Sunday, December 02, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 2

Bishop Keener opens West Texas Conference in Gonzales. Three Spanish Speaking Preachers admitted--December 2, 1874.

Alejo Hernandez’s transfer to the Mexico City Mission (see column for Sept. 23, 2007) did not mean an end to evangelistic efforts directed toward Spanish speaking Texans. Bishop John C. Keener, who often presided over the West Texas Conference, was particularly interested in expanding the number of Spanish speaking congregations. When Keener presided over the West Texas Conference of 1874, he admitted Doroteo Garcia, Felipe Cordova, and Fermin Vidaurri. Bishop Keener’s hopes were fulfilled. The number of Spanish speaking churches increased in the 1870’s. They were placed in a Mexican Mission District with A. H. Sutherland of Laredo as Presiding Elder. The use of a separate linguistic district was also used for German and Swedish speaking Texans. In all three cases, German, Spanish, and Swedish, the linguistic district eventually evolved into its own annual conference.

In 1878 Keener once again presided over the West Texas Conference. Here are the appointments for the Mexican Mission District.

San Antonio Mission----Crecencio Rodriguez
Lodi and Medina Mission ----Alejandro DeLeon
Bandera Mission---------Jose Polycarpo Rodriguez
Corpus Christi Mission---James (Santiago) Tafolla
San Diego and Presenos—Trinidad Armindarez
Conception Mission---Doroteo Garcia
Hidalgo Mission-------Cruz Martinez
Rio Grande City and Roma—Metilde Trevino
Mier and Carmargo—Gumercindo Paz
Laredo—Joseph Norwood and J. M. Cassanova
Eagle Pass---Josue Acosta
Brackettville—Roman Palomares

The twelve appointments in the Mexican Mission District made it the largest district in terms of both area and number of appointments. (The other districts were San Marcos, San Antonio, Texana, and Corpus Christi.) The vigorous expansion of the Mexican Mission District gave conference members confidence that it could support a school. They passed the following resolution:

In view of the present great necessity for Christian education in our Mexican Mission District, your committee would earnestly recommend that the Conference respectfully request the appointing power to take such steps as are necessary for the establishment of a Mexican and American High School at some point on the Rio Grande as soon as possible.

That resolution was the enabling act that led to the founding of Laredo Seminary in 1880. The Seminary was later renamed Holding Institute. ( see column for Oct. 15, 2006)


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