A.M.E. church to hold convention despite pleas for boycott of host city

ST. LOUIS — The African Methodist Episcopal Church will hold its convention in St. Louis this summer despite boycott pleas by local blacks unhappy with the city's white mayor.

More than 40,000 delegates, church leaders and other A.M.E. visitors from around the world will meet July 3-11.

The U.S. church, which has roots dating back to 1787, claims 2 million members in three dozen countries.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay joined a dozen A.M.E. leaders at a news conference Tuesday to announce the convention.

Slay is the target of a recall effort by a group of black city residents who also have waged a campaign to have conventions boycott the city.

They object to last year's dismissal of the city's first black fire chief, Sherman George.

Bishop John Richard Bryant, whose district includes states west of the Mississippi River, said planners already had signed contracts committing the church, and its estimated $30 million economic impact, to St. Louis before learning of the boycott.

Besides, ”in speaking with the mayor and the council of local pastors who have worked with Mayor Slay in the past, we have no regrets,“ Bryant said.