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The Committee on the Revision of the Hymn Book reported that they were unanimously of the opinion that a thorough revision of the Hymn Book then in use was imperatively demanded, and recommended that the Bishops be requested to appoint, as soon as practicable, a' committee of fifteen, to whom should be committed the work of revision and also the preparation of a suitable Hymn and Tune Book for the use of the Church. The report was adopted, and the bishops accordingly appointed the Committee of Revision. This committee at once set about the duty assigned to them, and in eighteen months completed their task. After a careful examination of the result of their labors, the bishops approved the new hymnal, which was published by the Agents of the Book Concern, and put into circulation early in 1878. This is the hymnal now in use throughout the Church.
A few changes were made in the Discipline; and several were proposed, which were not enacted—among them the never-settled method of appointing the presiding elders. Many were still in favor of electing presiding elders in the several annual conferences by a vote of the preachers on the nomination of the presiding bishops. Though the question had come up in the General Conference at every session from 1804 to 1824, yet the decisive vote of 1824 had not settled it. The matter was only kept in abeyance. Now it came up again, but it was promptly voted down as before. Ecclesiastical conservatism is always strong.
It was made the duty of the several annual conferences to make arrangements for raising the amount apportioned to them to meet the expenses of the General Conference; and it was recommended to them to require all candidates for the ministry to pledge themselves wholly to abstain from the use of tobacco. A form of constitution for Sunday-schools was adopted, the international series of Sunday-school lessons .cordially approved, and new conferences authorized to be formed. Mixed conferences of white and colored ministers might, whenever it should be requested by a majority of the white members, and also of the colored members, be divided into two or more conferences.
The bishops were requested to appoint a commission of
five ministers and five laymen to consider the propriety of introducing lay delegation into the annual conferences, and, if they deem it expedient, to report a plan to the next General Conference.
A committee was appointed to prepare a plan of organization for the next General Conference, so as to save time in the appointment and organization of the standing committees. A committee was ordered to be appointed by the bishops to consider the question of holding an ecumenical conference of Methodism, and arrange for the same. A proposed change in the ratio of representation from one member for forty-five to one member for ninety-nine was ordered to be presented to the annual conferences for concurrence at their next ensuing sessions. Some new advices were given on the subject of temperance; William L. Harris was appointed editor of the new Discipline; and the Conference adjourned, after an address by Bishop Janes and religious services, on the 31st day of May.
HE eighteenth delegated General Conference met in Pike's
Opera House, in Cincinnati, May 1st. This was the only available place suitable for holding the Conference, as none of the churches was large enough. Ninety-five annual conferences were represented; and the whole number of delegates was three hundred and ninety-nine, of which number one hundred and fifty-one were laymen. George W. Woodruff was elected secretary by acclamation, and he was granted permission to name his own assistants. He nominated David S. Monroe, Central Pennsylvania; Isaac S. Bingham, Northern New York; Lew E. Darrow, Des Moines; George Mather, North Ohio; Henry B. Heacock, California, and James P. Magee, New England; and they were confirmed by the Conference. Later in the session, James N. FitzGerald was added to the list. The committee ordered just at the close of the last General Conference on an Ecclesiastical Code submitted to the present General Conference a report for consideration and adoption. The report was received and on motion was made the order of the day for Friday, May 7th, at ten o'clock, A. M.; but this motion was afterward reconsidered, and laid on the table. A new committee was then appointed, consisting of eleven persons, three of whom were bishops, to prepare a report on the code.
The Quadrennial Address of the Bishops was read by Bishop Simpson, and five thousand copies were ordered to be printed in pamphlet form for general circulation. The several portions and recommendations of the Address were referred to the appropriate committees, which were appointed.
Soon after the organization of the Conference, Dr. John R. Goodwin, a lay delegate from the Southeastern Indiana Conference, was called to his home in Brookville, Ind., and while there was killed by a maniac brother. His death was announced on Tuesday morning, May 4th, in the Conference, and a committee of four lay members was appointed to attend his funeral. A committee of five was also appointed to prepare suitable resolutions of sympathy and respect upon this sad occasion.
A committee was appointed on the Centennial of the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which brought in a report recommending its observance, and suggesting various objects for the centennial gifts of the Church; but as a substitute for the whole report, the bishops were requested to devise a plan for the centennial year, and report to the Church as early as convenient.
A committee on the reception of fraternal delegates was appointed; and it was determined that their addresses and credentials should be presented at St. Paul Church, corner of Smith and Seventh Streets, only in the evenings, as might be arranged for by the committee. The following fraternal delegates were introduced to the Conference: From the British Conference, William Arthur and Frederick W. Macdonald; Irish Conference, Wallace McMullen; Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Atticus G. Haygood, James H. Carlisle; Presbyterian Church in the United States, John Jones; Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada, E. B. Ryckman and Bidwell Lane; Reformed Episcopal Church, Bishop Samuel Fallows; African Methodist Episcopal Church, B. F. Lee, R. A. Johnson, and J. G. Mitchell; Methodist Protestant Church, J. J. Smith; General Conference of the Evangelical Association, Elias Kiplinger. Addresses were made by the fraternal delegates, according to the arrangement, in the evenings, so that the work of the Conference was not interrupted. Greetings were also received from the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States.
During the four years immediately preceding this session of the General Conference, Bishops Janes, Ames, and Haven were all called to their eternal reward. Bishop Janes died September 18, 1876; Bishop Ames died April 25, 1879, and Bishop Haven, January 3, 1880. Besides these eminent servants of the Church, the senior Book Agent in New York, Reuben Nelson, died, February 20, 1879; and the senior Secretary of the Missionary Society, Robert L. Dashiell, died March 8, 1880. Memorial services were held on May 18th, at which Cyrus D. Foss read the memoir of Bishop Janes, Charles H. Fowler that of Bishop Ames, and Willard F. Mallalieu that of Bishop Haven. Dr. Daniel Curry made a brief address concerning Reuben Nelson, and suggested that some one more familiar with his life be appointed to write a memoir. David Copeland was appointed, and subsequently presented a memoir which is printed with the Journal. The memoir of Dr. Dashiell was read by John M. Reid. A minute was also adopted in reference to the death of John R. Goodwin.
Besides the usual standing committees, special committees were appointed on Expenses of Delegates, American Bible Society, Fraternal Correspondence, Temporal Economy, and other matters as need required.
Reports were received from the fraternal delegates sent by the General Conference of 1876 to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to the Wesleyan Connection of America, to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, to the Methodist Protestant Church, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, to the Evangelical Association, and to the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Miss Frances E. Willard, president of the Woman's National Christian Temperance Union, came as a fraternal visitor from that society, and a resolution was offered that she be invited to address the Conference for ten minutes. It was moved to amend this motion by extending the same courtesy to all other ladies desiring to address the Conference. Much time was spent in the discussion of these motions, and the vote was finally taken on the amendment, by yeas and nays; two hundred and fourteen voting for the motion and one hundred and eighteen against. The next day Miss Willard sent a note to the Conference, presenting her "hearty thanks for the final vote," but declining “to use the hard-earned ten minutes allotted” to her.
Three of the bishops having died, and Bishop Scott being relieved of all episcopal work on account of feeble health, it was determined that the Episcopacy should be strengthened by the election of four additional bishops. On the first ballot Henry White Warren, of the Philadelphia Conference; Cyrus David Foss, of the New York Conference, and John Fletcher Hurst, of the Newark Conference, were elected; and on the