Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History March 30

Registration for Jurisdictional Convocation Now Open

The South Central Jurisdictional Convocation of Archivists and the Texas United Methodist Historical Society will hold a joint meeting iOctober 8-11 in San Antonio.  The theme of the conference is Methodism in San Antonio – Its Ethnic, Cultural and Missional Diversity.  

Conference attendees will be treated to full program of tours and presentations.  Three historic churches (St. Paul's, La Trinidad, and Travis Park UMC) with ties to the African-American, Mexican-American, and Anglo-American heritage of the city will host tours.  

Participants will also tour the Institute of Texan Cultures and Mission San Jose.  On Wednesday, October 8, dinner will be served on the grounds of the Alamo.  

Comfortable housing, reasonably priced, has been arranged at the Oblate Retreat Center.

Registration is now open though the South West Texas Conference web site.

See you in San Antonio!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  March 23

Southwestern Pirates Host White Sox, Defending A. L. Champs, March 29, 1920

Modern baseball fans are aware that major league baseball teams have spring training in either Florida or Arizona.  The Texas heritage of spring training is all but forgotten.  In fact Texas was once a favorite destination for major league baseball spring training.  Dozens of Texas cities hosted major league teams.  Some such as Marlin and Mineral Wells were known for the relaxing baths.  Other cities such as Eagle Pass, San Antonio, and Galveston could promise warm weather.  Even smaller towns like Seguin, New Braunfels, Marshall, and Waxahachie hosted big name stars known only through newspaper reports. 

So it was that on March 29, 1920, the Chicago White Sox came down from Waco to Georgetown to take on the Pirate nine at Snyder Field.  The 1920 Sox were the defending American League Champs, and the rumors about their throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds after being paid off by gamblers were not yet substantiated.  

The Sox boasted a powerful lineup that is remembered mainly through the 1988 motion picture, Eight Men Out.  The two most famous stars were Shoeless Joe Jackson, and “Knuckles” Eddie Cicotte.  The roster also included “Cocky” Eddie Collins who still holds the major league career record for sacrifice bunts, and a young man from Austin named Bibb Falk who was to write his name in large letters across the Texas baseball world as coach of the University of Texas Longhorns. 

The collegiate team was scrappy, but in the end lost to the pros 6-3.  The Pirates outhit the Sox, but bases on balls, the nemesis of young pitchers, doomed them. 

When the Sox began the regular season, they continued their winning ways from the previous year, but in September, when they were only one-half game out of first, the Black Sox scandal broke.  Eight star players were suspended immediately, and the team went into a tailspin.  Pirate baseballers probably read those news reports with an great interest. 

Coincidence—The White Sox were not the only visitors from Waco in Georgetown during the last week of March, 1920.  Robert E. Goodrich, pastor of Waco’s Austin Avenue Methodist Church, was conducting a revival at First Methodist Georgetown.  Goodrich, Southwestern class of 1903, was a rising star in the MECS.  His first appointment was to Dublin where he replaced Hiram Boaz when Boaz became president of Polytechnic College.  That pastorate was followed by appointments to Stamford, St. Luke’s in Oklahoma City, St. Jo in Missouri, and then to Austin Avenue in Waco. Goodrich was pastor of First Methodist Houston from 1932 to 1936.   His last appointment was as District Superintendent of the Tyler District of the Texas Conference where he baptized the author of this entry in This Week in Texas Methodist History.  

One wonders whether Rev. Goodrich went to watch the exciting baseball game and cheer for the Pirates against the pros.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  March 16

Galveston Editor Reprints Oxford Sermon  March 16, 1844

Journalistic standards of the mid-19th century included reprinting anything and everything of interest that came across the editor’s desk.  It was even common for newspapers to exchange complimentary issues with each other to facilitate the process.  The March 16, 1844 Civilian and Galveston Gazette contains the following interesting Methodist sermon from an English newspaper.

I am not one of your fashionable, fine-spoken, mealy mouthed preachers.  I tell you the plain truth. What are your pastimes? Cards and dice, and fiddling and dancing, guzzling and guttling!  Can you be saved by dice?   No!  Will the four knaves give you a passport to heaven?  No!  Can you fiddle yourself into a good berth among the sheep? No!  You will dance yourself to damnation among the goats.  You may guzzle wine here, but you’ll want a drop a water to cool your tongue hereafter?  Will the prophets say, “come here gamester and teach us the long odds.”?  “Tis odds if they do.    Will the martyrs rant and rave and shuffle with you?  No!  The martyrs are no shufflers.    You will be cut in a way you little expect,  Lucifer will come with his reapers and his sickles and his forks and you will be cut down and bound and carted, and housed in hell!  I will not oil my lips to please you!   I tell you the plaini truth.  Ammon and Mammon  and Moloch are making Bethoron hot for you!   Profane wretchers!  I have heard you wrangle and brawl, and tell one another in front of me, “I’ll see you d___________d first.” But I tell you. The day will come when you pray to Belzebub to escape the church. And what will be his answer?  “I’ll see you d_______d first.” 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History March 9

Abilene Methodist Women Bring Culture to West Texas   March 9, 1894

Many cities in East Texas were hacked out of the forest and grew slowly over time.  Many cities in West Texas seemed to pop up like mushrooms after a rain as soon as the railroads established a depot. 

Abilene is only one of many examples that could be cited to illustrate the process of city building.  It went from a stop on  a railroad track to a city with cultural and religious attractions in just a few years.  The Texas and Pacific RR platted the town.  Lots were auctioned in 1881, and it was incorporated in 1883.  Just ten years later it had a population of several thousand and all the refinements one could ask for.  Naturally the churches played an important “civilizing” role.  

On March 9, 1894, the Abilene Reporter announced that the Methodist women were sponsoring a fund raising concert in the opera house.  The surviving program reveals a sophisticated musical evening that would have delighted music lovers in New York, Paris, London, or any other major city. 

There were piano soli by Mendelssohn and Wendel, but most of the program consisted of vocal performances.  Handel was the most performed composer, and selections from his oratorio Esther, made up most of the evening’s performance.  His magnificent soprano solo, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, from the Messiah, was also performed.   A mixed octet opened the program with the Gloria from Mozart’s Twelfth Mass opened the program, and the entire chorus finished the program with Praise Ye the Lord, from Esther.  

The Methodist women in Abilene were doing their part to bring refinement and culture to the Plains. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History March 2

James Reily, Soldier, Statesman,  Delivers Oration for Houston Cornerstone Laying March 2, 1843
The 7th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto was a joyous occasion in Houston.  1842 had been a difficult year for the Lone Star Republic and for Texas Methodists.  There had been two Mexican incursions all the way to San Antonio.  A punitive expedition succeeded in driving them out, but over enthusiastic Texians pressed the military operation all the way to Mier, and the result was a disaster.  T. O Summers, the Methodist preacher for Houston and Galveston, left Texas on a fund raising trip to the United States, and the December 1842 Texas Annual Conference had to be conducted without a bishop.  Bishop Roberts became ill on his way to Bastrop, the site of annual conference, and went home to die.  

On the other hand, there were some hopeful signs.  Sam Houston was serving his second term as president of the republic and reining in the free spending, expansionist programs of his predecessor, Mirabeau B. Lamar.  Immigrants were continuing to stream into Texas where most of them established farms.  Summer’s fundraising trip had been successful enough to begin construction of Ryland Chapel Methodist Church in Galveston.  

On March 2, 1843, the 7th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, Houston Methodists laid the cornerstone for their church building.  Exactly one year earlier, March 2, 1842, Presiding Elder Robert Alexander had presided over a quarterly meeting which authorized the construction and named Charles Shearn, an English immigrant and Houston merchant, as chair of the building committee.

By 1843 there were at least two fraternal organizations, the Masons and the Odd Fellows in Houston.  Both of them participated in the ceremony.  The party then processed to the Presbyterian Church where Major James Reily delivered the main oration.  

James Reily had been born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1811. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and then began studying law at Transylvania University in Kentucky.  While in Kentucky he married Ellen Ross, a grandniece of Henry Clay.  The couple moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where Reily practiced law. 
He moved to Nacogdoches some time after San Jacinto and quickly assumed positions of leadership.  He was aide-de-camp and law partner of Thomas J. Rusk and commissioned a major in the Texian Army.  He served in a variety of diplomatic, legislative, and commercial posts for the Republic.  He became a friend of Littleton Fowler and other Methodists even though he was an Episcopalian.  
The church, called Shearn Methodist Church, was widely noted because it was brick structure in a city of wooden houses and muddy streets.  It eventually moved its location and changed its name to First Methodist Church Houston.

Reily later served in the Mexican War and was appointed Consul to St. Petersburg, Russia, under President Buchanan. He accepted a commission as Colonel in the Civil War and died in 1864 in a battle at Bayou Teche, Louisiana.