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- Bishop Turner's Appeal to the First District: July 17, 1890
Bishop Turner’s Appeal to the First District
Christian Recorder: July 17, 1890
Your Council of Bishops at their recent session, which met at Wilberforce University, or a majority of them, resolved, without a dissenting voice, to strike for a million of members and to make A MILLION OF AFRICAN METHODISTS FOR JESUS the watch cry of our Church and to cease not to proclaim it day nor night until we can rejoice over that number.
A MILLION OF AFRICAN METHODISTS FOR JESUS might sound to the lazy and faithless like a Herculean task, a gigantic job, a breaking down struggle that twenty years could not accomplish, and with the selfish laggard that forty years could not reach. Such false prophets are right, calculating from their weak, feeble, lazy, ignorant, sluggish standpoint. But they are awfully wrong, calculating from the fact that God is at our back and that through him one can chase a thousand and two can put ten thousand to flight.
Ezra, the Scribe, stood upon a pulpit and preached till fifty thousand persons gathered around to hear and weep.
John the Baptist, drew the people from Jerusalem and all Judea, possibly a million, to the wilderness to hear his burning words.
Jesus so charmed the people with his preaching that they would walk around the sea of Galilee to him on the other side.
The Apostle Peter brought three thousand souls to Christ in one day by his preaching.
Firmianus Lactantius, A.D., 320, made a thousand men stagger and fall in one sermon.
Jerome Narni in one sermon at Salamanca, made eight hundred students cry to God for mercy; and again at Rome, sent seven thousand through the streets begging Christ to have mercy upon them.
Paulinus, at Northumbria, A.D., 60, made ten thousand persons ask for baptism after one day’s preaching.
Whitfield, who preached eighty thousand sermons in his life, in one sermon sent three thousand persons in the woods to beg God to save them from hell, and twelve hundred returned justified through faith.
Tony Murphy, black as ink, preached one sermon at a sitting up in Columbia, S. C., in 1856, about twelve o’ clock at night, and raised such a shout among the colored people that when arrested and carried to the guard house or police station, they shouted John Bedell and his police out of their office.
But why multiply instances in history? They are too numerous; God’s word is a sufficient warrant without any precedents. The Bible is full of assurances that they who sow shall reap. If the A.M.E ministers would strip for the fight and go into the work with sleeves up and elbows bare, we could have a million of members in two years.
The Bishops discussed the propriety of offering a reward for such pastors as might gather in the largest number of members as they are classified, which classification I will refer to in a minute. But it was thought that any material of value should not be offered for soul-saving work, as one soul saved is worth more than all the gold of Ophir or the silver of Peru.
1. All pastors of situations should be classed as the Sons of Allen, (Bishop Allen the founder of our church).
2. All the pastors of circuits shall be classed as the Sons of Quinn, (Bishop Quinn, the organizer, and extender).
3. All the pastors of missions shall be classed as Sons of Payne, (Bishop Payne, the educator, ruler, and lawgiver).
Now, whatever pastor of a station, who shall according to his opportunities, receive the largest number of probationers, persons by certificate and persons by vouchers, shall be known as the Prince of the Sons of Allen in his conference. And upon the same condition, the pastor of the mission who receives the largest number shall be entitled the Prince of the Sons of Payne.
So you will see there can only be three princes in one conference, a prince for Allen, Quinn, and Payne. But I am going to make a proposition to the ministers of the 1st Episcopal District, which was not agreed upon by the bishops, viz: The minister, be he a Prince of the Sons of Allen, Quinn or Payne, who shall receive the largest number of probationers, members by certificate, and members by vouchers, for all, will be counted to his credited, in the First Episcopal District, shall be entitled Prince of the Sons of Jesus. In addition to that, if I am spared through God’s mercy, I will present the Prince of the Sons of Jesus the ten volumes of Chambers Encyclopedia, when the count is made at our next session of annual conferences.