R1398-118 The Methodist Revolt

::R1398 : page 118::


The Baltimore American says:—”Methodism appears to be passing through a crisis which threatens to extend to all conferences in the United States. It is a revolt against the bishops and the presiding elders. Professor L. T. Townsend, of the Boston University, is a leader of the movement, and the fiery cross which announced the war was his recent public statement that church politics dominated the councils of the Methodist Church, that its elections were controlled by rings, and that those not in the cliques were pretty much out of every thing else, as far as the Methodist Church was concerned. The professor was bitterly assailed by the leading divines and elders, and his honor and veracity questioned. He returned the defiant answer that, at the meeting of the Boston Methodists to-day, he would produce proofs. The result was that many of the leading Methodist ministers of New England came to Boston, and Wesleyan Hall was crowded.

President Richardson presided, and opened the proceedings by announcing the hymn, “Rock of Ages,” as they might feel the need of its influence before the meeting adjourned; and they did. For two hours there was an exciting discussion. The President and the more prominent clergymen were decidedly anti-Townsend, and lost their temper when the vast audience greeted the professor’s appearance with a storm of applause. He had a manuscript of eighty-four type-written pages and a big stack of letters, which contained evidence backing up his statement with cited examples from Methodist clergymen all over the country, but he was not given a chance to read his documents.

He started by saying he came not to retract, but to prove. Here he was interrupted by Mr. Rice, of Lominster, who said all the professor’s correspondence was anonymous, and should not be submitted. He was upheld by the president, whereupon the audience yelled and hissed and said many unkind things.

The president declared the meeting had been packed by Prof. Townsend, which the latter denied. The meeting was on the eve of being declared closed then and there, when the threatening attitude of the audience caused the chair to appeal to the clergy present to sustain the motion to debar the letters. The meeting did exactly the reverse and shouted for the letters to be read. Dr. Dearborn, of Roslindale, managed to get a hearing, and asked the professor if his letters and proofs were anonymous or not. The professor said none were, except some five letters of which he was not sure whether the writers wished their names used or not. He would write and ascertain. The rest he would name now. Mr. Dearborn suggested that he wait until he could produce all the evidence unrestricted, which he agreed to do. After a stormy discussion the majority, who wanted to hear the letters read at once, consented, and the president adjourned the meeting until this day three weeks, for the professor to hear from his correspondents. Then there promises to be a lively time.


— April 15, 1892 —