Saturday, July 14, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 15

Homer Thrall Leads Protracted Meeting in Columbus, July 21, 1860

In the summer of 1860 the United States was moving closer to war.  In May the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency.  The Democrats were split among sectional candidates.  John Brown had been hanged the previous December, and many Southerners were appalled at the outpouring of sympathy from New England intellectuals for a man with such a bloody past.   A wave of fires in the hot summer of 1860 in North Texas was widely believed to the work of abolitionist incendiary terrorists.  Vigilante committees murdered several persons, including the Rev. Anthony Bewley, on the flimsiest of evidence.    Tensions increased along with the heat as the persistent rumor spread that a slave insurrection was planned for Election Day, August. 6.  

Meanwhile the pace of Methodist meetings proceeded.  Columbus hosted a protracted meeting led by the Presiding Elder of the Columbus District, the Rev. Homer Thrall.  He was assisted by the Columbus preacher, Charles Lane, and by Reverend Quinn Menifee, and a local preacher named Loomis. 

Columbus was an up-and-coming church in the Texas Conference.  It had recently been named a district seat, and boasted both churches for Anglo Americans and a mission to African Americans.  Unfortunately it did not have its own church building so the protracted meeting was held in the Baptist Church.  The press reported on the meeting as follows:

Quite an excitement has been gotten up and a good many of both sexes have gone up to the altar to be prayed for.  There have been several conversions.  Both ministers and lay members appear to labor faithfully in the “good work,”  The moral influence of preachers and of such religious excitements is not fully appreciated by many persons,  but though silent and thus imperceptible, it is nevertheless great, and exercises a tremendous power over the conscience and nobler faculties of the great mass of men and women, thus purifying and elevating society.  The Colorado Citizen, vol. 3, #43, July 21, 1860. 


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