Sunday, August 27, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 27

Ira Key Boasts of Empty Jail in Conroe Sept. 2, 1915

Ira Key was one of the outstanding young preachers of the Texas Conference in the early 20th century. He was born in 1886, graduated from Southwestern University, and joined the Texas Conference. His appointments to Harleton Circuit, Alvin, McKee Street in Houston, and Conroe all before he was thirty years old marked him as one of the rising stars of the conference.

While in Conroe Key threw himself into the political battle in which the "wets" attempted to overturn the results of a "dry" election two years earlier. Key wrote to the Texas Christian Advocate

Conroe has experienced a complete change of front morally in the past three years. Before the prohibition election this town was considered one of the worst in this section. . . It was actually dangerous for women to be on the street. Drunkenness and fighting were the commonest sight. For two years after the saloons were put out there was not more than half a dozen arrests for drunkenness. . . The jail for the first time in this history of this old county, was thrown open without a single prisoner.

Key continued to serve with distinction after Conroe. His other appointments included some of the leading churches of the state including Marvin in Tyler, Temple in Port Arthur, Polk Street in Amarillo, Cameron, and First Texarkana (Arkansas). He also served as delegate to the 1930 and 1934 General Conferences and was Presiding Elder of the Galveston and Marshall Districts. He died in 1943 while serving Bryan and was buried there.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 20

Preachers Bind Themselves in Covenant Group--August 24, 1840

This week's column is presented without commentary.

Resolutions & Promises Made by Daniel Carl, Nathan Shook, and John Wollam
for Purposes Herein Mentioned

August 24, 1840

That we may live as becomes us as Preachers of the Gospel and be preserved from the maney evils to which we are exposed as Methodist Travelling Preachers we have resolved and pledged to God and ourselves that we will endeavor to love as Brothers and watch over each other for good while in each other's company and tell each other plainly and honestly of all the faults we may see in each other. (2) We will fast as health may permit every Friday and pray especially for each other. (3d) We will pray in the families we may visit & say something to them about the salvation of their souls that is when we may be with each other or not in company with other Preachers. (4)We will enquire after each other & when ever we hear of aney thing in which our interested and happiness in this world or Eternity may be affected occurring either by our own actions or others we will communicate as soon as possible, cautioning, warning, &c, as the case may be to remind us of our vows, (5) We will attend and pray for the blessing of God on each other's labours when together and endeavor to act as though we are brothers in the flesh and when God shall raise up others and thrust out others in Texas into itinterant ranks we will endeavor as soon as possible to unite them with us in our resolutions, Promises and Practives.

(signatures) Daniel Carl, J. C. Woolam, Nathan Shook, J. H. Collard, H. D. Palmer, Robert Crawford

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 13

Texas Conference Epworth League Founded at Brenham, August 15, 1894

The last years of the 19th century saw an increased interest in young people. The founding of the YMCA and YWCA and the founding of many colleges during the period were but two of the manifestations. Methodism's expression was the founding of a young person's organization. In August, 1890 the Texas Christian Advocate contained a list of names that had been proposed for the organization. Old Foundry League Wesley Yokefellows, Oxford League, Lady Huntingdon Helpers, Lookers for Jesus, Moorfield Gleaners, Asbury Wesleyans, and Wesley and Coke League were some of the rejected names. Another name that recalled Methodism's English origins was chosen, the Epworth League.

The North Texas Conference was the first of the MECS Texas conferences to organize an Epworth League when it did so on August 30, 1893. The Texas Conference followed on August 15, 1894 in Brenham.

Although many modern Methodists would consider the Epworth League to be a predecessor of the UMYF, there were important differences. The first was the definition of youth. The League had both junior and senior chapters. The senior chapters had many members in their early 30's. Another difference was in the degree of autonomy. Although it related to the denomination through the Sunday School Board, the League was hardly an organ of that body. The Texas State League hired its own employees, owned title to property independent of conference trustees, and planned and carried out its own programs. Its most striking accomplishments included the purchase of an encampment on the Texas coast, Epworth-by-the-Sea, and staging impressing state conventions. Attendance at the annual state conventions regularly ran into the thousands. After one such convention in San Antonio, Leaguers boarded chartered rail cars to visit Holding Institute in Laredo and proceed all the way to Monterrey to see mission activities first hand.

The Epworth League proved to be a great training ground for church leaders of the mid-twentieth century. It was one of the few church organizations in which people in their 20's could assume positions of real responsibility relatively independent of the "old guard." The state organization helped forge friendships across conference boundaries. Attendance at national League events provided at least some young Texans with their first experience in racially integrated events.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

This Week In Texas Methodist History August 6

Nathan Shook Reports on Lake Soda Circuit Aug. 6,1841

Nathan Shook was admitted on trial at the first session of the Texas Conference in December, 1840. He was appointed to the northernmost circuit in the conference, Lake Soda in Harrison County. (Charges north of Big Cypress Bayou was part of the Arkansas Conference.) Halfway through his first year he sent a progress report to his presiding elder, Littleton Fowler of the San Augustine District.

Dear Brother, I ceize the present opportunity of writing you. I am well & am doing the best I can by the assistance of heaven. The Good Lord is powering out his spirit upon us. Many have joined the church and some found peace and others enquiring afer the way of life. Have had some good meetings. I have had this year as last to hold some 2 day meetings alone but not alone neither for the great Law giver & head of the church has been with me. 19 professed religion at one 3 day meeting, and 12 joined the church. . . .to God be the glory.

Prospects are good all round the circuit tho the Devil is busy all the while. yet in the worst part of the circuit they intend to have campmeetings. . . .

Shook served other appointments including Clarksville and Shelbyville and located in 1847.