front cover


COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Dr. Fred Pierce Corson as he appeared when elected
the episcopacy in 1944.  For more details, see the back cover and the article
beginning on page 70.


THE CHRONICLE is published by the Historical Society of the Central
Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, PO Box 2053,
Mechanicsburg PA  17055




Journal of the Historical Society

of the

Central Pennsylvania Conference

of the

United Methodist Church


Milton W. Loyer




                                                                   Volume XV                                                                                            spring 2004


       Editor's Preface .....................................................................................…...........2


                                                                   Soldiers of the Lord:

       Francis Asbury and Freeborn Garrettson

                Struggle with Wesley, War and Warfare…………………………………..3
                                                                       by Ken Loyer, 2003


                                                                   Two Separate Unions Formed One United Church……………………….…....20

by David Oberlin, 1979


                                                                    Convergence of Identity:

                                                                    Two United Methodist Churches of Williamsport PA (1968-2002)……………43

by Edward Hunter, 2003


       Behind the Scenes: A Document Concerning the 1968 Union………….………70

                                                                         Editor’s Introduction: by Milton Loyer, 2004

                                                                         First Thoughts on Reading “Plan of Union”: by Fred Pierce Corson, 1963


       Contemporary Comments on Unions within United Methodism………….……78

                                                                                                    from various primary sources


1.     Early Methodist-United Brethren Correspondence: 1809-1813

                                                                                    2.  United Brethren Unions that Weren’t: 1903-1927

3.     Central Pennsylvania’s 1939 Non-Union



Inside back cover:

The following appeared on page 7 of the March 10, 1923, Religious Telescope, a

 weekly news magazine of the United Brethren Church.  It gives an outsider’s view of

                                                             the negotiations between the two Methodist Episcopal denominations that

                                                             eventually broadened to include the Methodist Protestant Church and produce the
                                                            1939 three-way merger that formed the Methodist Church.


Methodist Negotiations


          The commissions of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal

                                                           Church, South, had a meeting recently and made more progress than at all previous

                                                           meetings combined, so it seems.  The conclusions reached by the two commissions are

                                                           brief, sensible, and apparently workable.  They are as follows:

                                                                 “Whereas, we hold that the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal

                                                          Church, South, are essentially one church, one in origin, in spirit, in belief, in polity, in

                                                          ministry, and in purpose, and believing that they should become one in name, in

                                                          ritual, in terms of membership, in administrative activities and bodies in the home and foreign

                                                          field, and, in order that this essential unity may become effective, the following plan of

                                                          union is presented for adoption by the processes required in each church:

                                                                 “That a church be organized by uniting the Methodist Episcopal Church and the

                                                          Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under a constitution with a general conference and

                                                          two jurisdictional conferences.

                                                                 “The name of the church shall be…”

                                                                 “Jurisdiction No. 1 shall be composed of those annual conferences in America and

                                                          various mission fields now constituting the Methodist Episcopal Church.

                                                                 “Jurisdiction No. 2 shall be composed of those annual conferences in America and

                                                          the various mission fields now constituting the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

                                                                 “Each jurisdiction shall have a jurisdictional conference with the full powers now

                                                         possessed by the general conferences of the two respective churches, except in so far as

                                                         those powers may be limited by the constitution of the general conference hereinafter

                                                         provided for and by such other powers as may be delegated to the general conference by

                                                         the jurisdictional conferences from time to time.

                                                                 “There shall be a general conference, composed as the general conferences of the two

                                                         respective churches are now or may hereafter be constituted.  The powers and limitation

                                                         of this general conference to be as hereafter defined by this join commission.  Every vote

                                                         in the general conference shall be by jurisdictions, and shall require the accepted majority

                                                         vote of each jurisdiction to be effective.”

                                                                 The whole religious world will await the outcome of these negotiations.  Many

                                                        members of both big branches of Methodism do not see adequate reason for continuing

                                                        these separate organizations.  Most of the pre-war questions now are settled, so that the

                                                        cause of division should not continue operative.  Much sentiment remains, and there is

                                                        difference in the theological tendencies of the two bodies, and the Negro question intrudes

                                                        its bothersome presence.  The future course of these churches will be both interesting and

                                                        influential.  Ever since the separation, almost, the two branches have had commissions on

                                                        union.  The commissions have had a good time while together, but their efforts to this time

                                                        have proved abortive.


Back cover:


Bishop Fred Pierce Corson


                                                                        Fred Pierce Corson was born April 11, 1896, in Millville NJ and

                                                                        died February 16, 1985, while a resident of Cornwall Manor in

                                                                        Lebanon PA.  He graduated from Dickinson College in 1917 and

                                                                        Drew Theological Seminary in 1920, served as pastor and district

                                                                        superintendent in the New York East Conference, and was

                                                                        elected President of Dickinson College in 1934.  In 1944 Dr.

                                                                        Corson was elected bishop – much to the surprise and displeasure

                                                                        of Dickinson College, an event which strained the relationship

                                                                        between the college and the denomination.


                                                                       His connection to our Conference is two fold.  First, Dr. Corson

                                                                       transferred his membership to the Central Pennsylvania

                                                                       Conference in 1937 and became, among other things, an active

                                                                       member of the Board of Trustees.  It was as a member of our

                                                                       Conference that he was elected to the episcopacy.  Secondly,

                                                                       during his 1944-68 tenure as bishop of the Philadelphia Area, he

                                                                       was the episcopal leader for the former Methodist congregations

                                                                       now within the Harrisburg District of our Conference.


                                                                       In this issue dedicated to the unions of United Methodism, The

                                                                       Chronicle is pleased to publish Bishop Corson’s insightful

                                                                       reflections on the original draft of the 1968 Plan of Union and to

                                                                       claim him as “one of ours.