Sunday, September 17, 2006

This Week In Texas Methodist History--September 17

Bishop Seth Ward dies in Kobe, Japan, September 20, 1909

Seth Ward, the first native Texan to have been elected a Methodist bishop died in Kobe, Japan, on September 20, 1909. Ward had been born in Leon County and ordained in 1881. He served successively on the Corsicana Circuit, Centerville, Kosse, Calvert, Galveston-St. James's, Huntsville, Houston Circuit, and Shearn (now First) in Houston.

Among his accomplishments was combining St. James's and St. John's after the storm of 1900 to create Galveston First (now Moody Memorial UMC). He was also secretary of the Texas Conference for eleven years (1891-1901). He also served as assistant mission secretary of the General Conference of the MECS. We was elected bishop of the MECS in 1906.

Bishops of the era presided over several conferences and undertook difficult journeys to do so. It was the custom to assign newly elected bishops to the mission conferences. Presumably they were younger and therefore better able to deal with the rigors of travel. Bishop Ward was twice assigned to the East Asia mission conferences of Japan, Korea, and China. He died in Kobe on his second episcopal tour of East Asia while only 50 years old and in his first quadrennium. His body was returned to Houston for burial. His memory was honored by naming a church in Austin and a college in Plainview for him.


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