200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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Boundaries of the Annual Conferences, Methodist Episcopal Church, as fixed by the General Conference, 1920. Prepared and published by the Board of Home Missions and Church Extension, Philadelphia, 1920.Home missionary activity led to organizing churches and in some instances conferences for various ethnic groups in the United States: Germans, Hispanics--Alejo Hernandez was ordained a Methodist deacon in 1871 and an elder in 1874--Hungarians, Italians, Japanese, Native Americans, Norwegians, Poles, and Swedes. These domestic missions were underwritten by denominational home missionary societies and by independent women's boards. Women also started deaconess work, begun in northern Methodism in the 1880s when Lucy Rider Meyer started training young women to visit the poor and sick in city ghettos.

Isabella Thoburn (1840-1901), photograph, ca. 1880.During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, rural and urban problems caught the attention of church leaders. Methodist mission executives were troubled by their discovery that there was one Methodist for every 29 rural people, one for every 46 city dwellers. Using the premise that "density of population means intensity of sin," an Evangelical editor called for aggressive urban evangelism. From these challenges came the development of city ministries such as the Five Points Mission in New York City and the Chicago Missionary Society. To meet rural needs the churches made surveys, trained leaders, and founded missions such as Red Bird in eastern Kentucky.

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