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.


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