Saturday, May 19, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 20

Methodists Unite in Centenary Campaign for Missions May 18-25, 1919

The MEC, MECS, and CME denominations celebrated the centennial of the first Methodist mission in 1819 with a joint campaign for missions that included the solicitation of pledges from May 18 to May 25, 1919. Each of the denominations prepared literature, trained speakers, organized rallies, assigned leaders at the conference, district, and church level. Special appeals targeted women, children, and Sunday School classes. President Wilson added his endorsement as did Alvin York. The appeal was monumental in its ambition. The Centennial Campaign designated seven mission fields plus church extension and African American colleges as the recepients for the funds to be raised. Those mission fields were Africa, Latin America, Asia, War-devastated Europe, Appalachia, Native Americans, and northern industrial workers..

The MECS conferences in Texas reported the following pledges which contributed to the eventual total of $50,000,000 the denomination pledged.
Texas $1,200,000
North Texas $1,215,537
Central Texas $1,318,000
West Texas $779,099
New Mexico, $208,000
North West Texas $416,000

The Centenary Bulletin, official organ of the campaign, sponsored a contest in which churches were invited to telegraph the Bulletin when the church’s quota had been subscribed. The first church in each conference to meet its quota would receive a banner. All over the South Methodists stayed up late on Saturday, the 17th of May so they could solicit pledges at midnight. Here are excerpts from some of the telegrams the Bulletin received.

“Marfa church subscribes on Centenary $63,750.00. That is one thousand percent of our quota.” (pastor’s salary was $700)
“First Church Texarkana, went over the top in a whirlwind drive of three hours.’
“First Church Dallas, reports at one minute after twelve o’clock, May 18th. Pledges taken at twelve are twenty-five percent in excess of quota. . .every member will be interviewed today. Great enthusiasm.”
The Mexican church in El Paso went over the top the first day of the campaign, raising $7,315.00 on a quota of only $1,315.00. . . .in a special service at the Sunday school the Mexican children in costume presented a pageant of our seven mission fields . . .It was an hour of great power. Not only was the quota exceeded by 500 per cent, but thirty young Mexicans publicly offered themselves for the ministry and missionary work.”
‘Kelly Memorial, Longview—since 12 o’clock, has canvassed every member in city and reports over the top at two-thirty and takes the banner for the first complete report for the Texas Conference.”