Saturday, May 11, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 12

Bartlett Methodists Asked to Remain at Home Sunday to Aid Solicitation Drive

In 1919 Northern and Southern Methodists united  in a massive Centenary Campaign to raise funds for missions.  The needs were great.  Europe still lay in ruins from World War I.  Traditional mission fields in Africa, Latin America, and Asia had also been disrupted as donations of money and volunteers to those missions had been interrupted by the war effort.  Domestic missions to northern industrial workers, Native Americans, and poverty-stricken Appalachia were added to the list for increased support.

1919 was chosen because it marked the centennial of the first Methodist mission to Native Americans in Ohio in 1819.  A complete campaign with committees, literature, and even a magazine provided local organizers with plenty of ammunition for their solicitation campaign which was to be held the week of May 18-25. 

In 1919 Bartlett was a prosperous small town in eastern Williamson County.  It was surrounded by cotton fields, and had good railroad access.  Its MECS church was a member of the Central Texas Conference.  The Centennial Campaign in Bartlett grew out of the men’s club, a predecessor of the United Methodist Men.  At their organizing meeting, the men decided to ask all Methodists in Bartlett to go home after church on Sunday, May 18, and wait there until a solicitor called upon them to fill out a pledge card.  Such a method may not seem out of the ordinary today, but in the era many families had a tradition of going to visit family members on Sunday afternoon.  The Centenary Campaign managers asked the congregation to forego such visits until after the solicitation.

They also publicized the campaign through the Bartlett Tribune and News.  Here is a portion of the article 

Are you a Methodist?  Do you believe in the expansion of Christian ideals?  Are you altruistic in motive and spirit? Are you one without regular channels of church giving?  Do you believe conditions are bad in this country with churches, Christian colleges, etc.? Then, you must believe that conditions are awfully and intolerably bad where the teachings of Christ are unknown, and if you answer these questions affirmatively, you will make a Centenary contribution.

You know that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And that the Almighty has indeed priority of ownership to all business, houses, and lands.  Your deed and ownership is between man and man:  we have nothing:  our only assets consist in being created in the image of God and being subjects of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Let’s pay a little for the air we breathe; the water we drink; the sunlight we enjoy.  We can not pay commensurate with the worth of these things for they are indispensible to life itself, but we can show that we have some of the attitude of gratitude, some thing that no man should be without.

Methodist of Bartlett, let’s not fall down on this great movement, but let’s worthily sustain the reputation of the town for doing things!


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