Beginning with the building of a Methodist Episcopal home for the aged in New York City in 1850, the churches accepted more responsibility for the elderly, orphans, and the sick. The Evangelical Association opened an orphanage at Flat Rock, Ohio, in 1868. Methodist hospitals appeared in Philadelphia, Washington, and Brooklyn in the 1880s. The United Brethren founded a home for older people at Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, in the 1890s.
All the activities just reviewed--worship, rules for personal living, Sunday schools, youth groups, colleges, seminaries, publishing, foreign and domestic missions, homes for the aged, orphanages, and hospitals--were aimed at producing more and better Methodists, United Brethren, and Evangelicals. It is hard to say whether they were better. One church leader speaking in 1900 said, "It is a serious question whether the membership, recruited largely from the Sunday School, possesses as discriminative and sturdy a faith as formerly." There was no doubt, however, about more. In 1860 the churches that now compose The United Methodist Church claimed 5.73 percent of the United States population (1.8 million); the percentage in 1910 was 6.04 (5.6 million). But all had not been placid on the way to statistical success. There had been battles over votes for the laity, ordination for women, and the holiness of born-again Christians.
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