Feast of Daniel Payne (November 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Daniel Payne

Image in the Public Domain



African Methodist Episcopal Bishop

Historiographer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1848-1852); Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1852-1893); died in 1893

Daniel Payne, born to a free Black family in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 24, 1811, grew up a Methodist.  He opened his first school at age 18, in 1829.  Payne had to close that school six years later because the state had outlawed teaching literacy to slaves and free people of color. (Aside:  South Carolina has been regressive for a very long time–since its foundingN.)

In May 1835 Payne moved to Pennsylvania, where he converted to Lutheranism.  In Pennsylvania he attended Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  He had drop out because of poor eyesight, however.

In 1842 Payne joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.  There he provided leadership for the rest of his life.  The AME Church was divided between partisans of order and supporters of emotionalism; Payne sided with the former.  Also, Payne sought to improve the educational levels of the clergymen so they could lead the people  more effectively.  Toward this end he encouraged a liberal arts education for seminarians and believed that ministers must be literate.  And Payne’s reforms concerned church music, too.  He introduced trained choirs and instrumental music to AME congregations.

With the help of representatives from the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939, a forerunner of the present-day United Methodist Church) Payne founded the Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1856.  The purpose of this institution was to promote classical education among African Americans.  Payne served as President from 1863-1877, making him the first African-American college president in the United States.

In 1865 Bishop Payne began to organize AME congregations in the former Confederacy.  Church growth was rapid, but not without complications.  Finding sufficient meeting spaces could be difficult, for example, as was finding enough ministers, given the requirements of literacy and education.

Payne opposed Henry McNeal Turner, a promiment AME bishop, with regard to the “Back to Africa” movement, which Turner, alienated from white-dominated society, supported.  Payne said, however, “To God alone can we look for protection” from racism and Jim Crow segregation.



Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Daniel Payne.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3;14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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