Saturday, April 25, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 26

Louisville Convention Opens May 1, 1845

Regular readers of this column will be aware of the momentous events of the MEC General Conference of 1844 which eventually resulted in the separation of the northern and southern branches of the denomination.

After the adjournment of the 1844 General Conference, most of the delegates from the southern conferences caucused and agreed to meet again in Louisville, Kentucky, one year hence to lay plans for the separation. The southern annual conferences that met in the winter of 1844-45 passed resolutions in support of the division. In addition the Texas Conference passed resolutions denouncing John Clark, a Texas Conference delegate to the 1844 General Conference for siding with the North. They also selected Robert Alexander to take Clark’s place at the Louisville Convention. Texas was thus represented in Louisville by Alexander and Littleton Fowler, the surviving missionaries who had come to Texas in 1837.

The Louisville Convention met May 1-16. Its most important action was issuing a call for a new General Conference to be held in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1846.

The East Texas Conference met in Marshall during the first week of February, 1846. It convened under a cloud of sadness. Littleton Fowler had died on Jan. 29. If he had lived, he surely would have been elected to the organizing General Conference at Petersburg. The East Texas Conference sent Francis Wilson instead.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 19

Memorial Service for Bishop Wiley Held at Wiley College April 19. 1885

On Sunday, April 19, 1885, the Wiley College community held a memorial service for the bishop for whom the institution was named. Bishop Willard Mallalieu delivered the main address.

A contemporary account described the event as follows

Services were also held in other cities and towns of
the United States, where the bishop was well known and
beloved, in honor of his memory. Many of these were of
the most interesting character. Those held at Wiley University, Marshall, Texas, occurred Sunday, April 19th.
They are of special interest in view of the bishop's connection with that institution. The large audience, consisting
principally of colored people, filled the chapel at an early
hour. The services opened by singing two verses of "Jesus,
lover of my soul." The ninety-first Psalm was then read
by Prof. N. Coleman, of the university, and prayer offered
by H. Webb, presiding elder of Marshall District.

After the singing of Hymn No. 638, President Clifford
stated the object of the services. Rev. F. Parker, a
student of the institution, read a paper on the relation
sustained by Bishop Wiley to the Freedmen's Aid Society.
Hymn No. 1038 was sung; after which R. H. Harbert, of the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, made a brief address. Hymn No. 991 was sung, and Bishop W. F. Mallalieu was introduced, who delivered the principal address.

Bishop Isaac Wiley died the previous November 22 in Foochow, China, where he had served from 1850 to 1854 as a medical missionary.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 12

Jose Policarpo Rodriguez Licensed to Preach April 14, 1877

The life of Jose Policarpo Rodriguez is so full of romance and adventure that it would make an exciting motion picture. “Polly” was born in Zaragoza, Mexico, in 1829. His family moved to San Antonio.. In 1849 Rodriguez signed on as scout for the expedition that was surveying the route between El Paso and San Antonio. His outstanding service on that expedition led to further scouting for the U. S. Army. In 1858 he bought a ranch in Bandera County.

Several months after his conversion to Methodism, he attended a quarterly conference at a private residence in Bandera. Although not yet a member of the Methodist Church, he asked for a license to preach. Rev. J. C. Walker, the presiding elder, asked, “Why, aren’t you the man who spends his time around the barrooms drinking and gambling? What do you want with a license to preach?”

Rodriguez replied, “I used to do that, but I have quit now.”

Walker asked Rodriguez to wait outside while the conference considered his request. It was granted, and he started his career as a Methodist preacher. In the fall of 1878 he was admitted on trial in the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The following year, Bishop Pierce ordained Policarpo Rodriguez a deacon. In due course he received his elder’s orders from Bishop Parker at Seguin.

Among his other accomplishments was building a church on his ranch. After he died in Poteet in 1914, he was buried near there at “Polly’s Chapel.”..

Monday, April 06, 2009

This Week In Texas Methodist History April 5

Brazos Presbytery Organized at Chriesman's Schoolhouse April 3-7, 1840

The Methodist Episcopal Church was not the first of the three largest Protestant denominations in the Republic of Texas to create its own Texan governance body. The "Old School" or "Regular" Presbyterians were the first to do so during the first week of April, 1840, just a few miles west of Independence in northern Washington County. The Baptists followed the next October at Travis, about 25 miles away at Travis in northern Austin County. Readers of the this column would already be familiar with the organization of the Texas Conference of the MEC at Rutersville in northern Fayette County on Dec. 25, 1840.

The Presbyterians chose the name Brazos Presybtery even though they claimed the entire Republic of Texas as their area of operation. The Presbyterian historian, William Red, says they used the name "Brazos" because the Cumberland Presbyterians had already organized their own Texas Presbytery in 1837. The Old School body was thus being deferential to their Cumberland brethren.