Sunday, November 04, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 4

MEC and MECS Conferences Meet in Houston November 3-8, 1936

The 1934 Centennial Celebration of Texas Methodism held in San Antonio was not an isolated event. It was, in fact, part of an interest in Texas Methodist history that extended over several years. 1936 was particularly important as the annual conferences met in Houston. First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First Christian, First Methodist, and St. Paul’s Methodist provided facilities for the conferences. The City Auditorium accommodated the combined Conferences. Delegates were able to make special excursions to the San Jacinto Battlefield where construction of the San Jacinto Monument had just begun. The design of the Monument had been suggested by Jesse H. Jones, head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and a lay member of St. Paul’s in Houston.

The 1936 Texas Annual Conference must have set the record in number of gavels presented to Bishop A. Frank Smith. J. E. Buttrill gave him one made from a sill taken from Seth Ward’s home. Charles Smith gave him one made from wood from a yard tree of pioneer preacher Robert Rankin. Olin Nail of the West Texas Conference then presented a gavel made from wood from a tree under which William Stevenson may have preached near Davenport.

Special recognition was given to Robert Alexander’s daughter and granddaughters, Fannie Campbell, Anne and Francis Lide and Mrs. Earl Sweeney. Littleton Fowler’s granddaughter, Laura Woolworth Fowler was also recognized.

The Conference also dealt with historic preservation. A. J. Weeks (Advocate editor), Ed Harris (Galveston District), and J. W. Mills (First Beaumont) introduced a resolution calling on the annual conferences in Texas to raise $20,000 for improvements at McMahan’s Chapel.

The reading of appointments, the last business item of a Methodist annual conference, was like no other in Texas history. It was conducted in the City Auditorium. Bishop Boaz read the Central Texas, North West Texas, and West Texas appointments. Bishop Smith read the North Texas and Texas Conference appointments. Bishop Charles Meade of the MEC read the Southern Conference appointments. The Northern and Southern branches of the church were united by their common devotion to Texas history.


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