Sunday, October 08, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History--October 8

Bishop Marvin Opens East Texas Conference-October 10, 1866

On October 10, 1866 Bishop Enoch Marvin convened the East Texas Conference in the church he had been serving as pastor only a few months before. Marvin, a member of the St. Louis Conference, had come to Marshall during the Civil War. He had been elected bishop at the 1866 General Conference in New Orleans and assigned to hold the western conferences. Only three weeks earlier he had presided over the Indian Mission Conference.

One of the business items before the conference had been thrust upon it by the General Confernce. That body had authorized, but not ordered, the East Texas Conference to divide and therefore create another annual conference. Naturally the conference named a committee to study the issue. The East Texas Conference embraced a huge territory in nine districts (San Augustine, Marshall, Jeffereson, Paris, Kaufman, Dallas, Sherman, Palestine, and Crockett) At one end was Orange in the Crockett District. At the other was Gainesville in the Sherman District.

The committee on division submitted both a majority and minority report. The majority recommended maintaining the status quo, but the minority report was adopted by the conference. Basically the four southern districts (San Augustine, Palestine, Marshall, and Crockett) would retain the name "East Texas Conference," and the northern districts would become a new conference, the "Trinity Conference."

One year later, on October 9, 1867 preachers from the northern districts plus a few lay delegates (probably the first lay delegates to any annual conference in Texas) met in Sulphur Springs and organized the the Trinity Conference. At the next General Conference in 1870 it was renamed North Texas Conference.


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