Saturday, January 28, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History  January 29

St. Paul’s Methodist in Abilene Organized After Mulkey Revival

A previous post highlighted the work of evangelists Abe and Louisa Mulkey in securing a strong financial basis for the Methodist Orphanage in Waco.  Lest than a decade after making the orphanage debt free, a Mulkey revival led to the organization of a new church in Abilene

In early February, 1909, at the invitation of Abilene First Methodist Church pastor, Rev. S. J. Rucker, Abe Mulkey preached a revival in the Opera House. On the last night of the revival, there was a collection for a new church building.  The collection totaled almost $18,000 of a projected cost of $30,000.  Then a curious thing happened.  Rather than using the funds to build a new church building for First Methodist Church, it was decided to organize a second Methodist church in Abilene

By annual conference the basement had been dug, and construction started.  By the 1910 session of annual conference, the new church, St. Paul’s Methodist, was able to report 320 members as compared to First Methodist’s 420.  It took three years to build the new church building, and the first worship service held in the new sanctuary was the 1912 session of the Northwest Texas Annual Conference. 

In 1914 Rev. J. W. Hunt was appointed to St. Paul’s.  He stayed two years before assuming the presidency of Stamford CollegeStamford College closed, and Hunt came back to St. Paul’s, and from that post worked to created McMurry College (later McMurry University).   The church website highlights St. Paul’s important role in supporting  McMurry. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History, January 22

Bishop Morris Preaches to Students At Rutersville, January 23, 1842

The first five sessions of the Texas Annual Conference occurred before the annexation of Texas.  The presiding bishops and transferring preachers were thus engaged in a sort of foreign missionary project.
Presiding bishop
Dec. 1840
Dec. 1841
San Augustine
Dec. 1842
None (Roberts had been assigned, but illness prevented his attendance)
Dec. 1843
Walker’s (near Huntsville)
Jan. 1845
San Augustine
We are fortunate to have detailed travel accounts of three of the four episcopal visits to the Republic of Texas.  Bishop Thomas A. Morris provided one of the most interesting accounts because after he adjourned the second session of the Texas Annual Conference in San Augustine, he did not return to the United States.  Instead he took a grand tour all the way west to the frontier capital of Austin.

On Monday, October 19, 1841, Bishop Morris left St. Louis with John Clark and Josiah Whipple who were transferring from Illinois to Texas.  On Nov. 10 they reached Batesville, Arkansas, where Morris presided over the fifth session of the Arkansas Conference.  They crossed the Sabine at Gaines’ Ferry on Dec. 17 and reached San Augustine the next day.  Morris appointed Clark as Presiding Elder of the Rutersville District and Whipple to Austin, so the three men, who had already travelled 750 miles together, continued their journey. 

They reached Rutersville on January 19, and the following Sunday Morris preached in college chapel.  On Monday January 24 they continued on through Bastrop to Austin

They stayed at the residence of Judge James Webb about two miles from Austin where Bishop Morris was reunited with his son, Francis Asbury Morris who had become Attorney General of the Republic of Texas the previous March. President Lamar appointed A. G. Webb as minister to Mexico,. (a failed diplomatic mission) and F.A. Morris took his place.  Lamar’s presidential term ended, and as it did, so did Morris’s government position.  (NHOT entry on Webb,

Thomas Morris said goodbye to Clark and Whipple, and his son became his travelling companion back to the United States, reaching Cincinnati on March 1.  They learned that Mrs. Morris had become ill during her husband’s episcopal tour.  She died on May 17. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History, January 15

Texas Conference Meets in Special Session, W. A. Pounds Honored for Fifty Years as Conference Treasurer, January 17, 1972

There are some years in which Methodist annual conferences have so much business that they cannot wait a whole year to meet.  In such years it is possible to have a special session of the “annual” conference.  One such special session of the Texas Conference was held at Marvin UMC in Tyler, Texas, on January 17, 1972.  Bishop Kenneth Copeland presided over the special session which had been called to take stock of a change in accounting.  1971 was the first full year in which the Texas Conference fiscal year coincided with the calendar year. 

Emmitt Barrow, Chair of the Commission on World Service and Finance, presented a series of recommendations concerning fiscal matters.  Those recommendations were adopted with little debate.

The brief  (10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. including lunch break) annual conference session also passed resolutions presented by the Conference Trustees concerning abandoned church properties.  It granted superannuation and sabbatical leaves as requested and heard from distinguished guests.  Those guests included two visiting bishops, three college presidents, and other denominational leaders.

The first visiting bishop was the conference preacher, Paul V. Galloway of Arkansas who preached on the 23rd Psalm.  Bishop Galloway retired the following summer but was called back to the Texas Conference after the death of Bishop Copeland.

Bishop Ralph Alton of the Wisconsin Episcopal Area also attended.  He was in Tyler because the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was meeting in Tyler.  He addressed the conference about the relief work of the church. 

Three college presidents also addressed the conference.  Cecil Peeples, of Lon Morris College, introduced a student musical group.  Robert Hayes, Sr., of Wiley and Durwood Fleming of Southwestern, both addressed the conference about centennial observances that would be occurring in 1973.  Bill Copeland (brother of Bishop Copeland) reported as director of the Methodist Home in Waco, and Wallace, “Wally” Chappell spoke in his capacity as Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Campus Ministry. 

A truly remarkable lay man was recognized at this special session was no visitor.  That honor went to a member of the host church, W. A. “Abe” Pounds, who was recognized for his fifty years of service as Texas Conference Treasurer (1922-1972).

It is difficult to imagine a greater record of volunteer service than that of W. A. Pounds.  One measure of his uniqueness is that on January 17, 1972, there were only two preachers (Joe Wells and Bruce O. Power)  at Marvin who had been conference members in 1922. 

Pounds had been born into a parsonage family in Center in 1894.  He became a banker, first in Lavon (Collin Co.), but in 1914 he moved to Tyler to a position at the Guaranty State Bank.  He advanced from the ranks of stenographer and cashier and eventually to the presidency of the Tyler Bank and Trust Company. 

He married Isabelle Windham of Shelbyville, and they had two sons.  Jack Pounds was killed while training military pilots in the early days of World War II.  The municipal airport at Tyler, Pounds Field, is named in his honor.  W. A.  Pounds, Jr. also became a banker. 

Abe Pounds was involved in too many civic, professional, and religious volunteer activities to mention.  Of special interest to followers of Methodist history was his practice of loaning money to preachers for moving expenses.  He said many times that he never lost a cent when he loaned money to Methodist preachers.

In February 1972 Pounds was formally honored for his fifty years as Texas Conference Treasurer.  At that tribute dinner on speaker said, “Abe Pounds was the best friend a Methodist preacher ever had.”

He died in Tyler in July 1974 at the age of 80.  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 8

Fifth Session of Texas Annual Conference Convenes in San Augustine, January 8, 1845

The Texas Annual Conference convened for its fifth session on January 8, 1845 in San Augustine.  In addition to the usual business of committee reports, appointments, and worship, conferences members also dealt with emotional issues of separation and division.

The MEC General Conference of 1844 authorized the Texas Conference to divide into two new conferences, the Western Texas and Eastern Texas Annual Conferences.  The dividing line was to be the Trinity River.  The General Conference also directed the two new conferences to meet concurrently.  As preachers arrived in San Augustine, many of them faced uncertainty about their annual conference affiliation.  Appointment to either new conference would mean separation from beloved colleagues.

San Augustine was the chosen site.  Sessions were held at Wesleyan College and the San Augustine church.  The presiding bishop was Edmund Janes whose nephew Lester Janes was president of Wesleyan College.  This was to be the bishop’s only trip to Texas.  Both he and his nephew stayed with the MEC after the creation of the MECS. 

The 1844 General Conference also resulted in a call from most of the southern delegates to meet in 1845 in Louisville to begin the organization of the MECS.  The two Texas Conferences were thus tasked with electing delegates to that meeting.  Littleton Fowler, Robert Alexander, and Francis Wilson were elected as delegates. 

Bishop Janes read the appointments, and it was reported that

The members of the conference received their appointments with cheerfulness, resolving to devote themselves fully to their holy calling, not counting their lives dear unto themselves, so that they may finish their course with joy, and the ministry which they have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

As the annual conference adjourned, the Conference Missionary Society convened.  A special guest preacher addressed the Missionary Society.  The Rev. Adam Poe from Ohio had come with Bishop Janes.  Besides attending the annual conference and Missionary Society, he had come to San Augustine to get the three children orphaned by the death of his brother and sister-in-law, Daniel and Jane Poe. (see post for  Sept. 16, 2007)

The combined annual conference and Missionary Society sessions lasted eight days.   The preachers then started for their new appointments.  They faced many uncertainties.  Upon the creation of the MECS the Western Texas Conference reclaimed the name “Texas Conference.”  The Eastern Texas Conference became the “East Texas Conference.”  Fifty-eight years later the MECS General Conference of 1902 reunited the Texas Conference and the East Texas Conference into what we know as the Texas Conference.