The city of Baltimore will be the focal point of an extensive observance of the 175th birthday of U. S. Methodism.

It was in Baltimore, in a little stone “meeting house” long since demolished, where 60 young preachers met for the now-famous 1784 “Christmas Conference,” which formally launched the Methodist Church in America and elected the first bishops—Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke. Methodists were the first Americans to organize officially as a church following the Revolutionary War.

Though John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, never left the Church of England, he gave his blessing to the formal organization of the Methodist church in America. It was not until after Wesley’s death that British Methodists organized as a free church.

Dr. Thomas Coke, former Anglican curate who had been turned out of his church for his “Methodism,” was dispatched to America by Wesley with instructions that he and Asbury were to superintend the new church.

Asbury, however, refused the Wesley commission unless elected by his fellow-ministers, thus initiating the practice of choosing Methodist bishops, now shared by the laity.

About 400 young Methodist ministers and their wives from across the nation are expected to attend a 1959 “Christmas Conference,” to be held December 28–31 at Lovely Lane Methodist Church in Baltimore, direct descendant of the “mother church of American Methodism.” The present structure is the fifth building to house the congregation.

A Sunday address in Baltimore by today’s most widely-known Methodist pastor, Dr. Ralph W. Sockman, will precede the conference.

On Monday evening, December 28, a pageant will be staged, depicting the first “Christmas Conference,” followed by an address by Methodist Bishop Edgar A. Love ...

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