Saturday, February 25, 2012

 This Week in Texas Methodist History February 26

Southwestern University Reasserts Its Historic Role in Texas Methodism   February 1911

The author’s grandmother, Ida L. Wilson from Moore, Texas, attended Southwestern University for only one academic year, 1910-1911.  At the end of the term, she returned to the family farm on the Medina-Frio County line and did not continue her formal education. 

Her one year in Georgetown was one of the most eventful in the history of Southwestern.  There was a vigorous debate known as the "removal controversy," over the future of the school.  Southwestern had been created as a central university for Texas Methodists in 1873.  Also in 1873 rail lines crossed the Red River linking the northern Blackland Prairie of Texas to the rest of the United States.  In the 38 years between 1873 and 1911 north central Texas boomed, and Dallas became the major commercial, manufacturing, financial, insurance, and distribution center of the south central United States
The same era witnessed the increasing demand for schools of business, engineering, theology, architecture, and other courses that prepared students for professional employment.

By 1910 many Methodists were calling for the establishment of a denominational university in Dallas (or possibly Fort Worth).  One proposal, embraced by Robert S. Hyer, Regent of Southwestern, was to move Southwestern from Georgetown to Dallas.  The 1910 sessions of the MECS annual conferences in Texas authorized an educational commission to decide the issue.  That commission met in Austin on January 18, 1911, and two weeks later in Dallas

As the commission was meeting to plan the establishment of a new university in Dallas, Southwestern devoted its Bulletin to reminding its constituents of its historic role in building character and preparing students for religious vocation.

The Bulletin of Southwestern University:  Special Illustrated Number devoted to Religious Activities of Student Body, Series 7, Number 36, February 1911, reflected much of the uncertainty that must have been prevalent on campus.

Whatever may be the development of the state and the resultant increase in the number of our Methodist schools and whatever may be the possible or unexpected readjustment of all the educational machinery of our various schools, we know that there will always be a great “character-building” plant at old Southwestern. 

Twice the Bulletin boasted of the ONE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SEVEN stations, circuits districts, and Missions in Texas . . . now served by men who secured their  preparation and impetus for the greatest field of life-activity largely at this stronghold of Methodism.

The Bulletin’s strongest argument in proving that SU was a place where Methodists could be assured that students were having their characters shaped in good old fashioned Methodism consisted of a detailed description of how interwoven the church and the university were.  Students were organized into Sunday School classes at the Georgetown MECS church (now First United Methodist Church).

Speaking of the pastor, Dr. W. L. Nelms, No man could be more anxious for the spiritual welfare of the student body and more eager for the development of efficient Christian workers. .

Dr. Claude Cody, legendary in Southwestern history, was Superintendent of the Sunday School.  Several of the classes were taught by faculty members.  The class names often had strong Methodist connections.  Two were named for missionaries ( Ben O. Hill and Ruby Kendrick).   Two were named for deceased bishops (Charles Betts Galloway and Seth Ward) and an active bishop (Edwin Mouzon).  Other groups, including the Ministerial Association, the Y. W. C. A., the Student Volunteer Mission Band, and the Senior Epworth League, were highlighted.

The Bulletin published group photographs of the Sunday School classes and other religious organizations.  One of the most interesting ones is attached.  It shows the Hyer Class. 
During the preceding year Hyer’s life had been consumed with the removal controversy, the burdens of university administration, service on the Educational Commission, delegate responsibilities at the MECS General Conference in Asheville, and  at an Ecumenical Conference in Toronto.   In spite of all these demands on his time, he still found time to teach a Sunday School class.  The following summer he resigned from Southwestern and moved to Dallas where he threw himself into the founding of Southern Methodist University. 

(The man on Hyer’s lower left is tentatively identified as A. Frank Smith, later a bishop of the MECS and MC.)

The author's grandmother is tentatively identified as a member of the Williams Class, row 2, fifth from right.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 19

Macum Phelan, Historian of Texas Methodism, Born in Tennessee, Feb. 22, 1874

Macum Phelan is well known as the author of a two volume history of Texas Methodism.  The first volume was published in 1924 and covered the years 1817-1866.  The second appeared in 1937 and covered the years 1867-1902

Phelan was born February 22, 1874 in Tennessee and was orphaned in childhood.  When he was sixteen, he moved to McLennan County, Texas to live with older brothers.  He earned enough as a cow hand to attend the University of Texas and obtain a teaching certificate.  He taught in McLennan County for several years, and in 1900 bought a newspaper, the Moody Courier
A compelling call to preach caused him to leave journalism and return to the University of Texas to study for the Methodist ministry.  His first appointment was to the Westbrook Circuit in 1904.  That was followed by appointments to Roscoe, Baird, Chillicothe, Childress, the Vernon District, and Big Spring.  In 1926 Phelan transferred to California and served Sacramento, the Sacramento District, and Yuba City.  He transferred back to Texas and served Hamilton, Crawford, and Haslet. 

In sprite of serving as a pastor and presiding elder, teaching at various summer schools, and encampments, Phelan had time to research and write.  He edited A Handbook of All Denominations which appeared in 1915 and continued through several editions to 1933. 

His most significant literary contribution was his two volume history of Texas Methodism.  Those volumes rely heavily upon the annual conference journals, but Phelan also used manuscript materials such as the Addison papers and published memoirs and biographies.  Blindness brought his an end to both his literary and ministerial careers.  He took the superannuated relationship in 1939.  He died in Fort Worth in 1950 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tarrant County

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 12

Texas United Methodist Historical Society Annual Meeting Announced

The Executive Committee of the TUMHS has announced program and registration details for the annual meeting of the society.  Cochran Chapel UMC Dallas is the host church,  and the theme is Texas Methodist Musical Heritage.  Details below


Texas United Methodist Historical Society
Meeting at Cochran Chapel UMC Micah Center
9027 Midway Road at Northwest Highway
Dallas, TX
March 23-24, 2012

Friday March 23, 2012

10:00-11:30  Board of Directors Meet

12:00 noon       Registration Opens at Micah Center

1:00  p.m.  Welcome and Devotional                Rev. Joseph Stabile

1:30 p.m.  "A Conversation with Jane Marshall about church musicians in Texas in the Twentieth Century"

2:15 p.m.  Break

2:30 p.m.  Walter Vernon Award Winning Student paper, Evan Jones

3:30 p.m.  "A Walk Through the Beginnings of Methodism in North Texas" by Linda Rolen (tour of historic Cochran Chapel)

6:30 p.m.  Texas United Methodist Historical Society Dinner in Fellowship Hall            
"The World Is My Parish:  The Role of the Accordion among Circuit Riders" by            Dr.  Michael Hawn

Saturday March 24, 2012

8:30 a.m.  Raquel Martinez

9:45 a.m.  Break

10:00 a.m.  TUMHS Association meeting including Kate Warnick Award for best local church history, reports from annual conferences, and special guest, Dr. Robert Williams, the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church, Drew University, Madison, NJ.

11:30 a.m.  "'Just a Little Talk':  Stamps-Baxter and Texas Methodists" by Dr. David   Music

12:30 p.m.  Adjournment


The Rev. Joseph Stabile has been appointed as pastor of Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church for over seven years.  Joe and his wife Suzanne founded the Micah Center for retreats and spiritual direction.  Joe served as a Roman Catholic priest for 26 years before being received into the United Methodist clergy.  His popular gifts include pastoral care and song.

Jane Marshall is "a distinguished composer, educator, conductor and author."
(Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal)She is the recipient of the 1965
Woman of Achievement award from SMU and the 1974 award for distinguished
service to church music from the Southern Baptist Church Music Conference.
Jane has taught at Perkins School of Theology since 1969. She composed 21
entries in the current United Methodist Hymnal.

Linda Rolen has been a member of Cochran Chapel UMC for over 20 years.  She has been active in serving the church.  She will show us the 1895 Cochran Home, Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, and the Cochran Cemetery all on site.

Dr. Michael Hawn serves SMU as University Distinguished Professor of Church Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program.  His most recent book is Gather into One:  Praying and Singing Globally.  He is an ordained Baptist minister and an Elected Fellow of the Hymn Society.

Raquel Martinez is widely known in United Methodism as the co-author (with Joel Martinez) of Fiesta Christiana:  Spanish Language Book of Worship (Abingdon, 2003)

Dr. David Music serves Baylor University as Professor of Church Music and Graduate Program Director in the School of Music.  He also directs the annual Baylor Sacred Harp sing.  He has published books, articles, compositions, and arrangements.  David has served as President of the Baptist Church Music Conference.

Evan Jones is a student at Perkins School of Theology.  He wrote the winning Student Essay on the life of Madam Volino and the founding of the Methodist Mission Home in San Antonio while studying with Dr. Ted Campbell. 


Special convention rates have been obtained from the Embassy Suites, Dallas Love Field, 3880 W. Northwest Highway, Dallas, Texas.  75220.  Single, Double, Triple or Quad $89.00 + tax.

The rate includes complementary shuttle service from Love Field and to and from the Cochran Chapel site.  It also includes a full, cook-to-order breakfast, and free parking. 

To secure the special rate, you must call 214-357-4500; identify yourself as part of the Texas United Methodist Historical Society by March 3. 


Registration for the Annual Meeting is $50.   If you wish to attend the Friday night banquet only, you may do so for $25. 

Make checks payable to Texas United Methodist Historical Society (TUMHS) and mail to Jean Traster, TUMHS Treasurer
2014 Iron Horse Court
Arlington, Texas 76017

Sunday, February 05, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History  February 5

Lost Methodist Preachers Guided to Safety by Sounds of Hymns  February, 1839

The names of Ruter, Fowler, and Alexander are well-known as the first officially appointed Methodist preachers to the Texian Mission in 1837.  They were soon followed by others some of whom stayed only briefly.  Lewell Campbell, for example, volunteered for Texas, but was appointed to Louisiana.   Two of the most interesting “short-timers” to the Republic of Texas were Schuyler Hoes and Abel Stevens. 

Hoes was sent to Texas from New York by the American Bible Society rather than the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He made Houston his base of operations and pursued his task of distributing Bibles and tracts.  On November 25, 1838, he organized the Texas Bible Society in Houston.  Naturally Hoes and Fowler developed a friendship since Fowler also lived in Houston.
In early January, 1839, Abel Stevens arrived in Houston as the newly appointed preacher for Houston and Galveston.  He immediately began a campaign to have Fowler reappoint him away from the coast to the Washington Circuit.  Stevens heard that Fowler was holding a meeting at William Keesee’s (near present day Chappell Hill)  and decided to go in person to press his case.  Joseph Sneed, a new preacher from Mississippi, had been entrusted with mission funds for Fowler to distribute to the preachers in one of the few times they would have salaries paid in actual cash money. 

Although Hoes had no claim on the mission money because he was being supported by the American Bible Society, Stevens asked him along as a travelling companion.  They proceeded west to San Felipe and then north.  Somewhere near the present-day site of Bellville they became lost in woods.  The winter sun had already disappeared, and the two preachers were gloomily contemplating spending a miserable night in the woods.  They then heard hymn singing, and guided by the blessed notes, found their way to the Thomas Bell cabin.  Bell, a Methodist layman, had been leading his family in their evening devotionals.  Bell had been a participant in the 1834 Caney Creek Camp Meeting and was later to donate the land for the city of Bellville.

Hoes and Stevens were grateful for the hospitality and the next day proceeded three miles to Centre Hill where David Ayres lived.   Hoes and Ayres were reunited.  In 1826 both men had participated in revivals in Ithaca, New York.  (The  completion of the Erie Canal and the accompanying population boom in western New York was soon followed by intense revivalism.  The region was known as the “Burned Over District.”  Ithaca was an important center of that revivalism.)

Stevens was able to convince Fowler to appoint him to the Washington Circuit.  He rode that circuit until June when he went back North.  Hoes also returned to the North continued his ministry.  Fowler reports dining with him while attending the 1844 General Conference in New York City.  Perhaps they reminisced about how two preachers were saved from a miserable night in the woods because of hymns from a pious Methodist family in the wilds of Texas.