Three Young Clergymen Refused to Go to Appointments Given Them.
Church Discipline Affected.
Cases of Rebellion the First in the History of the New York East Conference.
(Special to the Eagle.)
Middletown, Conn., March 31–The dignity of the New York East Conference has been rudely disturbed by rebellion on the part of three young ministers who refused to go to appointments given them by the late Bishop Daniel A. Goodsell. District Superintendent W. W. Bowdish of the New Haven district, announced yesterday morning that the Revs. R. S. Povey, W. E. Slaght and Gustav A. Viets had not gone to Rocky Hill, Woodbury, and North Canton and Washington Hill, to which they had been sent, respectively. According to the Discipline of the church, these rebellious young preachers could be expelled. Although two of the appear to have made satisfactory explanation of their conduct they must be tried, notwithstanding. Mr. Povey has been preaching at Trinity Church, Bridgeport; Mr. Viets at Seventh street, Manhattan, and W. E. Slaght at South Farms, and also as assistant to the Rev. C. W. Flint, pastor of the conference, and the disposition of Mr. Slaght seems to have been satisfactory. But Mr. Viets, according to the district superintendent, did not do anything for some time, nor has he visited Bishop Moore nor District Superintendent Bowdish.
The cases of the young men are in the hands of a strong committee appointed by Bishop Moore, and will be thoroughly investigated, Dr. Bowdish being one of the principal witnesses. The committee is composed of F. W. Hannan, F. B. Upham, W. W. T. Duncan, J. A. MacMillan, E. A. Burnes and Dr. Bowdish. Bishop Moore will, of course, attend the hearing.
In speaking of the case Dr. Bowdish said:
“If ministers refuse to go where they are sent by the bishop, it is rebellion. Members of the conference assume an obligation to go where they are sent by the presiding bishop. This obligation is absolute and binding. The individuals have no more right to rebel than a soldier has. The Methodist Church must maintain the dignity of its discipline, and in this case the conference proposes to do so.”
Cases of rebellion in this direction are rare, and it is the first time, it is said, the New York East Conference has had a case of ministerial mutiny. Dr. Bowdish sent to the places to which the young ministers refused to go the Revs. G. A. Seymour, a graduate of Toronto and Yale universities, who is to be admitted to the conference this year; W. W. Winans and S. H. Bray. The Rev. R. S. Povey is well known in Brooklyn, having been pastor of the Herkimer Street Church and previous to that assistant to the Rev. Dr. A. W. Byrt at the Warren Street Church.
The Rev. Dr. Henry Baker, who resigned the pastorate of the Patchogue Church for a year of recuperation, although much better, will retire this year. He will ask for a superannuated relation. The Rev. Ira W. Henderson, who has served a year at Patchogue, has been invited back. He made a fine record.
The Rev. Dr. Willey, pastor of St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Ocean avenue and Beverley road, Flatbush, has rested his case in the hands of Bishop Moore. Dr. Willey received a call to the First M. E. Church, Baltimore, the home of his boyhood, and an exchange was thought of by bringing the Rev. B. Frank Rall of that church to St. Mark’s. The committee from St. Mark’s went to Baltimore, but decided not to invite Mr. Rall to Brooklyn. At a full meeting of the official board of St. Mark’s Church, Dr. Willey told the members that nothing would induce him to leave St. Mark’s, which, to him, was the best church in Methodism, but the condition of his throat, he having some bronchial trouble. He would return to St. Mark’s notwithstanding, he said, if the bishop did not desire otherwise.
When District Superintendent James S. Chadwick of the Brooklyn North District finished his report and the bishop called the roll, the characters of all the ministers in the district were passed by Dr. Bowdish answering “Nothing against him” as each minister was named. This included the Rev. Dudley O. Osterheld of Ozone Park, against whom his wife brought suit for cruel and inhuman treatment, etc., which was fully published at the time Justice Garrotson rendered a decision in favor of the minister a week or so ago.
A memorial service was held at yesterday afternoon’s session. Bishop Moore presided, while the memoir of Bishop Daniel A. Goodsell was read by the Rev. Dr. George P. Mains of the Methodist Book Concern. Dr. Mains recalled the life of the bishop and said he was not only a large man in point of physique, but large of soul, and then went largely into a biographical sketch.
The Rev. Thomas L. Price of Epworth Church, Brooklyn, presided over the rest of the service. The memoir of the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Buck was read by the Rev. Dr. William V. Kelley, who also read a tribute to the Rev. A. H. Wyatt. The Rev. James A. MacMillan read the memoir of the Rev. George C. Boswell, the Rev. Dr. W. P. Estes that of the Rev. Lemuel Richardson and the Rev. E. A. Dent that of the Rev. George W. Allen.
F. P. SELLERS.