Saturday, September 19, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist HIstory September 20

Alejo Hernandez Dies in Corpus Christi, September 25,1875

Alejo Hernandez finished his all-too-brief earthly journey on September 25, 1875 in Corpus Christi. Bishop Marvin ordained him at the West Texas Annual Conference in 1871. Bishop Keener took him to Mexico City to initiate MECS work in that city. Unfortunately he suffered a stroke, and could not continue that work. All the available evidence indicates that he was a preacher of great abilities and fully committed to the cause. Bishop Marvin wrote the highest praise: The man is a Methodist.

One of Hernandez’s other admirers was William Headen, a Corpus Christi wool merchant and lay delegate to the 1870 General Conference of the MECS. Headen wrote to Marvin, “He is most anxious to do the work of one called by God to preach the gospel.” The Corpus Christi Quarterly Conference was so impressed by his gifts that it recommended that he be ordained both deacon and elder at the 1871 West Texas Annual Conference. Those ordinations were performed, and Alejo Hernandez thus became the first Mexican ordained by the connection.

A few weeks later Bishop Marvin had the opportunity to worship with Hernandez in San Antonio. The bishop presided over the communion service, but Hernandez explained the ritual in Spanish and distributed the elements. Everyone present, including members of other Protestant denominations, sensed the historic nature of the moment. In Marvin’s words

This first sacrament in connection with the Mexican Mission I shall never forget. . . .We prayed that these might be the “first fruits” of a very great harvest to grow and increase in the hands of the reapers for ages and ages to come. Is not this the handful of corn in the top of the mountain? Shell we see the fruit of it waving like Lebanon? May the Lord of the harvest send forth more laborers for the fields are white!

Alejo Hernandez was soon followed by others, some of whom he personally recruited. The Mexican Mission became a Mission District and eventually an annual conference, the Rio Grande.

To read more about Alejo Hernandez, go to
(That short bio gives the date of death as Sept. 27. The Sept. 25 date is from Phelan.


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