Methodist Episcopal Church, South
Methodist Episcopal Church, South
I. Early History. — In the year 1766 Philip Embury and Captain Thomas Webb, Methodist local preachers, began to preach in New York, and in the same year Robert Strawbridge, also a local preacher, in Maryland. In 1769 Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor were sent over to America as missionaries by the Rev. John Wesley; and they were followed in 1771 by Francis Asbury and Richard Wright. In 1772 Asbury was made general assistant, that is, superintendent, under Wesley, of the Methodist societies in America. They were all connected with the Colonial Church of England, until that Church was disbanded after the Revolution. As they had no ordained ministers, and the English bishops would not ordain any for them, though importuned to do so by Wesley, he undertook to ordain some for them himself, and to organize his societies into a regular Episcopal Church, to take the place, so far as the Methodists were concerned, of the old Colonial Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church in America, as it was styled, was organized in 1784. The Rev. John Wesley, MA, consecrated the Rev. Thomas Coke, LLD., who was, like himself, a presbyter of the Church of England, to the office of superintendent, or bishop, of the new organization-other clergymen of the Church of England assisting in the consecration. Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey were at the same time ordained elders, or presbyters, for the American Church. Conferences of the preachers had been held annually from the year 1773; but now a special Conference was convened in Baltimore, and bishop Coke consecrated Francis Asbury as bishop, and several elders and deacons were ordained at the same time. The Conference gave its suffrage to all these appointments. Wesley and his associates proceeded upon the true principle that the Episcopacy is derived from the Plesbytery of the Church, so far as it differs from the latter in this respect reverting to the ancient regimen which recognised the bishop as primus inter pares. Certain functions of government are ordinarily restricted to the Episcopacy to prevent schism and confusion, but with no idea of a jus divinum-as if bishops were, by God's ordinance, a third order in the ministry, and that there can be no Church without one of them. Thus the American Methodists became truly Episcopal, without any tincture of either Romish, Oriental, or Anglican prelacy-that, indeed, being precluded by the repudiation of the dogma of uninterrupted apostolical succession. The Church being thus organized with a Liturgy and Confession of Faith, judiciously abridged by Mr. Wesley from the Prayer-book and Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, and a Discipline essentially the same as that of the parent Wesleyan body in England, went forward with astonishing success, extending all over the territory of the United States and Canada. As the exigencies required, new bishops were consecrated, and various modifications took place in the discipline of the Church. In 1792 it was ordered that all the travelling preachers in full connection should attend the General Conference; in 1800 this was restricted to all who had travelled four years; in 1804 this was explained to mean "from the time they were received on trial by an Annual Conference." But as their number multiplied, a delegated General Conference was organized to meet quadrennially the first meeting being in 1812. The ratio of representation was one delegate to every five travelling preachers in full connection. This ratio has been repeatedly altered, in view of the constant increase of the Annual Conferences. The General Conference was bound by the following restrictive rules: " The General Conference shall have full powers to make rules and regulations for our Church, under the following limitations and restrictions, namely:
1. The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our articles of religion, nor establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.
2. They shall not allow of more than one representative for every five members of the Annual Conference, nor allow of a less number than one for every seven.
3. They shall not change or alter any part or rule of our government, so as to do away Episcopacy, or destroy the plan of :our general superintendency.
4. They shall not revoke or change the General Rules of the United Societies.
5. They shall not do away the privileges of our ministers or preachers of trial by a committee, and of an appeal; neither shall they do away the privileges of our members of trial before the society, or by a committee, and of an appeal.
6. They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern, nor of the Chartered Fund, to any purpose other than for the benefit of the travelling, supernumerary, superannuated, and worn-out preachers, their wives, widows, and children. Provided, nevertheless, that upon the joint recommendation of all the Annual Conferences, then a majority of two thirds of the General Conference succeeding shall suffice to alter any of the above restrictions." In 1832 the proviso was changed thus: "Provided, nevertheless, that upon the concurrent recommendation of three fourths of all the members of the several Annual Conferences who shall be present and vote on such recommendation, then a majority of two thirds of the General Conference succeeding shall suffice to. alter any of the above restrictions excepting the first article; and also, whenever such alteration or alterations shall have been first recommended by two thirds of the General Conference, so soon as three fourths of the members of all the Annual Conferences shall have concurred as aforesaid, such alteration or alterations shall take effect."
II. The Slavery Question. — From the beginning the American, Methodists legislated on the subject of negro slavery-at first (1780) advising the members holding slaves to emancipate them; then (1783) warning local preachers that it may be necessary to suspend them if they did not in one year emancipate their slaves, if they held them ' contrary to the laws which authorize their freedom in any of the United States;" then (1784) ordering that those who bought negroes to hold them as slaves, being previously warned, should be expelled; and forbidding them to sell them on any consideration; and suspending the local preachers in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey who refused to emancipate them, but "trying those in Virginia another year." All this was before the Church was organized. At the time of the organization of the Church, the following rules were adopted:
"Quest. 41. Are there any directions to be given concerning the negroes?'
Ans. Letevery preacher, as often as possible, meet them in class; and let the assistant always appoint a proper white person as their leader. Let the assistants also make a regular return to the Conference of the number of negroes in society in their respective circuits.
"Quest. 42. What methods can we take to extirpate slavery?
Ans. We are deeply conscious of the impropriety of making new terms of communion for a religious society already established, excepting on the most pressing occasion ; and such we esteem the practice of holding our fellow-creatures in slavery. We view it as contrary to the golden law of God, on which hang all the law and the prophets, and the inalienable rights of mankind, as well as every principle of the Revolution, to hold in the deepest debasement, in a more abject slavery than is perhaps to be found in any part of the world except America, so many souls that are all capable of the image of God. We therefore think it our most bounden duty to take immediately some effectual method to extirpate this abomination from among us; and for that purpose we add the following to the rules of our society, viz.:
1. Every member of our society who has slaves in his possession shall, within twelve months after notice given to him by the assistant (which notice the assistants are required immediately, and without any delay, to give in their respective circuits), legally execute and record an instrument - whereby he emancipates and send free every slave in his possession who is between the ages of forty and forty-five immediately, or at furthest when they arrive at the age of forty-five; and every slave who is between the ages of twenty-five and forty immediately, or at furthest at the expiration of five years from the date of the said instrument; and every slave who is between the ages of twenty and twenty-five immediately, or at furthest when they arrive at the age of thirty; and every slave under the age of twenty, as soon as they arrive at the age of twenty-five, at furthest; and every infant born in slavery after the above-mentioned rules are complied with immediately on its birth.
2. Every assistant shall keep a journal, in which he shall regularly minute down the names and ages of all the slaves belonging to all the masters in his respective circuit, and also the date of every instrument executed and recorded for the manumission of the slaves, with the name of the court, book, and folio in which the said instruments respectively shall have been recorded; which journal shall be handed down in each circuit to the succeeding assistants.
3. In consideration that these rules form a new term of communion, every person concerned, who will not comply with them, shall have liberty quietly to withdraw himself from our society within the twelve months succeeding the notice given as aforesaid: otherwise the assistant shall exclude him in the society.
4. No person so voluntarily withdrawn, or so excluded, shall ever partake of the Supper of the Lord with the Methodists till he complies with the above requisitions.
5. No person holding slaves shall, in future, be admitted into society or to the Lord's Supper till he previously complies with these rules concerning slavery. NB.-These rules are to affect the' members of our society no further than as they are consistent with the laws of the states in which they reside. And respecting our brethren in Virginia that are concerned, and after due consideration of their peculiar circumstances, we allow them two years from the notice given to consider the expedience of compliance or non-compliance with these rules.
"Quest. 43. What shall be done with those who buy or sell slaves, or give them away?
Ans. They are immediately to be expelled, unless they buy them on purpose to free them." In 1785 these rules were suspended, as it was thought they " would do harm," though still the destruction of slavery was to be sought "by all wise and prudent means." In 1796 the following section was inserted in the Discipline:
"Quest. What regulations shall be made for the extirpation of the crying evil of African slavery?
Ans. 1. We declare that we are more than ever convinced of the great evil of the African slavery which still exists in these United States, and do most earnestly recommend to the Yearly Conferences, quarterly meetings, and to those who have the oversight of districts and circuits, to be exceedingly cautious what persons they admit to official stations in our Church; and in the case of future admission to official stations, to require such security of those who hold slaves for the emancipation of them, immediately or gradually, as the laws of the states respectively, and the circumstances of the case will admit; and we do fully authorize all the Yearly Conferences to make whatever regulations they judge proper, in the present case, respecting the admission of persons to official stations in our Church.
2. No slaveholder shall be received into society till the preacher who has the oversight of the circuit has spoken to him freely and faithfully on the subject of slavery.
3. Every member of the society who sells a slave shall immediately, after full proof, be excluded the society. And if any member of our society purchase a slave, the ensuing quarterly meeting shall determine on the number of years in which the slave so purchased would work out the price of, his purchase. And the person so purchasing shall, immediately after such determination, execute a legal instrument for the manumission of such slave at the expiration of the term determined by the quarterly meeting. And in default of his executing such instrument of manumission, or on his refusal to submit his case to the judgment of the quarterly meeting, such member shall be excluded the society. Provided. also, that in the case of a female slave it shall be inserted in the aforesaid instrument of manumission that all her children who shall be born during the years of her servitude shall be free at the following times, namely: every female child at the age of twenty-one, and every male child at the age of twenty-five. Nevertheless, if the member of our society executing the said instrument of manumission judge it proper, he may fix the times of manumission of the children of the female slaves before mentioned at an earlier age than that which is prescribed above.
4. The preachers and other members of our society are requested to consider the subject of negro slavery with deep attention till the ensuing General Conference; and that they impart to the General Conference, through the medium of the Yearly Conferences, or otherwise, any important thoughts upon the subject, that the Conference may have full light, in order to take further steps towards the eradicating this enormous evil from that part of the Church of God to which we are united." In 1800 the following new paragraphs were inserted:.
"5. When any travelling preacher becomes an owner of a slave or slaves by any means, he shall forfeit his ministerial character in our Church, unless he execute, if it be practicable, a legal emancipation of such slaves, conformably to the laws of the state in which he lives.
6. The Annual Conferences are directed to draw up addresses for the gradual emancipation of the slaves to the legislatures of those states in which no general laws have been passed for that purpose. These addresses shall urge, in the most respectful but pointed manner, the necessity of a law for the gradual emancipation of the slaves; proper committees shall be appointed by the Annual Conferences, out of the most respectable of our friends, for the conducting of the business; and the presiding elders, elders, deacons, and travelling preachers, shall secure as many proper signatures as possible to the addresses, and give all the assistance in their power in every respect to aid the committees, and to further this blessed undertaking. Let this be continued from year to year till the desired end be accomplished." In 1804 the following alterations were made: the question reads, "What shall be done for the extirpation of the evil of slavery?" In paragraph 1 (1796), instead of "more than ever convinced," it reads, "as much as ever convinced;" and instead of "the African slavery which still exists in these United States,", it reads simply "slavery." In paragraph 4 (3 of 1796), respecting the selling of a slave, before the words "shall immediately," the following clause is inserted: "Except at the request of the slave, in cases of mercy and humanity, agreeably to the judgment of a committee of the male members of the society, appointed by the preacher who has the charge of the circuit." This new proviso was inserted: "Provided also, that if a member of our society shall buy a slave with a certificate of future emancipation, the terms of emancipation shall, notwithstanding, be subject to the decision of the Quarterly-meeting Conference." All after "nevertheless" was stricken out, and the following substituted: "The members of our societies in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee shall be exempted from the operation of the above rules." The paragraphs about considering the subject of slavery and petitioning legislatures were cancelled, and this was added:
"6. Let the preachers, from time to time, as occasion serves, admonish and exhort all slaves to render due respect and obedience to the commands and interests of their respective masters." In 1808 it was ordered that "no slaveholder shall be eligible to the office of an elder, where the laws will admit of emancipation, and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom;" but all that related to slaveholding among private members, and paragraph 5 of 1804, were cancelled, and the following substituted:
"3. The General Conference authorizes each Annual Conference to form their own regulations relative to buying and selling slaves." In 1812 this was altered thus:
"3. Whereas the laws of some of the states do not admit of emancipating of slaves without a special act of the legislature, the General Conference authorizes each Annual Conference to form their own regulations relative to buying and selling slaves." In 1816 paragraph 1 of 1796 was altered thus:
"1. We declare that we are as much as ever convinced of the great evil of slavery; therefore no slaveholder shall be eligible to any official station in our Church hereafter, where the laws of the state in which he lives will admit of emancipation, and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom." In 1820 the paragraph leaving it to the Annual Conferences "to form their own regulations about buying and selling slaves" was cancelled. In 1824 the following paragraphs were added:
"4. All our preachers shall prudently enforce, upon our members the necessity of teaching their slaves to read the Word of God; and to allow them time to attend upon the public worship of God on our regular days of divine service.
5. Our colored preachers and official members shall have all the privileges which are usual to others in the District and Quarterly Conferences, where the usages of the country do not forbid it. And the presiding elder may hold for them a separate District Conference, where the number of colored local preachers will justify it.
6. The Annual Conferences may employ colored preachers to travel and preach where their services are judged necessary; provided that no one shall be so employed without having been recommended according to the Form of Discipline." The General Rules drawn up by Mr. Wesley for the Methodist societies in England were not placed in the Discipline at the time of the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America in 1784. They were inserted, with some alterations, by bishops Coke and Asbury in 1789. The bishops took the liberty of interpolating the rule forbidding " the buying or selling the bodies and souls of men with an intention to enslave them." In 1792 it was altered thus: "The buying or selling of men, women, or children, with an intention to enslave them." In 1808 thus: "The buying and selling of men, women, and children, with an intention to enslave them." In view of the time and manner of its introduction, and its peculiar phraseology, this rule was considered to refer to the African slave-trade, and not to the transfer of those already in slavery from one person to another; hence it met with but little opposition in the South, which denounced that odious traffic. The later General Conferences, down to that of 1840, were conservative on this subject, and this latter affirmed the right of local preachers in Maryland and Virginia who held slaves to ordination, from which they had been debarred by the Baltimore Conference. As the Southern States did not allow the emancipation of slaves without expatriation, both ministers and members held them without violation of the Discipline. As slavery was a civil and social institution, it was impossible for the Church to exist in the South without this permission. In this respect the Methodist Episcopal Church only imitated the Apostolic and Primitive Church, which allowed of slavery among both the membership and ministry, and made laws for the regulation of the same. Mr. Wesley pursued the same course in the West Indies, licensing Mr. Gilbert, a slaveholder, to preach, and baptizing his slaves. The British Conference did so too, charging its ministers in the West Indies to have nothing to do with the institution of slavery, as that was a matter belonging to the legislature, but to preach the Gospel alike to master and slave. Thus, after a tortuous legislation on the vexed question, which scarcely knows a parallel in Church history, the Methodist Episcopal Church in America appears to have been settling down upon a satisfactory and permanent basis.
III. The Separation. — But when the General Conference met in 1844, in New York, the Revelation Francis A. Harding, of the Baltimore Conference, appealed to it from the decision of that Conference, which had suspended him from the ministry for hot manumitting slaves belonging to his wife. The General Conference confirmed the decision of the Baltimore Conference, despite the laws of Maryland and of the Discipline. It was ascertained, too, that one of the bishops, James Osgood Andrew, residing in Georgia, had become connected with slavery. Neither he nor Mr. Harding had either bought or sold a slave. Bishop Andrew was legally in possession of a slave, bequeathed him by a lady, and whom he would liberate at any time, but she would not receive her freedom; also a boy, left by his former wife to his daughter without will; him, too, he would willingly manumit if he could do so by the laws of Georgia; also slaves legally his by his second marriage, whom he could not own, but secured them by deed to his wife, to whom they belonged-the law not allowing their emancipation. But after a lengthened, excited, and very able discussion of the question on both sides, the General Conference adopted the following preamble and resolution: "Whereas, the Discipline of the Church forbids the doing anything calculated to destroy our itinerant and general superintendency; and whereas, bishop Andrew has become connected with slavery, by marriage and otherwise, and this act having drawn after it circumstances which, in the estimation of the General Conference, will greatly embarrass the exercise of his office as an itinerant general superintendent, if not, in some places, entirely prevent it; therefore, Resolved, That it is the sense of this General Conference that he desist from the exercise of this office so long as this impediment remains." The vote stood 111 for and 69 against all in the affirmative, except one (and he a Northerner), being from Northern Conferences, the Baltimore Conference being equally divided: several from the Northern Conferences, however, voted in the negative. The bishops had requested the General Conference to suspend action in the premises, suggesting that arrangements might be made to retain bishop Andrew in office, as his services would be "welcome and cordial" in the South. Resolutions declaring the action in the case of bishop Andrew, to be advisory only, and not to be a considered in the light of a judicial mandate, and postponing its final disposition, according to the suggestion of the bishops, were laid on the table by a vote of 75 to 68 the South, of course, voting in the negative. Resolutions proposing two General Conferences were referred to a committee, which could not agree on a report. The Southern delegates then presented the following "Declaration:" "The delegates of the Conferences in the slaveholding states take leave to declare to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church that the continued agitation on the subject of slavery and abolition in a portion of the Church, the frequent action on that subject in the General Conference, and especially the extra-judicial proceedings against bishop Andrew, which resulted on Saturday last in the virtual suspension of him from his office as superintendent, must produce a state of things in the South which renders a continuance of the jurisdiction of the General Conference over these Conferences inconsistent with the success of the ministry in the slaveholding states." This declaration was referred to a committee of nine, composed of Northern and Southern delegates, with instructions to devise a constitutional plan for a mutual and friendly division of the Church, provided the difficulties could not be otherwise adjusted. The minority, through Dr. Bascom, presented an elaborate protest against the action of the majority in the case of bishop Andrew, characterizing it as extra- judicial and unconstitutional-the Episcopacy being a co-ordinate branch of the government of the Church, a bishop cannot be subjected by a delegated Conference to any official disability without formal presentation of a charge of the violation of law, and conviction on trial, and no law concerning slavery had been violated by bishop Andrew; the action therefore in his case Was unconstitutional, and would establish a dangerous precedent, subversive of the union and stability of the Methodist Episcopal Church. This protest was allowed to go on the Journal, and a reply was made to it on the part of the majority. Resolutions were adopted allowing bishop Andrew's name to remain in the Minutes, Hymn-book, and Discipline as formerly; allowing him and his family a support; and leaving to him to decide what work he would do, if any, in view of the action of the Conference-the third resolution being adopted by a vote of 103 to 67. The committee of nine made their report on a plan of separation, which, after discussion and amendment, and earnest advocacy by Drs. Olin, Hamline, Bangs, Elliott, and other Northern delegates, was adopted by a nearly unanimous vote. The leaders of the North considered that the Conference was shut up to this course, as they affirmed that, under the circumstances, bishop Andrew could not preside in some of the Northern Conferences, and they believed that if he were suspended, and the Southern Church submitted to it, Methodism could not prosper in the South. Hundreds of thousands of negroes were supplied with the Gospel by the Southern Church, and access to them, especially on the plantations, would be debarred if the measure in question were submitted to by the South. Division, therefore, was inevitable. It was accomplished in the spirit of candor and charity and the rather as the Connection was getting too large, as Dr. Elliott said, for one General-Conference jurisdiction. The following is the Plan of Separation:
"The select committee of nine to consider and report on the declaration of the delegates from the Conferences of the slaveholding states, beg leave to submit the following report:
"Whereas, a declaration has been presented to this General Conference with the signatures of fifty-one delegates of the body, from thirteen Annual Conferences in the slaveholding states, representing that, for various reasons enumerated, the objects and purposes of the Christian ministry and Church organization cannot be successfully accomplished by them under the jurisdiction of this General Conference as now constituted; and whereas, in. the event of a separation, a contingency to which the declaration asks attention as not improbable, we esteem it the duty of this General Conference to meet the emergency with Christian kindness and the strictest equity, therefore, Resolved, by the delegates of the several Annual Conferences in General Conference assembled, "1. That should the Annual Conferences in the slaveholding states find it necessary to unite in a distinct ecclesiastical connection, the following rule shall be observed with regard to the northern boundary of such connection: All the societies, stations, and Conferences adhering to the Church in the South, bv a vote of a majority of the members of said societies, stations, and Conferences, shall remain under the unmolested pastoral care of the Southern Church; and the ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church shall in no wise attempt to organize churches or societies within the limits of the Church South, nor shall they attempt to exercise any pastoral oversight therein; it being understood that the ministry of the youth reciprocally observe the same rule in relation to stations, societies, and Conferences adhering by a vote of a majority to the Methodist Episcopal Church; provided, also, that this rule shall apply only to societies, stations, and Conferences bordering on the line of division, and not to interior charges, which shall in all cases be left to the care of that Church within whose territory they are situated.
"2. That ministers, local and travelling, of every grade and office in the Methodist Episcopal Church, may, as they prefer, remain in that Church, or, without blame, attach themselves to the Church South.
"3. Resolved, by the delegates of all the Annual Conferences in General Conference assembled, That we recommend to all the Annual Conferences at their first approaching sessions to authorize a change of the sixth Restrictive Article, so that the first clause shall read thus: ' They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern, nor of the Chartered Fund, to any other purpose other than for the benefit of the travelling, supernumerary, superannuated, and worn-out preachers, their wives, widows, and children, and to such other purposes as may be determined upon by the votes of two thirds of the members of the General Conference.'
"4. That whenever the Annual Conferences, by a vote of three fourths of all their members voting on the third resolution, shall have concurred in the recommendation to alter the sixth Restrictive Article, the agents at New York and Cincinnati shall, and they are hereby authorized and directed to deliver over to any authorized agent or appointee of the Church South,- (should one be organized), all notes and book accounts against the ministers, Church members, or citizens within its boundaries, with authority to collect the same for the sole use of the Southern Church; and that said agents also convey to the aforesaid agent or appointee of the South all the real estate, and assign to him all the property, including presses, stock, and all right and interest connected with the printing establishments at Charleston, Richmond, and Nashville, which now belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
"5. That when the Annual Conferences shall have approved the aforesaid change in the sixth Restrictive Article, there shall be transferred to the above agents of the Southern Church so much of the capital and produce of the Methodist Book Concern as will, with the notes, book accounts, presses, etc., mentioned in the last resolution, bear the same proportion to the whole property of said Concern that the travelling preachers in the Southern Church shall bear to all the travelling ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the division to be made on the basis of the number of travelling preachers in the forthcoming Minutes.
"6. That the above transfer shall be in 'the form of annual payments of $25,000 per annum, and specifically in stock of the Book Concern, and in Southern notes and accounts due the establishment; and accruing after the first transfer mentioned above; and until the payments ale made the Southern Church shall share in all the net profits of the Book Concern in the proportion that the amount due them, or in arrears, bears to all the property of the Concern.
"7. That Nathan Bangs, George Peck, and James B. Finley be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners to act in concert with the same number of commissioners appointed by the Southern organization (should one be formed), to estimate the amount which will fall due to the South by the preceding rule, and to have full powers to carry into effect the whole arrangements proposed with regard to the division of property, should the separation take place. And if by any means a vacancy occur in this, A Board of Commissioners, the Book Committee at New York shall fill said vacancy.
"8. That whenever ally agents of the Southern Church are clothed with legal authority or corporate power to act in the premises, the agents at New York are hereby authorized and directed to act in concert with said Southern agents, so as to give the provisions of these resolutions a legally binding force.
"9. That all the property of the Methodist Episcopal Church in meeting-houses, parsonages, colleges, schools, Conference funds, cemeteries, and of every kind within the limits of the Southern organization, shall be forever free from any claim set up on the part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, so far as this resolution can be of force in the premises.
"10. That the Church so formed in the South shall have a common right to use all the copyrights in possession of the Book Concerns at New York and Cincinnati at the time of the settlement by the commissioners.
"11. That the book agents at New York be directed to make such compensation to the Conferences South for their dividend from the Chartered Fund as the commissioners above provided for shall agree upon.
"12. That the bishops be respectfully requested to lay that part of this report requiring the action of the Annual Conferences before them as soon as possible, beginning with the New York Conference." The Southern delegates sent out an address to their constituents, showing what they had done, and counselling moderation and forbearance. They called for a convention of the Annual Conferences-in the ratio of one to eleven of their members-to meet in Louisville, Ky., May 1,1845. Meanwhile the Church in the South, in Quarterly and Annual Conferences, took action in the premises, and declared in favor of the plan of separation with a very near approach to unanimity. The convention met in Louisville at the appointed time, bishops Sould, Andrew, and Morris being present. The bishops were invited to preside, and the two former did so. The convention, acting under the plan of separation, declared the Southern Conferences there represented a distinct connection, under the style of "The Methodist Episcopal Church, South," and made provision for the holding of its first General Conference in Petersburg, Va., May, 1846. Bishops Soule and Andrew were requested to become regular and constitutional bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; the latter complied with the request, but the former, in view of outstanding engagements, postponed doing so till the session of the General Conference. The action of the convention was nearly unanimous, and it gave great satisfaction throughout the South. Bishop Soule gave in his formal adherence at the General Conference in Petersburg; two other bishops were consecrated, viz.' William Capers, DD., and Robert Paine, DD.; the Discipline was revised; missions, etc., were projected; Henry B. Bascom, Alexander L. P. Green, and Charles B. Parsons were appointed commissioners, and John Early agent and appointee, according to the provisions of the plan of. separation; editors, etc., were chosen, and all the operations of the Church went on as though no separation had taken place. Lovick Pierce, DD., was commissioned to attend the session of the Northern General Conference in 1848, to tender to that body the Christian regards and fraternal salutations of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; but he was not received in his official capacity. A change had come over the Northern Church, and the General Conference repudiated the plan of separation. The Church-property question had to be settled by the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided in favor of the South. The property was divided according to the provisions of the plan. A publishing-house was established in Nashville; a quarterly review, weekly papers, Sunday-school papers, books, tracts, etc., were published; and all things progressed prosperously till the war interfered with the operations of the Church, and sadly crippled its institutions. Much of its property was appropriated by others during the military occupancy of the South; but most of it has been restored, and it is hoped all the rest will soon be. Tentative movements have been made by some in the Northern Church for reunion; but as-that is deemed inexpedient and impracticable, the Northern General Conference of 1872 empowered the bishops to send a deputation to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1874, to see if fraternal intercourse cannot be established between the two connections. It is hoped that this will take place on a basis honorable to both parties. The fraternal messenger sent to the Northern Conference in 1848, assured that body that the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was always ready for fraternization on the basis of the plan of separation.
III. Present Condition. — The Church has been rapidly recovering from the sad effects of the war. At the time of the separation. in 1844, there were about 450,000 communicants in the Southern Church. In 1860 there were 757,205, of whom 207,766 were colored members. These figures were greatly reduced during the war. In 1890 the number of communicants was 1,161,666, of whom only 520 were colored. There were 4862 travelling and 6269 local preachers all embraced in the foregoing figures. Most of the colored members had joined other colored bodies of Methodists. Many of them are connected with the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, which was organized in 1870 by the sanction of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, with a distinct connection in fraternal relation with this Church, the bishops of the latter consecrating as bishops two colored ministers chosen by a colored General Conference; One of them died in 1872; but the Connection is prosperous, having a number of Annual Conferences, and at a special General Conference, held in Augusta, Ga., in 1873, three other bishops were elected. Their Discipline, mutatis nmutandis. is the same as that of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The bishops of the Southern Church have been: Soule, Andrew, Bascom, Capers, Pierce, Early, Kavanagh, Wightman, Doggett, Marvin, and McTyeire; and they now are Keener, Wilson, Granberry, Hargood, Duncan, Galloway, Hendrix, Key, Haygood, and Fitzgerald. There are 46 Annual Conferences, composed of travelling ministers and lay delegates-four of the latter (one of whom may be a local preacher) from every district. The General Conference is constituted of an equal number of ministers and laymen. District Conferences are held in all the districts once a year, for the purpose of review, etc., but without legislative or judicial power. - Quarterly Conferences are held in all the pastoral charges, at which exhorters and local preachers are licensed, and preachers are recommended to the Annual Conference for ordination or admission into the travelling ministry. Church Conferences are- ordered once a month, to review all the spiritual and temporal affairs of the pastoral charges. Sunday-schools, love-feasts, class- meetings, and prayermeetings enter into the economy of the Church. The General Conference ordered a revised edition of the Liturgy, as abridged by Mr. Wesley for the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, to be published for those congregations that might desire to use it; but few, if any, do so. The Ritual is still in use for all occasional services, and it has been carefully revised and improved, as also has been the psalmody of the Church. The Sunday-school cause has received a great impulse, and many valuable publications are issued to meet its demands. Universities, colleges,- and academies, for both sexes, have been multiplying all over the Connection. Many original works, which are held in high estimation, such as histories, biographies, sermons, commentaries, and other works on theology, have been issued from the publishing-house of the Church; and the great staple-works of the Wesleyan press have been carefully revised and re-printed. The publishing-house was in part destroyed by fire in February, 1872, but a magnificent edifice, approaching completion, is to take its place. The missionary work of the Church was well-nigh broken up by the war; but it is recuperating -except the missions to the colored people, which were considered the crowning glory of the Southern Methodist Church. The missions to China and Brazil have received a great impetus and promise well; so do the Indian missions. A mission has been established in Mexico under favorable auspices. But the destitute portions of the South-destroyed by the war — require a vast amount of missionary work, and in rendering this the Church is restricted, for want of sufficient men and means, from extending its work in the foreign field Disciplines, General Minutes, Journals of the General Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Churches North and South; Emory's History of the Discipline; Methodist Church Property Case; Redford's History of the Organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. SEE METHODISM. (T. O. S.)