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Chronology of the Central Jurisdiction

 


Chronology of the Central Jurisdiction

Sept. 2, 2004

A UMNS Report
By Pamela Crosby*

From 1960 to 1966, W. Astor Kirk was part of a five-member committee commissioned by Central Jurisdiction church leaders to search for an inclusive Methodist fellowship.

In his book, Desegregation of The Methodist Church Polity: Reform Movements That Ended Racial Segregation Kirk said: "Only a few people know that the Methodist Church/United Methodist Church was once formally and constitutionally racially segregated. Many who have heard of the Central Jurisdiction Organization assumed it to be a Black denomination, like the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church."

The following is a chronology of the Central Jurisdiction and events leading up to its creation.

1784: The Methodist Episcopal Church is organized. This is recognized as the founding date of the United Methodist Church.

1787: Richard Allen and others in the congregation of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church withdraw in protest of segregation.

1796: James Varick leads the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

1816: Black Methodist Episcopal churches unite to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Allen becomes its first bishop.

1864: Separate African-American annual conferences are formed.

1870: The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, later renamed the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, is formed.

1939: The Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church merge to form the Methodist Church. The segregated Central Jurisdiction is formed as a racial compromise.

1948: The Central Jurisdiction Conference forms a committee to study ways of eliminating the jurisdiction.

1952: The General Conference establishes the Board of Social and Economic Relations.

1956: The General Conference conducts a study of the jurisdictional system.

1956: The General Conference adopts legislation, which later becomes Amendment IX, allowing churches in the Central Jurisdiction to transfer to geographical jurisdictions.

1958: Amendment IX of the Methodist Church’s Constitution, adopted by the 1956 General Conference, becomes effective.

1960: General Conference sets up the Commission on Interjurisdictional Relations to continue a program to abolish the Central Jurisdiction.

1964: Conferences within the Central Jurisdiction begin merging into geographical annual conferences.

1967: Bishop L. Scott Allen becomes the 14th and last bishop elected by the Central Jurisdiction.

1968: The Central Jurisdiction is abolished with the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches into the United Methodist Church.

*Crosby is a freelance writer, video producer and consultant in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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