Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History March 1

Building Committee Organized in Houston March 2, 1842

On The sixth anniversary of the Texas Declaration of Independence Robert Alexander, Presiding Elder of the Galveston District of the Texas Conference, held a quarterly conference in Houston. One business item at that conference was the appointment of a building committee. Charles Shearn chaired that committee, and exactly one year later, March 2, 1837, the cornerstone for the first (later First) Methodist Church in Houston was laid.

Charles Shearn had been born in Bath, England, in 1794 and immigrated to Texas in time to participate in the Texas Revolution. He was captured by General Urrea’s forces, but his British citizenship saved him. Mexico did not wish to anger Britain by killing one of its subjects. Shearn moved to Houston in 1837 and became active in the civic and commercial activity of the young city. He was a staunch Methodist and served as financial agent for the Texas Christian Advocate. He also served as Chief Justice (county judge) of Harris County for six years.

Shearn was recognized as the leader of the Methodist church in Houston so that the church was named in his honor until 1910 when was renamed on the occasion of its moving into new building. Shearn died in 1871.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 22

John Addison Beats Presbyterian Preacher to Preaching Appointment Feb. 27, 1852

From John Addison’s diary after he had been appointed to the “Lavacca Circuit”

Feb. 27 Today I preached at Cuero. There was a little circumstance that made me feel bad. It was this: An old school Presbyterian preacher during last week had made an appointment at this time and place, tho’ my appointment had been outstanding for four weeks, but it seems he did not know it. When he stepped in at the door, I was standing up reading hymns. He stood for one moment like he was thunderstruck, then too a seat, and I preached

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 15

Henderson Palmer Dies February 17, 1869

On February 17, 1869 the Rev. Henderson Palmer (b. 1812), the first known Methodist preacher to be licensed in Texas died. (See entry for July 2, 2006) Palmer had come to the Republic of Texas from Alabama and taught school. On July 7, 1838, Littleton Fowler licensed him to preach at Box’s Fort. He joined the Mississippi Conference in 1839 and continued in the itinerant ministry until his superannuation in 1866. His career took him over much of East Texas. Methodists in both Rusk and Huntsville honor him as the founding pastor of their churches.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 8

Joint Memorial Service Held at Travis Park Church, San Antonio, Feb. 8, 1885

A memorial service in honor of conference members and spouses who have died since the last conference is a standard part of United Methodist annual conference. In the winter of 1884-85, the West Texas Conference (today the Southwest Texas Conference) lost four of its beloved saints in the months immediately after annual conference so it decided not to wait. It held a memorial service at Travis Park Methodist Church in San Antonio on Sunday night, February 8, 1885.

The deceased preachers were all giants of the church. Francis Asbury Mood (b. 1830), though not a member of the West Texas Conference, was well known to the preachers because of his presidency of Southwestern University. He had died the previous Nov. 12. O. A. Fisher (b. 1831) had also died. Fisher had served as presiding elder of the Corpus Christi, Victoria, San Marcos, and San Antonio Districts. He was the son of Orceneth Fisher and the father of Sterling Fisher. They made up one of the most historic preacher families in Texas Methodist history. William H. Seat (b. 1824) had been a member of the Memphis and Mississippi Conferences before transferring to the Texas Conference. He was an agent for Soule University.

The fourth preacher to be honored was John Wesley DeVilbiss (b. 1818) who had been one of Fowler’s recruits from the Ohio Conference in 1842. After coming to Texas, he served in practically every possible capacity including Bible agent, Southwestern University Agent, presiding elder, General Conference delegate, professor, etc. He is often credited for preaching the first Protestant sermon in San Antonio. He died at his retirement home on the Medina River on Jan. 31.

The speakers at the memorial service included Homer Thrall who had also come to Texas as one of Fowler’s recruits from Ohio and who was an intimate friend of all four of the men. E. B. Chappell, pastor of the Travis Park church and also a member of a historic Methodist preaching family also spoke (Chappell later became Sunday School editor for the MECS). A third eulogist was David Coulson who had held the revival meeting in Illinois in 1836 at which O. A. Fisher, his brother and two sisters were received into church membership.