Thomas Coke's Anti-Slavery Resolution, "Christmas Conference"
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Time Period
1784
Description
In December of 1784, Methodists founded the Christmas Conference in Baltimore in order to establish both the organizational and doctrinal foundations of Methodism in the newly independent United States. Although both John and Charles Wesley opposed separation from the Church of England, they "allowed" those in America to establish their own denominational identity (i.e. Methodist Episcopal Church) and ordain their own ministers. In response, both Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury were ordained as the first ecclesiastical leaders.

The Christmas Conference also allowed Methodists to reaffirm their opposition to slavery. John Wesley was opposed to slavery, and Thomas Coke shared Wesley’s view. The Christmas Conference allowed Methodists to formally establish their position: "We view it as contrary to the Golden Law of God." This position would slowly become more contestable and the issue of slavery would eventually divide the Methodists into two separate denominations by the mid-19th century.
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Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
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Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Methodist/Pietist Family: Other ARDA Links

Biographies
Asbury, Francis
Coke, Thomas
Movements
Abolitionism
Photographs

Lovely Lane Meeting House, Baltimore MD- Internet Archive- from The Heart of Asbury's Journal

Thomas Coke portrait- Internet Archive- from The Life of the Rev. Thomas Coke by Jonathan Crowther

Upper room where the conference sat, 1784- Hathi Trust- from A New History of Methodism, vol 2 by W. J. Townsend
Book/Journal Source(s)
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Web Source(s)
http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/methodist-history-mixed-on-abolitionism
Methodist history on abolitionism
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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