Held at: Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church [Contact Us]235 N. Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Methodism is a protestant Christian faith based in the teachings of John Wesley (1703-1791), who preached "practical divinity," emphasis on Christian living, and putting faith and love into action. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1784 in Baltimore, Maryland with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as its first bishops and held its first general conference in 1792. In May of 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church; the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; and the Methodist Protestant Church united to form the Methodist Church (U.S.). In 1946 the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (New constitution) and the Evangelical Church united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 the Methodist Church (U.S.) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united, forming the United Methodist Church (U.S.).
Since its inception in England, Methodism has used laymen (non-ordained members of the Church) as preachers and leaders. Despite their leadership role, laymen were not officially recognized in the United States by the Methodist Episcopal Church from the beginning; they were not members of their respective regional annual conferences and played no part in the national General Conference. As early as 1821 members of the Church were pushing for representation of laymen and their activities in conferences. The rejection of these ideas by the 1828 meeting of the General Conference contributed to the establishment of the Methodist Protestant Church, which provided representation for laymen in both the annual conferences and its General Conference.
The Philadelphia Laymen's Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1889 at Arch Street Church. Membership was limited to residents of Philadelphia. The group dealt with issues including new church buildings, equal lay representation, and admission of women to the General Conference. They also organized the first national convention of Methodist Episcopal laymen in 1892. The Philadelphia Laymen's Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church dissolved shortly thereafter.
In 1893, the dissolved organization was replaced by the similarly titled, Laymen's Association of the Philadelphia Annual Conference. It is considered by some to be the first Methodist Laymen's Association of any Annual Conference in the United States (see Charles F. Eggleston, Pioneering in Penn's Woods). They encouraged the formation of similar organizations in other Methodist Episcopal Church conferences.
The Laymen's Association of the Philadelphia Annual Conference and similar associations in other Methodist Episcopal Church conferences collaborated to advocate for equal representation of laymen and ministers in the General Conference. By 1900 this goal was achieved. Next, the associations focused on securing equal lay representation at the regional annual conferences across the country. The measure was voted down by the annual conferences in 1920 and 1924, but became the law of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1932.
In 1968, when the Methodist Church (U.S.) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church united, forming the United Methodist Church (U.S.), the General Board of Lay Activities of The Methodist Church and the Department of Christian Stewardship and the general organization of Evangelical United Brethren Men of the former E.U.B. Church were united under the name General Board of the Laity. The Laymen's Association of the Philadelphia Annual Conference likely fell under the purview of this new Board in 1968, but ceased its activity in the early 1970s.
Quoted text from: "Laymen's Associations." In The Encyclopedia of World Methodism: Volume II, edited by Nolan B. Harmon, 1401-1402. Nashville, TN: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1974. Accessed on August 28, 2014. http://www.mocavo.com/The-Encyclopedia-of-World-Methodism-Vol-2-J-Z-Volume-2/311448/45.
This collection consists of minutes (1889-1973, with gaps), financial ledgers (1934-1960), treasurer's accounts (1957-1970), printed proceedings (1897-1963), and a scrapbook (1889-1904) with the organization's constitution and by-laws as well as handwritten minutes, ephemera, and correspondence.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church directly for more information.
- Philadelphia Laymen's Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church
- United Methodist Church (U.S.)
- United Methodist Church. Philadelphia Annual Conference. Laymen's Association
- Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church for information about accessing this collection.