Methodist Protestant Church
Methodist Protestant Church is the name assumed by a body of Christians who seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1830. The primary causes for this step were opposition to the episcopate, and the decided refusal of the Methodist Episcopal ministry to vest any authority in the laity. From the very outset efforts were made by a minority in the Methodist Episcopal Church to secure the representation of the laity in the conferences. SEE KILHAMITES; SEE LAY REPRESENTATION. In 1824 a so-called Union Society was founded at Baltimore, Md., for the purpose of agitating the question of a change of the Church government, and a periodical was established called The Mutual Rights of the Ministers and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In the spring of 1826 the Baltimore Union Society initiated a movement to inquire into the expediency of making a united petition for a general representation to the General Conference of 1828. The convention was held in November, 1827, and the petition was presented, but received an unfavorable reply. The Union Society, persisting in its efforts, a number of individuals were expelled in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Baltimore. This provoked many friends of the radicals, and caused the secession of considerable numbers. A convention which met at Baltimore, Md., Nov. 12,1828. drew up provisional articles of association; and on Nov. 2, 1830, another convention, composed of an equal number of clerical and lay delegates from various states of the Union, assembled at the same place, and, after a session protracted for three weeks, adopted a Constitution and a Book of Discipline, and formed a new society, under the name of Methodist Protestant Church. The Revelation Francis Waters, DD., of Baltimore, was president of this convention.
The Methodist Protestant Church holds the same doctrinal views as the parent body, and differs from it only in a few points of ecclesiastical government. Following the example of the British Wesleyans, the Episcopal office is abolished, and a president called to rule over each Annual Conference, elected by the ballot of that body. The laity is admitted to an equal participation with the clergy in all Church legislation and government. The General Conference, which at first. met every seventh, but now congregates every fourth year, is composed of an equal number of ministers and laymen, who are elected by the Annual Conferences at the ratio of one delegate of each order from every one thousand communicants. The General Conference has authority, under certain restrictions, to make such rules for the government of the Church as may be necessary to carry into effect the laws of Christ; to fix the compensation and duties of travelling ministers and preachers, etc.; to devise means for raising money, and to regulate the boundaries of Annual Conference districts. The Annual Conference, which consists of all the ordained itinerant ministers of the district, has power to elect to orders, station ministers, preachers, and missionaries; make rules for defraying the expenses of their support, and fix the boundaries of circuits and stations. It elects its own president yearly. The Quarterly Conference is composed of the trustees, ministers, preachers, exhorters, leaders, and stewards in the circuit of which it is the immediate official meeting. It examines the official character of its members, licenses preachers, recommends candidates for ordination to the Annual Conference; etc. There are classes, leaders, and stewards, as in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The slavery question divided the Methodist Protestant Church into two bodies-the Methodist Protestant Church of the North-western' States, and the Methodist Protestants of the Southern States. The head-quarters of the former were established at Springfield, Ohio; those of the latter at Baltimore, Md. The members of the Methodist Protestant Church were at that time scattered mainly o-er the Border States and certain parts of the West; their principal strength has since developed in Virginia, Maryland, and in some portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of late years a union of all non-Episcopal Methodists having been proposed, the Protestant Methodists North changed their official name to the Methodist Church. Their head-quarters were lately removed from Springfield, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Pa. Each body has a board of foreign and domestic missions and a Book Concern-the Protestant Church South at Baltimore, Md.; the Methodists at Pittsburgh, Pa. At the beginning the Methodist Protestant Church counted 83 ministers and about 5000 members; and at the seventh General Conference in 1858 there were 2000 stationed ministers, 1200 churches, 90,000 members, and $1,500,000 worth of property. In their present divided form they figure, according to the New York Observer Year-book of 1873 as follows:
(1) The Methodist Church counts 28 conferences, 766 preachers, and about 75,000 members, with a Church property of $1,609,425; and
(2) the Methodist Protestant Church, within 25 conferences employs 423 preachers, and has about 70,000 members.
The Methodist Protestants have three colleges: the Western Maryland, at Westminster, Carroll County, Md.; Yadkin College, North Carolina; and one in West Virginia. The Methodist Protestant, a weekly paper, of which the Revelation LW. Bates, DD., is the editor, published at their Book Concern, is the official organ. The eleventh General Conference of this body is to be held at Lynchburg, Virginia, on the first Friday of May, 1874.
The Methodist Church issues a weekly newspaper, the Methodist Recorder, edited by Alexander Clark, and published by the Book Concern at Pittsburgh, Pa. Also a semi-monthly Sunday-school journal, edited by the same. A new Hymn-book. entitled The Voice of Praise, has just been compiled and published, which compares favorably with that of any other denomination. Among the recent literary productions of the Church are the following works: Pulpit Echoes, by John Scott, DD.; Non.-Episcopal Methodism, by T. H. Colhouer, AM.; Wonders of the East, by J. J. Smith, DD.; The Impending Conflict, by J. J. Smith, DD.; Recollections of Itinerant Life, by George Brown, DD.; The Lady Preacher, by. the same; The Gospel in the Trees, by Alexander Clark, AM.; Work-day Christianity, by the same; etc. Adrian College, Adrian, Mich., is under their control, and is in a most promising condition. Its president is George B. McElroy, DD. It admits both males and females. The Missionary Board-William Collier, DD., president, and C. H. Williams, corresponding secretary-is devising large plans for the West, and initiating foreign work. The Board of Ministerial Education- J. B. Walker, corresponding secretary-is doing a good work for young men preparing for the ministry. There is a fair prospect that at an early day an organic reunion with the Methodist Protestant Church will be effected. The initiatory steps have already been taken, and will probably lead to a united Methodist Church of nonepiscopal order. The General Conference of the Methodist Church will meet at Pittsburgh, Pa., May 17,1874. See the Discipline of the Methodist Church, and Discipline of the Methodist Protestant Church; also Stevens, Hist. of Methodism, 3:463; Bangs, Hist. Meth. Ch. 3:432 sq.; Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit, vol. vii, Introd. p. 18. SEE METHODISM.