This Week in Texas Methodist History July 8
Presiding Elder Criticized for Lack of Fervor at Camp Meeting July 8, 1846
One of the main camp meeting sites in early
was the Waugh Camp Ground in Burleson County near Caldwell. The site had been donated by the Addison
family who emigrated from Baltimore
in 1835. Bishop Beverly Waugh, the
bishop who organized the Texas Annual Conference in 1840, was also from Baltimore.
Addison family was
devout and sent several of its sons into the ministry. One of those sons reported on a camp meeting
held during July 1846. The report is
particularly interesting because of the frankness with which the writer
criticizes the Presiding Elder of the Washington District, Daniel N. V.
Sullivan, for his lack of emotional fervor.
Waugh had ordained Sullivan at Rutersville in 1840 so he may have felt a
special bond to the site.
July 8, 1846
We received your letters on yesterday, the day that our camp meeting broke up, and as you desired to hear how we got along I will give you a short sketch of it. It commenced on last Thursday, the 2d with very dull prospects, the incessant rains had filled all the streams so that but very few could get there. . .On Thursday night all the preachers that we had was Bro. Sullivan & Bro. Bragg the meeting commenced with poor prospects on Friday night Brothers Sneed Harden (was below the Yegua) Cyrus Campbell an Exhorter Bro Belvin a young Preacher arrived on the ground which constituted all our force, a very weak one you must confess to fight the friends of Satan, But notwithstanding the work commenced and but for Bro Sullivan might have went on with power But from some cause or the other, he became a great enemy to the excitement, he did not like to see people getting religion under an excitement, he wanted them to come coolly and deliberately----there was several very warm sermons preached and Exhortations delivered but Old Dan would throw water on it all. It continued this way (with but one conversion) till Monday night when Bro Sneed Preached a very warm feeling sermon and set down. Bro S getting up immediately after he read out a long Hymn and after exhorting a few moments told all those that had made up their minds to get religion to come forward without any excitement of any kind, as he did not like to see people scared into religion. Now just come along without any persuasion or any singing ---Just at that moment Brother Bragg rose up and calling to the Brethren said sing that good old song “Come Ye sinners, poor and needy.” –perhaps some will come---that was just taking it out of the Presiding Elders hand and the Brethren being nothing loth went to work with a will that soon filled the Alter with Mourners---Well after all had come up that would come Bro Dan got down in the Alter and read off his long Hymn again a half stanza at a time and commented on it as he went along without any singing however when he got down and prayed a long prayer and kept on that way until they just took it out of his hand and carried it by main force---after he left the work commenced and before the meting broke up (which it did at 15 minutes before three) there was eight professed to obtain the pearl of great price. –
Daniel N. V. Sullivan’s preaching days were numbered. The following February while in
Houston, he was afflicted
with “fever of the brain.” Mr. and Mrs.
Alexander McGowan took him to their home where he died on February 20,
1847. His conference memoir read in part
Brother Sullivan was deeply devoted Christian, and his deportment was uniformly serious and somewhat reserved. He was a minister of high order of talents, and was especially eminent for the clearness with which he stated and the ability with which he defended and enforced the doctrines of the Bible.