« السابقةمتابعة »
A committee of five was appointed to proceed to Washington and present to the President of the United States, in a suitable address, the assurances of our Church that we are with him heart and soul in the present struggle for human rights and free institutions. The committee consisted of Bishop E. R. Ames, Joseph Cummings, George Peck, Charles Elliott and Granville Moody. In accordance with this resolution, the committee proceeded to Washington, and presented the address prepared by the Committee on the State of the Country and adopted by the General Conference. The President made a brief reply, which was reported to the Conference, as follows:
“GENTLEMEN,-In response to your address, allow me to attest the accuracy of its historical statements, indorse the sentiments it expresses, and thank you, in the Nation's name, for the sure promise it gives. Nobly sustained, as the Government has been by all the Churches, I would utter nothing which might in the least appear invidious against any. Yet, without this. it may fairly be said that the Methodist Episcopal Church, not less devoted than the best, is by its greater numbers, the most important of all. It is no fault in others that the Methodịst Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and more prayers to heaven than any. God bless the Methodist Church, bless all the Churches, and blessed be God who, in this great trial, giveth us the Churches!"
The Conference advised that our foreign missions in Europe and elsewhere be organized into Mission Annual Conferences, and resolved to organize at once the missions in India into a mission conference, giving these mission conferences all the rights, powers and privileges of other annual conferences, except that of sending delegates to the General Conference, of voting on constitutional changes in the Discipline, and drawing dividends from the Book Concern and Chartered Fund. The bishops were authorized to organize any other of our foreign missions into mission conferences, subject to the foregoing limitations, when in their judgment it is desirable and practicable. And the Committee on Boundaries was instructed to provide for the organization of a mission conference in India.
The pastoral term was extended from two to three years. Numerous other suggestions for the revision and amendment of
the Discipline were referred to the Committee on Revisals. The Committee on Revisal of the Ritual made five reports, covering the entire ritual, and adding forms for the reception of members into the Church after probation, for laying the corner-stone of a church, and for the dedication of a church. The forms thus reported were, with some slight amendments, adopted, and were embodied in the Discipline prepared for publication after the adjournment of the Conference. The revised ritual has continued in use ever since. The term "consecrate” is used instead of “ordain,” in the form of inducting a bishop into office.
A plan for observing the Centenary of American Methodism in 1866 was adopted. It was resolved that it be celebrated by all our Churches and people with devout thanksgiving, by special religious services and liberal thank-offering, commencing on the first Tuesday in October and continuing through the month at such times and places às might best suit the convenience of the societies. Two departments of Christian enterprise were to be set before the Methodist public, one connectional, central and monumental, the other local and distributive. A committee of twelve traveling preachers and twelve laymen were to determine the special objects of these contributions, and the amounts to be raised for each. It was provided that a memorial sermon be delivered in each of the annual conferences at its session next preceding the centennial celebration, and they were to appoint an equal number of preachers and laymen to give advice and direction for the appropriate celebration of the centennial in our principal Churches.
The Conference expressed its approval of lay representation in that body whenever it shall be ascertained that the Church desires it, and declared itself ready at all times to receive petitions and memorials from the members on that subject, and to consider them most respectfully.
The Conference increased the number of the annual conferences from fifty-one to fifty-nine, making two conferences for colored preachers and three for German-speaking preachers exclusively. It changed the Boundary lines of some of the conferences, adding two in the West, the Colorado and Nevada, and the India Mission Conference.
A committee of seven, consisting of Edwin E. Griswold, Alpha J. Kynett, Samuel C. Thomas, Miner Raymond, Barzillai N. Spahr, David L. Dempsey and Reuben Nelson, was appointed on the subject of Church Extension. The report of the committee,' embodying a plan and form of constitution for "The Church Extension Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church,” was adopted. Bishop Simpson, Joseph Castle and David W. Bartine were appointed a committee to appoint officers for the Society, and also a Board of Managers for the
The seat of the Society was fixed at Philadelphia, and the bishops were to appoint a Corresponding Secretary, as soon as the Board of Managers should become incorporated.
William Nast, Isaac N. Baird and Moses Hill were appointed delegates to visit the Evangelical Association; Bishop E. S. Janes and Thomas Bowman delegates to the Wesleyan Conference of Great Britain; George Weber and Mighill Dustin to the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada; and Charles Elliott, George Peck and William Nast to the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada.
Replies were adopted to the addresses of the Irish and British Conferences, the Methodist Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodist Churches in Canada, and to the National Local Preachers' Association, which had presented a memorial.
The venerable Bishop Morris having in April, 1864, completed fifty years of ministerial labor, was requested to preach a semi-centennial sermon before the Conference, which he did; after which the thanks of the Conference were returned to him for his discourse, and he was requested to furnish a copy for publication. His theme was “The Spirit of Methodism,” and in accordance with this request, the sermon was published in pamphlet form by the Book Agents in New York.
The growing work of the Church and the extension of its borders, besides the failing strength of the senior bishop made it necessary to strengthen the episcopacy, and it was resolved to elect three additional bishops. The election took place on Friday, May 20th, and on counting the votes, it appeared that the whole number was 216; necessary to a choice 109. On the first ballot, Davis W. Clark received 124 votes, and Edward Thomson, 123, and were declared elected. On the third ballot, Calvin Kingsley received 114, and was declared duly elected. The new bishops were ordained to the episcopal office on Tuesday afternoon, May 24th.
The other officers of the General Conference were elected as follows: Book Agents, New York, Thomas Carlton, James Porter; Book Agents, Cincinnati, Adam Poe, Luke Hitchcock. Missionary Secretary, John P. Durbin; 1st Assistant Secretary, Wm. L. Harris; 2d Assistant Secretary, Joseph M. Trimble. Editors: Methodist Quarterly Review, Daniel D. Whedon; Christian Advocate, Daniel Curry; Christliche Apologete and German Books, William Nast; IVestern Christian Advocate, John M. Reid; Northwestern Christian Advocate, Thomas M. Eddy; Central Christian Advocate, Benjamin F. Crary; Northern Christian Advocate, Dallas D. Lore; Pillsburgh Christian Advocate, Samuel H. Nesbit; California Christian Advocate, Eleazer Thomas; Pacific Christian Advocate, Henry C. Benson; Ladies' Repository, Isaac W. Wiley; Sunday-school Books and Papers, Daniel Wise.
The Committee on the German Work reported, recommending the formation of conferences for members and preachers speaking the German language, which recommendation was adopted. The committee appointed by the General Conference of 1860 to make a new collection of hymns, better adapted to meet the wants of the German members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this and other lands, reported that they had completed the work assigned to them, and offered the result of their labors for the approval of the Conference. One of their number, Rev. J. L. Walther, had never met with the committee, having fallen in the battle of Shiloh as chaplain of the Fifty-ninth Illinois Regiment.
Bishop Baker proposed a new plan for arranging the Discipline, and the New Hampshire Conference recommended to the General Conference the adoption of it. The Committee on Revisals having considered this arrangment, cordially approved of the same, as being, in their judgment, much more simple, logical and convenient than the old. They therefore submitted the following resolutions:
"1. Resolved, That the table of contents herewith submitted [showing the arrangement proposed] be printed.
“2. Resolved, That Bishop Baker be associated with the committee authorized to edit the new Discipline, in the execution of that work, and that they be instructed to adopt (so far as it is practicable, consistently with the modifications of the Discipline ordered at this General Conference) the arrangements proposed by Bishop Baker."
The Conference changed by a nearly unanimous vote the General Rule on Slavery, so as to make it read, "Slaveholding: buying or selling slaves.” By proclamation of President Lincoln, slavery was abolished in all the states and portions of states wherever armed resistance was made to the authority of the General Government, on January 1, 1864. This proclamation was warranted by military necessity; but Congress took
up the matter of slavery under the civil law of the country, and submitted an amendment of the Constitution to the several states of the Union, which by a majority of over two-thirds decreed the thirteenth amendment:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Thirty-one out of thirty-six states ratified this amendment; Delaware and Kentucky rejected it, Texas did not vote on it, and Alabama and Mississippi ratified it conditionally. It was proclaimed as a part of the Constitution December 18, 1865; and thus was ended the long contest of slavery which had existed on the North American Continent for more than a century
The General Rule having been changed by the Conference, there was no need of a special chapter on slavery to answer the oft repeated question, “What shall be done for the extirpation of slavery?” The bishops were requested to submit the resolution changing the rule to the annual conferences; and, if the requisite number of votes were obtained, to have inserted the new rule in all subsequent editions of the Discipline.
The Conference adjourned on Friday afternoon, May 27th, after a session of unusual interest and activity.