Saturday, February 22, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  February 23

Enoch Marvin Appointed to Marshall, February 1865.

The First United Methodist Church of Marshall has a magnificent stained glass window dedicated to one of its preachers who was elected bishop while serving that church.  Enoch Mather Marvin was the first Texas preacher to be elected a Methodist bishop.

Actually Marvin was much more a Missourian than a Texan.  He had been born in Warren County, Missouri, in 1823, and climbed  the steps of ordination to full membership in the Missouri Conference by 1843.  He was far from polished, and observers of the young preacher commented on his awkwardness and ill-fitting clothes.   In spite of his rough-hewn ways, he had the gift of connecting with the common people and was presiding elder before he was thirty.  In 1856 we was appointed to the Centenary Church in St. Louis, one of the best appointments in the conference in one of the great cities of the era.

He filled that appointment until 1862 when he left.  By that time, it was obvious that Missouri was to remain in the Union, and Marvin’s sympathies were with the South.  Marvin served as chaplain to Confederate forces and often preached in MECS churches, including the one in Marshall, Texas.  One should recall that the Missouri government in exile used Marshall as its headquarters from November 1863 to the end of the war.
In February 1865 the Marshall preacher, C. L. Hamill, died.  A delegation of Marshallites went ot the Presiding Elder to ask him to send Marvin to be their preacher.  Marvin was well-known to the congregation since he had preached at the church several times in 1864. 

Enoch Marvin accepted the position and set the wheels in motion requesting that Abraham Lincoln authorize his family to pass through the military lines. Mrs. Marvin had remained in St. Louis and had not seen her husband since his 1862 departure.  In March, 1865 Mrs. Marvin and the children not only got permission, but transportation down the Mississippi on a Federal gun boat.  They eventually found their way up the Red River and a short distance overland to Gaines Crossing of the Sabine.  By this time they were being escorted by Confederate rather than Union soldiers, and a reunion was achieved. 

The story of Marvin’s election in absentia at the General Conference of 1866 is well known, including his refusal to shave his beard and the necessity to buy new clothes for his consecration service.

Enoch Marvin was one of the most beloved bishops of his era.  Marvin UMC in Tyler is named for him.  Marvin College in Waxahachie and Enoch Marvin College in Kan were both named for him.  There were also many Texas Methodists who named their sons “Marvin” in his honor.


Post a Comment

<< Home