General Conference of the African M.E. Church (June 5, 1868)

General Conference of the African M.E. Church

Georgia Weekly Telegraph: June 5, 1868

Editor Telegraph: The General Conference which promises to remain in session for several days yet, is losing its affirmation mode of legislation every day and becoming more and more tame. This has been especially so since the defeat of the union of the two churches. The anti-unionists of our Conference declare they never will unite with the Zion church unless they make a clean surrender of all their claims to an independent organization and come into the A.M.E. Church uncompromisingly. The union wing, however, that notwithstanding we outnumbered them five or more to one, and regardless of their former revolt we should meet them in that spirit of liberality which would not seemingly require a wholesale subjugation of all their rights and previous organization.

A series of resolutions were adopted yesterday, approving of the course pursued by the delegates of our church who waited upon the General Conference of the M.E. Church South, and tendering said church the thanks of our General Conference for the reception given said delegates, fraternal terms acceded to and the aid since given our ministries everywhere.

No action has been taken by the General Conference in relation to uniting with the lengthy communication, which they recommended that we send to said body, but they were tabled immediately. Another effort was made to send a delegation to said body in Chicago, to ascertain what terms they would grant provided we would unite with them, but this, like the other, met with no favor, and was voted down after a few moments’ discussion. The leading men took the ground that we were not prepared to unite with any white organization at present. I find there is no disposition in our Conference, with a very small exception, to allow itself to be swallowed up in the great bosom of the M.E. Church.

The Zion Conference, however, sent a delegation a few days ago, whom, I am informed, arrived safely and were introduced. One bearing the title of Bishop was made to feel a little sour at a resolution offered a few moments afterwards, that no preacher coming from a negro Conference hereafter should be introduced under the title of Bishop to any of their Conferences. I might comment here a little, but, as Brick Pomeroy says, “drive on your cart—it is none of our funeral.”

The newspapers have got a report going the rounds that Chief Justice Chase has been trying to influence our General Conference to support him for the Democratic nomination for President. It is only just to the Chief Justice to say that the report is false. No member, except me and Bishop Payne, has seen the Chief Justice, and our business was strictly educational, and not political.

Some Georgian has done me the favor to report it about here that H.M. Turner is a rebel, and is not, therefore, entitled to the confidence of the Republican Party. But if the poor cowardly dog, be he white or black knew how little I cared for his smartness, he would drop his tail, like another hound, and stop yelping about me.

An election was held yesterday for the following officers, and it resulted as follows:

For General Book Steward-Rev. Joshua Woodland

For Editor Christian Recorder-Rev. B.T. Tanner

For Secretary of the Parent Home and Foreign Missionary Society-Rev. James A. Handy

Rev. T.G. Stewart would have been elected editor had he not left for home so soon. Several advocated his election notwithstanding.

I am glad that Rev. J.M. Brown, Bishop elect, who will be assigned to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, is a Southern born and raised man; he will, therefore, know how to conform to the customs of the South. And another peculiar advantage he will have, as a Southern Bishop, is that he has no politics at all. This will be a favorable characteristic with our white friends. His only hobbies are religion, education, and moral refinement. He is a terrible foe to liquor drinking, tobacco chewing, and cigar and pipe smoking. He can’t see how a minister of Christ can use tobacco in any form; thinks it a great sin, and tried to get the General Conference to pass a law not to receive any more tobacco using ministers, etc. Well, Bishop, all I can say is, you will have a big job down South.

I told him the other day that most of us Southern preachers were great tobacco foes also, and as evidence of it we tried to burn it up as fast as we could buy it; every old cigar we could get, we fired one end of it and commenced sucking the other, and puffing off the miserable effluvia, so that everyone who should perchance pass by with their snuffers unobstructed night learn to loath it, as we did, and for the want of cigars we did not hesitate to employ old pipes, hollow cobs, and such other fumigative utensils as were best adapted to the condition of the pocket.

A strong effort was made a few days ago to move our Book Concern from Philadelphia to Baltimore, so as to get it under the immediate jurisdiction of the Baltimore Conference; but it failed, by some means. It is generally believed it will never prosper, while the Philadelphia Conference has the regulating control of its finances. But as the General Conference have pretty thoroughly analyzed its machinery and given to it new managers and a new set of rules, the future may seal the past.

I am trying to get Bishop Brown to settle in Macon. I have the assurance he will do so provided he is pleased with our schools. He will be sure to settle in Macon, Atlanta, or Columbia, S.C. The Bishop is a fine scholar, and will give character to our people wherever he locates. I have assured him that our people in Macon would be proud of his presence, and that his family would be equally pleased; and that our white citizens would respect his position as much as in any other part of the country-especially so since he is no politician.

Enough for this time.

TURNER