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This book is the story of the Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church, the jurisdication that was created for African American members of the three bodies uniting in 1939. James S. Thomas sketches the history of American Methodism from its earliest beginnings through the years of tumult around the issue of slavery and on into the twentieth century. But hte bulk of the book is that story that could best be told only by an insider, in this case, by the one who served as chairperson of the Central Jurisdication Study and Research Committee, popularly known as the Committee of Five, which forumalted the plan for themerger of the Central Jurisdiction's annual conferences into the regional jurisdictions. Officially, the story of the Central Jurisdiction begain in 1939. But the attitudes and social practices that prompted its creation go much further back into history. As those attitudes evolved--by a combination of legislated change within the wider society and the opening of the minds of many people--the ever-present dilemna of the Central Jurisdiction was resolved. Its demise, says Bishop Thomas, enables The United Methodist Church more faithfully to seek the goal of one Shepherd, one fold.
The Central Jurisdiction was created for African American members of the merger in 1939 of: The Methodist Episcopal Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church South, and The Methodist Protestant Church.