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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER
The Christian Recorder is the oldest existing black periodical in America, and the only one in the United States whose existence dated before the Civil War. It had its genesis in the Christian Herald, which was established by the General Conference that was held in Philadelphia in 1848. The Christian Herald was a published weekly and subscribers paid one dollar and fifty cents a year.
The name of the Christian Herald was changed to The Christian Recorder at the Ninth Quadrennial Session of the General Conference that was held in 1852 in New York City. The first issue was published and disseminated on July 1, 1852. The first editor of The Christian Recorder was the Reverend M. M. Clark, who was one of the first college graduates in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Clark was a graduate of Jefferson College and was considered to be one of the best-educated men in the A.M.E. Church. He wrote that the Recorder's focus would be religion, morality, science and literature and it was to treat all geographical areas of the A.M.E. Church equally.
In 1864 John M. Brown was elected to succeed Elisha Weaver as editor but declined to serve due to his missionary duties in the wartime south. He was later elected and consecrated as the 11th bishop of the A.M.E. Church.
The Christian Recorder focused on religious news, but a lot of the paper was devoted to secular news. Articles were written about education, voting rights, equality, and other secular issues that affected the lives of black Americans. The Christian Recorder was a forum to address slavery, classism, as well as racism. Articles were written by black women and about black women, and the paper also addressed issues related to families.
The Christian Recorder was a strong and vocal opponent to slavery. It repeatedly addressed the biblical and moral issues of slavery and encouraged and nurtured black consciousness. Following the Civil War, the Recorder encouraged its readers to be diligent in protecting their families from whites who wanted to harm the newly freed slaves and regularly addressed the issue of families separated by the evils of slavery and published articles that tried to provide information that would assist in the reuniting of family members.
The Christian Recorder has been a faithful voice for the disenfranchised and the oppressed. The publication addressed various issues confronting the black community and has been an advocate for justice and equal rights. During Reconstruction, it advocated education for all citizens and was an activist for higher education and especially for an educated ministry.
The Christian Recorder has always been faithful to and a voice for the African Methodist Episcopal Church and black Americans. It was an anchor for the African American community and its columns were blessed with remarkable contributions in the form of essays, editorials, poetry and articles on various subjects that were relevant and timely. The Christian Recorder has provided its readers with a wealth of information that benefited the soul as well as the mind. The Recorder has been a ministry to the readers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from its beginning to the present time.
The Western Christian Recorder came into existence at the General Conference in Columbus, Ohio in 1890. Dr. J. Frank McDonald was its first editor. Other editors include Dr. J. D. Barksdale and Dr. J. H. Wilson.
In 1882, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner founded the Southern Recorder. Editors who served include Bradwell, R. M. Cheeks, G. E. Taylor, M. S. Bryant, G. W. Allen, J. H. Claybourne, E. C. Hatcher, and S. L. Jones.
The Western and Southern Christian Recorders were established because the Church was growing and the constituents in the West and the South wanted more news about their regions. A woman, M. A. McCurdy, served as the editor of the Southern Christian Recorder.
The Christian Recorder continues to serve the African Methodist Episcopal Church in local communities and around the world.
Editors of The Christian Recorder
1. Molliston Madison Clark 1852-1854