Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Sep 27, 1986 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

In the series pilot, Deacon Ernest Frye (Sherman Hemsley) and the First Community Church board seeks a new minister (Clifton Davis).

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  • Deacon Ernest J. Frye, a lifetime member of the First Community Church of Philadelphia (and son of its founder), fires the church's current pastor. Soon, the church board is interviewing the next man who will assume the ministry: Rev. Reuben Gregory.moreless

    The show gets underway with this pilot episode. It doesn't feature any of the physical comedy or gags that 'Amen' is known for, but Sherman Hemsley's lead character is strongly defined as a deacon who seems to blur the line between ethics and greed. There isn't much mention made of his being a lawyer, but he does help a 17 year old member of the congregation negotiate a deal to play basketball for a top-ranked college. Of course, the boy's mother does not agree with Ernie's maneuverings, and she consults with the newly hired minister, Rev. Gregory (played by Clifton Davis). So, immediately, the two men who are running the church are at odds. During the interview in which the new reverend is hired, it is learned that he has impressive credentials and that he was once arrested for demonstrating against racism. The relationship between Reuben and Ernie's daughter, Thelma, is given very little screen time, but they do have their first meeting; and he seems just as taken with her as she does with him. Meanwhile, Jester Hairston is featured as a guest star in his role as Brother Rolly Forbes; and Franklyn Seales is listed as a star in the opening credits as Lorenzo Hollingsworth, the choir director. In the next episode, Hairston is upgraded to become one of the show's stars; and Seales does not appear. However, Seales will continue to play the church's musical director on a recurring basis, mid-way thru the second season. There are two other actors that do not survive the pilot. Maria McDonald is a secretary named Michelle Thomas, and E'lon portrays Winston. Both of those characters are dropped from the rest of the series. The Hetebrink sisters, played by Barbara Montgomery and Roz Ryan, will function as secretaries at the church beginning in the next episode.moreless
  • What a Beginning

    The first episode of "Amen" has sat the tone for the rest of the series. Sherman Hemsley plays a mean-spirited deacon who in the opening episode, fired his pastor and hire a new one, played by Clifton Davis. The clash of idea between the two is amazing, and helpful as the series goes on. Anna Maria Houseford as the Decon's long suffering daughter who has the eyes for the Rev. the chemistry between Hemsley and Davis is incredible. what I also like about the series is the uplifting theme song. One of the best theme songs I've ever heard. "Amen" has brough beck memories of when I saw the show for the first time.moreless
Sherman Hemsley

Sherman Hemsley

Deacon Ernest Frye

Clifton Davis

Clifton Davis

Rev. Reuben Gregory

Anna Maria Horsford

Anna Maria Horsford

Thelma Frye

Barbara Montgomery

Barbara Montgomery

Casietta Hetebrink (1986-1990)

Roz Ryan

Roz Ryan

Amelia Hetebrink

Franklyn Seales

Franklyn Seales

Lorenzo Hollingsworth (1986)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • Rev. Gregory says he was once arrested for picketing against racism outside the South African Embassy.

    • During the interview, Rev. Gregory says he has the following credentials: he has a Bachelor's degree from Morehouse College; he has a Master's in Religious Education from Yale Divinity School; and he possesses a Doctorate in Christian Studies from Union Theological Seminary.

    • The first shot of the opening credits in this episode (and all the show's episodes) shows Sherman Hemsley driving into the church parking lot. We see a sign that reads: 'Reserved, Deacon Frye, Don't Even THINK About Parking Here!'

    • The setting for 'Amen' is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    • The show's theme song was written by famed gospel musician Andrae Crouch.

    • The theme song for 'Amen' is "Shine On Me" sung by Vanessa Bell Armstrong.

    • In real life, Sherman Hemsley was only 9 years older than Anna Maria Horsford, who played his daughter Thelma on this series.

    • The Hetebrink sisters act as if they're about the same age. In real life, Barbara Montgomery was 12 years older than Roz Ryan.

    • Franklyn Seales appears on the hit sitcom 'Silver Spoons.'

    • Jester Hairston who portrays Rolly Forbes during the show's entire run was 85 years old when the first episode of 'Amen' was broadcast. He was 89 when the show left the airwaves four and a half years later. He lived to the ripe old age of 98.

    • Sherman Hemsley had not appeared in a starring role on television for a year since the demise of 'The Jeffersons' on CBS in 1985. This series was produced by Johnny Carson's production company for NBC.

    • Actor John Hancock appears again in season five in another role.

    • Deacon: (gesturing towards Reverend's ample girth) God gave each of us a temple. You have torn yours down and put up a Pizza Hut!

    • Deacon: Reverend, it's been six months since I hired you as pastor of this church and attendance is down twelve percent, our collections are down thirty three percent and your waist is up two hundred and fifty percent!

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (5)

    • Continuity: exterior shots used to represent the deacon's home in the pilot (and in subsequent episodes of 'Amen') clearly show a screen door leading on to the porch. During the series' run, these shots will occasionally be updated featuring different, more modern automobiles. But there is always a screen door. However, the interior set of the deacon's home never features a screen door. The characters enter and exit the house by using just one large wooden door.

    • After the pilot, E'lon is dropped as a regular member of the cast, but he will pop up again as a guest playing the same character.

    • After the pilot was sold, the role of the administrative assistant 'Michelle' was eliminated. The Hetebrink sisters, who had been shown in scenes as board members, were now more fully integrated, taking over as the church's two secretaries.

    • Franklyn Seales does not remain a regular member of the cast after this pilot episode. That's because he was still under contract to Columbia Pictures Television for his role in 'Silver Spoons.' 'Silver Spoons' had been cancelled by NBC in the spring of 1986. But after Seales made the pilot for 'Amen,' the producers of 'Silver Spoons' struck a deal to make new episodes for syndication. Therefore, Seales had to bow out of 'Amen,' but he would still appear on a recurring basis in the role of choir director Lorenzo Hollingsworth.

    • In this episode, the deacon walks through the chapel to the church offices to begin the first scene of the show. The music stops when the first lines are spoken. For the remainder of the series, after the deacon walks through the chapel, we see an overhead view of the church.