Methodist Episcopal Church, South
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Time Period
1845
Description
The issue of slavery in America became a crisis for the Methodist churches in the early and mid-19th century. Similar to John Wesley’s position on slavery, the denomination opposed slavery in 1784. However, Southerners were able to convince the churches to vote on whether members could buy and sell slaves in 1808. By 1838, members from New England desired to return to a strict prohibition on slave ownership. The tension over the issue escalated when Georgia Bishop James O. Andrew refused to release slaves he acquired by marriage. Northern abolitionists were outraged and Southern Christians defended slavery on a biblical basis. In 1844, the General Conference held a debate over the issue and decided to divide the denomination into Northern and Southern churches. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South officially formed on May 1, 1845.

This event reflected the divisive effect of American slavery on religious groups at the time.
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Movements
Abolitionism
Photographs

Methodist Episcopal Church, South general conference- Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07829

Bishop James Andrew portrait- Internet Archive- from The Life and Letters of James Osgood Andrew by George G. Smith

Map of annual conferences, Methodist Episcopal Church, South- Wikimedia Commons
Book/Journal Source(s)
Hill, Samuel S., 1984. Encyclopedia of Religion in the South. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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