« PreviousContinue »
specific work of reconstructing the Presbyteries was remitted to the Synods, when organized, as defined by the Assembly. These Synods were directed to meet for the purpose of thus arranging the bounds of the new Presbyteries previous to July 15, 1870. In several other particulars the very able report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction was changed by amendments, all of which were fully discussed and quite unanimously adopted.
As this report will possess a historical value, it seems proper to insert it in here in its amended form:
Your Committee have held three several meetings in the city of Philadelphia one in January, another in March, and the final one the present month, just before the meeting of the Assembly. The second, and most important of all our meetings, had the presence of every member. We have endeavored diligently and faithfully to attend to the business of Reconstruction, which had been intrusted to us.
Our duties, as described in the concurrent resolutions of the two Assemblies for our appointment, were- "to prepare and propose to the General Assembly of the United Church a proper adjustment of the boundaries of the Presbyteries and Synods, and the ratio of representation; and any amendments of the Constitution, which they may think necessary to secure efficiency and harmony in the administration of the Church, so greatly increased and so rapidly extending." Under this minute, especially the latter part, many supposed our powers very extensive, and our range of subjects almost unrestricted. We have not so judged, but preferred to keep closely to what is more specially mentioned or clearly implied.
Numerous communications on these matters have reached us; a few from ecclesiastical bodies, or associations of ministers, but chiefly from individuals; all which have been respectfully and patiently considered, though the suggestions contained in some of them we may have failed to adopt. Many of them either fell in with our own convictions, or tended somewhat to modify them; a few recommended changes so great and radical in the constitution of Presbyteries, Synods, and the Assembly, that we could not approve of them; some, we thought, might better come before your body from another quarter; while others, though important and salu
tary, would cause such agitation and opposition, if proposed, as might scriously disturb the peace and harmony of our so-happily united Church. We have thought proper to recommend only measures which were of immediate and pressing necessity, leaving other matters to future and fuller development.
First, then, as to the consolidation, adjustment, and defining the boundaries of Synods; we recommend the following, viz., the Synods of 1. LONG ISLAND; to comprise the counties of Kings, Queens, Suffolk, and Richmond, N. Y.
2. NEW YORK; to comprise the counties of New York, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan, N. Y., with our ministers and churches in the New England States.
3. ALBANY; to include north of the line of the Synod of New York, and east of the west line of the counties of Greene, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Hamilton, and Franklin, N. Y.
4. UTICA; to extend west of the Synod of Albany, to the west line of Tioga, Cortland, Onondaga, and Oswego counties, N. Y., and to the State line on the north.
5. GENEVA; to comprise the counties west of Utica to the west line of Steuben, Ontario, and Wayne counties, N. Y.
6. GENESEE; to embrace all the counties of New York west of the Synod of Geneva.
7. NEW JERSEY; to be conterminous with that State, and have also attached to it the Presbytery of Corisco.
8. PHILADELPHIA; to embrace the eastern part of Pennsylvania to the west line of the counties of Bradford, Sullivan, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Lebanon, and York; and to have attached to it the Presbytery of Western Africa.
9. HARRISBURG; to comprise the central counties of Pennsylvania west of the Synod of Philadelphia, and east of the west line of the counties of McKean, Cameron, Clearfield, Blair, and Bedford.
10. ERIE; to comprise the north-west counties of Pennsylvania, west of the Synod of Harrisburg, and bounded south by the counties of Cambria and Westmoreland, and the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, to the State line, except that part of Indiana County lying east and south of the Blacklick Creek.
11. PITTSBURG; to comprise the remainder of Pennsylvania west of the Synod of Harrisburg, and south of the Synod of Erie; with all of West Virginia west of the Allegheny ridge.
12. BALTIMORE; to contain Delaware, Maryland, the District of Co
lumbia, and our ministers and churches in Virginia and West Virginia, east of the Allegheny ridge; to have attached to it, also, the Presbytery of Rio Janeiro.
13. ATLANTIC; to embrace the States of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
14. CLEVELAND; to extend from the Ohio State line, on the east, to the west and south lines of the counties of Lorain, Medina, Summit, Stark, Tuscarawas, Guernsey, Nobie, and Monroe, Ohio.
15. TOLEDO; to comprise the counties west of the Synod of Cleveland, and to be bounded by the east and south lines of the counties of Erie, Huron, Crawford, Wyandot, Hardin, Logan, Champaign, Shelby, and Mercer, Ohio.
16. CINCINNATI; to comprise the counties bounded by the north and east lines of Darke, Miami, Clark, Greene, Fayette, Ross, Vinton, and Gallia, Ohio.
17. COLUMBUS; to comprise the remaining, being the central, counties of the State of Ohio.
18. MICHIGAN; to embrace the whole of the lower peninsula of that State.
19. KENTUCKY; to be conterminous with that State.
20. TENNESSEE; to embrace the States of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Texas, with all our ministers and churches in the States intervening.
21. INDIANA, SOUTH; to extend to the northern line of the counties of Wayne, Henry, Hancock, Marion, Hendricks, Putnam, Clay, and Vigo, Ind.
22. INDIANA, NORTH; to embrace all of the State north of this line.
23. ILLINOIS, SOUTH; to comprise all of the State south of the north line of Edgar, Douglas, Moultrie, Shelby, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, Green, and Calhoun counties.
24. ILLINOIS, CENTRAL; to comprise the counties north of the above line to the south line of Kankakee, Grundy, La Salle, Putnam, Bureau, Henry, and Mercer counties, Ill.
25. ILLINOIS, NORTH; to comprise the remaining counties of the State, bounded on the south by the north line of the Synod of Illinois, Central.
26. WISCONSIN; to take in all that State, the upper peninsula of Michigan, and the county of St. Louis in the State of Minnesota.
27. MINNESOTA; to comprise the State of Minnesota, except as above, and the territory of Dacotah.
28. IOWA, NORTH; to comprise all the State of Iowa north of the south
line of Clinton, Jones, Linn, Benton, Tama, Marshall, Story, Boone, Greene, Carroll, Crawford, and Manona counties.
29. IOWA, SOUTH; to comprise the remainder of the State of Iowa, with Nebraska and the Territory of Wyoming.
30. MISSOURI; to be conterminous with the State of Missouri.
31. KANSAS; to extend over that State, Colorado, New Mexico, and the Indian Territories.
32. PACIFIC; to embrace all the region west of the Rocky Mountains.
33. INDIA; to comprise all our missionaries and churches in that country.
34. CHINA; to comprise all our missionaries and churches in China, Siam, and Japan.
In regard to fixing the boundaries of the various Presbyteries, which seemed as distinctly assigned to us, we have felt not only that it would be a most onerous task, which we could hardly do, for all parts, with just discrimination, or to general satisfaction, but that it seemed to fall more properly under the province of the different Synods or their representatives, who could do it, when assembled, more understandingly and to the fuller content of those interested, than if done by us or by this Assembly. Accordingly, it is proposed that this specific work be remitted to the several Synods, as now defined by this Assembly. And, for the purpose of securing uniformity of action on the part of the Synods throughout the whole Church, it is recommended that each Synod being convened, as hereinafter provided, shall organize the Presbyteries within its bounds in accordance with the following general principles, viz. :
1. That each several Presbytery, with the ministers and churches within its limits, be defined as to boundaries by geographical lines, or with respect to the most convenient lines of travel.
2. That Presbyteries be enlarged, and the formation of small ones be discouraged; none formed hereafter to consist of less than five ministers, the quorum for business remaining as heretofore.
3. That in the formation or arrangement of Presbyteries by the respective Synods it be recommended that no Presbytery consist of less than ten ministers except in outlying, frontier, and missionary districts, and then to be constituted as large as possible.
4. That when two or more congregations, on different sides of a Synodical or Presbyterial line, are under one pastoral charge, they shall all, for the time, belong to that Presbytery with which the minister is connected, but only so long as such pastoral relation continues.
5. That ministers without charge are required to unite with that Presbytery within the geographical limits of which they ordinarily reside, or are nearest to, and to which they shall be amenable for the proper discharge of their ordination engagements.
6. That the Presbyteries and Synods heretofore existing, which shall lose their present organization by consolidation under these arrangements, shall be considered and designated as continuing their succession in that Synod, now defined, or Presbytery to be constituted, which includes the largest portion, counting both ministers and churches of said body as existing May 19th, 1870, to preserve its records, and attend, as may be found necessary, to its business and interests.
That the Commissioners of the Presbyteries within the bounds of each Synod, as fixed by this Assembly, be respectively appointed a Committee to designate the day, not later than July 15th, 1870, when, and the place where, each Synod shall hold its first meeting, for the reorganization of the Presbyteries within its bounds, and for the transaction of any other business that may come before them; also, to nominate some one to preach the opening sermon, and preside until the Synod shall be organized by the choice of a Moderator; and report the same to this General Assembly for its action.
The next general subject is that of Representation in the General Assembly, and a proper ratio for the same.
Your Committee, after full and repeated consideration of this important and difficult subject, are of the opinion that a change to Synodical representation is necessary, in order to bring the numbers in the Assembly within due limits, and secure equal rights to all parts of the Church. But, so far as we can discover, the Church generally is not yet prepared for such a change; and the Committee desire to avoid all occasion of discord in our united Church, or needless discussions on this subject in this General Assembly. Therefore, no change from Presbyterial representation is proposed; nor would we at present advise any change in the ratio of representation, but leave the matter as it is ordered by chapter xii., section 2, of the Form of Government.
LIMITATION OF APPEALS.
For the relief of the General Assembly in the dispatch of business, and to discourage pertinacious litigation in Church courts, the Committee recommend that all Appeals, References, and Complaints terminate at the Synod, except in relation to questions of constitutional law, or the trial of a minister for heresy in doctrine.