Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History June 1

SMU Adopts Kidd-Key Alumnae June 4, 1938

One of the most interesting Texas Methodist educational institutions was Kidd-Key College and Music Conservatory located in Sherman. The institution, which began as the Sherman Male and Female High School, became the North Texas Female College in 1874. It failed in 1886. The North Texas Conference did not give up. Bishop C. B. Galloway recommended Lucy Ann Thornton Kidd as a proven educational leader who could revive the school. At the time Kidd was widowed and was directing Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Kidd was successful in breathing new life into the institution. Soon it was being advertised as North Texas Female College and Music Conservatory. In 1892 Kidd married Bishop Joseph S. Key.

The NTFC&MC’s heyday was the first decade of the 20th century. Its peak enrollment was 521. The curriculum was not the general classical liberal arts and sciences of the other Texas Methodist colleges. It was designed to educate young women to become genteel Southern ladies, in other words a Methodist finishing school. Music dominated the curriculum. The school boasted 120 high quality pianos and some of the best music educators of the era. Kidd-Key travelled extensively in Europe to recruit her conservatory faculty.

As demand for such education declined, so did the enrollment. President Kidd-Key died in 1916. In 1919 there was another name change, this time to Kidd-Key College and Conservatory. The college continued to decline during the 1920s and 1930s. During the 1930s Methodist support ceased, and the school closed. The property was sold to the city of Sherman for a municipal center in 1937. The college buildings no longer exist.

At a ceremony on June 4, 1938, the alumnae of Kidd-Key and its predecessor institutions were adopted by SMU. Alumnae were given new diplomas and membership in a special Alumnae and Ex Students Association. The archives of both the college and that association are deposited at DeGoyler Library at SMU.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

This Week in TExas Methodist History May 24

Ike Strickland Reports “Shouting Methodists” in Houston, May 27, 1839

In the winter of 1838/39 the Texan Mission got a boost with preachers recruited from the United States. Joseph Sneed, Ike Strickland, Abel Stevens, Jesse Hord, and Samuel Williams joined Littleton Fowler and Robert Alexander in the Mission. Ike Strickland was sent to help Jesse Hord whose circuit was enormous—basically Houston to Victoria, but concentrated in Fort Bend, Matagorda, Brazoria, and Wharton Counties—where most of the Methodist families lived.

On Monday, May 27, Ike Strickland reported to Fowler as head of the mission about the Sunday services in Houston. He had listened to the Presbyterian William Y. Allen in the morning and preached in the evening. Both preachers used the Capitol of the Republic of Texas as their preaching hall. Strickland reported “The Methodists have commenced shouting to the astonishment of all.”

In the first half of the 19th century Methodists were often called “Shouting Methodists.” Worship services were characterized by members of the congregation interjecting “Glory!”, “Amen!”, “Hallelujah!”, during the sermon. Many sources report that the shouts were accompanied by clapping.

The term “Methodist” had originally been intended as uncomplimentary, and so was the adjective “shouting.” In both cases, Methodists adopted the term and used it proudly. The following is from a 1807 hymnal.

The World, the Devil, and Tom Paine
Have tried their force, but all in vain.
They can't prevail, the reason is,
The Lord defends the Methodist.
They pray, they sing, they preach the best,
And do the Devil most molest.
If Satan had his vicious way,
He'd kill and damn them all today.
They are despised by Satan's train,
Because they shout and preach so plain.
I'm bound to march in endless bliss,
And die a shouting Methodist.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 17

First UMC Hempstead Dedicates THC Marker May 17, 2009

The Texas Historical Commission is the state agency charged with oversight of the states historical resources. One of their programs involves placing markers at important historical sites. Applicants work with the local county Historical Commission to determine whether the site is important and to formulate appropriate text.

On Sunday, May 17, 2009, First UMC, Hempstead, will dedicate a marker commerating 150 years of that congregation's service to its community.

Hempstead was founded in 1858 when the Houston and Texas Central Railway completed its tracks to that point. The new town boomed. The Civil War quickly followed, and Confederate officials established a prisoner of war camp nearby. Reconstruction was accompanied by Union soldiers, including George Custer, and the development of Hempstead as a merchandising center for the farms that soon filled up the Brazos bottomlands just to the west of the city. Later, in the 20th century, Hempstead became the largest shipper of watermelons in the United States. The melons were grown on the sandy uplands rather than the Brazos bottoms.

Besides the Methodist church, there were also Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Protestant Episcopal churches. There was also a Jewish synagogue. The large number of African Americans in the area attracted the attention of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African American Methodist denominations.

We salute Hempstead First United Methodist Church for its 150 years of service and for its obtaining a THC marker.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 10

Whipple and Addison Ridicule Episcopal Clergy in Bastrop May 11, 1853

Although Methodism grew out of the Church of England, early Texas Methodists had little use for the formalism they saw in the Episcopal Church. They desired an “experimental’ religion rather than ritual. In May, 1853, the Rev. J. W. Whipple graciously allowed visiting Episcopal Bishop George Washington Freeman (1789-1858) to take his place in the pulpit during a meeting in Bastrop. Freeman was Missionary Bishop of Arkansas and Indian Territory and Provisional Bishop of Texas.

What started as courtesy ended with insult. Bishop Freeman processed in a black robe accompanied by two priests in white robes. When Whipple and Rev. J. H. Addison saw that one of the accompanying priests was Charles Rottenstein, who had recently left the Methodist ranks to become an Episcopalian, it was more than they could stand. They laughed out loud at the sight of “our Charley” processing in a robe.

After the bishop’s benediction Whipple was so unsatisfied with the worship experience that he called on the congregation to remain so they could have a “real” worship service. Here’s the way Addison described it in a letter. (not edited for spelling or punctuation)

After he got done preaching he bowed and scraped and prayed, and pronounced the benediction and the Parsons had got down on their knees to pray the congregation out of the house. Whipple jumped up and told them we would have a prayer meeting and asked them to stay. I tell you the Bishop and his aids, or laqueys left in a hurry and Whipple commenced I never have heard him come out at plain in my life. He told them that he believed and preached heart-felt religion and that those who trusted to any thing else might be in the fix of those who demanded admittance into Heaven on the score of their having taught in his name and in his name done many wonderful works, they might receive the sentence, “I never knew you.” We then had a real Methodist prayer meeting and anoyed the Bishop and company no little with our noise, they being at Halls could hear us very plain.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 3

Joint Clergy Meeting in Houston May 8, 1837

The Republic of Texas attracted many pious, God fearing, honest immigrants who wanted nothing more than a chance to improve their lives. Unfortunately, it also attracted a number of criminals, rascals, and con artists. The muddy, bustling capital city of Houston became a magnet for such rogues. Some of the con artists presented themselves as preachers.

A few legitimate preachers met on May 8, 1837 to form an association that would police such claims. It was their intention to examine the credentials of men claiming to be preachers.

F. R. Lubbock later commented on this meeting in his Memoirs

In the general rush for Texas were included many preachers, whose lives in some instances did not tally with their profession. To guard against imposition on that line, a kind of preachers’ vigilance committee was organized at Houston during the first session of Congress in the town. Dr. R. Marsh and Z. Morrill, Baptists from Alabama, appeared to be the leaders in the movement. The other members were W. W. Hall, a Kentucky Presbyterian, and three Methodists, to wit, W. P. Smith of Tennessee, L. I. Allen of New York, and H. Matthews of Louisiana. This body pledged themselves to recognize as such no preacher coming into Texas from the United States of elsewhere unless he had with him a testimonial of good character.

Francis R. Lubbock, Six Decades in Texas or Memoirs, Austin, Ben C. Jones & Co., Printers, 1900.