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- Georgia Correspondence: October 5, 1867
Christian Recorder: October 5, 1867
Mr. Editor:-- Pursuant to promise I continue my remarks upon the A.M.E. Church and the Zion Church. I stated in my last letter that we ought to unite these two organizations and thus end a wicked strife, as an anti-Christian rival.
I do not think, however, an enumeration of the many jars and sarcastic remarks which are the constant result of our rivalry in certain sections of the South, would be conducive of any good notwithstanding their truth and accuracy.
But I cannot refrain from referring to one, or two, or three more incidents, though a few others are far more aggravating in their moral aspect. In verification of the fraternal rupture to which I called attention, we will instance Trinity Church in Augusta Ga. This church is a large sumptuous edifice, with an immense congregation of people and hundreds of members, who will average in their moral and intellectual status, with the majority of colored congregations in the State. This church has from time unknown to me, been in brotherly union with all the other colored Methodist churches in the State, until within the last twenty-two months, when by the influence of Rev. Edward West, she was retained in the M.E. Church, South, while the other colored Methodist churches throughout the State allied themselves with the A.M.E. Church. His action in the case was highly censured, by several of his official men, and repeatedly were our elders appealed to Rev. A.L. Stanford, myself and others to go there and open the question before the people, and if we would do so, they assured us that a large majority would carry the church into our connection, notwithstanding the objection of brother West. But I refused to comply with their request, owing to the stipulation made with the M.E. Church, South, to wit, that we were not to disturb their colored congregations, when they were worshipping peaceably under them. Therefore none of our ministers interfered with them, but I informed them, that whenever they voluntarily transferred their church relations to us, either Elder Stanford or myself would receive them. So the subject was discussed pro and con among them, without any visible change in the minds of West and his party, until the session of our conference in Macon, when four of their ablest preachers left the church, came and joined our conference and took work in our itinerant field.
Shortly afterward, superintendent Clinton of the Zion church, having previously arranged matters with brother West, convenes a small conference of ministers there, and with a flank move, which certainly bespeaks commendable strategy for him, attacks this moral citadel, and with such a surprising pressure, that he carried every thing before him, except some 30 or 40 members. But among those members were two of the most influential and intelligent preachers in the church, viz, Rev. R.T. Kent, and Rev. S.W. Beard. Leaving as you will observe 6 ministers, who adhere to our Church, 4 itinerant and 2 local, and a number of members also, while West and a few more preachers go with the Zion church. Now what is the result of this division. Why, it is this. These brethren who have preached, prayed and worshipped God together for years are now divided, quarrelling, abusing each other, and unearthing every old stain, and forgotten report, which ever was held or circulated upon each other in their remembrance. True, the Elders of the M.E. Church South, say they do not know the Zion Church, and as they hold the church property yet, they will turn the Zion party out, and give us the deeds, and let them build their house, if they want one, or, worship out doors; indeed Elder Bradwell of our Church in Augusta has been urged to accept of the property for the A.M.E. Church. But that is not our desire, we do not wish to disturb them in any such manner. I believe, however, if the opportunity were given to them they would take such advantage of us very quickly. But I have advised against such an expedient. We want union, the two to be one, then there can be no strife. I ask again in the name of reason, who is to blame for the above state of things? Are these brethren who are ignorant of the causes of our division? No, they are not. The General Conferences of the A.M.E. Church, and the A.M. Zion church, which met at Philadelphia in ’64. They should have united then and there, and not sent two hissing serpents South, under the garb of religion. I must close this letter, as I shall write again soon, but before doing so, I call upon the young ministers of both churches, and as many old ones as are not callous to reason, and dead to the interest of our common good to prepare and let us untie the churches in defiance of men and devils.
Macon, Ga., Sept. 26th, 1867.