God's Man | Daniel Alexander Payne

Daniel Payne
Photo Credit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Payne
Today I would like to highlight Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. Born in 1811 during the height of slavery he and his family were not slaves. His parents were free blacks living in South Carolina. They were also devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

By age 10 he had lost both of his parents and was being raised by his Aunt. It was not the practice to educate blacks during this time but Payne was introduced to the Members Moralist Society. This Group, established by free blacks, was committed to “educate orphan or indigent colored children, and also to provide for their necessary wants.”

By 1829, at 19, he had opened his first school teaching children and adults alike. This first school failed but he regrouped and started again and by 1835 he was teaching and housing 60 students.

In 1835 however this school ended when the South Carolina Legislature passed South Carolina General Assembly passed Act No. 2639, An Act to Amend the Law Relating to Slaves and Free Persons of Color. This act made it illegal to be taught as a slave and also made it illegal to teach slaves. By penalty of fine and the lash.

He would go on to founding another school in Philadelphia, become the 6th Bishop of the A.M.E. Church. On becoming the Bishop he noted, "I trembled from head to foot, and wept. I knew that I was unworthy the office, because I had neither the physical strength, the learning, nor the sanctity which makes one fit for such a high, holy, and responsible position. . . . I prayed earnestly that God would take away my life rather than allow me to be put into an office for which I felt myself so utterly unfit." He held the position of Pastor in high esteem.

He stressed educating yourself as a high goal. He also felt that theological training was as important. I wish I had more space but I will cap it off with this. He was insistent that we examine those who would accept the high calling of Pastor. It is something that I struggled with and still do. He said this, "Whenever a young man comes forward, and tells us that he is called to the ministry, let us examine him rigidly, according to our excellent discipline and the requisitions of God’s word. It is not enough that he tells us God has called him; let him show the evidences of his call. Some of us are too credulous. If a man tells us that he is called to this work, we believe without proof;without any qualification, we are ready to push him into the sacred office. His say so is not enough." Payne concluded with this, “Some men have gifts, but no graces. Others have graces, but no gifts. Neither of these are wanted in the Christian ministry.”

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