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PART I.

CHRONOLOGICAL.

THE GENERAL CONFERENCES.

1792

(BY REV. THOS. B. NEELY, D. D., LL. D.)

THE
VHE first quadrennial General Conference of the Methodist

Episcopal Church in the United States of America met in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday, the first day of November, in the year Seventeen Hundred and Ninety-two.

This General Conference had been regularly called to meet in Baltimore at that date. Every preacher in full membership in any Annual Conference was entitled to a seat in the General Conference, and the attendance was very general.

Bishop Thomas Coke and Bishop Francis Asbury were present, and presided; Dr. Coke, as senior, doubtless presiding at the beginning of the session.

On the first day the Conference appointed a committee of the oldest preachers and a few of the younger ministers to prepare business for consideration and action by the Confer

When a majority of the committee agreed upon a proposition, and especially upon any alteration in the form of Discipline, it was to report to the Conference for its decision. Subsequently the membership of the committee was increased. The intention of the Conference in the creation of the committee was to expedite business; but as after test it was found that it did not prevent or shorten discussions in the Conference, the plan of working through a committee was abandoned, and the committee was discharged. After that, any member of the Conference was at liberty to present directly to the body any matter he might desire.

On the first day rules of order were adopted. One rule was as follows: “It shall take two-thirds of all the Conference

ence.

to make a new rule or abolish an old one; but a majority may alter or amend any rule.”

One rule as to debate was, “That each person, if he choose, shall have liberty to speak three times on each motion.”

SECOND DAY-FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2.

On the second day of the session, the Rev. James O'Kelly, of Virginia, offered an amendment to the law making it the duty of the Bishop“ to fix the appointments of the Preachers for the several circuits,” so that preachers might have the right of appeal from the appointment given by the Bishop to the Annual Conference.

The amendment was as follows: “After the Bishop appoints the Preachers at Conference to their several circuits, if any one think himself injured by the appointment, he shall have liberty to appeal to the Conference and state his objections; and if the Conference approve his objections, the Bishop shall appoint him to another circuit."

The proposed amendment led to a long and animated discussion. As the matter related more to the administration of Bishop Asbury than to that of Bishop Coke, who was frequently absent from the country, Bishop Asbury declined to preside, and also absented himself from the session during the pendency of this question, and sent to the Conference the following letter:

My Dear Brethren,-Let my absence give you no pain-Dr. Coke presides. I am happily excused from assisting to make laws by which myself am to be governed ; I have only to obey and execute. I am happy in the consideration that I never stationed a preacher through enmity or as a punishment. I have acted for the glory of God, the . good of the people, and to promote the usefulness of the preachers. Are you sure, that if you please yourselves, that the people will be as fully satisfied? They often say, “Let us have such a preacher;" and sometimes, “ We will not have such a preacher-we will sooner pay him to stay at home.” Perhaps I must say, His appeal forced him upon you.” I am one-ye are many. I am as willing to serve you as ever. I want not to sit in any man's way. I scorn to solicit votes; I am a very trembling, poor creature to hear praise or dispraise. Speak your minds freely; but remember, you are only making laws for the present time; it may be, that as in some other things, so in this, a future day may give you further light. I am yours, etc.,

FRANCIS ASBURY.

After considerable debate upon Mr. O'Kelly's proposition, the Rev. John Dickins moved that the question be divided thus: “First—Shall the Bishop appoint the preachers to the circuits? Second—Shall a preacher be allowed an appeal?”

The first part giving the Bishop the power of appointment being put to vote, it was carried unanimously.

On the second part, as to the preacher having the right of appeal, a question was raised as to whether the proposition was a new rule or only an amendment to an old rule, and the Conference decided the law point by voting that it was only an amendment to an old rule.

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THE THIRD DAY-SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3. The debate on Mr. O'Kelly's amendment was continued on Saturday, the third day of the session, but no conclusion was reached.

THE FOURTH DAY–MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5. On Monday, the 5th of November, the discussion was resumed, and the debate continued throughout the entire day.

Among those who took part in these discussions were James O'Kelly, Richard Ivey, Hope Hull, Freeborn Garrettson, William McKendree, and Richard Swift, in favor of the right of appeal; and Henry Willis, Jesse Lee, Thomas Morrell, Joseph Everitt, and Nelson Reed, who opposed Mr. O'Kelly's amendment.

At 5 o'clock on Monday afternoon, the Conference went to the German Reformed Church, of which the Rev. Philip Otterbein was pastor, and there remained in session until about 8 o'clock that evening. During this session in the German Reformed Church a decisive vote was taken upon Mr. O'Kelly's amendment, and the proposition granting the preacher the right of appeal from the appointment by the Bishop to the Annual Conference was decided in the negative by a large majority

THE FIFTH DAY-TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6. The next morning, Tuesday, November 6th, immediately after assembling, the Conference received a letter from the Rev. James O’Kelly and other preachers, who, being dissatisfied

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