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.


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