200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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The 1920s, with their depressed religious spirits, were a difficult time to be the church, but Methodists, Evangelicals, and United Brethren accepted the difficulties and continued to grow. Evangelicals decided the 1920s were the right time for them to reunite. Belle Harris Bennett (1852-1922), Southern Methodist educator and missionary advocate. Photograph, ca. 1910.Their split in the 1890s had stemmed from bitter personal antagonisms and led to unchristian behavior, later regretted by many. Some pastors found themselves locked out of their churches. Some churches were despoiled of pews and chancel furnishings. In one parish the raiders took everything but the "mourner's bench," which the reporter declared they needed most. By the early years of the twentieth century, however, the rancor between United Evangelicals and members of the Evangelical Association had begun to dissipate. Youth leaders from both denominations took part in the Gypsy Smith revival in Chicago in 1907, and harmony was restored by 1910 on the mission field in China. Such developments paved the way for the creation of the reunited Evangelical Church in 1922.

Bishop Lorenzo H. King (1878-1946). Photograph, ca. 1940.The 1920s also witnessed the continuing activity of nineteenth-century church institutions and the development of new ones, even though the jazzy secularism of the flappers and their hip-flasked free lovers was heralding the approach of a depression in religion. Sunday schools, youth groups, colleges, seminaries, publishing houses, foreign and home mission boards, homes for the aged, orphanages, and hospitals remained committed to their ministries and were busy expanding their bureaucracies. In 1920 two black Methodist bishops, Matthew W. Clair, Sr. and Robert E. Jones, were elected. Women of the church, having gained the right to vote in civil elections in 1920, went on pressing for ecclesiastical equality, including the right to be ordained. Methodist women formed the Wesleyan Service Guild with its slogan, "Christian business women for a Christian business world."

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