Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 9

Bishop McTyiere Rules Against L. L. Pickett November 13, 1884

The North Texas Conference convened in Sulphur Springs on November 13, 1884. Bishop McTyiere presided. As most readers of this column know, one of the main items of every annual conference is the ordination of deacons and elders.

Ordination is a holy occasion and usually proceeds with appropriate solemnity, but not this time. A local preacher, L. L. Pickett, was in the class of prospective deacons. His declaration that he would refuse to baptize by immersion created a problem for the conference. Pickett’s service as local pastor had shown him to be acceptable in all other ministerial duties. Methodist custom and law emphasized the meaning of baptism rather than its method. Adults presenting themselves for baptism in a Methodist church had the option of sprinkling or immersion. Pickett’s insistence on sprinkling placed him at odds with the rest of the church.

Bishop McTyiere had little difficulty in ruling that Pickett should not be ordained. He said, “. . .the validity of baptism can not depend on the mode of administering it.” That should have been the end of the story, but Pickett appealed the ruling of the chair. In May 1886 the General Conference of the M.E.C.S. sustained the bishop’s ruling. Pickett continued as a local preacher.


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