About the North Memphis District
The North Memphis Presiding Elder's District is one of two districts that comprise the West Tennessee Conference. The Mighty Mississippi River borders it on the west and the Kentucky State Line borders it on the North. The Tennessee River is its eastern border, while South Parkway and Sam Cooper Blvd. in Memphis and Interstate 40 to the Tennessee River is its Southern most border. The North Memphis District, which "embraces a more excellent way" in its overall ministry, comprises 22 churches and over 4,500 members and is 142 years old.
A Short History of the 13th District
African Methodism has it's beginnings in the organization of the Free African Society in 1787, and in our official organization in 1816 under the auspices of our Founding Father, the Rt. Reverend Richard Allen.
The roots of our Kentucky/Tennessee Episcopal District, currently the Blessed 13th, finds it's beginnings in the ministry and legacy of the Rt. Reverend William Paul Quinn.
As early as 1822 a debate arose in the Baltimore Annual Conference relative to the Western Territories and the Annual Conference under whose jurisdiction they should be placed. The record refers to it as "the country west of the Allegheny Mountains ." On August 28,1830 , the Western Annual Conference was organized at Hillsboro , Ohio , embracing all the territory west of the Allegheny Mountains .
In 1833 the Reverend William Paul Quinn was transferred West, and began his great work west of the Alleghenies. He became, in 1840, one of the founders of the Indiana Conference (whose composition included, at that time, Ohio , Indiana and Illinois ).
That same year (1840), he was given the oversight of, along with his other charges, all the circuits of the Indiana Conference, and also appointed by the General Conference as the general missionary, to "plant the A. M. E. Church in the far West." He was the first and the only person at this time to be chosen by a General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to do general missionary work.
At the General Conference of 1844, Reverend Quinn reported such an amazing account of growth and organization in the West, that the mantle of the Bishopric was thrust upon him. Because of his great work, African Methodism continued it's movement and growth west, and southward, into Kentucky , Tennessee and beyond.
In 1852 the General Conference decided that because of the vastness of the Indiana Conference, that it should be divided.
The Missouri Annual Conference was organized at Louisville, Kentucky in September of 1855, whose composition included Kentucky and Tennessee.
Again, due to such overwhelming growth, in 1868 the Missouri Conference was divided, and out of that came the Kentucky Annual Conference and Tennessee Annual Conference (along with others). Both Conferences at this organization, encompassed their respective states.
The "increase" continued: In 1876 the Tennessee Conference was divided into the Tennessee and West Tennessee Conferences. In 1880 the Kentucky Conference was divided into the Kentucky and West Kentucky Conferences. And, finally, in 1900 the Tennessee Conference was divided into the Tennessee and East Tennessee Conferences. Also, after this last division, the Tennessee Conference was often referred to as the "Central" Tennessee Conference.
Over the years the regions of Kentucky and Tennessee, and their respective Conferences, have been reassigned to, and designated by, many different Episcopal District titles as the church has grown and re-organized itself; and during our history, Kentucky and Tennessee have not always been part of the same District: for example, at the 1872 General Conference, Kentucky was part of the Third District, while "Tennessee was part of the 6th District, and in 1876 Kentucky and Tennessee were together again, along w/ith other states, to make up the Third District. At the 1920 General Conference, Kentucky and Tennessee made up the whole 14th District. The mantle of "Thirteenth" was placed upon the regions of Kentucky and Tennessee at the 1936 General Conference, and it has remained so to this day as our history and legacy get brighter with each new opportunity to worship and serve the Most High God and the Church of Allen!