200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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While many Americans fretted about the apparent design of scientists to undermine their faith, others decried the appalling design of the American economy. Day nursery, Wesley House, Atlanta, Georgia.  Photograph, ca. 1910.Severe depressions in 1873 and 1893 caused wages to fall and unemployment to soar. Over 1,500 strikes in 1886 involved at least 600,000 persons. In 1900 most workers endured ten-hour days and six-day weeks. Women and girls in the garment industry scissored and stitched for 70 hours each week. Such conditions caused thoughtful persons to ask, "Whose business is it to humanize the businesses of America?"

Clinic, Wesley House, Macon, Georgia.  Photograph, ca. 1910."Not the church's!" cried evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, who believed the church's business was to preach gospel sermons on the blood of Christ and to proclaim a better world hereafter. INASMUCH, Methodist Episcopal deaconess newspaper, published in St. Louis, Mo., 1911.Such a constriction of the church's business found scant support in the thought of John Wesley, whose definition of the purpose of Methodism was "to reform the nation . . . and to spread Scriptural holiness over the land." Seizing upon this part of their Wesleyan heritage, Methodists began to preach that there is a kingdom where not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; that there is a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. And instead of projecting this kingdom into heaven as many nineteenth-century evangelists were doing, they sought to bring it down to earth, to realize it in the farms, the fisheries, and the factories of America. The gospel they preached was a Social Gospel, based upon the Hebrew prophets' scorn for corrupt rulers and avaricious merchants; based also upon Jesus' love for those broken on the economic, social, and political wheels of life.

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