Saturday, November 01, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 2

Political Excitement Saves Godbey from Delivering Sermon, Nov. 6, 1884

The Rev. J. E. Godbey was saved from delivering a sermon on church extension by Waco residents celebrating the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884.

Godbey, editor of the Southwestern Methodist (St. Louis),was in Texas to report on the annual conferences. He arrived in Waco, site of the Northwest Texas Annual Conference, exhausted from his day and one-half on the railroad and wanted nothing more than to check into his hotel and rest. As soon as he checked in, conference members came and begged him to talk about church extension since the speaker who had been assigned that topic failed to arrive. Godbey was extremely reluctant to undertake such a task but finally agreed with the provision that Horace Bishop and another preacher would share the pulpit duties.

Godbey began his sermon for the evening conference session of Thursday, November 6, but ten minutes into it, he was interrupted by fire bells and steam whistles. The din was so great that everyone in the church assumed all Waco was on fire. They rushed to the exits to see what was going on. They soon learned that the commotion was a celebration to mark the news that Grover Cleveland had been elected president.

The nation had been awaiting the results for 48 hours. Cleveland, the Democrat had beaten James Blaine, the Republican, 48.5% to 48.2%. The electoral vote margin was wider, 219-182. Democrats remembered the stolen Tilden-Hayes election just eight years earlier, and could not celebrate until they were certain of victory. From Godbey’s perspective, the 48 hour delay in announcing the winner was just right. It solved his problem of giving a sermon he really didn’t want to give.


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