of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (1)
On Wednesday morning, October 7, 1885, at 10 o'clock, the members of the General Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ met for business at the Upper Milford church, Lehigh county, Pennsylvania.
Eld. Solomon Eby, presiding elder of the Canada Conference, was elected chairman.
The conference proper was then opened by singing and prayer; after which the chairman read a suitable portion of scripture (1st and 122nd Psalms), followed briefly with appropriate remarks on the importance of the business to be transacted.
The conference was called to order, and the names of the delegates enrolled.
Pennsylvania Conference- Wm. Gehman, Abel Strawn.
Canada Conference- Solomon Eby, John McNally, John H. Steckley, Menno Bowman, Jacob Y. Shantz, Peter Pike.
Indiana Conference- Sam'l Sherk, Daniel Brenneman, John W. Buzzard, A. Peffly. The latter not being able to attend, Sydenham Lambert was elected in his stead.
Elders D. U. Lambert, Geo. Lambert, Jonas Musselman, Jacob B. Detwiler, Andrew Good and Abraham Kauffman were admitted as advisory members.
Bro. A. Good, of Ohio, was chosen English secretary, and Bro. A. Kauffman, of Pennsylvania, German secretary.
Upon motion, the daily sessions were decided to be held as follows
Morning session to open at 8 o'clock and close at 11:30.
Afternoon session to open at 1:30 o'clock and close at 4:30.
The proceedings of the General Conference held in Elkhart county, Indiana, in October, 1882, and the proceedings of the Union Conference, held at Harrisburg, Montgomery county, Ohio, in December, 1883, were read and adopted.
Adjourned, Bro. S. Lambert leading in prayer.
Opened by singing and prayer, led by Bro. Wm. Gehman.
A committee, consisting of the brethren, Wm. Gehman, A. Kauffman and A. Strawn, was appointed to arrange a programme for the evening services.
The church discipline was now taken into consideration, and the reading thereof commenced with.
The first chapter was read and concurred in.
The second chapter was read, but not concurred in at the time.
Adjourned. Prayer led by Bro. A. Strawn.
Evening Service- Bro. S. Sherk, of Michigan, preached on the occasion to an attentive audience.
Opened by singing and prayer, led by A. Kauffman.
The minutes of the previous day were read and approved.
The consideration of the discipline was resumed.
Resolved, That in chapter 2, section 2, where it reads: "For The awakening and conversion of sinners," the clause "And the sanctification of believers," be added.
Further Resolved, that section 5, first verse and latter clause of second verse, as amended by the Union Conference, be reconsidered.
Also resolved, that in chapter 3, section 4, the words, "Let there be singing during the closing of the grave," be erased.
Adjourned. Bro. A. Good leading in prayer.
Opened as usual, Bro. A. Strawn leading in prayer.
In relation to chapter 3, section 5, it was resolved that the section read as follows:
1. We receive believers as class members.
2. We receive only baptized persons as church members.
3. We receive such in a public manner.
Resolved, That unleavened bread and unfermented wine be used for sacramental purposes.
Adjourned. Prayer in conclusion led by Bro. D. Brenneman.
Evening Service.- Bro. D. U. Lambert preached from Matt. 6:10, latter clause, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Bro. John McNally followed briefly, closing the meeting.
Opened as usual, Bro. Sam'l Sherk leading in prayer.
Resolved, That in chapter 5, section 1, question 1, the answer read, "All the brethren in full connection." Further resolved, that in section 3, verse 14 be erased.
Resolved, That no trustee on any board of trustees, serve longer than three years without re-election. Yearly elections shall be held in each board of trustees, for the election of one trustee, to serve for the term of three years.
In view of the importance and sanctity of the marriage relation, and as our ministers have somewhat neglected to treat upon this important subject publicly, therefore
Resolved, That each minister preach, at least once a year, at each of his appointments, on this subject.
Resolved, That all classes west of Indiana be separated from the Indiana Conference, and constitute a General Conference Mission.
Resolved, That the boundaries of the annual conferences remain as heretofore.
Resolved, That the three presiding elders constitute the managing committee for the work on the General Conference Mission.
Adjourned. Bro. Peter Pike leading in prayer.
Opened as before, Bro. J. W. Buzzard leading in prayer.
Resolved, That each annual conference contribute its share to the support of the General Conference Mission work, in proportion to the number of its members.
Resolved, That the report of the printing establishment from 1878 to date be read in full.
In accordance with the above the report was read and adopted.
Adjourned. Bro. M. Bowman leading in prayer.
Opened as before, prayer led by Bro. A. Strawn.
The contract made by the managing committee with the printer, Casper Hett, was read and confirmed.
Adjourned. Prayer by J. B. Detwiler.
Opened as before, Bro. John McNally leading the opening prayer.
The following motion was presented: That the church buy a paper cutter, job press and necessary type for the printing business, and that the managing committee be authorized to invest about $800 for the above purposes.
Further, That the printer, Casper Hett, pay the church ten percent of all job work, provided the church guarantee the subscription list not to fall below 2200 subscribers.
After this motion was discussed, it was resolved to lay it over till Monday.
Resolved, That class members have all the privileges of full members, only in the election of officers no vote further than for class leaders and sabbath school officers.
Adjourned til Monday morning. Jacob Y. Shantz leading in concluding prayer.
Bro. A. Good preached in the English language. Text: 2 Cor. 5:17. Bro. Geo. Lambert following in German.
Opening service as before. Bro. Jonas Musselman leading in prayer.
Previous minutes read and approved.
The motion laid over from Saturday was more fully considered and adopted.
Resolved, That Eld. Jacob B. Detwiler be elected editor of the Gospel Banner and Evangeliums Panier.
Resolved, That the managing committee be re-elected, with the exception that John Waterman take the place of Henry Hunsberger, of Indiana.
Resolved, That we adopt the name of "M. B. C. Publishing House" for the printing establishment.
Resolved, That the managing committee negotiate with the newly elected editor respecting his salary, and report at next session.
Adjourned. Bro. D. U. Lambert leading in prayer.
Opened as before. Prayer by Bro. Geo. Lambert.
In accordance with the report of the managing committee it was
Resolved, That book-keeping be combined with the duties of editing, and for which the editor receive $500 per annum.
Resolved, That all our ministers be agent for our publication, that they be authorized to appoint sub-agents, and that an allowance of 20 per cent. be made to them on all moneys remitted for new subscribers.
Resolved, That the editor inform each negligent subscriber by postal card of his obligations, and if no remittance is made in three months, the paper be discontinued.
Whereas, we believe that God, in former times, chose holy women to prophesy and labor in the church, therefore
Resolved, That we allow a sister thus chosen of God, to preach and to labor for the salvation of souls, under the supervision of a minister or presiding elder.
Resolved, That the name of the Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan conference be changed to Indiana conference.
Resolved, That the unbound English hymn books be bound, and the price reduced to 75 cents per copy.
Resolved: That the German hymn books be reduced to 65 cents per copy.
Adjourned. Prayer by Bro. J. B. Detwiler.
Opened as usual. Prayer by Bro. John Troxel.
Resolved, That each annual conference put forth earnest efforts to raise means for Heathen Mission work, and each minister to preach at least once a year at each of his appointments on the above subject.
Resolved, That the changes made by this conference in our discipline, be printed in suitable pamphlet form to be added to the discipline.
Further, That the name adopted at the Union conference of 1883, "Mennonite Brethren In Christ," be printed on said pamphlet.
Resolved, That Bro. John Troxel secure a suitable book, and enter all the General Conference proceedings up to this date in said book.
Resolved, That the next General conference be held at Berlin, Ontario, commencing on the first Wednesday in October, 1888.
Resolved, That this conference tender a hearty vote of thanks to the brethren and sisters of Upper Milford, for their liberality and hospitality, shown toward all that attended the conference.
A cordial invitation was extended to the congregation by the Canada delegates, to attend the next conference.
An earnest invitation was given by the editor to the conference, that the members be encouraged to take an active part in the circulation of our papers, and sending in of original articles, reports, etc., after which the conference came to a close, Bro. Andrew Good leading in prayer, the singing of a hearty doxology, and the pronouncing of the benediction.
Solomon Eby, Chairman
Andrew Good, Engl. Sec.
1. These proceedings are taken from The Gospel Banner, volume 8, number 21, November 1, 1885, pages 9-10.