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.


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