Methodists and Lynching: Racial Violence and The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1880-1930

Connor S. Kenaston


In 1930, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) officially condemned lynching and mob violence. Even though a brutal lynching in the shadow of the Conference provided the impetus for such a change, this essay will argue that the legislation was not merely a reaction to the violence but the result of more than fifty years of activism. Due to external pressure from non-MECS Methodists and the often overlooked witness of African Americans and white women, the MECS attitude toward African Americans gradually developed from pure evangelism into paternalistic uplift and finally to an official stance against racial violence. The article concludes with an exploration of the efficacy of the legislation.


Methodist Episcopal Church, South; lynching; civil rights; African Americans

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