Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History June 21

Evangelical Church Youth Assemblies of the 1920’s-1950’s, Third Week of June

The Texas Conference of the Evangelical Church was organized at Temple on November 25, 1887. Four elders, one deacon, two probationers, two local elders, and one local deacon served churches in Galveston, San Antonio, Post Oak (near San Antonio), Denison-Sherman, Temple, and large Northwestern Circuit embracing preaching points in Archer, Clay, and Taylor Counties. The conference claimed 253 members.
The conference added new churches slowly. In the twentieth century clusters of Evangelical Churches existed around El Campo, Temple, Wichita Falls, Houston and San Antonio.
An important activitiy of the Texas Conference of the Evangelical Church was a youth camping program, usually held during the third week of June. The conference used a variety of facilities. Belton City Park was the site from 1925 to 1934 (except 1930 when no institute was held). Center Point Christian Church Camp Grounds hosted the event in 1935 and 1937-39. Camp Tejas near Houston was the site in 1940 and Camp Tahuaya near Belton in 1940-42.
After the war, the exception of 1946 when El Campo hosted the event, the Lutheran Camp at Round Rock became the usual location.
Meanwhile the denomination was undergoing significant changes. In 1946 the Evangelical Church merged with the United Brethren to become the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). That denomination merged with the Methodist Church in 1968 to become the United Methodist Church.
The Texas Conference of the EUB merged with the Oklahoma Conference in 1956 to create the Texas-Oklahoma Conference. The Texas Conference Youth Fellowship at the time had 132 members from 7 churches.
The Oklahoma Conference also had a youth camping tradition. After the 1956 union of the conferences, the new conference continued to hold youth camps in both Oklahoma and Texas. They also held other youth meetings, called variously, Spiritual Life Clinics, Youth Retreats, Religious Education Institutes, Fall Rally, and Spring Rally. Through the 1950s the Texans continued to go to Round Rock and Center Point. In 1964 they began using a HEB campground near Leakey. The most popular site during that period in Oklahoma was Redlands.

After 1968 the Evangelical Church/EUB summer camp tradition continued in the United Methodist Church.
Ref. Davis and Polson, Eighty Years in Texas and Oklahoma, 1968


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