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second ballot Erastus Otis Haven was elected. The consecration took place on Wednesday morning, May 19th. The Committee on Episcopacy reported, recommending that, in addition to the number of those now ordained, one bishop of African descent be elected, expressing their belief that the best interests of the Church in general and of the colored people in particular required this. A minority of the committee presented an adverse report. One or two of the colored delegates spoke eloquently in behalf of a colored bishop; but it was not thought best to elect any more bishops, and the whole subject was indefinitely postponed by a vote of two hundred and twenty-eight to one hundred and thirty-seven.
The Committee on the Ecclesiastical Code brought in its report, which, with a few amendments, was adoptetd. All the items of this report appear in their proper place in the Discipline for 1880, which Bishop Harris was appointed to edit. The Conference requested him to prepare a form of charges against an accused member, to be inserted in the Appendix. This was done, and the form thus prepared appears as requested.
The Committee on Lay Representation in the Annual Conferences presented a report favoring such representation, and suggesting a method of electing lay delegates, and their ratio in the several presiding elders' districts. To this report one or two amendments were offered; but on motion the whole subject was laid on the table by a vote of one hundred and eighty-four to one hundred and forty.
At the General Conference of 1876 a committee on the subject of holding an ecumenical conference of Methodism was appointed, to report to this Conference. A report was presented, accordingly, embodying the action of a joint committee from the various branches of Methodism, and suggesting the various topics for consideration at such a conference. The report was adopted, and Augustus C. George and Clinton B. Fisk were appointed members of the executive committee on behalf of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Among the rules for the reception of preachers into full connection in the ministry, an additional question to be asked was inserted: “Will you wholly abstain from the use of tobacco?" This question was heretofore asked only at the discretion of the annual conferences, which might exclude a candidate from the ministry on account of his using tobacco; now it was made binding in all the conferences. In the earlier days of our Church history nearly all of our preachers as well as laymen were addicted to the use of this narcotic; but the general rule on "needless self-indulgence" began to gain a wider application, and many, both preachers and laymen, felt that the use of tobacco was inconsistent with the rule, and hence the quickened conscience of the Church on the subject.
The annual conferences were empowered to have their minutes printed and bound, and if duly certified by the secretary, such copy shall be considered official. No annual conference other than in foreign mission fields was allowed to be organized with less than fifteen effective members.
The Pacific Christian Advocate was discontinued as a General Conference paper, and the Agents were directed to make over and release to the publishing committee of that paper all their right, title, and interest in the same. They were also directed to pay twenty-five hundred dollars towards the debt of the paper, provided that this amount shall release them from any further obligations. The California Christian Advocate was ordered to be continued, and one thousand dollars per annum appropriated to aid in its publication. Its present debts were also to be paid.
Bishop Scott was released from episcopal duties, and made non-effective. For the better diffusion of information concerning the benevolent work of the Church, the Agents in New York were directed to publish a Church manual, either monthly or quarterly, to be sent to all our traveling preachers and to such others as may subscribe for the same. And the secretaries of the various societies and boards of the Church were constituted a Committee of Publication, to furnish for each issue four pages of matter concerning their special department of work.
The Italian Mission was granted permission to organize an annual conference in Italy; but the formation of independent Methodist Episcopal Churches in Europe and Asia was considered premature. The residences of the bishops were
determined, to be selected by the bishops according to seniority in office. It was recommended that all the foreign missions be visited twice by the bishops during the next quadrennium. The trustees of the Minard Home were granted permission to use or dispose of the property as they think best, and report to the next General Conference. The Home had no endowment to sustain it, and had so failed of the object for which it had been given to the Church. The official papers of the Church were directed to print missionary intelligence, to be furnished by the Missionary Secretaries. The National Repository and the Golden Hours were ordered to be discontinued at the end of the current year, for failure of support. An episcopal ruling that the Discipline provides neither for the ordaining nor licensing of women as local preachers was approved; but it was ordered that the masculine pronouns "he,” “his,” and “him," wherever they occur in the Discipline, shall not be construed as excluding women from the office of Sunday-school superintendent, class leader, or steward.
A few minor changes were made in the Discipline, and the constitutions of some of the Church societies were revised.
Juvenile temperance societies were allowed to be formed in all our Sunday-schools, and the temperance work of the women gratefully recognized and heartily commended.
The official elections in the Conference were as follows: Book Agents, New York, John M. Phillips, Sandford Hunt; Cincinnati, John M. Walden, William P. Stowe. Editors, Methodist Quarterly Review, D. D. Whedon; Christian Advocate, James M. Buckley; Sunday-school Advocate and Publications, John H. Vincent; Northern Christian Advocate, Orris H. Warren; Pittsburgh, Alfred Wheeler; Western, Francis S. lloyt; Christliche Apologete, William Nast; Haus und Herd, Henry Liebhart; Northwestern Christian Advocate, Arthur Edwards; Central, Benjamin St. J. Fry; California, Benjamin F. Crary; Methodist Advocate, Erasmus Q. Fuller; Southwestern, Joseph C. Hartzell. Missionary Secretaries, John M. Reid, Charles H. Fowler; Church Extension, Alpha J. Kynett; Freedmen's Aid, Richard S. Rust.
After a closing address by Bishop Simpson, the Conference adjourned on May 28th, to meet in the city of Philadelphia, Tay 1, 1884.
N 1884 the General Conference met in Philadelphia, on
Thursday, May 1st. The sessions were held in the Young Men's Christian Association Hall. The number of delegates was four hundred and seventeen, of whom one hundred and fifty-six were laymen. During the preceding quadrennium, Bishops E. O. Haven, Levi Scott, and Jesse T. Peck had died. The other bishops were all present, and Bishop Simpson presided during the opening exercises. Ile was in such feeble health that he was not able to remain; nor did he again occupy the chair during the daily sessions for the transaction of business. David S. Monroe was elected secretary by acclamation, and was granted the privilege of nominating his assistants. The following persons were named, and they were elected: T. S. Bingham, J. N. FitzGerald, C. J. Clark, Sabin Halsey, G. S. Clapp, C. J. Howes, M. S. Hard, W. H. Crogman, and Jacob Wernli.
The Conference was welcomed on behalf of the ministers and citizens of Philadelphia by Andrew Longacre, and on behalf of the commonwealth by Robert E. Pattison, governor of the state. Rules of order were adopted, and the secretaries and Book Agents were authorized to publish the same in a manual, to contain also the list of delegates and reserves, and a general directory of the hosts and places of entertainment of the members, with a diagram of the hall, and other matters usually included in such a manual.
Twelve standing committees were appointed on the usual topics for consideration, and special committees on the Centennial of 1884 and the Ecumenical Conference (to be held, if possible, in 1887); Lay Representation (in the annual conferences, and equal representation in the General Conference); Temperance and Constitutional Prohibition; Co-operation in Church Work; Plan of General Conference Districts; Judiciary; American Bible Society; Nomination of Trustees for Church Institutions, Form of Statistics; Entertainment of Next General Conference; Tenure of Church Property; Reception of Fraternal Delegates, and Fraternal Correspondence; Expenses of Delegates; Report of Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church and their Treasurer; Rules of Order; To fix Time and Place for Consecration Services; and on Chartered Fund.
The Quadrennial Address of the Bishops was read by Bishop Harris, and the Conference ordered that it be published in the Church papers, and five thousand copies be printed in pamphlet form for gratuitous distribution.
Through the courtesy of Hon. S. D. Waddy, Q. C., London, England, a Bible, the property of John Wesley, was presented to the Methodist Episcopal Church. This Bible was used at the opening service of the General Conference; and a committee, consisting of Bishops Simpson and Harris, Arthur Edwards, and G. G. Reynolds, addressed, by order of the Conference, a letter of thanks to Mr. Waddy for his valuable and interesting gift. The Bible was placed in the hands of the bishops, by them to be sacredly preserved and brought to each succeeding General Conference, to be used in the devotional services and in the consecration of bishops. R. W. Todd, of the Wilmington Conference, sent a bust of John Wesley, belonging to Mrs. Catherine Blake, of North East, Md., for exhibition to the Conference. He had been unable to secure it from the family owning it for the Wilmington Conference Historical Society; and it was placed in the hands of the secretary, to be returned on the next Friday, May 9th. This bust was an original, and was obtained by the owner's grandfather in Baltimore in 1810.
The report of the committee of the first Ecumenical Conference, held in London in 1881, was presented and referred to the Committee on the Centennial of 1884 and the Ecumenical Conference of 1887. This report thus referred recommended the holding of a second Ecumenical Conference in the United States in 1887, and the appointment of an executive committee, to determine the time and place for the same, the number of delegates, and the ratio of their distribution among the various Methodist bodies, to prepare a program of exercises, etc. The committee on this subject approved of the project, and reported favorably.