1908 - A Social Creed: How Should Religious Institutions Respond to Public Problems?

This issue guide is focused on a decision taking place in the spring of 1908. The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church is convening its 25th session in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 6. Modeled after the United States Congress, the General Conference is responsible for ecclesiastical policymaking. Its decisions become part of the official church doctrines and discipline for the denomination’s thousands of connected congregations.

This year, delegates to the Conference will be urged to act on a proposed “Social Creed” for the church, which, if adopted in its entirety, will declare that the Methodist Episcopal Church as a matter of Christian principle stands firmly for a group of social reforms—among them, abolition of child labor, adoption of a six-day work week, and a living wage for workers in all industries—which will greatly unburden the lives of this nation’s working classes.

The diversity of opinion at the General Conference can be grouped into three distinct options, each of which reflects what is valuable to the delegates and their constituents. These include:

Option 1: Focus on Spiritual Concerns
Option 2: Encourage Acts of Benevolence
Option 3: Commit to Social Reform