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Old or New School Methodism?The Fragmentation of a Theological Tradition$
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Kevin M. Watson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844516

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844516.001.0001

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An Unwilling Founder

An Unwilling Founder

The Early Life and Ministry of Benjamin Titus Roberts

(p.118) 3 An Unwilling Founder
Old or New School Methodism?

Kevin M. Watson

Oxford University Press

This chapter summarizes the Benjamin Titus (B.T.) Roberts’s early life and ministry. The chapter gives particular focus to Roberts’s radical abolitionist commitments, which preceded his Christian conversion, and discusses his initial success as a pastor in the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Roberts became convinced in the mid-1850s that a “New School” in the Genesee Conference was compromising with the world in order to gain the favor of the rich and influential. Meanwhile, Matthew Simpson began to critique the leadership of the Genesee Conference in print, particularly focusing his concerns on the pew rental system and how it was contrary to Methodist discipline. Roberts eventually wrote an essay entitled “New School Methodism,” And as a result of this essay was twice tried and convicted of “unchristian and immoral conduct.” After the second conviction, he was expelled from the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Keywords:   Benjamin Titus Roberts, Genesee Conference, abolition, pew rentals, New School Methodism, Nazarites, Buffalo Regency

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