Christian Recorder: June 5, 1890
Ministers of the respective Annual Conferences of the A.M.E. Church. You are aware that the General Conference of 1880 ordered the bishops to draft a constitution and bye-laws, which would organize all of our conferences into literary associations, and that a whole day some time during each conference should be devoted to reading essays, etc. (See the laws in full in Arnett’s “Budget and Methodist Polity”). This constitution and byelaws the bishops drafted and put in operation, and also amended from time to time, till the General Conference of 1884, which ratified the same and made the provisions of the same binding upon every bishop and minister in the connection. By owing to a resolution being adopted, which appeared to put the literary associations under the educational department, the president of the associations under the educational department, the president of the association declined to enforce the said constitution and bye-laws, so as to make them effective, till the General Conference of 1888 disconnected the educational and literary departments, a connection the General Conference never intended to make by the resolution adopted in 1881.
At the close of the General Conference of 1888, the Council of Bishops elected Bishop Brown President of the Literary Department. Feeble health made the duties of the office rather burdensome for his strength. Therefore, the late session of the Council of Bishops, which met in Charleston, S. C., have placed again the duties of the officer upon the writer, for the present at all events.
You are aware that Article VIII enjoins upon the president of the department to announce not less than four nor more than six different subjects, in original essays, book reviews, criticisms, poetic productions, etc., for every member of conference to select one and write an essay upon. Each minister chooses whichever subject he may prefer, the essay not to cover less than ten nor more than twenty five pages The essay taking the prize on each one of the connective subjects, shall entitle the author to not less than five nor more than twenty five dollars, according to the capacity of the treasury. For further information see the constitution.
The subjects which every member of all our respective annual conferences are required to choose, one or more, and write upon for the year 1890, and read at such time as the bishops may designate at their several conferences, will be as follows:
1) Is the Christian church justified in using fermented wines at the Lord’s supper?
2) Why was baptism accepted in lieu of circumcision in the Christian dispensation?
3) Which is the true Sabbath, the first or seventh day of the week and why?
4) The Baptists refuse the Lord’s Supper to the Methodists, because they have not been immersed by a Baptist minister. Methodists, through other churches, can trace their ordination (presbyterially) bake to the early part of the second century, at least seventeen hundred years. But have the Baptists any more than laymen ordination? Can they trace even that back three hundred years? If not should not the Methodists re-ordain all ministers and re-baptize all members joining the u from said church? Should not Methodists refuse their Lord’s supper if offered? Can a Baptist preacher legally consecrate the Lord’s supper or baptize?
5) Who was the greater Christian poet, Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts?
6) Is gravitation an active or passive force? If passive, what power drives the planets in their orbits.