Sunday, September 23, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History September 23

Alejo Hernandez Dies in Corpus Christi September 27, 1875

The brief ministry of Alejo Hernandez, the first person of Mexican descent to be ordained by the Methodist Church, came to an end on September 27, 1875. The Rev. Hernandez had been ordained by Bishop Marvin at the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South on December 24, 1871 as it met in Leesburg. Here is the way Bishop Marvin described the event

. . .Our brother Hernandez is an educated Mexican, brought by strange providences to the knowledge of God, and by equally strange providences brought into our Church after his conversion. Few cases on record illustrate more impressively the grace of God.

He is held by our brethren, both lay and clerical, who have had large experience with Mexican, to be a man of singular good sense and poise of character. . . .. His education is good.. . His reading has been extensive and well directed since he embraced religion, and his doctrinal views are sound. . .

He is anxious to be ordained both deacon and elder. Our Quarterly Conference, fully persuaded of his piety, discretion, education, and love did not hesitate to commend his to the Conference for both orders.

Hernandez was ordained deacon one day and elder the next. When the appointments were read, the Rev. Hernandez was appointed to the Mexican Mission in Laredo. He briefly served that appointment then went to Mexico to marry. At the 1872 West Texas Conference he was appointed to the Mexican Mission in Corpus Christi. That ministry was also brief. Bishop Keener was enthusiastic about a Mexico City mission and took Hernandez there to establish it.

A debilitating stoke ended his ministry there. In a greatly enfeebled state he managed to return to Corpus Christi where he died on September 27, 1875. He was thirty-three years old.

On December 16, 2006, Bishop Joel Martinez led celebrants in a dedication ceremony marking the 135th anniversary of the ordination of Alejo Hernandez. Hernandez's contribution to Texas Methodist history is best summarized by the Rev. Alfredo Nanez

The ministry of Alejo Hernandez was very brief. In Texas it consisted of a few months at best and in Mexico a little over a year; yet it was of great significance because it dramatized in a very clear way both to the West Texas Conference and to the Church in general the spiritual needs of the Spanish border.


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