Western North Carolina Conference

The History of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference

The Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the AME Church had its beginnings on May 15, 1865 when Bishop Daniel Payne organized the South Carolina Conference in Charleston. This Conference included the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. On May 14, 1866, at the first South Carolina Annual Conference held in Savannah, Georgia, the Reverends George M. Broadie and Samuel B. Williams were among the Conference participants representing North Carolina.

The first North Carolina Annual Conference was held in Greensboro in 1869. At that meeting, a number of churches joined the Conference, especially churches in the Western part of the state. According to Bishop R.R. Wright, Jr. “the growth of the North Carolina Annual Conference was so marvelous that it became necessary to organize the Western North Carolina Conference.” On November 19, 1892, at St. James AME Church in Kinston, North Carolina, the North Carolina Annual Conference was divided into the Western North Carolina and the North Carolina Annual Conferences under the leadership of Bishop W. J. Gaines. The Reverend W. H. Giles was Conference secretary. Some of the ministers participating in the organization of the Conference were the Reverends Cornelius Sampson, Robert Lucas, Jacob, Homes, George Hunter, Harry Pope, Minto Crooms, Bryant Rudd and Henry Tucker. Boundary lines for the newly formed Western Conference were fixed to include, roughly, all areas from Wake County westward.

Throughout the years, in North Carolina, the AME Church has continued its contribution to fight for dignity and freedom of Black Americans. As a result, African Methodism in Western North Carolina continued to grow. Three Bishops of the Church, D. O. Walker, Frederick D. Jordan and Phillip R. Cousin, pastured in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.

At the 200th anniversary of the AME Church, the Western North Carolina Annual Conference was composed of two Presiding Elder Districts – Central Eastern and Central Western, currently the two Presiding Elder Districts are the Eastern and Western Districts.