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Edmund W. Sehon

Leader of Southern Methodist Missions

Edmund Sehon was a member of the Ohio Annual Conference at the time of the dissolution of the bonds between Northern and Southern Methodism in 1844, and probably intended to remain in that connection, but the manner of the Ohio Conference’s dealing with Bishop Joshua Soule in 1845 (it would not let him preside because it feared he would go with the South if the church split) seemed to Sehon the height of discourtesy and fanaticism, so he withdrew and moved south himself. He joined the Tennessee Conference briefly, and it elected him one of their delegates to the 1846 General Conference, an unprecedented honor. He soon transferred to the Louisville Conference.

In 1850, the General Conference elected him to be the missionary secretary, a post he held through thick and thin until 1866. He supervised the move of the Missionary Society from Louisville to Nashville, held the society in existence though a prisoner and a refugee during the Civil War, and tried to restore it once the war was over.

When the General Conference of 1866 divided the missions activity of the church in half, it elected Sehon to lead the new Foreign Missions Board. He resigned the position under criticism in 1868 but retained his good reputation to the end of his days. Sehon continued to serve missions as a board member until his death in 1876.

Taken from Robert W. Sledge, “Five Dollars and Myself”: The History of Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1845-1939. (New York: General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 2005), p. 41.


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