The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is a historically black denomination within the broader context of Methodism. The group was organized on December 16, 1870 when several black ministers, with the full support of their white counterparts in the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South, met to form an organization that would allow them to establish and maintain their own polity, that is, to ordain their own bishops and ministers without the necessity of them being officially endorsed or appointed by the white-dominated body. They called this fellowship the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, which it remained until their successors adopted the current name in the 1950s.
In the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, bishops are administrative superintendents of the church; they are elected by "delegate" votes for as many years deemed until the age of 74, when he/she must retire. Among their duties are responsibility for appointing clergy to serve local churches as pastor, for performing ordinations, and for safeguarding the doctrine and discipline of the Church. The General Conference, a meeting every four years, comprises an equal number of clergy and lay delegates. In each Annual Conference, CME bishops serve for four-year terms. CME Church bishops may be male or female.
In 2006, there were an estimated 850,000 members in 3,500 churches.
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