* The usher must, out of loyalty and dedication, have a desire for success of worship always, to visit with the Pastor, Church and Choir when outside invitations are extended to the church.
MINISTER OF MUSIC
* The Minister of Music is to be responsible for the direction and rehearsal of the choir.
* He/she visits with the Pastor and Church when outside invitations are extended, and if unable to attend will try to make provisions for a musician to be present.
* The Choir is one of the most noticeable groups a church has.
* It sings at all major services of the church, and it must share the ecumenical outreach with the Pastor and Members and it is to be diligent in its rehearsals and loyally dedicated to service.
* The Choir’s duty is to be Christian and always be a medium of evangelism.
WOMEN’S HOME AND OVERSEAS MISSIONARY SOCIETY
* Parent Body – ages 41 +
* YAMS – Young Adult Missionary Society – ages 22-40
* Youth Missionary Society – ages 13-21 (Jr. 13-16) (Sr. 17-21)
* Buds Of Promise – ages 1 – 12 (Readiness: 1-3; Beg.: 4-6; Primary: 7-9; Jr: 10-12)
* Bureau of Supply – Entire Church may be asked to participate
* Life Members Council – All ages may purchase a LM stole – $30.00 &/or $100.00 Matron/Patron
The W.H.& O.M.S. shall seek to:
* Promote growth in the knowledge and understanding of God and His plan for redemption for the world.
* Teach the concepts of Christian missions and provide experiences for participation in mission work and its ministries.
* Exemplify the principles of Christian living and to win others to Christ.
* Promote the cause of World Evangelism.
* Serve as financial support system to undergird the world mission outreach of the A.M.E. Zion Church, at home and overseas.
Historically, lay persons have played an important role in the organization, development and growth of the Church. The historical role that lay persons played in our overall development can be seen in our early leadership, in the liberation struggle of Black Americans. Those early leaders included a number of well-known personalities such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas. Therefore, to full marshall the resources of our laity and maximize their efforts in the total mission of our church, a Lay Council was organized.
Lay Councils are represented at all levels of our organization. They include Lay Councils at the Episcopal District, The Annual Conference, the District Conference and the Local Church.
The Local Lay Council is to *deepen the spiritual life, *disseminate information, *cultivate denominational loyalty, and *expand the denomination through education and evangelism.
Any person, a member in good standing of Varick A. M. E. Zion Church, is urged to become a member of the Lay Council and support its programs and objectives.
The Culinary Ministry is to coordinate all meal functions taking place at Varick and oversee the upkeep of the kitchen of VM including keeping the kitchen stocked with necessary supplies.
The word ‘acolyte’ is taken from an ancient Greek word that meant ‘companion’ ‘attendant’ or ‘helper.’ The Acolytes are therefore chosen and set apart to symbolically bring the presence of God into the sanctuary by lighting candles and assist in the celebration of worship. As they light the candlelighter again before extinguishing the candles and process out with the lighted candlelighter, they remind people that when we scatter out into the world, we take the Lord (Jesus) with us.
Each Local Church is encouraged to have as many Ministries as needed, to Minister to your entire congregation and especially to Minister to each individual.
A.M.E. Zion Churches are located on these continents:
Africa, South America, North America, Asia, Europe
Namibia, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Togo, Liberia, Ghana
Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, Barbados, Canada, United States
Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Venezuela