Saturday, November 06, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 7

J. H. Hamblen Withdraws from Northwest Texas Conference, Later Forms New Denomination November, 1945

The 1945 Journal of the Northwest Texas Conference lists under “withdrawn” only one name, that of J. H. Hamblen. If that were the only source of information, such a withdrawal might come as a surprise since Hamblen had filled some of the leading appointments of the conference and been a presiding elder. Hamblen began his ministry in the Texas Conference in 1905 when he was appointed to Kellyville in Marion County. In 1909 he transferred to the Nortwest Texas Conference.

Hamblen had been one of the vigorous opponents of modernism in the controversies of the 1920s about seminary professors and Sunday School literature. He was a long time pastor at First Methodist Abilene. In 1944 rather than accepting a new appointment, he asked for a sabbatical leave. Hamblen moved from the parsonage into a house in Abilene and by the following September was holding regular worship services there. Annual Conference convened on November 7, 1945 and Hamblen met with the bishop and cabinet and asked to be withdrawn. Such a principled stand meant Hamblen would forfeit forty years of pension credit.

Hamblen’s withdrawal eventually led to the formation of the Evangelical Methodist Church and his becoming its first general superintendent. Today Texas EMC churches include Copperas Cove, Killeen, Gatesville, Duncanville, Mansfield, Seagoville, and Haltom City.

If you would like to read more about James Henry Hamblen, see A Look into Life: An Autobiography (1969) or David Murrah, And Are We Yet Alive, 2009. Hamblen’s son, Carl Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989), was well known as a singer, cowboy movie actor, and composer of such hits as This Ole House, It Is No Secret (What God Can Do), and Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In).


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