Objectionable Customs in the A.M.E. Church
Christian Recorder: May 21, 1874
Mr. Editor: There are several objectionable habits and customs growing up in our church; about which I have been thinking to write for some time. As I have once more resumed my contributions to your paper, I propose to embrace the opportunity….
1st. The habit of our preachers standing up to pray in time of divine service.
I shall not go so far as to charge upon those whose church rule require the standing posture, anything other than the purest motives, but it is contrary to Methodist customs and in opinion, contrary to scriptural form. While it is true however, no scriptural posture is set forth and all bodily configurations have been consecrated to prayer, yet in the language of the learned divine, “Kneeling appears to be more in harmony with the instincts of prayer than any other form of addressing our heavenly Father.” But as I did not start out with a view of animadverting upon the customs of some of our sister churches, I desire to say this is a growing evil in our churches. I find it more….from our young pulpit divines than from our more aged and experienced ministers…..
2nd. The next objectionable habit is that of the ministers sitting down while the people stand to sing.
It has been a rule among Methodists from the organization of the church, to stand and sing, at least the opening and closing hymns. Until here lately, I have always seen the ministers raising their scriptures of praise to heaven with the rest of the worshippers, by raising to their feet when it was time to stand and sing. But through some freak, a new method is being inaugurated……
I preached for a brother a short time since and behind me sat seven young ministers all of the A. M. E. Church. At the time appointed, I arose, read the hymn over and then lined it out for the congregation to sing. When the song was commenced, one of the ministers in the pulpit behind me had no better sense than to rise up to join in singing. But one of the seven pulled him by his coat tail and winked at him and took his seat. We sang on, however, till we got to the last stanza at which time the seven holy lights behind me, sprang to their feet as though a baboon was about to enter the house and they were looking for a hole in the wall to exit. I then asked one of them to pray for me which he did, by showing God Almighty how grand he could stand and after he had progressed some time with his prayer, I happened to open my eyes and all the other six were sitting down as happily as if they were already in heaven….The sight of such big-headedness presumption in the pulpits so disgusted me that I positively could not preach…..