MethodistEpiscopal Church South 

Methodist Episcopal ChurchSouth
By John S. Stutsman

This church organizationis the outgrowth of the Christian Union Church. In giving a history ofthis church it is very necessary, to relate some of the causes that gaverise or led to its organization in Schuyler County. Especially is thisnecessary, to know why there are two Methodist Churches in the county.For some years before and during the war, many ministers and Churches assumeda political attitude, and took sides in political partisanship. Publicexercises professedly religious, were frequently interspersed with, whatmany believed to be an unscriptural agitation of political questions. Professedministers of the gospel often taught lessons that did not accord with thegospel of peace, as understood by many good men. The declarations and sayingsof many church members, and some ministers, concerning those whose politicalopinions and ideas of loyalty did not accord with their own, was characterizedby such language of intolerant malice as made the ordinary mind yet retainingself-control grow sick showing plainly a want of that Christian spiritand charity that should control the feelings and actions of all professedChristians, ignoring the fact that honest differences of opinions may existbetween loyal and patriotic men as to the policies and measures to be pursuedby the government in any emergency. Just before and during the war, someministers professing to be called to preach the gospel of peace, so farforgot or ignored their high calling, as to step aside into the cesspoolof political agitation and deliver political harangues from the stump,and not infrequently from the sacred desk was heard things pertaining tostate affairs, thus making their time and talents to subserve the interestsof their political party, to the shameful neglect of the interests of immortalsouls. Those things became grievous to those that believed the doctrineof the cross should be held inviolate and should never be mixed with worldlypolitics. Under these circumstances many truly pious persons, and a fewministers, in the State of Illinois, persons who believed with Mr. Burkthat no sound ought to be heard in the church but the voice of healingcharity, left off attending church, where they were constantly exposedto the chances of having their honest convictions denounced, their motivesimpugned, and their blood stirred by insulting insinuations. They feltsorely grieved, and were deeply distressed, being compelled to live withoutthe means of grace. They hung their harps as it were upon the willows,and longed for the privileges of God’s house without being disturbed byany of the behests of political parties and for the Gospel of the Princeof Peace unmixed with political fanaticism. A number of these dissatisfiedChristians in different parts of the state organized under the name ofChristian Union Church some as early as the year 1864, the Methodist elementlargely predominating.  In the year 1866 some of the citizens of Schuylercounty and men too whose loyalty and patriotism could not be questionedby any one, took the necessary steps to organize the Christian Union Churchin Schuyler county. The first society was organized at Kinderhook School-house,in Rushville Township, January the 1st, A. D. 1867, or near that time byRev. Rumsey Smithson, with ten members. The next society was organizedJanuary the 17th, A. D. 1867, at Sugar Grove in Woodstock township, byRev. D. T. Sherman, Superintendent of the Springfield district of the ChristianUnion Church, with four members. On April the 20th, A. D. 1867, the Rushvillecircuit of the Christian Union Church was organized, and the first quarterlycouncil was held at Kinderhook school house. At a council of the ChristianUnion churches of Illinois held at the city of Clinton in June A. D. 1867,it was resolved to change the style and title of said church, to that ofEpiscopal Methodist Church, Illinois conference, and to embrace with itsboundary the State of Illinois, and said council further resolved to receiveand adopt the doctrines and discipline of the Methodist Episcopal ChurchSouth, as the doctrines of said Episcopal Methodist Church.  BishopsMarvin and Doggett of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, according toprevious request visited this council, after the above resolutions wereadopted, and received said Church into the communion and under the jurisdictionof the Methodist Epsicopal Church South.

In August A. D. 1868 a societywas organized at Rushville with five or six members, by Rev. William R.Howard, Presiding Elder of the Springfield District. In February A. D.1869 Rev. Rumsey Smithson assisted by Rev. D. J. Snow who supplied Rushvillecircuit for a short time as preacher in charge, held a series of meetingsin Rushville which resulted in a gracious revival of religion. Quite anumber were converted and fifty-five names added to the church. In thelatter part of the year A. D. 1869 Rev. W. B. Johnsey organized a Societyat Hale’s Ridge School House, with seven members. He also organized a societyabout the same time at the Davis’ School House, with eight members. Duringthe two years that Rev. W. B. Johnsey served as  preacher in charge,Rushville circuit  was  blessed with a good degree of prosperity.In January A. D. 1871 Rev. W. B. Johnsey organized a society at Ward’sSchool House with twenty-six members; this society has been very prosperousand have built a good church house and changed the name of the place toMount Carmel. Some time about the years 1871 or 1872 Rev. R. P.  Holtorganized a society at Bethel School House, which seemed to prosper fora while, until the members by removal, emigration and otherwise becamescattered, and the appointment was discontinued for two or three years,but recently has been revived and at present is one of the appointmentsof the circuit. In the year A. D. 1874 Rev. W. B. Beagle organized a societyat the McGowen School House with seven or eight members, which has increasedtill at present it numbers some twenty members, and is still one of theappointments of the circuit. The Illinois Annual Conference of MethodistEpiscopal Church was held at Rushville, September the 4th, A. D. 1872,Bishop Enoch M. Marvin presiding who expressed great satisfaction withthe status and growth of the conference, it being only about five yearssince he was present and assisted in receiving it into the jurisdictionof the M. E. Church South. The present conference year 1881 and 1882, underthe ministry of Rev. Joseph Metcalf and Rev. S. A. Cecil, has been oneof the marked success and prosperity for Rushville Circuit. Nearly allof the appointments have been blessed with gracious revivals of religion,and one hundred and sixty-five members have been added to the church duringthe year. The most noted of the revivals was at Sugar Grove, where throughthe untiring efforts and labors of S. A. Cecil, the membership was increasedfrom eight to eighty-five members. Two new church houses have been builtduring the year, one at Davis’ School House named Union Chapel, and oneat Bethel. Rushville circuit has grown till at present it requires twopreachers to give every two weeks preaching at all of the appointments.There is at present about two hundred and seventy-five or three hundredmembers on the circuit with eight regular preaching appointments. The societyhas four good church houses, and four good Sunday Schools in a prosperouscondition, with three hundred and sixty-five scholars attending. Duringthe first years of this church organization in Schuyler county it receivedsome very strong opposition, especially from the Methodist Episcopal Church,but since the Cape May Conference where the two churches were represented,and where they agreed upon an amicable settlement of their church difficulties,there has been a more fraternal feeling between the two churches. The membersseem disposed to treat each other as Christian brethren, which is trulygratifying to all lovers of Christianity, and we trust is another grandstep in the great work of spreading scriptural holiness over the land,and the upbuilding of Christ’s Kingdom.

We append a list of the PresidingElders and Circuit Preachers that have served Rushville Circuit each yearfrom the first Organization, up to the present time A. D. 1882.

YearYear Presiding EldersCircuit Preachers
1867D. T. Sherman George M. Effinger
1868W. R. HowardW. D. Cox
1869R. Smithson D. J. Snow, supply
1870 R. SmithsonW. B. Johnsey
1871 S. J. Catlin W. B. Johnsey
1872M. R. JonesJohn A. Beagle
1873J. B. HarrisEnoch Harper
1874T. F. RogersW. B. Beagle
1875 T. B. HarbenT. M. Prickett
1876T. B. HarbenJ. A. Greening
1877R. F. HaysJ. A. Greening
1878S. J. CatlinA.  Merrill
1879 G. W. GilmoreN. A. Auld
1880C. C. Mayhew(N.A. Auld & W. A. Cross)
1881 C. C. Mayhew(Jos. Metcalf & S. A.Cecil)

Source: The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol LongwellMiller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb.

Copyright 1999, 2000 RobinL. W. Petersen; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercialuse of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibitedwithout prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with theinformation.

Returnto Methodist Church index