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Elijah Hedding

HEDDING, Elijah, M.E. bishop, born in Pine Plains, Dutchess county, New York, 7 June, 1780; died in Poughkeepsie, New York, 9 April, 1852. In 1789 Reverend Benjamin Abbott;, a pioneer of Methodism, preached in his neighborhood, and the mother and grandmother of young Hedding united with the Methodist church. With these the lad also soon became associated. A few years later the family removed and settled on a farm at Starksborough, Vermont, a region where schools were as yet almost wholly unknown. Young Hedding became skeptical somewhat and irreligious, but was sometimes called on to read one of Wesley's sermons in the absence of a regular preacher. He was impressed with them, studied various doctrinal works, adopted Methodist views, and in the latter part of 1799, though not even licensed to preach, was drafted as a supply. He was admitted to the New York conference in 1801, and in 1807 was appointed presiding elder of New Hampshire district. In 1811 he was sent to Boston, and in 1817 to Maine, as presiding elder of Portland district. Later on he was pastor at Lynn common, and afterward presiding elder of Boston district. At the general conference held in Baltimore in May, 1824, after about twenty-five years of itinerant labors, he was elected and ordained bishop, and for nearly twenty-eight years longer served the church in that office. Bishop Hedding's episcopal life covered a large space in the formative period of American Methodism, and probably no other man contributed more largely than he to the form into which it grew, or more effectively sustained its original evangelistic spirit and methods. During most of the years of his episcopate he lived at Lynn. Mass., but ]n 1851 he removed to Poughkeepsie. He had been released by the general conference of 1848 from all obligation to labor any longer, and from that time onward his strength rapidly declined. His annual salary during his later years was $700, and when it was proposed to make it larger he earnestly objected, saying he should not know what to do with more. Bishop Hedding was an able theologian in respect to the great and fundamental elements of Christian truth and doctrine, a preacher of great force and convincing eloquence, dignified yet pleasant in his manners, and in private life happily blending seriousness and cheerfulness.

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