The means of putting across this democratic message of God's love had the sovereign effectiveness of simplicity. Methodist, Evangelical, and United Brethren preachers went out looking for people, and wherever they found them, in fields or barns, around the kitchen table or the tavern bar, they challenged them to turn from sin to life in Christ. Frequently they arrived in a frontier region for the first time, only to discover that a believing woman or man had already gathered a few interested persons into a group of seekers. To these persons and others the preachers spoke with such power that often "the gale of the spirit" blew over "the dry bones, and they did live the life of glorious love."
These converts were formed into small groups, each with a lay leader selected by the preacher who was responsible for seeing to it that they grew in grace. Circuit-riding preachers visited the fledgling congregations on a regular basis. Presiding elders (later called district superintendents) also made the rounds, baptizing children, youth, and adults, administering the Lord's supper, and holding quarterly conferences at which past work was evaluated and future work projected. The preachers gathered each year in conference and received their new assignments from the bishop. Every four years clergy delegates from the annual conferences met in a General Conference and adopted legislation affecting the whole church.
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