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Monday, March 5, 2018

S/L Assembly and W.C.T.U. Worked Hand-in-Hand in Temperance Training; Methodists were on the Cutting Edge

I'm doing some much needed research on the role of the Silver Lake Chautauqua Assembly as it related to the W.C.T.U. headquarters building and functions at the corner of Embury and Park Ave. I am quickly learning that larger headquarters locations across the country such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Evanston, the big cities of Ohio, and many others were keenly aware of the Silver Lake Assembly. They were also aware of the fact that the Assembly was not simply a "landlord" for the W.C.T.U., but was actively engaged in Women's Suffrage and that entire social justice movement which gave women the vote in 1920 and the less successful Prohibition Amendment which eventually was reversed.

Also mentioned frequently in the W.C.T.U. history is the Perry First Methodist Episcopal Church as also hosting numerous events on behalf of the W.C.T.U. and sometimes pooling their efforts with the Silver Lake Assembly.

The original Social Creed was adopted by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1908 as a denominational statement decrying child labor and supporting the economic rights of workers, better workplace conditions, better wages and worker safety.
"The Methodist Social Creed originated ... to express Methodism's outrage over the lives of the millions of workers in factories, mines, mills, tenements and company towns .... The Methodist Federation for Social Service immediately took up the challenge of getting the 1908 General Conference to address the social crisis. The key strategy was to secure adoption of a statement on "The Church and Social Problems." Proponents of the Social Creed came up with a "list of 11 social reforms the group believed the church should champion, including the abolition of child labor and an end to the sweatshop system." (Interpreter, April 1988)
The Social Creed was continually expanded and revised until, in 1972, it was completely redesigned and renamed the Social Principles. In 2008, a poetic companion litany to the Social Creed was adopted. To examine the Creed and the Litany, click on the "Read More" link on the lower left below this paragraph.

The Methodist Social Creed
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends.
We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.
We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family.
We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons.
We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.
We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world.
We believe in the present and final triumph of God’s Word in human affairs and gladly accept our commission to manifest the life of the gospel in the world. Amen.
(It is recommended that this statement of Social Principles be continually available to United Methodist Christians and that it be emphasized regularly in every congregation. It is further recommended that “Our Social Creed” be frequently used in Sunday worship.)

A Companion Litany to Our Social Creed

God in the Spirit revealed in Jesus Christ,
calls us by grace
        to be renewed in the image of our Creator,
        that we may be one
        in divine love for the world.
Today is the day
God cares for the integrity of creation,
        wills the healing and wholeness of all life,
        weeps at the plunder of earth’s goodness.
And so shall we.
Today is the day
God embraces all hues of humanity,
         delights in diversity and difference,
         favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.
And so shall we.
 Today is the day
God cries with the masses of starving people,
        despises growing disparity between rich and poor,
        demands justice for workers in the marketplace.
And so shall we.
Today is the day
God deplores violence in our homes and streets,
         rebukes the world’s warring madness,
         humbles the powerful and lifts up the lowly.
And so shall we.

Today is the day
God calls for nations and peoples to live in peace,
         celebrates where justice and mercy embrace,
         exults when the wolf grazes with the lamb.
And so shall we.
Today is the day
God brings good news to the poor,
        proclaims release to the captives,
        gives sight to the blind, and
        sets the oppressed free.

And so shall we.
From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.


  1. This article (op-ed, actually) might be of interest. I enjoyed your blog post on the temperance movement and thought this additional background would be valuable. By the way, do you know the date that the SLI WCTU building became Stoody Chapel? I was unable to find out. Probably in a set of minutes somewhere......

    From The New York Times:

    Women, Booze and the Vote

    The appropriation of a feminist theme for selling whiskey to women is nothing if not ironic.


    1. Thank you for that NY Times Op-Ed link ... fascinating! The only date I have with regards to the "Stoody Chapel" is on the label to this photo--1957. I am posturing whether or not this stated year and the obvious special occasion designated by the folks dressing up in period styles, might possibly be the year the WCTU became the Chapel. I had previously learned that the WCTU had "lasted into the 1950s" and that was about it. So I have now posted this photo in the Blog and the hypothesis that 1957 might be year of the transition.