Friday, October 03, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 5

East Texas Conference Agrees to Break Off Northern Portion to Form New Conference October 10, 1866

Previous columns have lifted up the importance of the MECS General Conference of 1866. Delegates to the Conference, held at New Orleans, convened with a full agenda. The General Conference of 1862 had been cancelled. The bishops were eight years older and more infirm. African American Methodists were leaving the MECS wholesale. Most institutions had not survived the Civil War. Revenues for missions, salaries, publishing, etc. were next to nothing. In spite of these problems, the General Conference found time to authorize the Texas and East Texas Conferences to divide so as to form new annual conferences.

So it was, that the East Texas Conference, meeting in Marshall, assembled on October 10, 1866. The General Conference authorized, but did not mandate, the division of the East Texas Conference. Eventually the conference did vote to divide so as to create a new conference. That conference was first named the Trinity Conference. After one quadrennium it became the North Texas Conference.

Enoch Marvin was the presiding bishop at the 1866 annual conference. Marvin was a Missourian who had come to Marshall during the Civil War and was appointed to Marshall Station. He had been elected at New Orleans while still en route the previous April. After his election, he returned to the Marshall pulpit and served until the first of August. He then established residence in St. Louis and began his first round of annual conferences. His first conference was the Indian Mission Conference. He then came back to Marshall—the city that had been his home for five years, to the church he had served to hold his second annual conference.

The North Texas Conference thrived. North Texas boomed at it was connected to the rest of the United States by rail. The conference quickly established itself as one of the largest in the MECS. The East Texas Conference did not prosper. In 1902 it rejoined the Texas Conference from which it had been split in 1844.


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