Friday, February 29, 2008

Annual Meeting of 1864

In the meditation for February 23 we noted that John Kline served as Moderator for the 1864 Annual Meeting held in Indiana (it was the 4th consecutive year he had served as Moderator) and was killed soon after returning home to Virginia. We thought it might be interesting to review the Minutes of the 1864 Annual Meeting during the Civil War.

By the kind permission of our heavenly Father a very large number of brethren were permitted to meet.... The religious services commenced on Saturday, and were continued until Monday noon. The multitude present was very large. On Lord's-day there was preaching at six places. ... On Monday morning the meeting was organized for business by appointing a standing committee and the necessary officers. The delegates then reported themselves; whereupon it was ascertained that there were represented in this meeting one hundred and fifty churches. These churches were represented by two hundred and thirty delegates.... [Some 39 queries or articles were dealt with by the meeting.]

Article 35. As our national troubles, consequent upon the rebellion now existing in our country, have caused considerable difficulty in our church, and have tried our non-resistant principles, and have caused several questions concerning the paying of bounty-money, voting, etc., to come before this council-meeting, what counsel will this Annual Meeting give upon these subjects?

Answer: We exhort the brethren to steadfastness in the faith, and believe that the times in which our lots are cast strongly demand of us a strict adherence to all our principles, and especially to our non-resistant principle, a principle dear to every subject of the Prince of Peace, and a prominent doctrine in our fraternity, and to endure whatever sufferings and to make whatever sacrifice the maintaining of the principle may require and not to encourage in any way the practices of war.

And we think it more in accordance with our principles, that instead of paying bounty-money, and especially in taking an active part in raising bounty-money, to await the demands of the government, whether general, state, or local, and pay the fines and taxes required of us, as the gospel permits, and, indeed requires.

And lest the position we have taken upon political matters in general, and war matters in particular, should seem to make us, as a body, appear to be indifferent to our government, or in opposition thereto, in its efforts to suppress the rebellion, we hereby declare that it has our sympathies and our prayers, and that it shall have our aid in any way that does not conflict with the principles of the gospel of Christ. But since, in our Christian profession, we regard these gospel principles as superior or paramount to all others, consistency requires that we so regard them in our practices.