Saturday, October 28, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History--October 29

A. Frank Smith Presides Over Texas Conference for First Time-October 31, 1934

When members of the Texas Annual Conference met in Nacogdoches on October 31, 1934, few could predict that their new bishop was beginning a remarkable string of conferences that would not end until his retirement in 1960.

Bishop A. Frank Smith had been elected bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South while serving as pastor of First Methodist Houston. The first assignment given him by the Episcopal Stationing Committee was the three conferences in Missouri and two in Oklahoma. There was no expectation in those days that the bishop should live in his episcopal area. The Smith family remained in Houston where they had lived since 1922. After the 1934 General Conference Smith was assigned to the Texas, North Texas, and the two Oklahoma conferences. He had been assigned to the area in which he already lived.

The 95th session of the Texas Annual Conference began at 7:30 p.m. with the Rev. W. B. Moon of Franklin presenting Bishop Smith with a gavel he had made. The congregation sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and Am I a Soldier of the Cross?. Psalm 122 was read responsively. The Rev. E. W. Solomon led the Conference in prayer. It was common conference practice of the day to conduct the ritual of infant baptism. Rev. and Mrs. John V. Berglund of Lufkin presented their child for baptism. A. Frank Smith's twenty-seven years of presiding over the Texas Conference had begun.


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