Saturday, February 19, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 20

J. Waskom Pickett, Bishop of Methodist Church in India, Born in Jonesville, Feb. 21, 1890

How did a preacher’s son from a very small town in East Texas become a bishop in the Methodist Church of India and a confidante of the founders of the modern Indian state? There must be a story there.

J. Waskom Picket was born on February 21, 1890, to the Rev. Leander Lycurgus Pickett, one of the leading lights of the Holiness Movement. L. L. Pickett had been a MECS preacher, but in 1884 had been denied reappointment because of his refusal to baptize by immersion. (See post for Nov. 9, 2008) L. L. Pickett continued preaching independently and became one of the leaders in the Holiness Movement. In 1887 Pickett conducted a powerful revival that led to the establishment of a Holiness campground in Scottsville, just a few miles from Jonesville and Waskom in eastern Harrison County.

When J. Waskom Pickett was still a young child the family moved briefly to South Carolina and then to Wilmore, Kentucky, the site of Kentucky Holiness College (founded 1890). Kentucky Holiness College soon changed its name to Asbury College. L. L. Pickett became an important author and publisher until his death in 1928.
J. Waskom Pickett graduated from Asbury in 1907 and taught for three years. In 1910 one of his classmates, E. Stanley Jones, recruited him to take over a church in India that Jones was leaving.

Pickett accepted the call and spent the next forty-six years in India. He served as pastor, district superintendent, and in 1935 was elevated to the office of bishop.

His years in India were marked by the end of British rule, and both Jones and Pickett formed friendships with Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. At Nehru’s urging, Pickett visited Gandhi just two days before the Mahatma’s assassination.

Upon his retirement Pickett taught at Boston University. He died in 1981 in Ohio and is buried in Wilmore, Kentucky.


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