Saturday, December 10, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 10

Methodist Preacher Debates Universalist at Farmersville, December 8, 1873

In the 19th century Texas Methodist preachers often participated in public debates with representatives of other denominations. A favorite topic was infant baptism vs. adult baptism. As Adventism became more popular, debates on whether the Sabbath should be observed on Saturday or Sunday occurred. One recurring debate theme was the doctrine of universal salvation, and on at least one occasion the Methodist preacher’s debate opponent was a Universalist preacher. The Universalist Church was all but non-existent in Texas in 1873. The Universalist Register for 1874 listed only one congregation in Texas, a congregation of 50 members in Sand Fly, Bastrop County, led by the Rev. Marmaduke Gardner. The Register reported that Gardner held services once per month. It also reported four other Universalist travelling preachers in Texas.

At least one Universalist missionary the Rev. Elisha Darnielle participated in a debate in Texas over the tenets of his religion as early as 1873. On December 8 of that year, Darnielle, a missionary from Fayetteville, Arkansas, began a four-day debate with the Methodist preacher at Farmersville, H. C. Rogers. Although the debate lasted four days, there were only two propositions:

Proposition #1: The Scriptures teach the final holiness and happiness of all mankind.
Proposition #2: The Scriptures teach that a portion of mankind will suffer endless punishment.

As rails linked Texas to the northern and Midwestern United States, immigrants from those regions came to Texas and Universalists were able to establish more churches. In 1891, there were enough Texas Universalists to form a state association. The Register for 1897 lists the Rev. C. H. Rogers as president of that association which numbered 620 members in 31 parishes. In 1961 the Universalist Church of America consolidated with the American Unitarian Association. The on-line directory of the Unitarian Universalist Association lists 49 fellowships in Texas.


Post a Comment

<< Home