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American Methodist History. Civil War and Reconstruction Period. Issues of the Day. Denominational Competition New Science (aka Darwin) Slavery States Rights. Denominationalism. Constant war of words (and sometimes fists) between members of differing denominations

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American Methodist History

Civil War and Reconstruction Period


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Issues of the Day

  • Denominational Competition

  • New Science (aka Darwin)

  • Slavery

  • States Rights


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Denominationalism

  • Constant war of words (and sometimes fists) between members of differing denominations

  • Issues over infant baptism, worship, prayer, ritual and leadership led to numerous debates


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New Science

  • With the publication of “Origin of the Species”, Methodists (like many Christian communities) perceive a world view under siege.

  • Charles Lyell provides a new view of geology, challenging the basis of the Christian creation narrative.

  • A few rationalist attempts made a reconciliation, with little positive result


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Slavery

  • 1844 did not settle the issue of slavery.

  • Border states felt caught between the two denominations.

  • Instead, most persons self-affiliated on national, political issues of the day (Union vs. Confederacy)

  • This division still pitted church against church, brother against brother, sister against sister.


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Methodist Episcopal Church

  • During the Civil War, gave unconditional support to the Union.

  • Bishop Simpson’s friendship with Lincoln provided symbolic significance for the denomination.

  • Simpson conducts Lincoln’s funeral in Springfield, IL


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Methodist Episcopal Church

  • Denomination also supported chaplains during the Civil War.

  • Over 500 Methodist ministers became regimental chaplains.

  • Also expanded the denomination into Southern territory.

  • Questionable to what extent the military assisted in such “evangelistic” efforts.


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Methodist Episcopal Church, South

  • Hardly the church of secession. In fact, rather restrained in its commentary.

  • While the MEC, South joined the cause of the Confederacy, times were more desperate, so polemics were less harsh.

  • Did develop a vigorous mission to the slaves also the voices of abolition were rare, indeed. 217,000 slaves brought into the church during the war.


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Methodist Episcopal Church, South

  • High participation of minister in the war as soldiers, many of whom also provided chaplaincy service.

  • Some groupings of men took on a revivalist flair.

  • Buildings suffer excessive damage from Union troops

  • General Conference of 1862 did not take place due to the disruption and danger of civil war.


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Reconstruction

  • For the Methodist Episcopal Church, the end of the war meant Union Victory and the expansion of the denomination.

  • It also meant God’s vindication for the “side of righteousness”

  • Interesting enough, several MEC congregations interested in providing war relief to their southern comrades.


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Reconstruction

  • In large part due to the relationship of Bishop Simpson to Lincoln, the Methodist Episcopal Church now seen as a Republican Outpost.

  • Establishment of Freedman’s Aid Societies.


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Freedman’s Aid Society

  • During and after the Civil War northern women who had been active in the anti-slavery movement before the war often formed organizations to help former slaves become free members of American society. They sent clothing, money, and books to the South. In freedmen's aid societies women also raised money to send teachers to the South, most of whom were young white women. Women in the freedmen's aid movement faced many problems.


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Freedman’s Aid Society

  • Many in Northern society were not yet ready for women to become prominent in public life or to assume leadership in national organizations. And, although most Northerners supported the end of slavery, many feared social equality between the races and subscribed to many racist stereotypes of African Americans. Lastly, because most men in the movement feared that former slaves would become dependent on charity, they opposed women's efforts to provide adequate resources to former slaves.


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Freedman’s Aid Society

  • They are now collecting money on a large scale from some persons who never before were called on, and who have contributed freely. Miller would like for all the anti-slavery and freedmen's societies to be merged in this--a Reconstructive Union. He sent an appeal to our "Friends' Association." I told him it was objected, that woman was ignored in their new organization, and if it really were a reconstruction for the nation, she ought not so to be, and that it would be rather humiliating for our anti-slavery women and Quaker women to consent to be thus overlooked, after suffering the Anti-Slavery Society to be divided in 1840 rather than yield, and after claiming our rights so earnestly in London to a seat in the "World's Convention." He was rather taken aback, and said, "if there seemed a necessity for women," he thought "they would be admitted;" to which the impetuous reply was, "seemed a necessity!! for one half the nation to act with you!"

    • Lucretia Mott, 19th Woman Rights Leader and Quaker


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The State of Southern Methodism

  • “So far as we can ascertain, most of its conferences are virtually broken up, its circuit system is generally abandoned, its appointments without preachers to a great extent, and its local societies in utter confusion.”

    • Christian Advocate, 1865


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Joshua Soule (1781-1867)

  • Joshua Soule was born in Bristol, Maine on August 1, 1781.  He died in Nashville, Tennessee on March 6, 1867.   Soule quickly became known as an opponent of Calvinism, Unitarianism, and Universalism.


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Joshua Soule

  • When he was twenty-three he was appointed presiding elder over the state of Maine. He was on the committee to draft the constitution of the delegated general conference, which, since 1813, has been the fundamental law of the church. He was a delegate to the general conference of 1812, and also to that of 1816. At the latter he was elected book-agent and editor of the "Methodist Magazine." He did not like these posts, and had made up his mind not to accept a re-election ; but in 1820, before that question was raised, he was elected a bishop. 


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Joshua Soule

  • A great debate had occurred on whether presiding elders should be elected or, as before, appointed by the bishops. Mr. Soule was opposed to their election, but the majority of the conference voted in favor of it. Having full confidence in his sincerity, they elected him bishop, but he declined rather than administer what he believed to be an unconstitutional law, reentered the pastorate, and was stationed first in New York and then in Baltimore. 


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Joshua Soule

  • In 1824 the General Conference reversed its action and reelected him bishop. These circumstances have no parallel in the history of the denomination.

  • In 1842 Soule visits Great Britain as a delegate from the General Conference of the United States to the British Wesleyan conference. 


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Joshua Soule

  • In 1844 the General Conference was held in New York. Bishop James O. Andrew had become complicated with slavery, and the conference passed a resolution asking him to desist from the exercise of his functions until this encumbrance should be removed. It was Bishop Soule's opinion that the conference had no right to pass such a resolution. Bishop Andrew declined the proposition, and the result was a division of the church. Bishop Soule adhered to the southern members, and when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established he went with it, and became its Senior Bishop. 


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Joshua Soule

  • In 1848 he visited the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pittsburg, but was not recognized as a bishop or a delegate, though he was courteously received as a visitor. At the age of seventy-two he retired from public life.


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Palmyra Manifesto

  • Statement prepared by two dozen ministers and twelve laymen in the summer of 1865 in Palmyra, Missouri.

  • Maintained that continued separation of the two denominations of paramount importance, if for no other reason, because of all the wrongs perpetrated upon the Southern churches by Union Troops


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Palmyra Manifesto

  • “…it is due every principle of self-respect and ecclesiastical propriety that we maintain, with firm reliance upon the help of the Great Hand of the Church, our organization without embarrassment or compromise.”

    • Excerpt from “Palmyra Manifesto”


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General Conference of 1866 Methodist Episcopal Church, South

  • Should the laity have representation on the floor of the General and Annual Conferences?

  • Motion in favor of lay representation passes.

  • 1870 General Conference the first with elected lay delegation, with equal lay-clergy representation.


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General Conference of 1866 Methodist Episcopal Church, South

  • Probationary period for church membership abolished.

  • Compulsory attendance of class meetings abolished.

  • Four year limit placed on each itinerate appointment or charge.

  • Four new bishops elected.


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General Conference of 1866 Methodist Episcopal Church, South

  • Conference decisions obviously provide a needed framework for reconstituting the denomination.

  • While white membership increases, black membership rapidly declines.

  • Less than 20,000 Black American members by 1869.

  • White membership by 1875: over 700,000.


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Methodist Episcopal Church, South South

  • Continues its mission to the “Negroes” but political changes push toward segregation of congregations.

  • J.B. McFerrin, assists in the reconstitution of publishing and education concerns.

  • Sunday schools booming

  • Vanderbilt University founded in 1875

  • Revivalism resurgent

  • Temperance Movement supported by the denomination.


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Methodist Episcopal Church, South South

  • The African American membership of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, had declined significantly during and after the war. In 1870 its General Conference voted to transfer all of its remaining African American constituency to a new church. The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (now called The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church) was the product of this decision.


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Meanwhile, in the North… South

  • Rapid urbanization brings an end to Romanticism and a rise in Liberal philosophy.

  • Methodist Episcopal Church becomes a major urban denomination.

  • Movement for massive church extension into rural areas begins.

  • Membership by 1900 exceeds three million.


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Methodist Episcopal Church South

  • Continued its general opposition to understanding the Episcopacy as a higher, third tier of ordination. Instead, Bishop was an office served, but not necessarily for life.

  • Methodist Protestant Church moved further away from the Episcopacy, forming an Annual Council to advise bishops in 1875. Annual Council finally dissolved by 1892.


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Methodist Protestant Church South

  • The Methodist Protestant Church was organized in November 1828 in response to growing controversy within the Methodist Episcopal Church surrounding the representation of lay members within church conferences.  Members broke with the Methodist Episcopal Church over what they perceived as the unlimited exercise of power over church policies by the ministry, to the exclusion of lay members.


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Methodist Protestant Church South

  • Rejecting the notion of Episcopal, or ministerial, control, the new church designated equal representation of ministerial and lay members for each conference, thereby assuring "the mutual rights of the ministry and the laity."  Originally known as The Associated Methodist Churches, the later title was adopted in 1830 during the Second Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  Beginning with a national membership of 5,000 in 1830, membership reached 196,985 by 1939.


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Methodist Protestant Church South

  • The Methodist Protestants being a reform movement, were well-known for the battles they fought over the great societal issues of the 19th century such as slavery, temperance, and secret oath-bound societies.

  • In regard to slavery, the Methodist Protestants were considerably more abolitionist than the Methodist Episcopals, probably because the smaller body did not have many churches in southern states.

  • Reunited with Methodist Episcopal Church in 1939.


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Liberalism South

  • A 19th century political viewpoint or ideology associated with strong support for a broad interpretation of civil liberties for freedom of expression and religious toleration, for widespread popular participation in the political process, and for the repeal of protectionist legal restrictions inhibiting the operation of a capitalist free market economy.


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Liberalism South

  • Liberal American Protestantism in the 19th century was allied with similar trends in Europe, where scholars were reading and interpreting the Bible in a new way. They questioned the validity of biblical miracles and traditional beliefs about the authorship of biblical books. There was also the challenge of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to contend with. If human beings were descended from other animals, as most scientists came to believe, then the story of Adam and Eve, the biblical first parents, could not be literally true. In this manner, Methodist theology and doctrine submitted itself to the standards of rationalism and objectivism.


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Liberalism South

  • What distinguished 19th-century Liberal Protestants was optimism about the human capacity for improvement. Some of the early ministers believed that the church could accelerate progress by trying to reform society. In the spirit of the gospels, they began to work on behalf of the urban poor.


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The Question of Itineracy South

  • During Reconstruction, both denominations struggle with the issue of itineracy.

  • Many pastors presenting arguments both for and against the institution of itineracy.


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In Favor of Itineracy South

  • Scriptural institution practiced by Jesus, disciples and the primitive church.

  • Part of the early beginnings of Methodism

  • Advocated by John Wesley

  • Practiced by Asbury, Coke and others

  • Provided ability of clergy to reach others


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In Opposition of Itineracy South

  • Itineracy a human invention.

  • Times have changed since Wesley and Asbury.

  • Permanent appointments would improve efficiency and encourage preachers to be more studious and devoted.

  • Impossible to promote a stable, moral existence under such a system.

  • Continued threat to the family.

  • Parishioners do not like the system.


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Decline of Class Meeting South

  • Domesticated by the Sunday school

  • When Circuit Riders take appointments, class leader and local preacher positions no longer necessary.


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Decline of the Camp Meeting South

  • Annual Conferences begin to purchase land as permanent camp meeting spaces.

  • Removes the spontaneity of camp meeting experience.

  • Liberal Protestant movement enhance decline.

  • Chautauqua, as a logical, well planned summer series of lectures, emerges.

  • Camp meetings still held in the South (revivalism still a part of the Methodist Spirit)


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