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History of the A.M.E. Zion Church

Rev Rush

Life of Christoper Rush

Christopher Rush was born in Craven County, North Carolina on February 4, 1777. Rush was born into a life of slavery. Rush embraced Christianity in 1793. He escaped to New York in 1798, after being manumitted by his enslaver or by being purchased. He joined the new A.M.E. Zion Church in 1803 and eventually became a licensed preacher in 1815. He rose through the ranks and after more than a decade of service to the church was elected as superintendent in 1828 and became the second Episcopal denominational leader of the church after James Varick who had died the previous year. The position of Superintendent was then renamed to the position of Bishop. Rush served as the church’s sole Bishop for more than 14 years and was succeeded by George Miller and George Galbraith. During his position as Bishop, Rush ordained many future church leaders, including one Reverend Thomas James who would not only preach in the Rochester branch of the AME Zion Church, but New Paltz as well. Rush would travel across the Northeast and Canada and do missionary work, preached the gospel, helped in educational work, and engaged in antislavery/abolition movements. Rush would help educate both enslaved and formerly enslaved individuals as the AME Zion Church would move to become a beacon of abolitionist thinking that was growing in the country. He eventually met with the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who had also been enslaved. The two established a friendship and Douglass would become close to the AME Zion Church. Later in life, Rush would partially lose his eyesight and retired in 1842. Rush would become a founder and the first President of the Phoenix Society in NYC, an organization that would engage in educational work and antislavery activism. The Phoenix Society would begin operations in 1833. On July 10, 1873 Christopher Rush died in Philadelphia. He would later be buried in the Mother Zion Church Cypress Hill Cemetery in New York.