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Florence Spearing Randolph

News Clipping of Florence Spearing Randolph

Image from New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. The New Jersey State Federation News, vol. 1, no. 2 (Septemeber 1927): front page. Courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ

Florence Spearing Randolph (1866-1951) was a minister for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

She sought a license to preach in 1897 and although her gender caused friction among older AMEZ bishops and ministers, Randolph received her license. This allowed her to progress through the subsequent stages that led to her proper ordination as a minister. Randolph was ordained but initially only in the role of deacon. In 1903, she was ordained an elder in the church which allowed her to consecrate the sacraments and serve communion to church members.

In 1925, Randolph built her own church in Summit, New Jersey. She retired in 1946 after 21 years of active ministry in Wallace Chapel. Throughout her professional career, Randolph also served as President of New Jersey Women’s Foreign Missionary Society and played a role in the creation of the society’s Bureau of Supplies. The Bureau worked to coordinate the collection and distribution of all donations to foreign mission fields. In her role as secretary of the society, Randolph was awarded an opportunity to travel throughout the interior of Liberia and Gold Coast to gain firsthand knowledge of the AMEZ foreign mission field. Finally, Randolph organized the NJ State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, where she served as its president for 12 years and was also an Executive Board member of the NJ Woman Suffrage Association.

Questions to Explore

Where did Randolph get the support to build her own church in Summit, New Jersey?

What are some of the roadblocks Randolph faced as a female Minister? How did she overcome them?

What were the donations to foreign Mission fields used for?

Additional Resources

Giver-Johnston Donna. 2021. Claiming the Call to Preach : Four Female Pioneers of Preaching in Nineteenth-Century America. New York NY: Oxford University Press. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=2928485

Washington Ethel M. 2006. Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph D.d. : An Unsung Heroine of the Cloth. Summit (N.J.): Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. https://www.worldcat.org/title/70245564 

Gilbert Kenyatta R. 2016. A Pursued Justice : Black Preaching from the Great Migration to Civil Rights. Waco Texas: Baylor University Press. https://www.worldcat.org/title/945804209