Friday, October 16, 2009

Occom and Sergeant: Was their Conflict About Race?

We're up to the point where both Samson Occom and John Sergeant [Jr.] had received legitimate calls to minister to the Stockbridge Mohicans at New Stockbridge, New York. It is rather well known that the two ministers eventually clashed. For that reason, I made it a point in my previous post to emphasize that they got along well for many years. It should also be noted that the two men of the cloth co-led a number of worship services together when the Stockbridges were getting settled in New York State.

Some have said that Occom and Sergeant came into conflict over racial issues. It is possible that Occom resented Sergeant for the advantages he had. It is true that Sergeant was a white minister and was paid like a white minister and Occom was an Indian minister that was seldom paid at all by church bodies. Nowadays we wouldn't blame a minority for raising Cain over that kind of inequality.

But in my mind Samson Occom was too "big" a person to get dragged into the kind of jealousy that would hurt his ministry. I think that Occom was wise enough to choose his battles. And, given what I know about John Sergeant compared to the other white people of his time, I just don't buy the argument that the two ministers had a falling out over the issue of race.

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