St. Luke Church is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Motto “God Our Father, Christ Our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit Our Comforter, Humankind Our Family” is a great summary of what the African Methodist Episcopal Church believes.
Also known as the A.M.E. Church for short, the denomination is Methodist in terms of its basic doctrine and order of worship. It was born, through adversity, of the Methodist church and to this day does not differ in any major way from what all Methodists believe. The split from the main branch of the Methodist Church was not a result of doctrinal differences but rather the result of a time period that was marked by man’s intolerance of his fellow man, based on the color of his skin. It was a time of slavery, oppression and the dehumanization of people of African descent and many of these un-Christian practices were brought into the church, forcing Richard Allen and a group of fellow worshipers of color to form a splinter denomination of the Methodist Church. To find the basic foundations of the beliefs of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, you need look no further than The Apostles’ Creed and The Twenty Five Articles of Religion:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead; and buried. The third day he arose from the dead’ he ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church Universal, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.
The 25 Articles of Religion (Summary)
1. The Holy Trinity: There is but one living and true God. He is the maker and preserver of all things. We experience the one God through three aspects of His personality; namely, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This three-fold aspect of God, we call the Holy Trinity.
2. The Incarnation of Christ: In Christ there are two natures – divine and human – joined together in one person. In other words, Jesus is truly God and truly man.
3. The Resurrection of Christ: Christ truly arose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
4. The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is of one substance with the Father and the Son. He is one of the three aspects through which we experience God. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian seeks to live under his control daily.
5. The Holy Scriptures: The bible contains all we need to know to be saved.
6. The Old Testament: The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; in both the Old and New Testaments, eternal life is offered to mankind.
7. Original Sin: All men have inherited evil impulses from their ancestors. This corruption of the nature of every man is called “original sin.” It goes back to Adam, the first man.
8. Free Will: Every person is free to choose right or wrong; but even if you choose to do right, you must have God’s help to live a good and holy life.
9. The Justification of Man: We are saved by faith in Christ and by that faith alone. Good works cannot save us.
10. Good Works: Good works are the fruit of our faith in Christ.
11. Works of Supererogation: The belief one can do more good than God requires is called “works of supererogation.” We do not believe in this doctrine. No one can do more good than he/she ought to do or be better than he/she ought to be.
12. Sin After Justification: A Christian may depart from grace and fall into sin again. But those who truly repent receive God’s forgiveness and rise again to a good and holy life.
13. The Church: The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men and women in which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments duly administered.
14. Purgatory: We do not believe in the idea of purgatory, which is the doctrine that there is a place other than heaven or hell where souls go after death to be cleansed of sin. Nor do we believe in the worship of images, relics and saints.
15. Familiar Speech: Public worship and the sacraments should be conducted in a language the people can understand.
16. The Sacraments: There are only two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
17. Baptism: Baptism is the sign of regeneration or the new birth. It marks the beginning of the Christian life. Infants and children, as well as adults, should be baptized.
18. The Lord’s Supper: The Supper of the Lord is a symbol of Christ’s suffering and death for us. The bread and wine are not changed into the actual body and blood of Christ; they represent His broken body and shed blood.
19. Communion in Both Kinds: Both the bread and the wine are to be given to the people in the Lord’s Supper.
20. The Sacrifice of Christ: The sacrifice of Christ is for the sins of the whole world, both original and actual. There is no other satisfaction for sin but that alone.
21. The Marriage of Ministers: The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God’s law to abstain from marriage. Therefore, it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry.
22. Rites and Ceremonies of the Church: It is not necessary that the rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same or exactly alike. Every denomination has a right to adopt and use a ritual of its own, but the rites that have been established by the church should be faithfully observed by its members.
23. The Government of the United States: The United States is and ought to be a free and independent nation. All righteous government should be supported and defended by Christians.
24. Christian Man’s Goods: Christians have the right to own private property. However, every man should give liberally of his possessions to help others.
25. A Christian Man’s Oath: Christians should not swear. They may take oath, however, as may be required by the courts of the land.