Saturday, November 05, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 6

Texas Annual Conference Holds Very Special Memorial Service, November 6, 1932

A special part of every annual conference is the memorial service. The conference sings “And Are Yet Alive” and later remembers the members and spouses who have gone on to their heavenly reward. Family members of the deceased receive special invitations to the memorial service, and the entire conference is reminded of the faithful witness of its departed members.

The Texas Annual Conference memorial service of 1932 had special significance. It was meeting in Navasota with Bishop Hiram Boaz in the chair and D. L. Landrum as the host pastor. The opening day, Thursday, November 3, was routine. Roll was called. Visitors were introduced. Those visitors included Atticus Webb of the Anti Saloon League, Mrs. W. C. Godbey of the W.C.T.U., and Dr, D. R. Glass of Texas College in Tyler. He represented the C.M.E. Church, and received the customary collection for that sister denomination.

The annual conference conducted its usual business of committee reports, resolutions, and worship. Then, on the last day of the conference, Sunday, November 6, the conference moved from the Methodist church to the town cemetery. The memorial service was a very special one. It was held at the grave of Dr. Martin Ruter, the head of the Texas Mission of the MEC who came to Texas in November, 1837 and died the following May.

At 2:30 in the afternoon the memorial service began in the cemetery. The conference sang, “There is a Land That is Fairer Than Day.” C. A. Tower gave a prayer. The first tribute was delivered for the life of James M. Wesson who is interred in the same cemetery (see post for July 16, 2006). J. W. Mills gave an address on the life and labors of Martin Ruter and concluded by laying a wreath on the grave.

Then the Texas Conference members and spouses who had died during the previous year were honored. G. Z. Sadler spoke without a manuscript of the life of Weems Wooten who had requested that no formal memoir be prepared. Then the memoirs were read. A. A. Tharp read one for A. G. Scruggs. W. E. Hassler read W. W. Horner’s, and D. S. Burke read Mrs. J. P. Skinner’s.

The memoirs were over, but the service continued. G. Z. Sadler told the conference about C. L. Spencer. Spencer was the local preacher who had rescued Ruter’s remains from the abandoned cemetery in Washington on the Brazos and reinterred it in his own plot. Spencer’s tombstone is beside Ruter’s.

The conference then walked about 40 yards to the northwest of Ruter’s grave to that of James Wesson. They sang “O Think of a Home Over There,” and D. H. Hotchkiss laid a wreath on the Wesson grave. P. T. Ramsey then pronounced the benediction bringing to an end to the open air memorial service.

The conference reconvened in the church to hear an address by Bishop James Cannon on prohibition. By November 1932 Cannon’s reputation was greatly tarnished, but he had survived the U. S. Senate investigating committee, subpoena, and public apology at the 1930 General Conference and was now in Navasota to rally the dry forces. (see column for May 4, 2008). The final session of the 1932 Texas Annual Conference did not begin until 8:15 p.m. It was late in the night when the final appointment was read. Bishop Boaz read, "H. E. Floyd --- Winona." Thus ended a very long, eventful day in Texas Methodist history.


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