Christian Recorder: June 6, 1866
Tomorrow morning one of the most interesting and dignified Conferences ever held will end. The South Carolina Conference held in this city will always be remembered by those who witnessed it, and the future historian will review its actions and portray its doings with special delight, when posterity shall reflect upon the past, gleaning the gems of undying luster, which will ever tell in honor of God’s faithful laborers. The second session of the South Carolina Conference will mark the annals of Christian progress, and show the triumphs of the invincible march of truth. God seemed to have especially signalized this Conference in more than one respect.
The weather was fair, fine and salubrious. The ministers though very numerous (nearly sixty) are all comfortably provided for, provisions are in abundance, and those who serve appear to be of the most courteous character. The citizens are intelligent and well dressed. The newspaper reports far surpass the most sanguine expectation, and sessions are attended by the most elite, including several United States Officers.
Bishop Payne, our presiding officer, has acquitted himself with special dignity. I have never seen him rule with so much self possession, and Christian grace, as in this instance. One could but imagine his equals are only found in the persons of Wesley and St. Paul, his humanity seemed to have been utterly absorbed in Christ. And instead of rebuking a member of the conference, he with a singular love, reproved us, in a few instances, with such Christian simplicity, that several had to remark, “How angelic, how much like Christ is the Bishop.”
Nor are the ministers unworthy of notice in this review, they deliberated in fraternal harmony, and disposed of business with classic etiquette. Such men as Cain, Stanford, Handy, Pearce, Brodie, Williams, Carr, and others appear often to be inspired for the occasion. There was none of that mean, low and ignorant jealousy exhibited; such as, when a brother rises to speak, half dozen “timber heads” blasting out, “Sit down, sit down,” as though he was a monster from the bottom of perdition. But on the contrary, whenever a brother arose to say anything, it was presumed he had something to say worthy of attention and was therefore listened to accordingly, each elder, especially appeared to contemplate the good of the church, and when he represented any department, with which the others were not familiar, they presumed he told the truth in all his statements, and each one voted his request. Thus every thing was so orderly in its character, that several Georgians who were familiar with white conferences, had to acknowledge ours to be the gravest and most dignified conference ever held in the State.
During the entire session, no minister was asked to take his rest, before he got through with his speech: occasionally some one would rise to state a point of explanation, which never was refused by the speaker. And I found this to be a fact, by so doing we accomplished more, did business faster, more intelligently, and more to the interest of the church. A committee consisting of G. W. Brodie, A. L. Stanford, and H. M. Turner, had forty for (44) applicants to examine, for admission to deacons and elders orders, and such systematic harmony as prevailed in the course of examination, I have yet to see equaled. The fact is, each member of the committee treated the other as his superior, and wherever men so treat men, there will respect for each other prevail, and fraternal love exist.
Indeed our conference was a model meeting; it would have done honor to a convention of Bishops. Sure, we differed on points, and questions, and in the modus operandi. But differences were adjusted so cautiously and respectfully, that they resulted in creating a higher consideration for the contendents when settled. Where some of our ministers ever got that low and vile spirit of jealously from, which so much represents the snapping turtle, ready to snap at every body whom they imagine might equal or excel them, I can’t see. But it is a fact, that many are given to that ugly habit; but God grant that our Southern Conferences may ever be above it. I predict however a glorious era in our church, by the reformation which will follow Southern annexation.
God of mercy, let our year’s labors be as sweet as our conference session.