James O'Kelly's Congregational Revolt
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Time Period
1792
Description
James O’Kelly was an Irish-born Methodist minister who arrived in America in 1778 during the American Revolution. During his time serving as an elder in Virginia, he became influenced by American ideals of equality and freedom. These ideals led to a confrontation in 1792 that ended in the first Methodist schism in America.

During the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1792, O’Kelly put forth a resolution to give Methodist preachers the right to appeal their appointment by bishops and be reappointed. This would limit the power of bishops and install a more democratic system of appointments. This resolution failed. In response, O’Kelly withdrew from the church, taking 8,000 members with him, and formed the Republican Methodist Church, later known as the Christian Church.

The first American Methodist schism reflected the first of many tensions between hierarchical governance in the Methodist church and American democratic ideals.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Methodist/Pietist Family: Other ARDA Links

Photographs

O'Kelly Chapel Christian Church- Internet Archive- from The Life of Rev. James O'Kelly by W. E. MacClenny

Author's Apology... by James O'Kelly- Internet Archive

James O'Kelly grave- Hathi Trust- from The Life of Rev. James O'Kelly by W. E. MacClenny
Book/Journal Source(s)
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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