A History of the Denominations which form the Heritage of the The United Methodist Church in the United States:
The church experienced splits right from the beginning. In 1787, St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia withdrew over the issue of segregation, leading to the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, under Richard Allen, in 1816. In 1796, a group split from the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church in New York and became the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
Greater splits occured in the early nineteenth century. In 1830, the Methodist Protestant Church was formed by a group who withdrew over the power of bishops and lack of lay representation in church governance. The Wesleyan Methodist Church was founded n 1843 by Orange Scott and Luther Lee, primarily over the reluctance of the Methodist Episcopal Church to take a firm stand against slavery. Within the Methodist Episcopal Church, a controversy arose in 1844 when Bishop James O. Andrew of Georgia married a woman who owned slaves. Northern delegates, in the majority, passes a resolution barring Bishop Andrew from serving. In reaction, southern delegates voted a Plan of Separation, and split from the main church to form the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Blacks were members of the MEC-S, though they met separately, or left to join with the Northern Church. In 1870, the black congregations split from the MEC-S to form the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, re-named in 1956 as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
During the early twentieth century, the issue of slavery was no longer present, and the Methodist Protestants began to dwindle in membership, so in 1939 there was a merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church to form the Methodist Church (U.S.). In 1968, this body merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, to form the United Methodist Church (U.S.).
The evangelical line was not that different from the Wesleyan philosophy. The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was organized in 1800 officially, though conferences had been held as early as 1774. Early leaders were Martin Boehm and Philip William Otterbein, focusing primarily on German-speaking populations in Pennsylvania and nearby areas. The Evangelical Association/Evangelische Gemeinschaft was organized in 1807 following years of work by Jacob Albright in German-speaking areas of Pennsylvania. Albright himself had joined a Methodist class and become a lay preacher before working toward his own church. The 1807 name Der Neuformirten Methodisten Confernez (The Newly-Formed Methodist Conference) was renamed the Evangelische Gemeinschaft in 1816. The first Discipline published in 1809 is very close to the Methodist Episcopal Church Discipline German edition.
The Evangelical Association itself split in 1894 with the creation of the United Evangelical Church. Causes of this split were deep, centered on mistrust and disputes over who had authority to do what. For several years prior, nearly every office was duplicated in opposing camps. The disputes proved frivolous, and as soon as 1907 steps were taken toward reconciliation, which occured in 1922 when the two groups merged to form the Evangelical Church. One group of churches not satisfied with this merger intended to remain as the United Evangelical Church but were forced in 1928 to re-name themselves the Evangelical Congregational Church. In 1946, the Evangelical Church merged with theChurch of the United Brethren in Christ to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church continue to this day. The Wesleyan Methodist Church continues today as the Wesleyan Church, having merged in 1968 with the Pilgrim Holiness Church, begun in 1897 as part of the Holiness revival movement.
For more information, see the official United Methodist Church website, history page.