Saturday, April 27, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 28

Woman’s Home Missionary Society Conducts Innovative Fundraiser in Jefferson, April 30, 1908

The Methodist Episcopal Church once had separate woman’s organizations for home and foreign missions.  The Home Mission Society (WHMS) raised money for settlement houses; work among immigrants, and especially for the construction of parsonages.  It is obvious from the record that the women also had a great deal of fun in some of their projects. 

In April, 1908 the WHMS of Jefferson challenged each member to raise one dollar through her own labor and contribute that dollar to home missions.  There was, however, a twist.  Each member was asked to compose a poem about how she raised the money and recite that poem at the April meeting. 

Mrs. R. F. Sherrill hosted the meeting in her home, and after appropriate prayer, songs, and Bible reading, the poetical portion of the program began.  Here is how it was reported in the Jefferson Jimplecute,

. . .One member determined to “earn” her dollar working patiently and :hard running chickens out in the yard. An other, not to fall short of her dollar, sold her husband’s old clothes. One busy member assured us that her’s was made with “burning needle and schorching (sic) thread”  Several told in their own peculiar rhyme how they churned and sold butter; and one of them assured us that she gave the dollar without a mutter. One member baked Club cakes; another one sold Methodist cakes, and Methodist hens helped a member from her dilema. (sic) The last given was by the conscientious little mother with innumerable duties and several small children who confessed

Really had no time to plan
So got the money from her old man.

When the contents of the basket containing the free-will offerings were counted, the treasurer reported over $30.00 raised for the parsonage fund by these earnest workers.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  (Humor Edition)  April 21

Ed. Note,  While looking for items to include in the regular column, I sometime find items of a humorous nature.  Here are three from 19th century newspapers. 

An amusing note from the Hempstead Countryman,   August 17, 1867

A young lady was asked where was her native place.  She replied, “I have none.  I am the daughter of a Methodist minister.”    

From June 17, 1868  also from the Countryman, An advertisement.  “Wanted:  A young man to look after a horse of the Methodist persuasion.” 

From the April 30, 1870, Watchman, Georgetown,

A gentleman traveling in Texas met on the road a wagon drawn by four oxen driven by a countryman, who in addition to the skillful flourish and crack of the whip, was vociferously encouraging his horned horses, after this fashion:

“Haw, presbyterian? Gee baptist! Whoah espicopalian/! Get up, methodist!”—The driver stepped up to the driver, remarking to him  that he had strange names for his oxen, and he would like to know why thus he called them. Said the driver:  I call this one presbyterian because he is true blue and never fails to pull through difficulties,, and holds out to the end; besides he knows more than the rest. I call this one baptist because he is always after water, and seems as though he’d never drink enough; then again he won’t eat with the others. I call this ox episcopalian because he has a mighty way of holding his head up, and if the yoke gets a little too tight he tries to kick and draw out of the track. I call this ox methodist because he puffs and blows and bellows as he goes along and you’d think he was pulling all creation but he don’t pull a pound unless you stir him up. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 14

Methodist Protestants Move Westminster College to Tehuacana

When Presbyterians moved Trinity College from Tehuacana to Waxahachie in 1902, Methodist Protestants decided to relocate Westminster College from Collin County to the fine facility made vacant by the move. 

Methodist Protestants established a  college seventeen miles northeast of McKinney and obtained a charter in 1897.  They named their college Westminster and stressed pre-ministerial education.  Westminster consisted of a two story frame building and two instructors.  President James Lawlis taught Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Bible, Ancient History and Ancient Geography.  The other instructor, Addie Johnsey, taught music and “any other subject the students needed.”   Although it had been founded primarily for pre-ministerial education, only three such students enrolled for the first session. 

In spite of its modest start, Westminster College prospered.  In 1898 enrollment justified a staff of 6 instructors.  Course offerings expanded to include mathematics, French, and art.  The increased enrollment strained the facilities so when Trinity relocated from Tehuacana (near Mexia) to Waxahachie, the Westminster trustees accepted the offer of the Presbyterians to take over the fine limestone building that had been constructed in 1872. 

Westminster College operated preparatory and four year college programs until 1916 when Westminster became a junior college.  To overcome its small town setting, it operated a fleet of school buses to bring students to the campus.  Even during the depression Westminster was able to build a gymnasium, field house, president’s home, and remodel dormitories and faculty residences. 
The creation of the Methodist Church in 1939 by the union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church meant Westminster’s potential constituency increased dramatically, but the 1940s brought hard times. One solution was to become a junior division of Southwestern University.  That relationship lasted only until 1950 when Southwestern trustees closed Westminster. 

The Congregational Methodist Church then obtained the property and operated a school in Tehuacana from 1953 to 1972.   

Saturday, April 06, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  April 7

Methodist Evangelist Denounces Baseball, April 9, 1886

April, of course, means the opening of baseball season.  Methodist churches often sponsor baseball and softball teams.  The Texas Annual Conference is honored at Minute Maid Park by the Houston Astros.   It was not always so.  In the late 19th century, as practically all Texas towns organized baseball teams, some Methodist preachers denounced baseballThe Texas Christian Advocate published editorials and letters to the editor criticizing baseball.  Critics found three things wrong with baseball.  The games were most often played on Sunday afternoons.  Beer was sold at those games, and gambling on the outcome of games or particular at bats was very common. 

Sam Jones, (1847-1906) the most famous Methodist evangelist of his era issued the following statement, published in the San Antonio Light, April 9, 1886.

There is nothing more corrupting thing this side of hell than baseball. Now, put that down.  They had all thought I had forgotten that.  I have never had any use for it.  The idea of a great big young buck twenty-five years old running all over creation for a ball. If your mother wanted you to cut a stick of wood she couldn’t get you to do it to save her life, but you dress up in a fool’s garb and run after a ball, the hottest day, until your tongue lolls out, you fool you.

That ain’t all. It is one of the finest fields for gambling in America.  And that is not all.  I wouldn’t wipe my feet on any crowd that would go out and play baseball on the Sabbath.  Those are my sentiments.  I couldn’t put in any more concise way than that.  I don’t know whether you agree with me or not; but you understand me I reckon, don’t you?  I will let my boy play ball until he is 10 years old, but after he is 15 years old, I believe I will work him off if I catch him at such foolishness as that.

There is irony in that fact that Jones’s successor as America’s most famous evangelist was Billy Sunday (1862-1935), a former professional baseball player who used his celebrity status to attract crowds to his revivals.