Monday, May 12, 2008

Annual Meeting of 1856

The Annual Meeting of 1856 was held on Pentecost and the following days in northern Illinois. As mentioned yesterday, Pentecost came early and spring came later in 1856 in Northern Illinois and Annual Meeting continued through heavy rains. The minutes of the meeting were recorded by Henry Kurtz, clerk and show some 38 items of business were dealt with.

None of the items of business that year gathered as much print as Article 14. The committee appointed in 1855 to visit and confer with the far Western brethren to investigate the differences in doctrine and practice existing between them and us submitted the following report:

"May 8, 1856. We, the brethren who constitute the committee appointed by the German Baptist Church, at our last Annual Meeting, to visit the Western brethren who recognize Bro. George Wolfe, of Illinois, as their bishop, by the grace and favor of God were permitted to meet at their meetinghouse where we were received on the most friendly and Christian-like terms, and after different queries were proposed for our deliberation, the three (or four) following being considered the most important, we proceed to make our report accordingly, as follows:

"First. The question concerning the reality of a devil was considered, and after comparing opinions and sentiments on the subject of the reality of such a being, and his nature, we agreed upon the following view: That the Scriptures recognize a devil, or an evil spirit, that manifests itself in the flesh.

"Second. On the doctrine of universal salvation, which denies punishment hereafter, we cordially agreed with Bro. Wolfe that all men shall receive heareafter according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.

"Third. On the subject of feet-washing, Bro. Wolfe is firm in his opinion that one persons should both wash and wipe the feet of a number of brethren, and then another, and so on, until all are washed; but he is willing to conform to the practice of the brethren in general, when in communion - meeting with them and begs forbearance on the part of the brethren in general, until they shall all come to see alike.

"Fourth. Bro. Wolfe is likewise strongly of the opinion that no time should be spent between the eating of the supper and the breaking of bread (the communion) but, that the whole ceremony should be prosecuted without intermission or delay.

"It is the sincere desire of Bro. Wolfe that, however these sentiments may clash with the general practice of the brethren, they may not be considered a sufficient cause why they should not be received in communion and fellowship with the brethren; with which views we, the committee, unanimously agree and present this our report to the brethren in general council met, for their deliberation and concurrence.

"Signed by David Hardman, J.H. Umstad, J.H. Tracey, A. Moss, John Metzger, S. Lehman, C. Long."

Source: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Brethren, 1856