Friday, November 01, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 3

Southern Conference of the MEC Holds Its Final Annual Conference, November 2-6, 1938

The strongest MEC (northern) annual conferences in Texas were the African-American Texas and West Texas Conferences which had a long, unbroken history until the abolition of the Central Jurisdiction by the 1968 General Conference. The same cannot be said for the MEC conferences in Texas that embraced the Spanish, Swedish, German, and English-speaking white Methodists.  From the organization of the Texas Conference by Bishop Matthew Simpson in Houston in January 1867, until unification with the MECS and MP churches in 1939, the MEC tried a number of conference organizations.

From Nov. 2-6 the Southern Conference met for its final annual conference in Welsh, Louisiana.   The Southern Conference had been formed fairly recently—in 1927—by the merger of the Swedish and German MEC Conferences in Texas with the Gulf Conference which had English speaking white churches in Texas and Louisiana.   At the time of merger the Gulf Conference had 26 preachers, the Swedish Conference 12, and the German conference 47.  They were distributed through Texas and Louisiana.

The details of unification had already been negotiated, and members of the annual conference knew that in less than a year the MEC, MECS, and MP churches would unify into a new denomination—The Methodist Church.  It also meant that the preachers in the Southern Conference would be scattered in small numbers among the various annual conferences in Texas and Louisiana.  Never again would they sing And Are We Yet Alive as a single body.

In spite of some lingering north-south tensions, the dispersal of the Southern Conference preachers into the annual conferences of the Methodist Church went fairly smoothly.  Most of the Louisiana churches were on the coastal plain including Welsh, Jennings, Iowa, and so on.  The formerly Swedish churches were almost all in Williamson and Travis Counties so they went to the Central Texas and Southwest Texas Conferences.  Several of the former German churches joined the Texas and Southwest Texas Conferences.  The Texas Conference was a primary recipient of churches from the booming coastal plain. Churches that entered the Texas Conference from the Southern Conference included (among others) Addicks, Rose Hill, Brenham, Fairbanks, Galveston,  Collins, Oakwood, LaPorte, Needville, Pattison, Pearland, Rosenberg, Texas City, Woodville, Hughes Springs, Marshall, and Port Arthur.


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