200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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Title-page of the first CONSTITUTION AND DISCIPLINE OF THE METHODIST PROTESTANT CHURCH. Published in Baltimore by John J. Harrod, 1830.During the 1820s an organized effort to curb the power of bishops, to elect presiding elders (later called district superintendents), and to provide for lay membership in the annual and general conferences had its center in Baltimore. When the demands of its leaders were treated by the bishops and dominant preachers as so much noise blowing on the wind, they left the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1828 and founded the Methodist Protestant Church in 1830.

Section of first discipline of the Methodist Protestant Church outlining officers of the Church which does not include Bishops.The constitution of the Methodist Protestant Church made clear, however, that blacks were not included among those with unalienable rights in the church--"Every Minister and Preacher, and every white, lay, male Member . . . shall be entitled to vote in all cases." This denial of black rights was not a new departure. Its beginnings can be traced to the period immediately after the first Methodist Discipline called upon slaveowners to free their slaves or clear out of the church. The very next year, l 785, it was concluded at the annual conference "that the rule on slavery would do harm;" therefore, it was suspended. Somewhat later Bishop Asbury saw how slavery was becoming ingrained in American life and decided that "under such circumstances he did not see what we as a ministry could do better than to try to get both masters and servants to get all the religion they could, and get ready to leave a troublesome world."

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