METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH. ILLINOIS CONFERENCE.
MANUSCRIPT NUMBER 012
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CITATION: Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Illinois Conference Records,
MSS 012, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
In 1845, as a result of North-South tensions, the Methodist Episcopal Church conferences in the Southern states withdrew to form the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. For the most part the choice to remain with the Methodist Episcopal Church or to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was obvious. Churches in states that would later be known as the Confederacy seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Illinois Conference was an exception.
The organization arose out of the tension between abolitionist Methodist Episcopal Republicans loyal to their Illinoisan in the White House and Methodist Episcopal Democrats, many of whom were emigrants or the children of emigrants from Southern states. The church became a political and ideological battleground. The Democrats, unwilling to enthuse themselves with the Northern cause, often found themselves unable to contend with the abuse directed against them. The result was the forced or voluntary separation of many of them and subsequent establishment of independent organizations.
On January 1, 1864, the first meeting to interchange views was held in Lacon, Illinois. Out of this meeting was established the Illinois Christian Association. That same year another group, the Evangelical Church, organized in Salem, Illinois. Their reaction against the ugly political atmosphere of the churches from which they were separated was such that they forbade political discussions in churches, from the pulpit or in conventions. Learning of each others existence the two groups met and decided upon reorganizing into the Christian Union of Illinois. Soon after the group's name again changed to Christian Union Church, and it was Methodist in both doctrine and polity. Their first General Council meeting was held in Clinton, Illinois in 1866. Responding to an invitation extended by Jacob Ditzler on behalf of the Christian Union Church, Bishop D.S. Doggett of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South visited the Council. In 1867 the members agreed to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The Records of the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South are divided into two series: Conference Minutes and Conference Statistics. The first series, Conference Minutes, includes minutes from the year 1867 to 1881 and 1886 to 1917. The second series, Conference Statistics, includes statewide statistics from 1886 through 1909. The records document the very early history of the Illinois Conference at a time when the nation and national denominations were struggling with the effects and consequences of the Civil War. The unpopularity of a church in the North that aligned with the Methodists in the South is obvious. The records in this collection provide evidence of their motives, problems and results.
|3/1||Conference Minutes [OVERSIZE]||1886-1892|
|3/2||Conference Minutes [OVERSIZE]||1893-1897|
|3/3||Conference Minutes [OVERSIZE]||1989-1902|