The first Connectional Laymen’s Organization was established by the action of the General Conference in 1916. However, because of the lack of interest and the needed support, the organization became dormant until its rebirth in 1948.
After much research, work, and study of the Lay movement in other religious organizations by a concerned group of lay and clergy members, a Resolution which resulted in the rebirth of the organization was developed and submitted at the thirty-third Quadrennial session of the General Conference at Louisville, Kentucky on May 20, 1948. The Connectional Laymen’s Council was then, in fact, reborn.
Adoption of the group’s Resolution resulted in action that is found under Chapter XI, 649 of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Book of Discipline, a portion of which reads as follows:
The General Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church directs that there shall be a Lay Council for the purpose of deepening the spiritual life of the Laity; to disseminate information; to cultivate denominational loyalty, to expand the denomination through education and evangelism and to promote any other interest of the Kingdom of God. The Lay Council shall be under the control of the Board of Lay Activities, which Board shall be appointed by the Board of Bishops.”
Because of the efforts, determination and vision of the aforementioned group, today the Lay Ministry of the A.M.E. Zion Church is actively operating under the banner of the Lay Council with an enrollment of over 33,000 members. That group’s leaders included the following lay and clergy persons (all of whom are now deceased): Dr. James W. Eichelberger, Executive Secretary of the Department of Christian Education of the A.M.E. Zion Church, Dr. Victor J. Tulane of John Wesley Church, Washington, D.C., Mr. Arthur E. Brooks of Union Wesley Church, Washington, D.C., Mr. Alexander Barnes, Director of the Department of Public Relations of the A.M.E. Zion Church, and the Rev. J. Clinton Hoggard, (now the late Bishop Hoggard). Since its’ rebirth, the organization has been led by the following presidents:
|1952 – 1964||Dr. Victor J. Tulane|
|1964 – 1976||Mr. Arthur E. Brooks|
|1976 – 1985||Dr. Betty V. Stith|
|1985 – 1988||Dr. C., Dupont Rippy
(Resigned August 1988 upon election to Judicial Council)
|1988 – 1993||Mr. James E. Hewitt, Jr.
(Elected August 1989)
|1993 – 1997||Mrs. Mary E. Taylor|
|1997 – 2001||Mrs. Lula K. Howard|
|2001 – 2009||Dr. David A. Aiken, Sr.|
|2009 – 2012||Dr. Yvonne A. Tracey|
|2012 – Present||Dr. Mary J. Matthews|
**For an in depth History, please refer to the Connectional Lay Council Handbook**