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Historical Notes


A large controversy took place in Putnam County over support for the North or South by a group of ministers of the United Brethren Church. The following was published in The Kalida Sentinel , which was a local newspaper. The newspaper published the ministers' point of view.

HISTORY OF THE AUGLAIZE CONFERENCE
OF THE UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH


by Luttrell, 1863  
Slaveholders' Church Organized. Parties to It -- Rev. D. Bender at the Political Meeting -- Makes a Speech -- A Mob Resists Him -- The Writer Mobbed, etc.

As there are thousands living today who know nothing of what transpired during the last war in the United States only as it is learned by tradition or read in print, and as not one in ten of the members of the church today were living then, we believe it to be our duty to give a faithful statement, at this time and place, of what the war cost us in the Auglaize Conference, just as fully as our limits will allow.  We have, in a former chapter, referred to the fact that a number of our ministers were found in sympathy with the slaveholders' rebellion.

Now we will give the list of those who felt themselves compelled to take the step they did, and this we do without any malice or ill will.

These are the men:

  • George W. Holden
  • P.B. Holden
  • John Frysinger
  • J.S. Hickman
  • A. Shindledecker
On the 10th day of December, 1863, at the home of P.B. Holden, in Jackson Township, Putnam County, Ohio, assembled G.W. Holden, son of P.B. Holden, John Frysinger, and A. Shindledecker, four in all, and proceeded to organize what they were pleased to call the Reformed United Brethren Church.
As is always the case with reformers, those from whom they come out are of all men most sinful, so with these devotees of the proposed Southern oligarchy. They say: The ministers of the church have polluted the pulpit and disgraced themselves by preaching politics.

They mean by politics any prayer, song, exhortation, or sermon that contained a single sentence in favor of the poor slave. In support of their claim, they cite the following, which they say was gotten up and passed by one of our conferences.
Resolved, That we will neither fellowship anyone as a member of our society, nor receive anyone into membership, who sympathizes in any manner with the so-called Peace Party, which is supporting C.L. Vallandigham for Governor of the State of Ohio.
You will observe that this is capable of two constructions. The term, "one of our conferences," while it was beyond doubt intended to be understood as meaning the Auglaize, still might mean any other conference in the Church, as the term, "one of our conferences," would embrace the Church at large. Now, since no resolution was ever gotten up and passed by the Auglaize Conference, nor yet by any other, so far as we could ever learn, -- and we made a special effort to find out the facts in the case, but could never trace it to any other source than that of the minutes of the meeting in Putnam County,--we leave the child to the tender mercies of just criticism.
Fifteen days later, December 25, 1863, these four men meet at the house of A. Shindledecker in Mercer County, Ohio, and it appears that they have been busy, as they are strengthened by the addition of the following members: J.W. Summers, J. Dremean, and J.S. Hickman, making seven in all.

The third meeting of the reformers was held in Old Pleasant Hill Chapel, commencing on the 10th of June, 1864. The members present at the beginning of the session were Shindledecker, Frysinger, Summers, and Hickman. The king's commandment being urgent, H. Waggoner and J.P. Jones joined their conference at this time and were ordained elders before the session closed. It was at this meeting that what was called the "Republican United Brethren" and the Reformed United Brethren consolidated, and took upon themselves the name of Evangelical United Brethren Association.
A word about the Republican United Brethren will be in place here, as it was so utterly insignigicant as never to be known beyond the reach of its own voice. The "thing" was born during the Mexican War. Some two or three preachers, having enlisted contrary to the laws and doctrines of the Church, which forbade its members' engaging in aggressive warfare, were disciplined for so doing, and so went out to build up a new church in which they could be free from the restraints of government not dictated by themselves. So paradoxical was this union, that the fact thereof itself seems an absurdity. On the one hand they are opposed to war, and on the other hand they are in favor of war. What the Republican United Brethren could hope to gain by joining themselves to the anti-republican United Brethren, we do not pretend to know, unless it was that they might have better opportunities for avenging themselves.
Attention will now be called to a remarkable report--it is that of the committee on grievances, and is, in effect, as follows:   They propose to clear and vindicate the character of P.B. Holden, A. Shindledecker, John Frysinger, and J.S. Hickman, who, they say, were slanderously reported by the Auglaize Conference. The slander to which they refer was the action of the Conference in the disposition of their names. At the twelfth session there were committees apointed to inquire into the nature of the complaints urged against these parties, and before the committee could investigate matters, they met and organized as already seen.

Now observe: first, these are the men who were complained of as being in sympathy with human slavery and the slaveholder's rebellion and war; second, they dodge the committees which were appointed to investigate those complaints, by meeting and organizing a new church; third, in this new church they assail the Conference and vindicate the character of one another.
Now, in all kindness and candor we ask, What class of criminals could you name which could not do as well under like circumstances? And is it not strange that the very actions of these men who claim to be vindicating each other's character by clearing them, as they say, from the charges alleged against them--we repeat, is it not strange that they do not know that their own conduct is the best proof of their guilt, and that they, by doing as they do, vindicate the Conference in what she thought to do when the investigation was proposed?
We have examined the evidence in reference to the slanderous report of the A.A.C. of the U.B.C. against some of our ministers, and submit the following report:
  1. That in our opinion the resolutions in the minutes of 1863 and 1864 of said Conference are not explicit enough in their expression to justify a legal process or action in law:
  2. That said resolutions are confounded and false in their expressions, and are proved to be such by comparing a report of a committee that investigated said charges brought against one of our preachers with the resolution.
It is just to the cause of truthful history, and due to our people, that the plain facts be sifted out of the rubbish of falsehood and thrown into the even balance of truth and justice, as between man and man. This we now propose to do in this case. You will observe that they say: The resolutions are confounded and false. Now, whether the reformers understood the import of the language they used or not, we do not pretend to know.

If they did, then the following conclusion must be reached:
They, if they understood the term used, intended to say that the resolutions were so mixed and blended with something else as to be indefinite--not understood.

We place them before you:
Resolved, That P.B. Holden, A. Shindledecker, John Frysinger, and J.S. Hickman have withdrawn from the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, because they were not permitted to advocate slavery and treason in her communion.

What is confounded here?   They say the resolutions are false.   In what are they false?
The charges here specified were the only ones preferred by the Conference, and these only as complaints at the first; and when those men had the opportunity to clear themselves according to the laws and usages of the Church, they did it by "clearing out," and organizing a church of their own.

Another of those resolutions says: That we exceedingly regret that these brethren, after occupying honorable positions in the United Brethren Church for a series of years, should now bend the knee to the god of slavery, and attempt to build up a church on the foundation of human bondage--a foundation accursed of God and good men, and fast falling into ruins.   This resolution is clearly defined and certainly unmixed with anything other than the matter dealt with, and we ask, in all candor, In what respect is it false?   These men had already organized and called themselves a church, and all that was alleged against them, and for which they left the United Brethren Church, was just what the resolutions say. The truth of the whole matter is, they were guilty and resorted to the folly and the sin of seeking to cover up their tracks by a subterfuge.

The following is the same controversy, but from the church's viewpoint.
A Split in the Churches - We publish this week the proceedings of a conference held at the house of A. Shindledecker, in Mercer county.
A certain number of our preachers have deemed it right and proper to preach Christ and him crucified while a large majority have thought it more to their interests to preach Abolitionism. This being the case, and many church communicants being continually denounced because they politically adhered to the doctrines of the Fathers. This our Constitution gave them the right to do, and for this they are abused, and for this abuse they have withdrawn from the church with whom they formerly fellowshiped. They now seek to inauguarate a society where their ears will not continually be saluted by cries of "Traitor," "Secessionists," and "Butternuts" from the pulpit.

We say the move is eminently right and proper, and coming as it does from the old fathers in the church, cannot fail of good results.   Page 2, column 2: The New Church Movement: Religous Conference - Jackson tp. Putnam Co. Dec. 10th 1863.
We, the undersigned, met at P.B. Holden's house in the county and State aforesaid, and after taking into consideration the way the ministers of the church of the United Brethren in Christ have polluted the pulpit, disgraced themselves and the sacred calling by participating in political matters, and the way in which they have persecuted us as ministers, formerly of the same church, for opinion's sake, as an example for which we quote? resolution gotten up and adopted in some of their Conferences and published in their church organ as follows:
Resolved. That we will neither fellowship any one as a member of our society, nor receive any one into membership, who sympathizes in any manner with the so-called Peace party, which is supporting C.L. Vallandingham for Governor of Ohio," &c.
Now, in view of such resolution and unbecoming and unchristianlike names, such as Copperheads, Butternuts, Rebels, &c., that have been piled upon us for opinion's sake, and as we do not think such conduct becoming for professors of religion or men professing and sanctified to the ministry; -- therefore,
Resolved, That we will withdraw from said church and form ourselves into a separate body, to be named the Reformed United Brethren in Christ.   Adjourned to meet at A. Shindledecker's house in Mercer county, Ohio, on the 25th day of December, A.D. 1863, to transact the further business of this body.   G.W. Holden, A. Shindledecker, J. Frisinger, P.B. Holden.
The following are the Minutes of a Conference held by the Reformed United Brethren in Christ, at A. Shendledecker's house, in Mercer county, Ohio, December 25th, 1863:

  • Friday, Dec. 25, 1863 --- Conference opened today at 2 o'clock P.M. After the reading of the 5th chapter of the 1st Epistle General of Peter, prayer, and an appropriate address by the Rev. P.B. Holden, Conference proceded to elect a Chairman and Secretary. --- On counting the ballots, it was found that P.B. Holden was elected Chairman, and G.W. Holden Secretary.
    Members present--
    P.B. Holden
    A. Shindledecker
    G.W. Holden
    John Frisinger
    J.W. Summers
    W.J. Grentean --6.
    Absent--
    J.S. Heckmen --1
  • The following Committees were then appointed in order.
    On Devotion--A. Decker, J.W. Summers and G.W. Holden.
    On motion, Conference adjourned.
    Prayer by J. Frisinger.
  • Saturday morning, Dec. 26--Devotional exercise by J.W. Summers.
    Minutes of preceding day read approved. A. Decker moved that the report of the Committee on Boundaries be received. Adopted. Said report was adopted, as made by the Committee, as follows:
    Honey Run Mission to extend from Allentown west to the canal; thence north to Delphos thence east.
    Auglaize Mission to extend Delphos to Charloe; on the canal thence east.
    Dog Creek Mission to extend from Delphos to Van Wert; thence north to Blue Creek; thence east to the canal.---
    Twenty-Seven Mile Mission to extend from Van Wert to Ring's School House on a direct line; thence west. St. Marys Mission to include all the territory living between Twenty Seven Mile Mission and Honey Run Mission.
    Examination of Members--
    A. Decker
    P.B. Holden
    J. Frisinger
    G.W. Holden
    J.W. Summers
    W.J. Cremean
    were examined and passed.
  • On motion, a Committee of the Whole was appointed to station the Itinerant.
    On motion, P.B. Holden, was appointed preside on the Auglaize and Dog Creek Mission.
    On motion, J. Frisinger, is to preside on 27 Mile Mission.
    On motion, A. Shindledecker, is to preside on St. Mary's Mission.
    On motion, J.W. Summers, is to preside on Honey Run Mission.
    J. Frisinger moved that the preachers who are not ordained, shall have the liberty to attend to the ordinance of Baptism.
    Adopted.
    G.W. Holden moved that each preacher in charge of a field of labor, shall Collect Missionary money, and keep an account of all moneys received by him, and report the amount at the next annual Conference, and also keep an account of the time employed.
    Adopted.
    The preachers were stationed as follows:
    • Honey Run Mis., W.J. Cremoan
    • Auglaize Mis., P.B. Holden.
    • 27 Mile Mis., J. Frisinger.
    • St. Mary's Mis., J.W. Summers.
    • Union Mis., A. Decker.
    • Dog Creek Mis., G.W. Holden.

    A. Decker moved that the next Conference be held at the Pleasant Hill Church in Mercer Co., Ohio, on the 9th day of June 1864.
    Adopted.
    On motion, Conference adjourned. Prayer by G.W. Holden.
  • Saturday afternoon, Dec. 26--Devotional exercise by W.J. Creamau.
    G.W. Holden moved that a committee be appointed to draft a discipline and report at the next Conference.
    Adopted.
    On motion G.W. Holden, P.B. Holden, and A. Decker compose said committee.
    Adopted.
    G.W. moved that a special committee of four be appointed to express the sense of this conference on political preaching.
    Adopted.
    On motion G.W. Holden, J. Frisinger, W.J. Cremean and J.W. Summers, were appointed said Committee who reported as follows:
    WHEREAS, A majority of the ministers of the gospel of the different branches of the Church have ceased in a great measure preaching Christ and Him crucified, and have got to preaching politics in the pulpit, and delivering political speeches elsewhere, to the disgrace of the pulpit themselves and the sacred calling, and we detest such conduct therefore,
    Resolved, that we as a church profess to know nothing and preach nothing in the sacred desk but Christ and Him Crucified, as the way, the truth, and the life; and further we prohibit our ministers from such unbecoming conduct; if found guilty they shall be dealt with for immoral conduct.
    Resolved, That we as a Church are opposed to the present rebellion of the South; we are in favor of the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is, now and forever. Amen.
    After a very agreeable and harmonious session the Conference adjourned on Saturday, December 26, at 4 o'clock, P.M.
G.W. Holden, Secretary.
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