Saturday, July 21, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 22

“Brother Bill” Wallace Spurs Epworth League Competition, July 1919, 1920

As one examines artifacts preserved in conference and local church archives, one is struck with the number of loving cups, trophies, and banners dating from the 1900 to 1930 period. Typical inscriptions include “Greatest Increase in Sunday School Attendance, 1922,” or “Blue Ribbon League Chapter, 1915.’ These artifacts, often tarnished and moth-eaten, are testimony to prevalence of friendly rivalry and spirited contests that existed among Methodist churches in that era. Local church competition in fund raising has already been noted. (See post for May 20, 2007.) The two main arenas for competition were the Epworth Leagues and Sunday Schools. Both organizations exercised considerable autonomy and provided leadership opportunities for young persons. Improvements in transportation helped make robust organization possible at the state, conference, district, and county levels. Organizers at all of those levels would organize contests to see who could bring the most attendees and award prizes to the winners.

Youthful optimism and a competitive spirit resulted in such challenges as that issued by “Brother Bill” Wallace, State Epworth League President, 1919, and assistant pastor at Wichita Falls When the dust clears, Wichita Falls will be in the saddle and carrying the honors off in her pocket. (TCA Mar. 13, 1919) On July 24 Wallace followed up with We are going to let you hear from the best league in the best district in the best conference in the best state in the best church in the world. . .

Wallace was appointed to Paris at annual conference and immediately issued a challenge to his former church. (Note in 1920 Paris reported 1634 members and Wichita Falls 1313, both in the top ten membership churches in the North Texas Conference.) Wichita Falls was able to withstand the challenge from Paris so that in the July 22 TCA Wallace wrote, What in the world did we want with honors?

Readers are invited to post images of such loving cups and banners as they may have in their archives.

Acknowledgement: Much of the information in the post is taken from Walter Vernon’s Methodism Moves Across North Texas.


Post a Comment

<< Home