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The admission of women as lay delegates was still an open question; and those who favored it moved that the matter be referred to the Committee on Judiciary, with instructions to report as soon as practicable. The report stated that under the well-recognized rule of construction the intent of the lawmakers in using the words "lay delegates," "laymen," and "members of the Church in full connection,” in paragraphs 55 to 63, inclusive, in the Discipline, was not to apply them to both sexes, but to men only. For this report a substitute was offered by David H. Moore, to which an amendment was offered by J. W. Hamilton, dissenting from the report of the Judiciary Committee, and referring the question again to the annual conferences and to the membership. Dr. Hamilton's amendment was accepted, and the substitute was adopted. It was thus
"Resolved, 1. That we submit to the annual conferences the proposition to amend the Second Restrictive Rule, by adding the words, and said delegates must be male members' after the words, 'two lay delegates for an annual conference,' so that it will read 'nor of more than two lay delegates for an annual conference, and said delegates must be male members.'
“2. That this proposition be submitted to the annual conferences during the autumn of 1895 and the spring of 1896.
“3. That in the month of October or November, 1894, there shall be held in every place of public worship of the Methodist Episcopal Church an election, at which every member in full connection who is not less than twenty-one years of age shall be permitted to vote upon the following proposition: “Shall the Second Restrictive Rule be amended by adding the words and said delegates must be male members after the words 'two lay delegates for an annual conference,' so that it will read 'nor of more than two lay delegates for an annual conference, and said delegates must be male members.''
The fourth resolution prescribed the method of taking this vote, and the manner of reporting the result of the election; and the fifth resolution reads as follows:
“5. That if the amendment so submitted does not receive the votes of three-fourths of the members of the annual conferences and two-thirds of the General Conference, the Second Restrictive Rule shall be so construed that the words 'lay delegates' may include men and women, and thus be in harmony with the legislation of previous General Conferences.”
The American University, located at Washington, D. C., was approved by the Conference, and the patronage of the same, according to the terms of its charter, was accepted. The Board of Trustees named in the charter was approved. A resolution was adopted, reciting the debasing and ruinous effects of opium-smoking, and requesting Congress to devise measures to suppress the evil, by prohibiting the importation and sale of opium-smoking extract under heavy penalties. The American Sabbath Union, organized for the protection of the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship, was heartily indorsed. Mob law, lynchings, and other outrages against humanity were denounced, and the State Legislatures and Congress called upon to enact just laws against them, and see that they are enforced. A University Senate was authorized, to be composed of practical educators, for the purpose of determining the minimum equivalent of academic work in our Church institutions for graduation to the Baccalaureate degree. This action was designed to place all our colleges in the same grade. Postgraduate courses of study were commended. Two secretaries for the Church Extension Board, and two for the Freedmen's Aid Society were ordered to be elected. A commission of not less than three nor more than seven laymen was ordered, to be appointed by the bishops, 'to originate and operate a Church Insurance Company, under certain limitations. The name Book Agents for the Methodist Book Concern was changed to Publishing Agents. Bishop Andrews was appointed to edit the Discipline, and a committee, consisting of Bishop Foss, the Editor of Books at New York, the Editor of the Christian Advocate, John Miley, and the Agents of the Book Concern in New York, were appointed to revise it, under certain restrictions, and to authorize a reconstruction and enlargement of the historical introduction, but not to exceed four pages in length.
The General Conference received invitations to meet in three or four different places in 1896; but as no representatives from either place were authorized to make the necessary guarantees as to hotel prices and railroad accommodations, it was resolved that the whole matter of arrangements and entertainment of the next General Conference be referred, with power to act, to the Book Committee.
The official elections in the General Conference were as follows: Publishing Agents, New York, Sandford Hunt, Homer Eaton; Cincinnati, Earl Cranston, Lewis Curts. Editors, Methodist Review, James W. Mendenhall; Christian Advocate, James M. Buckley; Sunday-school Publications, Jesse L. Hurlbut; Northern Christian Advocate, James E. C. Sawyer; Pittsburgh, Charles W. Smith; Western, David H. Moore; Northwestern, Arthur Edwards; Central, Jesse Bowman Young; California, Benjamin F. Crary; Southwestern, Edward W. S. Hammond; Christliche Apologete, Albert J. Nast; Haus und Herd, Henry Liebhart. Corresponding Secretaries, Missionary Society, Charles C. McCabe, Jonas 0. Peck, Adna B. Leonard; Church Extension, William A. Spencer, Alpha J. Kynett; Freedmen's Aid, Joseph C. Hartzell, John W. Hamilton; Education, Charles H. Payne.
On Thursday, May 26th, the Conference adjourned sine die. 1896.
building, in the city of Cleveland, on Friday, May 1st. There were five hundred and thirty-eight delegates, of whom three hundred and thirty-eight were clerical and two hundred lay. One hundred and twenty-two conferences were represented. All the bishops, including the missionary bishops, were present. David S. Monroe was elected secretary.
The first action of the Conference was the reception of a protest, signed by James M. Buckley and others, against the admission of certain women, elected delegates by several of the lay electoral conferences, whose names appeared on the roll. A committee on their eligibility, consisting of one minister and one layman from each General Conference District, and three at large, was appointed, to report on Monday morning, May 4th, at ten o'clock.
Standing committees, to consist of one member from each delegation, were ordered on Episcopacy, Itinerancy, Boundaries, Revisals, Temporal Economy, State of the Church, Book Concern, Temperance and the Prohibition of the Liquor-traffic, Missions, Education, Church Extension, Sunday-schools and Tracts, Freedmen's Aid and Work in the South, and Epworth League. Special committees were appointed on Judiciary, Constitution, Consolidation of Benevolences, Fraternal Delegates, American Bible Society, Memorials, Rules of Order, Acknowledging the Reception tendered to the General Conference, and on minor matters.
The Address of the bishops was read by Bishop Warren, and thirty-five hundred copies were ordered to be printed in pamphlet form, and in all the Church papers. The various subjects treated of were referred to the appropriate committees. A manual of the General Conference, called “Agenda," was prepared and published for the use of the members.
Resolutions favoring the arbitration of international differences were passed, and the presiding officers and secretary were requested to send a copy to the President of the United States.
The Committee on the Eligibility of Women as delegates to the General Conference submitted majority and minority reports, on May 4th. The former was signed by twenty members of the committee, and the latter by eleven. The majority declare that, having carefully considered the challenge of the eligibility of Lydia A. Trimble, delegate-elect from the Foochow Electoral Conference; Lois S. Parker and Ada C. Butcher, delegates-elect from the North India Electoral Conference; and of Jane Field Bashford, delegate-elect from the Ohio Electoral Conference, the challenge is not sustained, and the aforesaid lady delegates-elect are not ineligible to seats in this body. The minority of the committee say that, after reviewing the action of the General Conferences since 1872, when laymen were first admitted as representatives in this assembly, the challenge of the eligibility of the women, whose names appear above, is sustained, that the election of women by lay electoral conferences is illegal, and that to seat the claimants would tend to destroy all respect for the Constitution of the Church, and for the decisions and interpretations of the General Conference.
Prior to the presentation of these reports, the secretary read a communication from Jane F. Bashford, Lois S. Parker, and Ada C. Butcher, lay delegates-elect, expressing their appreciation of the courtesy shown them, but relinquishing for the sake of peace all claims to membership in this body. They do not waive the claims of women to sit as delegates in future General Conferences, and believe that this present decision on their part will best secure their interests, and, in the providence of God, a more abundant entrance to those who shall come after them. Miss Lydia A. Trimble, lay delegate-elect from the Foochow Electoral Conference, came into Cleveland after the withdrawal of the other women delegates, and learning what had been done, also waived her claims to a seat, and withdrew.
Both the reports of the Committee on Eligibility were, on motion, recommitted, with instructions to find, if possible, a common ground of agreement, and report after reading the Journal on May 7th.
The committee reported that the question of eligibility is a constitutional question, and that the General Conference has full power, in its judicial capacity, to interpret the Constitu