Magazine article The Christian Century

AME Zion Megachurch Leaves Denomination

Magazine article The Christian Century

AME Zion Megachurch Leaves Denomination

Article excerpt

The pastor and many of the members of the 24,000-member Full Gospel AME Zion Church in Temple Hills, Maryland, one of the largest congregations in the 1.5-million-member AME Zion denomination, have decided to leave the parent church body in a dispute pitting the pastor against the church hierarchy. The split comes at a time when megachurches still linked to national church bodies are increasingly questioning denominational loyalties and the economic and bureaucratic ties that membership in a wider church entails.

"Growth necessitates change and change facilitates growth," John A. Cherry, pastor of the megachurch, told a meeting of 15,000 of the congregation's members July 8. The breakaway members renamed their church From the Heart Ministries. Some of Cherry's critics contend that the split from the denomination was prompted in part because he had been passed over as a delegate to next year's General Conference despite the success of his church and the $67,000 it pays in denominational dues. …

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