Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

By: Charles E. Tatum

Type: Overview Entry

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: October 8, 2020

In 1954 the General Conference of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church met in Memphis and adopted a resolution changing the name of the church to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The first Protestant church in Texas was a Methodist church established by William Stevenson from Arkansas in Pecan Point in 1815. Some African Americans belonged to this church. By 1837 several Methodist churches had a combined membership of thirty-six Black and forty-five White members. African-American preachers were encouraged to hold services for other Blacks, and their churches spread over Texas. In some areas Blacks and Whites held services together; in other areas White preachers held separate services for the two races. After 1844–45 when disagreement over slavery caused the Methodists of the South to separate from those of the North, many slaves continued to worship with their masters, even after emancipation. Many former slaves later became members of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.

During the Civil War, Methodist Episcopal preachers followed the Union Army to the South and persuaded some Black Methodists to join the Methodist Episcopal Church. A Texas District was established in 1865. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in its General Conference at New Orleans in 1866 declared that if Black members so desired, the bishops were empowered to organize them into separate congregations, organize district and annual conferences, obtain suitable preachers, and appoint presiding elders to direct their affairs. By 1870, when the General Conference met in Memphis, Tennessee, African Americans, who had organized five annual conferences, asked for a separate organization. The General Conference agreed to ordain the men the new conference selected as bishops. In December 1870 the new Colored Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Jackson, Tennessee.

The first CME church in Texas was established at Marshall in Harrison County. The East Texas Conference was one of the original conferences recognized at the Jackson organizational meeting. A West Texas Conference was organized in 1871. The first East Texas Annual Conference was held at Marshall on November 6, 1872. Later a Northwest Conference was organized, and in 1894 the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church established Texas College in Tyler, the center of the Colored Methodist Episcopal population in East Texas. Bishop M. F. Jamison is given much of the credit for the establishment and success of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas.

By the 1990s, the CME Church was divided into five Conferences and associated districts. These were the Northwest Texas Conference, the Dallas-Fort Worth Conference, the Central Texas Conference, the East Texas Conference, and the Southeast Texas Conference. A senior bishop presides over Texas. There were some 45,000 communicants in some 500 churches with 375 pastors in Texas as of 1990. That year the largest congregation was Cedar Crest Church in Dallas, with 1,500 members; the second-largest was BeBee Tabernacle-Coleman Cathedral in Houston, with 1,300 members.

Cullen T. Carter, History of the Tennessee Conference and a Brief Summary of the General Conferences of the Methodist Church (Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1948). Hightower T. Kealing, History of African Methodism in Texas (Waco, 1885). Othal Hawthorne Lakey, The History of the CME Church (Memphis: CME Publishing House, 1985). Charles Henry Phillips, The History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America (Jackson, Tennessee: Publishing House of the CME Church, 1898). Walter N. Vernon et al., The Methodist Excitement in Texas (Dallas: Texas United Methodist Historical Society, 1984). Carter G. Woodson, The History of the Negro Church (Washington: Associated Publishers, 1921; 2d ed. 1945).

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Religion
  • Methodist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Charles E. Tatum, “Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
October 8, 2020

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