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with the adverse action of the body on the proposition to grant preachers the right of appeal from the appointment of the bishop, announced that they could no longer occupy seats in the Conference, and that, therefore, they withdrew from the General Conference, and that they would also leave the traveling connection.

Having received the communication, the Conference appointed a committee, consisting of the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson and two others, to wait upon the parties who had withdrawn, and to endeavor to persuade them to reconsider their purpose and to resume their seats. The committee reported its failure to reconcile the parties to the decision of the Conference and to induce them to resume their places in the body.

REVISION OF THE DISCIPLINE. After the withdrawal of Mr. O'Kelly and his followers, the Conference took up the general revision of the Book of Discipline and other formularies of the Church.

THE COUNCIL. It was agreed to discard the plan for “the Council” which had been adopted by the preachers in the Conferences of 1789, upon the recommendation of the Bishops. The plan was as follows:

Q. Whereas the holding of general conferences on this extensive Continent would be attended with a variety of difficulties, and many inconveniences to the work of God; and whereas we judge it expedient that a council should be formed of chosen men out of the several districts as representatives of the whole connection, to meet at stated times; in what manner is this council to be formed, what shall be its powers, and what further regulations shall be made concerning it?

A. First-Our bishops and presiding elders shall be the members of this council; provided, that the members who form the council be never fewer than nine. And if any unavoidable circumstance prevent the attendance of a presiding elder at the council, he shall have authority to send another elder out of his own district to represent him; but the elder so sent by the absenting presiding elder, shall have no seat in the council without the approbation of the bishop or bishops, and presiding elders present. And if, after the above mentioned provisions are complied with, any unavoidable circumstance, or any contingencies reduce the number to less than nine, the bishop shall immediately summon such elders as do not preside, to complete the number.

Secondly—These shall have authority to mature everything they shall judge expedient. 1. To preserve the general union; 2. To render and preserve the external form of worship similar in all our societies through the continent; 3. To preserve the essentials of the Methodist doctrines and discipline pure and uncorrupted; 4. To correct all abuses and disorders; and, lastly, they are authorized to mature everything they may see necessary for the good of the church, and for the promoting and improving our colleges and plan of education.

Thirdly—Provided nevertheless, that nothing shall be received as the resolution of the council, unless it be assented to unanimously by the council; and nothing so assented to by the council, shall be binding in any district, till it has been agreed upon by a majority of the conference which is held for that district.

Fourthly—The bishops shall have authority to summon the council to meet at such times and places as they shall judge expedient.

Fifthly-The first council shall be held at Cokesbury, on the 1st day of next December.

This plan for the Council was not printed in the Book of Discipline, but was printed in the Annual Minutes of the Conferences. It was nevertheless a law of the Church. The law had been a dead letter for nearly two years. Practically dead for that time, now at the General Conference of 1792 it actually and formally ceased to be.


Provision was made for holding General Conferences in the future, the time and place of the next General Conference was agreed upon, the composition of the body was settled, and its powers were determined. The law relating to the General Conference adopted and placed in Section III of the Book of Discipline of 1792 is as follows:

Quest. 2. Who shall compose the General Conference?

Answ. All the Traveling Preachers who shall be in full connection at the time of holding the Conference.

Quest. 3. When and where shall the next General Conference be held?

Answ. On the 1st day of November, in the year 1796, in the town of Baltimore.

The use of the phrase General Conference was not new. Thus it had been used by the Rev. John Wesley in his letter requesting the holding of a General Conference in 1787, and it was used in the preamble to the plan for the Council; but heretofore there had been no arrangement in the law for the meeting of a General Conference at a fixed time. Thie action of the General Conference established the General Conference as a fixed institution in the Church, and established it as a quadrennial meeting. From that time the Quadrennial General Conference became a part of the ecclesiastical economy. The powers of this General Conference were fixed definitely and the specifications as to this power were stated in different places in the new law.

According to the new arrangement the supreme executive control of the Church vested in the General Conference, and the power to make laws for the government of the Church was taken from the annual sessions of the ministers and vested in the quadrennial gathering called the General Conference, the power to elect bishops was likewise centered in the General Conference, and these officers were made amenable to that body, and in addition the General Conference was made a court of appeal.



The General Conference fully recognized and defined the office of a Presiding Elder. Presiding Elders de facto had existed from the beginning of the Church, and the title appears in the plan for the Council published in 1789; but the General Conference of 1792 formally adopted the title for these supervisory officers, and distinguished between the functions of a plain elder and the Presiding Elder, who was to have the supervision of a District, and the preachers therein contained. In doing so, the Conference adopted a new section (Section V), “Of the Presiding Elders, and of their Duty,” as follows:

Quest. 1. By whom are the Presiding Elders to be chosen?
Answ. By the Bishop.
Quest. 2. What are the duties of the Presiding Elder?
Answ. 1. To travel through his appointed District.

2. In the absence of a Bishop, to take charge of all the Elders, Deacons, Traveling and Local Preachers, and Exhorters in his District.

3. To change, receive, or suspend Preachers in his District during the intervals of the Conferences, and in the absence of the Bishop.

4. In the absence of a Bishop, to preside in the Conference of his District.

5. To be present, as far as practicable, at all the Quarterly Meetings; and to call together at each Quarterly Meeting all the Traveling and Local Preachers, Exhorters, Stewards and Leaders, of the Circuit, to hear complaints, and to receive Appeals.

6 To oversee the spiritual and temporal business of the Societies in his District.

7. To take care that every part of our Discipline be enforced in his District.

8. To attend the Bishop when present in his District; and to give him when absent all necessary information, by letter, of the state of his District.

Quest. 3. By whom are the Presiding Elders to be stationed and changed?

Answ. By the Bishop.

Quest. 4. How long may the Bishop allow an Elder to preside in the same District?

Answ. For any term not exceeding four years successively.
Quest. 5. How shall the Presiding Elders be supported ?

Answ. If there be a surplus of public money, in one or more Circuits in his District, he shall receive such surplus, provided he do not receive more than his annual Salary. In case of a deficiency in his Salary, after such surplus is paid him, or if there be no surplus, he shall share with the Preachers of his District, in proportion with what they have respectively received, so that he receive no more than the amount of his Salary upon the whole.


The General Conference decided upon the title of District Conference for the Annual Conferences of the ministers in different sections of the country. Before they were simply

. spoken of as the “Conference” or “Conferences,” but now as the title General Conference was fixed upon for the quadrennial body, it was necessary to distinguish the annual meetings by a special name, and hence “District Conference" was selected.

The General Conference determined the boundaries, the membership, and the business of the District Conference. The Presiding Elder's District was the basis of the District Conference, but it might be composed of a number of districts. The law covering the District Conferences was placed in Section III of the Discipline of 1792, as follows:

Quest. 4. Who are the members of the District Conferences?

Answ. All the Traveling Preachers of the District or Districts respectively, who are in full connexion.

Quest. 5. Ilow often are the District Conferences to be held ?
Answ. Annually.

Quest. 6. How many Circuits shall send Preachers in order to form a District Conference?

Answ. Not fewer than three, nor more than twelve.

Quest. 7, Shall the Bishop be authorized to unite two or more Districts together, where he judges it expedient, in order to form a District Conference?

Answ. He shall, as far as is consistent with the rule immediately preceding.

Quest. 8. Who shall appoint the times of holding the District Conferences ?

Answ. The Bishop.

Quest. 9. What is the method wherein we usually proceed in the District Conferences?

Answ. We inquire,
1. What Preachers are admitted on trial?
2. Who remain on trial?
3. Who are admitted into full connexion?
4. Who are the Deacons?
5. Who are the Elders?

6. Who have been elected by the unanimous suffrages of the General Conference to exercise the Episcopal Office, and superintend the Methodist Episcopal Church in America?

7. Who are under a Location, through weakness of body, or family concerns?

8. Who are the Supernumeraries? 9. Who have died this year? 10. Are all the Preachers blameless in life and conversation? 11. Who are expelled from the connexion? 12. Where are the Preachers stationed this year? 13. What numbers are in Society? 14. What has been collected for the contingent expenses? 15. How has this been expended ?

16. What is contributed towards the fund for the Superannuated Preachers, and the Widows and Orphans of the Preachers?

17. What demands are there upon it?
18. Where and when shall our next Conference be held ?

Quest. 10. Is there any other business to be done in the District Conferences?

Answ. The Electing and Ordaining of Elders and Deacons.
Quest. 11. How are the Districts to be formed?
Answ. According to the judgment of the Bishop.

N. B.-In case that there be no Bishop to travel through the Districts and exercise the Episcopal Office, on account of death, the Districts shall be regulated in every respect by the District Conferences and the Presiding Elders till the ensuing General Conference, (Ordinations only excepted.)

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