Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History

Contents:

Show Summary
Religion

IV. THE CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE OF 1784

Questions from the Minutes

"Q. 2. What can be done in order to the future Union of the Methodists?

A. During the Life of the Rev. Mr. Wesley, we acknowledge ourselves his Sons in the Gospel, ready in Matters belonging to Church-Government, to obey his Commands And we do engage after his Death, to do every Thing that we judge consistent with the Cause of Religion in America and the political Interests of these States, to preserve and promote our Union with the Methodists in Europe.

Q. 3. As the Ecclesiastical as well as Civil Affairs of these United States have passed through a very considerable Change by the Revolution, what Plan of Church-Government shall we hereafter pursue?

A. We will form ourselves into an Episcopal Church under the Direction of Superintendents, Elders, Deacons and Helpers, according to the Forms of Ordination annexed to our Liturgy, and the Form of Discipline set forth in these Minutes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q. 23. May our Ministers or Travelling-Preachers drink spirituous Liquors?

A: By no means, unless it be medicinally.

Q. 24. Do not Sabbath-breaking, Evil-speaking, unprofitable Conversation, Lightness, Expensiveness or Gaiety of Apparel, and Contracting Debts without due Care to discharge them, still prevail in several Places? How may these Evils be remedied?

A. 1. Let us preach expressly on each of these Heads. 2. Read in every Society the Sermon on Evil-speaking. 3. Let the Leaders closely examine and exhort every Person to put away the accursed Thing. 4. Let the Preacher warn every Society, that none who is guilty therein can remain with us. 5. Extirpate smuggling, buying or selling encustomed Goods, out of every Society. Let none remain with us who will not totally abstain from every Kind and Degree of it. 6. Extirpate Bribery, receiving any Thing, directly or indirectly, for voting in any Election. Shew no Respect of Persons herein, but expel all that touch the accursed Thing.

Q. 26. What is the Office of a Superintendent?

A. To ordain Superintendents, Elders and Deacons; to preside as a Moderator in our Conferences; to fix the appointments of the Preachers for the several Circuits: and in the Intervals of the Conferences, to change, receive or suspend Preachers, as Necessity may require; and to receive Appeals from the Preachers and People, and decide them.

N. B. No Person shall be ordained a Superintendent, Elder or Deacon, without the Consent of a Majority of the Conference and the Consent and Imposition of Hands of a Superintendent; except in the Instance provided for in the 29th. Minute.

Q. 27. To whom is the Superintendent amenable for his Conduct?

A. To the Conference: who have Power to expel him for improper Conduct, if they see it necessary.

Q. 28. If the Superintendent ceases from Travelling at large among the People, shall he still exercise his Office in any Degree?

A. If he ceases from Travelling without the Consent of the Conference, he shall not thereafter exercise any ministerial Function whatsoever in our Church.

Q. 29. If by Death, Expulsion or otherwise there be no Superintendent remaining in our Church, what shall we do?

A. The Conference shall elect a Superintendent, and the Elders or any three of them shall ordain him according to our Liturgy.

Q. 30. What is the Office of an Elder?

A. To administer the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and to perform all the other Rites prescribed by our Liturgy.

Q. 31. What is the Office of a Deacon?

A. To baptize in the Absence of an Elder, to assist the Elder in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, to marry, bury the Dead, and read the Liturgy to the People as prescribed, except what relates to the Administration of the Lord’s Supper.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q. 35. How are we to proceed with those Elders or Deacons who cease from Travelling?

A. Unless they have the Permission of the Conference declared under the Hand of a Superintendent, they are on no account to exercise any of the peculiar Functions of those Offices among us. And if they do, they are to be expelled immediately.

Q. 36. What Method shall we take to prevent improper Persons from Preaching among us as Travelling-Preachers?

A. Let no Person be employed as a Travelling-Preacher, unless his Name be printed in the Minutes of the Conference preceding, or a Certificate be given him under the Hand of one or the other of the Superintendents, or, in their Absence, of three Assistants as is hereafter provided. And, for this Purpose, let the Minutes of the Conference be always printed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q. 41. Are there any Directions to be given concerning the Negroes?

A. Let every Preacher, as often as possible, meet them in Class. And let the Assistant always appoint a proper White Person as their Leader. Let the Assistants also make a regular Return to the Conference, of the Number of Negroes in Society in their respective Circuits.

Q. 42. What Methods can we take to extirpate Slavery?

A. We are deeply conscious of the Impropriety of making new Terms of Communion for a religious Society already established, excepting on the most pressing Occasion: and such we esteem the Practice of holding our Fellow-Creatures in Slavery. We view it as contrary to the Golden Law of God on which hang all the Law and the Prophets, and the unalienable Rights of Mankind, as well as every Principle of the Revolution, to hold in the deepest Debasement, in a more abject Slavery than is perhaps to be found in any Part of the World except America, so many Souls that are all capable of the Image of God.

We therefore think it our most bounden Duty, to take immediately some effectual Method to extirpate this Abomination from among us: And for that Purpose we add the following to the Rules of our Society: viz.

1. Every Member of our Society who has Slaves in his Possession, shall within twelve Months after Notice given to him by the Assistant (which Notice the Assistants are required immediately and without any Delay to give in their respective Circuits) legally execute and record an Instrument, whereby he emancipates and sets free every Slave in his Possession who is between the Ages of Forty and Forty-five immediately, or at farthest when they arrive at the Age of Forty-five:

And every Slave who is between the Ages of Twenty-five and Forty immediately, or at the farthest at the Expiration of five years from the Date of the said Instrument:

And every Slave who is between the Ages of Twenty and Twenty-five immediately, or at farthest when they arrive at the Age of Thirty:

And every Slave under the Age of Twenty, as soon as they arrive at the Age of Twenty-five at farthest.

And every Infant born in Slavery after the above-mentioned Rules are complied with, immediately on its Birth.

2. Every Assistant shall keep a Journal, in which he shall regularly minute down the Names and Ages of all the Slaves belonging to all the Masters in his respective Circuit, and also the Date of every Instrument executed and recorded for the Manumission of the Slaves, with the Name of the Court, Book and Folio, in which the said Instruments respectively shall have been recorded; Which Journal shall be handled down in each Circuit to the succeeding Assistants.

3. In Consideration that these Rules form a new Term of Communion, every Person concerned, who will not comply with them, shall have Liberty quietly to withdraw himself from our Society within the twelve Months succeeding the Notice given as aforesaid: Otherwise the Assistant shall exclude him in the Society.

4. No Person so voluntarily withdrawn or so excluded, shall ever partake of the Supper of the Lord with the Methodists, till he complies with the above Requisitions.

5. No Person holding Slaves shall, in future, be admitted into Society or to the Lord’s Supper, till he previously complies with these rules concerning Slavery.

N. B. These Rules are to affect the Members of our Society no farther than as they are consistent with the Laws of the States in which they reside.

And respecting our Brethren in Virginia that are concerned, and after due Consideration of their peculiar Circumstances, we allow them two Years from the Notice given, to consider the expedience of compliance or Non-compliance with these Rules.

Q. 43. What shall be done with those who buy or sell Slaves, or give them away?

A. They are immediately to be expelled: unless they buy them on purpose to free them.

Text—Tigert: A Constitutional History of American Episcopal Methodism, revised edition, 1904, pp. 534–556.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: "Questions from the Minutes," Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History 323–326. Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MG9LHSFLFX9JKX.

MLA: . "Questions from the Minutes." Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp. 323–326. Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MG9LHSFLFX9JKX.

Harvard: , 'Questions from the Minutes' in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History. cited in , Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp.323–326. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MG9LHSFLFX9JKX.