Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Chair, Commission on Publications
The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder
The Christian Recorder News Break – More about the USPS Ceremony Unveiling the Richard Allen Postage Stamp
(Philadelphia) AMEs will be present, but so will people from all walks of life, and faith groups. The United States Postal Service has selected Richard Allen for its 2016 Black Heritage Stamp. The news of this selection was warmly received and with great jubilation as an “answer to prayer and the vigorous culmination of a global campaign.”
An earlier attempt was made to have a Richard Allen stamp and a prototypical photo was drawn and circulated. It was stated that while the founding of the AME Church was noteworthy, the “firewall” between government and religion made it ill-advisable to honor the request for a Richard Allen postage stamp.
In 2002, Bishop Vinton Randolph Anderson was lamenting about some of the things he has wanted to do prior to his 2004 retirement. He mentioned the idea of a Richard Allen postal stamp to Sister "Jackie" Dupont-Walker. She made inquiries and learned more about the earlier effort to garner a Richard Allen postage stamp from Bishop Frederick Hilborn Talbot and learned more after meeting and talking with the then pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church, the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey N. Leath. The research and the conversation with Pastor Leath revealed “a ram in the bush.” One of the members of Mother Bethel was a member of the USPS Postal Commission and with her assistance our outreach began in earnest for the approval of the Richard Allen postage stamp and to demonstrate that Richard Allen was a true patriot, humanitarian, churchman extraordinaire and an advisor to U.S. Presidents.
In 2004, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry became the chair of the AME Church Social Action Commission and Sister Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker was elected by the General Board to serve as the Director of the Commission.
Another inquiry was made, and the request was “put in the pipeline.” AMEs became restless, so we enlisted support from others who knew the Richard Allen story.
The AME Council of Bishops gave its full support to the Social Action Commission to "make it happen."
A petition drive was initiated and with the help of loyal members of the AME Church, members of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, the United Methodist Church (UMC), Baptists, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Moravian, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, International Council of Community Churches, the Divine 9 Greek organizations, Masons, Elks, media, press, local neighborhood groups, family and friends; 40,000 signatures were validated among thousands of petition-signers.
We waited and prayed and in the meantime, a new AME Social Action chair was assigned - Bishop Reginald T. Jackson. We continued to wait and pray for an answer. AMEs in positions of influence or knowledge were contacted, and encouraged to lend their voices and support and the standard greeting became - "Have you heard anything yet?"
You may remember that the USPS was threatened with its own demise and turned its attention into a survival mode for approximately 2 years and we all knew that commemorative stamps could not be printed if there was no USPS. We joined in their survival battle with somewhat of a self-serving interest. (Smiles).
Tension built as the anniversary of the Yellow Fever Epidemic came in 2013, and "no word." Then we turned up the heat and we learned that Richard Allen had been selected as the 2016 Black Heritage Stamp Honoree and nothing could have prepared us for the relief, gratitude and sheer joy of finally saying... “We have heard something!”
Tomorrow, in addition to the program participants already mentioned, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry and Bishop Jeffry N. Leath are program participants. Richard Lawrence, a descendent of Richard Allen will be speaking for the family and other family members will be present. Finally, the sojourner of this journey, Sister "Jackie" Dupont-Walker will be shouting, "Thank you" with jubilation.
Representatives from the AME leadership, ecumenical and interfaith leadership and many who signed the petitions and lifted this effort in prayer will be present.
See you tomorrow in person, online, or via live streaming:http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mother-bethel-ame-church.
Tomorrow and in the days following, stage your own local post office "walk in" and buy stamps.
After tomorrow, order the Richard Allen Postage Stamp - www.USPS.com. Schedule a ceremony with your local postal service and keep the celebration going.
We want to have the earliest sell-out of any commemorative stamp in US Postal history - Do we see a second printing before the end of February? "With God, and together, it shall be done!”
For more information, go to www.ame-church.com