Saturday, August 30, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 31

Second Caney Creek Camp Meeting August 3-5 1835

One year after the first camp meeting in “Western Texas” (see post for September 2, 2006), John Wesley Kenney, William Medford, and William Smith organized a second one in the same neighborhood (on a tributary of Caney Creek in present day Austin County). The 1835 camp meeting convened on Thursday September 3. Several participants later published their memories of the event. Here is the Rev. William P. Smith’s as he remembered it in 1850

Pleasant Grove, Fayette County, Texas,
October 26th, 1850.
Dear Brother Richardson:
By whom the camp-meeting, which was commenced on
Thursday, the 3d of September, 1835, on Caney, a tributary
of the Brazos river, Austin county, Texas, was appointed —
the writer of this article has no perfect recollection : but
presumes, by the Rev. John W. Kenney, from the fact, that
being a learned, able and zealous divine he had effected
much, not only through the influence of his eloquent discourses,
but emphatically by his "upright walk and godly
conversation" towards promoting vital godliness in these
southern wilds, on a general scale: but towards the establishment
of Methodism especially. The writer, who at that
time resided in the town of Washington, and divided his
time between the practice of medicine and preaching the
gospel after a ride of some twenty miles, arrived on Friday
evening at the camp meeting, and found it in progress.
On Saturday, a request was announced from the stand,
soliciting the Methodists present, who had filled official
stations in the church, in the states from which they had
emigrated (as we had yet no organized church here) to
convene at three o'clock, p. m., at a certain designated grove,
already consecrated by the spreading boughs of the forest
trees. A scene is now before us, long to be remembered in
the history of Methodism in Texas. At the second camp-
meeting ever held in the Province, the first Quarterly Conference,
for the Methodist Episcopal church, is about to be
At the appointed time, the following official members
attended: John W. Kenney, L. E., William P. Smith, L. E.,
William Medford, L. E., David Ayres, R. S., Alexander
Thompson, S., James Stevenson, S. and L., John Atkinson,
L. After a period of solemn prayer for the abrogation of
Catholicism, the grand spread of the pure principles of
gospel, and the advancement of the Redeemer's Kingdom
in these ends of the earth; accompanied by the blessings of
civil and religious liberty. Bro. Alexander Thompson was
called to the chair, and David Ayres appointed Secretary.
As this conference had to act ab initio, after mature deliberation,
as to the most approved modus operandi, the following
resolutions were adopted:
On motion of Bro. Kenney,
Resolved, that this committee be instructed to earnestly
request the Missionary Society of the M. E. Church in
the United States of America, to send us two efficient
ministers, who shall be authorized to organize societies
and administer the ordinances.
On motion of Bro. Kenney,
Resolved, that the ministers of this conference be requested
to present the names of all who join in society, to
our next Quarterly Conference.
Adjourned to meet at the house of Bro. Sam'l Gates,
on Saturday, the 24th of October next.
DAVID AYRES, Secretary

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 24

“All Star” Preachers Participate in Holiness Revival at Waco, August 1894

By 1894 the Holiness Movement had generated a great deal of momentum and was shaking up the MECS establishment. One of the areas of controversy was the role of travelling evangelists. The ease of railroad transport made it possible for gifted preachers to decline an appointment in a local church and earn a comfortable living preaching at revivals. The question of how such persons would relate to their annual conferences posed some interesting problems. One solution was simply to locate. Another was to be appointed to the position of “conference evangelist.” At least some station preachers did not welcome such travelling evangelists. The evangelist, for example, might come to town, whip the laity into a frenzy with Holiness doctrines not shared by the station preacher, and then move on leaving the station preacher to deal with any doctrinal disputes that had arisen.

The 1894 General Conference came down on the side of the station preachers. It passed a rule requiring the station preacher’s permission before a travelling evangelist in connection with the MECS could hold a revival in the city. Naturally some evangelists could not submit to such a rule and left the connection.

The following description of the August 1894 Holiness Camp Meeting at Waco is from the pen of J. P. Musset, via Macum Phelan (II). The passage emphasizes the dual nature of Holiness revivals—to bring sinners to repentance and to bring converted persons to Entire Sanctification (Second Blessing). The line up of preachers is one of the most distinguished ever to grace the preaching platform of a revival in Texas.

This camp meeting, embracing the East Waco and 10th
Street charge, has had the largest attendance it ever had.
I never saw as many campers at one camp meeting. They
held seven services a day, and the display of Divine power
was truly marvellous. Sinners were converted and believers
were sanctified at the same altar. Some would shout and
praise God for the pardon of actual transgressions and
others would praise God for cleansing them from inbred sin
and the sanctification of their souls. Drs. Carradine (Rev. Beverly Carradine 1848-1931, “The Prince of the Holiness Preachers”) and
Morrison and Dodge did most of the preaching. Bishop Jo-
seph S. Key and his son Howard, from Tennessee, were with
us two days. He preached Sunday at 11 a. m. from Psalm
23. A number of preachers from different parts of the state
were present, some of whom experienced entire sanctifica-
tion. Rev. W. F. Lloyd, newly elected president of Poly-
technic College, was with us and preached. Also Rev. R. C.
Armstrong, presiding elder of the Waco district.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 17

This Week in Texas Methodist History is on vacation so we will report on our summer reading.

Atticus Greene Haygood: Methodist Bishop, Editor, and Educator, Harold W. Mann, University of Georgia Press, 1965.

This summer’s reading list is headed by a first rate biography of a less than first rate bishop. The subject is Bishop Atticus Green Haygood (1839-1896) whose short, miserable stint as bishop receives only five pages of a 210 page biography.

Mann’s biography interweaves Haygood’s life story into the larger story of MECS history of the middle 19th century. He presents Haygood as an exemplar of the New South movement made famous by Atlanta journalist Henry Grady. New South advocates argued that the southern states should not look backwards to their Confederate past, but should accept emancipation as an opportunity to create an industrial economy which included educated African Americans.

Haygood is presented as a man who bridged the divide between the Old South and the New South. On the one hand, he was a contact man who connected northern philanthropists and southern colleges, both white and African American. He wrote persuasively in the cause of black colleges, but retained the good will of white southerners. His mentor, Bishop George Pierce was the leader of the reactionary faction in the MECS, but Haygood was able deftly to reconcile his friendship with Pierce with his advancement of progressive causes. Haygood lamented over the lack of discipline among MECS members as the balance of power in the MECS changed from villages to cities such as Atlanta. City Methodists embraced activities formerly off limits such as theaters, circuses, and dances. They also adopted northern models of church architecture and installed organs. Haygood also opposed the Holiness Movement which he believed to be undermining church discipline.

Haygood’s career included stints at the publishing house in Nashville and as president of Emory College. Mann provides valuable insights into both of those scenes.

Haygood was elected bishop at the General Conference of 1882. He declined the position because he had just begun work for the Slater Fund which distributed money to African American colleges. He was also elected in 1890 and moved to California where he supervised the two conferences there and also MECS work in Mexico. It was in Mexico City that he contracted dengue fever. His medicinal use of alcohol resulted in pathetic alcoholism. He moved back to Georgia where he lived out a few more miserable years. He died in 1896.

Perhaps Haygood’s greatest impact on Texas Methodist history was his editorship of Sunday School materials. His tenure at the publishing house coincided with the growing Sunday School movement. Haygood provided curricular materials for the children’s Sunday School that were far superior to what had gone before.
Another Texas connection was his friendship with John W. Heidt, his Emory classmate with whom he maintained a life long friendship. Heidt was Regent of Southwestern University. While at Emory Haygood embraced helping halls, dormitories where deserving students could live inexpensively. Soon after Heidt arrived at Southwestern, it began building helping halls. After Heidt returned to Atlanta, he assumed the pulpit of Trinity Methodist where Haygood had served 1865-66.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 10

First Issue of “New” Texas Christian Advocate, August 12, 1854

Texas Methodist publishing efforts in the 1840’s and 1850’s were characterized by fits and starts. Several preachers took their turn in the editor’s chair. When the Advocate relocated to Galveston in 1854, Methodists were hopeful that they had finally secured a sound financial base for the denominational organ.

The earliest Texas Methodist newspaper was published by the Brenham preacher, Robert B. Wells in 1847. This Texas Christian Advocate and Brenham Advertiser was short lived. Well’s father-in-law, Orceneth Fisher took over the paper and moved it to Houston as the Texas Christian Advocate. In September 1848 a group of preachers at a camp meeting at Rutersville devised a plan to make the paper a conference organ. The next session of the Texas Annual Conference adopted the paper and elected Chauncey Richardson editor. He renamed the paper the Texas Wesleyan Banner. In February 1849 Robert Alexander and Homer Thrall contracted with printers in Houston who assumed all aspects of the newspaper except for the editing. Editor Richardson was able to put out an issue in April 1849.

The paper enjoyed some success. The East Texas Conference added its sponsorship and the 1850 General Conference of the MECS included it among the authorized denominational newspapers. Unfortunately debts began to accumulate. Subscribers refused to pay. Richardson’s salary was a generous $800. Advertising income was spent almost immediately upon receipt.

When the contract with the printers ended, supporters decided to buy a press. Wealthy Methodists, especially Charles Shearn, underwrote a new start. They rented space in Houston and increased circulation to about 1500. Charles Shearn served without pay as financial officer. The debts continued to mount. Richardson resigned as editor when his pay was cut. Three months later he died of pneumonia at the age of fifty.

George Rottenstein succeeded Richardson as editor. He served through 1853 resigned, turned in his ministerial credentials and became an Episcopal priest. Thrall reports that the conference rejoiced at the resignation. The editorship was turned over to S. B. Cameron, a retired minister from Kentucky. He died six months after assuming the office. J. A. Hancock then became editor.

Plans were in the works to move the paper from Houston to Galveston. David Ayres, a prominent layman in Galveston bought a building on the Strand to house the enterprise. The General Conference of 1854 voted $5000 to subsidize the paper. (Only $1024 was received.)

The new editor, C. C. Gillespie, brought out the first issue of the “new” Texas Christian Advocate in August 1854. The Advocate prospered for the next few years. They added German language publications under Peter Moelling’s editorship and increased circulation and advertising revenue.

Civil War disruptions brought an end to this “golden age” of Methodist journalism. It was not until the 1880s and relocation to Dallas that the Advocate assumed the same importance it enjoyed in the 1850s.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 3

Emmanuel Domenech Says Houston Infested with Methodists and Ants, August 1848

A young French Roman Catholic missionary volunteer travelled through Houston during the first week of August 1848 on his way to his post among Roman Catholics near San Antonio. He was not impressed with the young city. His comment that Houston was “infested with Methodists and ants” has been widely cited in histories of Houston.

That oft quoted line is part of a vivid memoir of his Texas experience Missionary Adventures in Texas and Mexico.
Domenech also had little good to say about Methodist camp meetings. Here’s his observation

Of all the Methodist eccentricities which I witnessed, the most curious unquestionably was the camp meeting. This ludicrous custom leads to very great excesses. The sectaries assemble in a plain or a wood, and generally remain there for three days. . Their time is spent in listening to the sermons of their ministers, in singing psalms and reciting prayers. Women of a certain age get into melting moods, weep, and utter cries of anguish and repentance at the sight of their sins; sometimes they imagine that the Holy Ghost descends upon them, then, in their own words, they are happy, and impelled by a desire of making their brethren sharers in their happiness, they mount the platform and preach in their turn. Their words are intermingled with sobs and cries, and the assembly, already disposed to excitement by fasting and watching, thereby receive most profound impressions. . . .it is not unusual to see young girls preach, and with an air of inspiration and an extraordinary volubility of utterance, deliver the most impassioned discourses, until at length, they fall into paroxysms of nervous excitement, and into the most frightful convulsions.

Readers of the this column may find his comments on Methodist preachers amusing

. . .ministers. . .are as ignorant as their disciples. They embrace this life as one would enter the grocery business, without any formality whatever. Some of them have but a very limited knowledge of their duties and of the Bible, which is their only guide.