1 9 8 6 – 1 9 9 1 (USA)
110 x 30 minute episodes
Screened as part of NBC’s Saturday evening offering for over five years, Amen was set in an African-American church and revolved around the church’s insufferable Deacon, Ernest Frye (played by Sherman Hemsley, who had previously appeared as George Jefferson on All In The Family and The Jeffersons) whose father had founded the First Community Church of Philadelphia, and who intended to keep it under his thumb.
The series also starred Clifton Davis as the church’s pastor, Reverend Reuben Gregory.
Anna Maria Horsford played Thelma Frye – Ernest’s awkward 30-year-old unmarried daughter who was pitifully in love with the handsome Reverend Gregory.
Also appearing were Barbara Montgomery and Roz Ryan as Casietta and Amelia Hetebrink – two chattering sisters who were members of the church board; Jester Hairston as Rolly Forbes, the board’s wise old voice of reason; Rosetta LeNoire as Leola Forbes; and Franklin Seales as Lorenzo Hollingsworth.
Developments in later seasons included the marriage of Rolly to Thelma’s great-aunt Leola (Rosetta LeNoire) in November 1987; Deacon Frye’s “fantasy wedding” to colourful guest star Jackee later that season; and the long-awaited moment when Thelma finally tied the knot with the man of her dreams, Reverend Gregory, in February 1990.
In the final season, Deacon Frye was appointed a judge, so he could wreak havoc in the courts as well as the church.
Younger faces in the show included a charismatic 12-year-old preacher, Rev. Johnny Tolbert (played in several 1987 guest appearances by real-life child minister Rev. William Hudson III); six-year-old parishioner Chris (Tony T Johnson), who was not shy about his opinions; and in the last season, a hip street kid and aspiring rapper named Clarence (Bumper Robinson) who was taken in by the Deacon and who looked up to him admiringly.
The final original episode featured Deacon Frye staging a telethon to raise money to save the church, culminating in his wild imitation of James Brown – which was topped when Brown himself walked on and launched into his patented “I Feel Good!”.
Clifton Davis was an actual ordained minister. While Amen was being aired, Davis was the assistant pastor at the Loma Linda Seventh Day Adventist Church in California.
Deacon Ernest Frye
Rev Reuben Gregory
Anna Maria Horsford
Tony T Johnson