Saturday, February 23, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  February 24

St. James Methodist in Galveston Converted to Spiritualist Temple February 27, 1902

One of the results of the Galveston hurricane of 1900 was a reorganization of Methodist churches on the island.  Before the storm there were two strong MECS churches, St. James and St. Johns.  After the storm those two churches were consolidated into a new church which eventually became Moody Memorial UMC.   The pastor who accomplished the merger and reincarnation of the churches from the storm debris was Seth Ward.  His reputation was enhanced by his Galveston work.  In 1906 he was elected bishop.

Although the St. James sanctuary on the corner of Postoffice and Fourteenth Streets was badly damaged, it still had value, and Methodists were able to sell what was left of the church building to another religious group.

The old building was sold to the National Spiritualist Association and converted into a temple.  The first service in the repurposed building was on Feb. 27, 1902 when Spiritualist missionaries Mr. and Mrs. George W. Kates provided an open lecture on Spiritualism.  Earlier in the month, J. W. Ring of Galveston, President of the State Spiritualist Association delivered a lecture in Houston in anticipation of the missionary visit.  In it he said, All that can constitute a heaven is right here within his possession now and if we ever have a heaven anywhere we must make it from the means now at our hand. 

Throughout the first decades of the 20th century the National Spiritualist Association counted about 25,000 members in about 300 local associations.  


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