Agitation for the laity to be represented in the churches' annual and general conferences began before the Civil War. Responding to this pressure, one Methodist clergyman, when asked in 1847 to vote on a particular candidate for ordination, said, "I am told that he is a lay-delegation man, and I had as lief travel with the devil as with a lay-delegation man." The notion that there would be the devil to pay if lay persons ever got to vote on church legislation remained lively throughout the nineteenth century and on into the twentieth. Nevertheless, steps were taken to bring lay men into the churches' councils, beginning with the seating of an equal number of lay and clergy delegates in the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1870. Similar steps, although the representation was not always equal, were taken by northern Methodism (1872), the United Brethren (1889), and the Evangelicals (1903). Lay membership in annual conferences was pioneered by southern Methodism in 1866, picked up by the United Brethren in 1877, passed by the Evangelicals in 1907, and put off by northern Methodists until 1932.
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