Saturday, March 19, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History March 20

Galloway Calhoun Begins Teaching Friendly Sunday School at Marvin Methodist Church, Tyler, March 23, 1930

A standard feature of larger Texas Methodist churches in the 20th century was a men’s Sunday School class taught by a dynamic teacher. Historic photo collections from those churches often show well over 100 men posed for a class picture. Marvin Methodist church in Tyler had one of the outstanding teachers in all of Methodism, Galloway Calhoun, teacher of the Friendly Class. Calhoun began teaching on March 23, 1930 and continued until his death in 1962.

Charles Galloway Calhoun was born in Athens in 1894 to the Rev. J. C. and Bettie Calhoun. (Note how many preachers named sons after bishops. {Charles Betts Galloway 1849-1909, elected bishop 1886}, but that’s a topic for another column.) He received his education in the Tyler public schools, the University of Texas, and Cumberland Law School. He practiced law in Tyler, and at the age of 26 was elected District Attorney for the judicial district which included Smith, Wood, and Upshur Counties. The elevation of his UT classmate, Dan Moody, to the governorship from the Attorney General’s office, created vacancies for assistant attorneys general under the new AG, Claude Pollard. Calhoun moved to Austin and became the First Assistant Attorney General of Texas.

After serving in state government for three years, he resigned his office and moved back to Tyler. The same oratorical skills that helped him in jury trials and his almost photographic memory for books and speeches made him a very successful Sunday School teacher. His influence was extended by the use of radio. Many people who never met him still knew him from those Sunday School class broadcasts.

One would think that a law practice and Sunday School teaching would be enough work for one man, but Calhoun was also very active in politics and Masonry. He was president of the Tyler Rotary Club, a delegate to three National Democratic Conventions, Director of the Northeast Texas Region of the Federal Housing Administration, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, and a nationally recognized speaker. It was while speaking in Little Rock that he died in 1962.

The Friendly Class of Marvin UMC continues with Dr. David Nichols as teacher. Two questions you probably had---Yes, the lessons are still broadcast over the radio, and yes, women are now welcome.


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