Delaware Conference history chronicled in ‘A Methodist Trail’

A Methodist Trail is a just-published, long-awaited history of the former Delaware Annual Conference, the historic African American Methodist conference that was the first to form in 1864 and the first to merge in 1965. The extraordinarily detailed, two-volume book was researched and written by William C. Jason Jr., a pastor’s son born in 1898 and a venerable leader, historian and secretary of the conference.

The Delaware Conference comprised black Methodists whose churches extended from Maryland’s Eastern Shore up through Delaware, Eastern PA, and past New York City. It was organized by General Conference as the Civil War was ending to answer pleas by oppressed black churches and clergy for their own conference to foster their self-determination and dignity in the mostly white Methodist Episcopal Church.

For over a century the beloved Delaware Conference withstood racism as it developed churches, ministries and clergy and lay leadership across the region. The new books, self-published by the Jason family, may be purchased online from Amazon.com for about $25 for each volume or $50 together. However, they will also be sold by the Jason family onsite at a discounted price of $35 for both volumes during the May 30 Delaware Conference Anniversary Celebration at Tindley Temple UMC in Philadelphia.

A limited number of books can also be purchased directly from the Jason family for $35 through Bishop Peggy Johnson’s episcopal office. Anyone who wishes to reserve a set should contact Amy Botti in Bishop Johnson’s office at abotti@epaumc.org  or call her at 610-666-1442.

The discount is being offered in honor of the 50th anniversary of the merger of the Delaware and Philadelphia conferences. The professionally printed volumes total nearly 1,000 pages.

Also, the Rev. David W. Brown will discuss the Delaware Conference’s history and importance at in Perdue Hall at Salisbury University in Maryland next Wednesday, April 15, at 7 PM. Author of the 2010 book Freedom Drawn from Within, a brief history of the conference and earlier black Methodism in this region, Brown will speak from the theme “This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Connecting the Shared History of African Americans in United Methodism.”

His presentation is the inaugural lecture from the university’s Rev. Frost Pollitt Memorial Endowment, named for the ex-slave and minister who helped establish the Delaware Conference and was its first Missionary Society president. Admission is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.