Saturday, October 26, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  October 27

First Methodist Fort Worth Breaks Ground for New Church Building, October 29, 1929

Fort Worth participated in the prosperity of the 1920s mainly because of its historic role as the processing center for the agricultural products of the western regions of Texas.  Its stockyards and meat packing houses were legendary and provided employment to thousands of men and women.  Its flour milling industry became world famous because several of the mills sponsored radio programs featuring Western Swing played by popular musicians.  The rail lines leading west from Fort Worth distributed manufactured goods to Texans living on the High Plains and Rolling Plains.

Fort Worth was a major player in Texas Methodism of the era.  Although it lost the major denominational university to Dallas, it converted Polytechnic College into a woman’s college and continued to provide Methodist higher education.  After the creation of the Central Texas Conference in 1910, Fort Worth became the premier city of that conference, and Central Texas Conference pulpits supplied leadership to the whole denomination.
First Methodist Fort Worth was one of the outstanding churches of Texas Methodism.  Several of its pastors went on to become bishops and presidents of Methodist colleges.  Hiram Boaz, Hoyt Dobbs, E. D. Mouzon, Horace Bishop, and J. W. Bergin were only a few of the distinguished pastors at First Methodist. 

Eugene B. Hawk was appointed to Fort Worth in 1925, On Sunday, October 27, 1929. Hawk preached a sermon A Changed World Through a Changed Vision.  The sermon on change was in preparation for the groundbreaking scheduled for the following Tuesday. Fort Worth Methodists were planning to build a magnificent sanctuary for the glory of God and enjoyment of worshipers. Few of the congregation, or even Rev. Hawk, had any idea of the changes that were to come.

The previous Thursday is known as “Black Thursday” as the New York Stock Market lost 11 per cent of its value at the opening bell.  The losses continued.  On Monday the NYSE lost another 13% and on Tuesday as Bishop John M. Moore was breaking ground for the new church, it lost another 12%.  The Great Depression was beginning.

It was not an auspicious time to begin an expensive building campaign, but First Methodist Fort Worth was already committed. Construction continued through the rest of 1929 and 1930.  Rev. Hawk laid the corner stone on Oct. 5, 1930, and formal opening service was conducted on Sunday, June 14, 1931.  The Methodists of Fort Worth had pulled it off.  Not only had they built one of the finest churches in Texas, they were also able to secure a new parsonage. 

Eugene B. Hawk (b. 1881) did not stay long to enjoy the new facilities.  In 1931 he moved Louisville to pastor Fourth Street Methodist Church. In 1933  President Charles C. Selecman invited Hawk to become Dean of the School of Theology at SMU. He continued to have justifiable pride in First Methodist Fort Worth.  As Dean, at least once he  loaded SMU theology students onto a bus and took them on a tour of the Fort Worth church. 

 He held the deanship  until 1951 and served as interim president of SMU during the transition from the Selecman’s presidency to that of Umphrey Lee.  It was during Hawk’s deanship that the School of Theology became Perkins School of Theology and the Quadrangle was constructed.  He died in 1963 after a lifetime of distinguished service to Methodism. 

The Great Depression and World War II severely hampered new church construction for the next decade and one-half.  First Methodist Fort Worth stood as the most recent example of an era of heroic church construction for years.  It continues to provide a home for a vibrant, caring congregation to this day.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Texas Conference of the Evangelical Association Meets, Transitions to English Language  October, 1906

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 by the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.  The EUB church was created by an earlier merger of Wesleyan churches with a German heritage, the United Brethren and Evangelical Association.

The Evangelical Association began sending evangelists to Texas in 1879 and several years later organized churches into an annual conference.  EA churches tended to be located in areas of Texas that had received immigrants from northern states.  By the early 20th century there were both city churches (San Antonio, Dallas, Temple, and Galveston) and churches in agricultural communities.
One of those agricultural communities in Wichita County hosted the twentieth session of the Texas Conference in October 1906.   Bishop Thomas Bowman presided over the conference at the Bowman Church.  The Bowman Church was built in 1897 and relocated about one mile south of Stringtown to make room for a reservoir along Holliday Creek.  The church hosted annual conferences in 1900, 1906, 1910, 1916, and 1920.  In 1932 it merged with First Church Wichita Falls.

The 1910 Annual Conference had to face a hard reality—Their German language tradition was now a hindrance to the denomination—especially in the cities.  The annual conference had to admit that the failure of their churches in Dallas, Sherman, and Denison was caused by the “linguistic question.”  The conference decided that all future mission churches would be English language churches.  For the first time some of the minutes of the conference were written in English.  In 1908 all the conference reports and minutes were in English.

World War I accelerated the decline of the German language in Texas.  Although there were thousands of German speakers in Texas, the entrance of the United States into World War made speaking German unpatriotic.  The legislature banned German language instruction in high schools.  The three German Methodist groups in Texas (MEC, MECS, and EA) all felt the pain of losing their traditional language.  The MECS Germans held their last annual conference at New Fountain in November 1918.  The MEC Germans merged with English and Swedish speaking conferences in 1927.  As noted above, the EA adopted English for its records in 1908.

Friday, October 11, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  October 13

Rev. Sidney Everett Kornegay Writes Last Letter from France, October 17, 1918

One of the saddest memoirs in the Texas Conference Journal is that of the Rev. Sidney Everett Kornegay, killed in action in France less than two weeks before the Armistice.

Sidney Kornegay was born in Malone, Hill County, in 1894.  He gave his life to Christ in 1907, and at a revival in 1911 was convinced he was called to preach.  He began ministerial studies at Polytechnic College in Fort Worth in the fall of 1911 and the next April was licensed to preach by the Fort Worth District Conference.  Polytechnic became a woman’s college so he transferred as one of the first students at SMU and graduated in June 1917.  The previous summer he served a student appointment in Oklahoma and was ordained a local deacon by Bishop McCoy at the Central Texas Annual Conference of 1916. 

Immediately after his graduation Kornegay was appointed to the Frankston/LaRue churches in the Texas Conference.  When the 1917 Texas Annual Conference met in the fall, his parishioners asked for his return to Frankston and LaRue, but Kornegay wanted to join the war effort so he secured an appointment to Camp Bowie, just west of Fort Worth, with the YMCA.   He then learned that he would not be able to accompany the recruits from Camp Bowie to the fighting in France because he did not meet the YMCA age requirement for overseas work. 

He resigned his position and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps, Co. 95 of the 6th Regiment.  After training at Quantico and Paris Island, Kornegay finally went to France.  The 6th Regiment was involved in some the heaviest combat of late 1918 including Soissons, Blanc Mont, and finally the Meuse-Argonne Offensive which began Nov. 1. 

On October 17, Kornegay wrote his last letter home to his mother.  On November 1, the first day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he died from a machine gun bullet. A promising ministerial career was thus ended.   

Before enlisting in the Marines, Kornegay visited with the Rev. J. M Bond, who had preached the revival in Malone at which Kornegay was called to the ministry.  Bond related that the young preacher told him that it was his greatest ambition to lead his comrades to Christ and he meant to do personal work for the Master among the soldiers. 

The letter to his mother and other correspondence has been digitized by the Library of Congress and is available at

(The Texas Conference Necrology lists Kornegay's burial site to be in France.  He was buried twice in France, but his body was later brought home and reburied in the family plot in Hubbard.)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 6

Three Preachers Issue Prospectus for Texas Wesleyan Banner   October 1848

The early history of Texas Methodist journalism is a story of fits and starts.  The first Methodist newspaper in Texas was a project of the Rev. Robert B. Wells, the preacher at Brenham.  In 1847 he began publishing the Texas Christian Advocate and Brenham Advertiser.  Although he had the support of Texas Conference clergy and laity, Wells couldn’t make a success of the enterprise.  In early 1848 Wells turned the paper over to his father-in-law, Orceneth Fisher, who moved the paper to Houston and renamed it The Texas Christian Advocate.  Fisher ran the paper as a private enterprise. 

There was a large camp meeting at Rutersville in September 1848.  Preachers at the meeting discussed putting the newspaper on a sound  basis.  Three of the preachers,  Robert Alexander, Chauncey Richardson, and Homer Thrall, issued a prospectus which they printed in several Texas newspapers in October, 1848.  Here is the prospectus

The Texas Christian Advocate shall be devoted to Religion, Literature, Morals, Science, Popular Education, and General Intelligence.  To blend mental delight with the acquisition of valuable knowledge; carefully religious and moral effect in the selection and arrangement of subjects—to develop & concentrate the efforts of genius and taste and to aid in the advancement of those moral, religious, and intellectual attainments, which will produce a richer and more enduring revenue of glory to Texas, than either her sunny clime or her unbounded natural resources, are the paramount object of the Advocate.

It will be printed weekly, on an imperial sheet, in a tasteful style of typography, at Two Dollars, if payment be delayed more than one month.

Its publication will be commence about the first of February, 1849. 

The itinerate and local preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, are duly authorized, and earnestly requested, to act as agents for the Advocate.

Advertisements in keeping with the character of the paper will be inserted on the usual terms.

The three preachers then obtained the blessings of the Texas Annual Conference.    With that support, the committee entered into a printing contract with the firm of Cruger and Moore in Houston for 1000 copies per week.  Chauncey Richardson assumed the editorship and changed the name to the Texas Wesleyan Banner.  He missed the February date, and brought out the first issue on April 14, 1849.