In 1852, prior to his being elected a bishop in the AME Zion Church Bishop John Jamison Moore has been credited in establishing a Zion Church in San Francisco, CA. The first AME Zion Church was founded in San Francisco, CA in August 1852 on Stockton St. between Broadway and Vallejo streets with Rev. John Jamison Moore serving as the pastor. The church moved to Pacific St. later. In 1864 they purchased the Rev. Thomas Starr King Church property. The church was pastured by Rev. John Jamison Moore (later Bishop), Rev. Lodge, Walters, Hector, A. B. Smith, W. H. Hillary and C. C. Pettey. The church was organized in 1902.
Comments made about Bishop Moore concerning California were as follows 1“He left Baltimore in 1852 for California, where he established several churches, one in San Francisco worth fifty thousand dollars, the colored people in this country having none which excel it. Returning to the East with his family in 1868, he was made Bishop, in which capacity he has served for fourteen years, having discharged in that office a mission to England and also to British America.”
At the 10th Session of the General Conference California appears to not be included in the Episcopal assignments yet made by the Committee on Episcopal Districts.
The 11th Session of the General Conference of the A. M. E. Zion Church convened on Wednesday, May 25th, 1864. The report of the Committee on Boundaries, reported that 2“The California Conference,–to embrace Upper California and all that part of Lower California” The report of the Committee on Districting of the Bishops was 3“Fourth District, North Carolina, Louisiana and California Conferences: Rt. Rev. Joseph Jackson Clinton.” Bishop Clinton was elected Superintendent till elected Bishop in 1868.
Bishop J. J. Clinton organized the First Session of the California Conference which convened in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 10th, 1868. Bishop Clinton opened the session by reading Isaiah 52, and the selection of the 960th hymn of Methodist Selections; prayer was offered by the Rev. Adam B. Smith. Bishop Clinton 4, 5“then delivered an impressive address, upon God’s gracious providence in bringing him safely to the Pacific coast. The members, many of them, rose and responded to him congratulatory. The members stood enrolled as follows: Elders John J. Moore, Adam Smith; Preachers Joshua B. Handy, Wm. B. Smith, James B. Wilkinson, James Lodge, A. T. Rogers, R. T. Houston, R Bradford; Lay delegates, Henry M. Collins, Wm. Brooks, Thomas Gaines.”
During the 13th Session, May 22, 1868 of the 12th General Conference the Episcopal Districts were assigned Bishop John Delaware Brooks was assigned the Sixth District, California and Pacific Coast. May 28, 1868 at the 18th Day Session of the 12th General Conference with Bishop Talbot presiding a resolution was adopted which gave 6“Bishops power to transfer ministers from one conference to another without his choice, providing always the Bishop give the minister two months notice.” The Committee on Conference Boundaries reported as follows: 7”XVI. The California Conference,–to embrace the states of California and Oregon, and British Columbia.”
Bishop John D. Brooks, because of illness was unable to preside over the Second Session of the California Annual Conference which convened in the Zion Church on Stockton St, San Francisco, CA. on November 10th, 1869. Rev. William H. Hilliery, Presiding Elder was authorized to chair the session. 8“Edward Hall was appointed Secretary of the conference, Thomas E. Gaines and J. F. Anderson, Assistant Secretaries. The roll being called showed the following members present: Elders, Wm. H. Hilliary Joshua B. Handy, Adam B. Smith, James M. Wilkinson; Preachers, Wm. Stevens, John F. Anderson, Edward Hall, Albert Elliot, Rebecca Bradford; Lay delegates, Henry M. Collins, Thomas E. Gaines.”
On July 2, 1872 the 11th Session at the 13th General Conference 9“The Chairman declared the following duly elected Bishops to serve four years, until their successors are elected and installed: J. J. Clinton, S. D. Talbot, J. W. Hood, J. J. Moore, S. T. Jones, J. W. Loguen.”
At the 14th General Conference Bishops were districted with the Sixth District, Bishop William. H. Hillery. Presiding over the Ninth Session of the California Annual Conference was Bishop William. H. Hillery. The Conference convened in San Francisco, CA. at the Zion Church on Stockton St on March 21st, 1877. Conference roll was called, the following members were in attendance: 10“Rt. Rev. Wm. H. Hilliary, Rev. J. F. Anderson, Secretary, Rev. Jenkins Williams, Assistant Secretary, Revs. J. B. Handy, A. C. Fisher, A. B. Smith, James M. Wilkinson; Lay delegates, Samuel E. Freeman, Wm. A. Mitchell, M. L. Davis, James Hargrove.” The Tenth Session of the California Annual Conference convened in San Francisco, CA on March 21, 1878. Bishop William H. Hillery presided. 11“The committee on statistics reported to the conference as follows: Number of members In San Francisco, 40; in San Jose, 27; in Portland Oregon, 16; in Napa, 17; Total, 100.”
At the 15th General Conference, in 1880 on the 16th Day Session a resolution was adopted 12“abolishing the quadrennial re-election of bishops and fixing their term of office during good standing and efficiency for duty.”
Bishop Charles Calvin Pettey, A. M., D. D. Elected bishop in 1888, organized the Oregon Conference in 1892. About Bishop Petty, 13“The Portland Church had been established in the days of Moore and Clinton. He established churches in other parts of Oregon and in the state of Washington, and because of the vast distances of the California Conference, (which included all of California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington), he attempted to organize the Oregon Conference in 1892. The bishops succeeding him, Bishops Walters and George W. Clinton, did not attempt to hold separate conferences due to the tremendous span of territory which they were assigned; the far west was a mission field of the East and Midwest. The mode of travel and the hardships they endured made it difficult to expand according to their dreams in this western section of the country. However, progress was made in establishing new churches.”
Rev. Alexander Walters was appointed to pastor Stockton Street Church in San Francisco, CA. in May 1883 by Bishop James Walker Hood, D. D. He served as Presiding Elder over the California Churches and the Portland, OR church. General Conference of 1892 Rev. Walters was elected and ordained a Bishop. 14“When the assignment of the bishops was made, I received the Seventh Episcopal District, which comprised the following conferences: Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, California, West Tennessee, Mississippi and Oregon Conferences.”
Bishop Josiah Samuel Caldwell was elected 30th bishop at the May 1904 General Conference, he re-organized the Oregon Conference on October 23, 1910. Comments concerning Bishop Caldwell, 15“Aware of the extensive territory of this one conference, he organized the Oregon Conference, October 23, 1910. Reverend W. W. Matthews (later bishop) was at Portland, and working in that area to help extend the borders of the conference. The work included the churches in the state of Washington, and in 1916 the conference became known as the Oregon-Washington Conference. By 1920, it had spread to parts of Idaho and Wyoming, and Bishop Kyles had added a few missions, including Wall Walla, Washington and Reading, California. Some of these missions did not survive.”
Official directory of the AME Zion Connection as listed in the Birds Eye View Louisville General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church by Jacob W. Powell in 1918. We find for the 7th Episcopal District Bishop Linwood Westinghouse Kyles, A. M., S. T. D. as the contact and the conferences were listed as follows California Conference, Oregon-Washington Conference, North Arkansas Conference and Arkansas Conference. Elected 34th Bishop in 1916 assigned the Pacific Coast for 8 years.
Bishop John William Martin was elected bishop in 1924, assigned Pacific Coast. He was the first resident bishop on the Pacific Coast adding many congregations to the connection.
Bishop William Cornelius Brown was elected 48th bishop 1936, assigned Pacific Coast later. Bishop William Andrew Stewart was elected bishop in 1952. Bishop Joseph Dixon Cauthen was elected 62nd bishop May 1956.
Bishop William Alexander Hilliard, in 1960, Rev. Hilliard was elevated to the episcopacy and became the 67th Bishop in succession of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
Bishop George Junius Leake, III was elected 75th bishop May 1972, assigned the 11th Episcopal District included California, SWRM, Colorado, Missouri and Cape Fear Conferences.
Bishop Herman L. Anderson in 1980 he was elected 77th Bishop, he was assigned the 9th Episcopal District included OR-WA, California, Alaska, SWRM, Pee Dee and West Alabama Conferences.
Bishop George W. C. Walker Sr. was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 81st bishop in succession at the 43rd General Conference which met in August 1988. Bishop Walker served in the Western Episcopal District from 1988 – 1992.
Bishop Clarence Carr was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 89th bishop in succession at the 44th
General Conference which met in July 1992. Bishop Carr served three quadrennials in the Western Episcopal District from 1992 – 2004.
Bishop Roy A. Holmes was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 92nd bishop in succession at the 47th
General Conference which met in 2004. Bishop Roy A. Holmes served one quadrennial in the Western Episcopal District from 2004 – 2008.
Bishop Dennis V. Proctor was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 97th bishop in succession at the
48th Session of the General Conference in July 2008. Bishop Proctor served from 2008 – 2012 in the Western Episcopal District.
Bishop W. Darin Moore was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 99th bishop in succession at the 49th Session of the General Conference in July 2012. Bishop Moore served for one quadrennial in the Western Episcopal District from 2012 – 2016.
Bishop Staccato Powell was elected to the episcopacy and consecrated as the 102th bishop in succession at the 50th Session of the General Conference in July 2016. Bishop Powell current has served in the Western Episcopal District since 2016. Bishop Powell is the second episcopate to establish a residency in the Western Episcopal District.
by Rev. William H. Dudley, last update March 20, 2017