Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 18

Chauncey Richardson Reports on Tour of Galveston District November 22, 1846

The main duty of presiding elders in the 19th century was to visit all appointments in his district four times per year and hold quarterly conferences. In addition to his duties as President of Rutersville College, Chauncey Richardson was also Presiding Elder of the Rutersville District. That district comprised an area roughly bounded by the Colorado River settlements from Austin to Egypt on the east to San Antonio, Victoria, Goliad, and Gonzales on the south and west.

Even with those two responsibilities, in the fall of 1846 Richardson toured the Galveston District presided over by Robert Alexander. Having two presiding elders at a quarterly conference was fairly common.

When he returned to his home in Rutersville, Richardson wrote a report of his tour to Missionary Society. Earlier that year the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South had approved a resolution to send $1000 each to the two annual conferences in Texas. Richardson was reporting on the success of the missions.

Richardson focused on the two pastors, Henry Young (originally Heinrich Jung) and Charles Rottenstein, who was missionaries to the Germans. Young had been able to organize a church in Galveston that reported twenty members and a nearly-complete chapel. The next year the Galveston German Mission reported sixty members. Rottenstein reported less success

. . .the prospect of extensive usefulness , in some of the German settlements, is not as flattering as he anticipated before he visited them. The fluctuating condition of some of them is unfavorable to missionary operations.

Richardson then thanked the Missionary Society for its aid and informed them that aid would continue to necessary.

The aid extended to the Texas Conference by the mission society, pursuant to the recommendation of the General Conference was very timely, and failed not to meet a most grateful response in the hearts of the faithful missionaries in this interesting and promising mission field. The appropriation was greatly needed, and afforded special relief to many. Similar aid must be extended this conference for a few years longer, or some of our most useful men will be compelled to retire from itinerant work, and devote themselves to some business which will secure a comfortable support for their families.

This entire state should be considered missionary ground, in part at least, for a short period. Foreign aid is essential to the successful prosecution of our work, in extending our labors to the unoccupied sections of this country. There are numerous neighborhoods entirely unsupplied with the means of grace. I have seen children grown who have never heard a sermon. . .


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