Mar 13, 2015

“A Century of Commitment, A Legacy of Love.” That reverent theme will mark a joyous celebration of the former, all-African American Delaware Annual Conference Saturday, May 30, at Philadelphia’s historic Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, 750 S. Broad St.  Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Area, a Philadelphia native, and Bishop Ernest Lyght (retired), of New Jersey, will headline the celebration. They will be joined by host Bishop Peggy Johnson and other former clergy and lay members of the old Delaware Conference.

From 1864 until it merged with adjoining geographical conferences in 1965, the racially segregated conference of black Methodists stretched from Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore up through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and north of New York City. It was the first all-black conference to organize, in order for black churches in the original Methodist Episcopal Church to have their own black pastors, manage their own affairs and be free of white control.

More than a century later it was also the first black conference to merge with neighboring white conferences and to usher in the church’s eventual racial integration. Delaware Conference churches in our region merged with the Philadelphia Annual Conference in 1965, which later was renamed the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

Bishop Palmer will preach a climactic message of challenge for today and hope for tomorrow. But first, Bishop Lyght will summarize past, historical highlights. And two former Philadelphia pastors, the Rev. David Briddell, of Berlin, Md., and the Rev. Herbert Palmer, father of the bishop, will share heartfelt remembrances of their beloved Delaware Conference. Bishop Peggy Johnson will welcome members and guests for a soul-inspiring morning of music, dance, oratory, special tributes and video testimonies, followed by an afternoon fellowship reception.

Coincidentally, the May 30 celebration will end a week that begins steeped in church history. The previous Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost Sunday, signifying the birth of Christ’s church with the arrival of the Holy Spirit, and also Aldersgate Sunday, signifying the experience that converted Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, to a deeper grasp of his faith. May 24, the day before our nation’s observance of Memorial Day, is also Heritage Sunday, when the denomination honors its own history, an ideal occasion to celebrate The United Methodist Church’s former Delaware Annual Conference later that same week.

The celebration begins with a gathering for fellowship at 9:00 AM and the worship celebration at 9:45 AM. A reception will complete the day from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. Visit our Website for more information and promotional flyers.  

Order tickets for the reception for only a $10 donation. Order online (preferably), or mail checks or money orders to: Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Treasurer, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482 (Memo: Delaware Conference Reception).  Only about 400 tickets are available due to room capacity. So order yours right away.

For more information contact: John Coleman at or 484-762-8227, or Dr. Mary White at

By John W. Coleman, EPA Conference Communications Director