Friday, April 11, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History   April 13

Epworth Leaguers Meet in San Antonio   April 14-17, 1896

In the 1890’s the Epworth League zoomed to prominence in both the northern and southern branches of Methodism.  The League was a young person’s organization, but should not be confused with today’s United Methodist Youth Fellowship because the League included young adults in its membership.    The League followed Methodist organization patterns with local, sub-district, district, conference, and state organizations.  It provided young persons a training ground for leadership.

Several thousand Leaguers met for the fifth annual state meeting in San Antonio from April 14-17, 1896.  The program committee consisting of W. W. Pinson (Travis Park Methodist in San Antonio), Seth Ward (of the Texas Conference, later bishop), and D. E. Emerson (North Texas Conference), put together a program that emphasized missions.  

The delegates were welcomed on Tuesday night by a sermon preached by E. D. Mouzon, then of Abilene, but later elected bishop.  On Wednesday, the first full day of the meeting, the delegates participated in song services, organized themselves into committees, and heard speeches from the mayor of San Antonio, J. C. Martin of Nashville, and other prominent Methodists.  V. A. Godbey of Rusk addressed the convention on “The League:  A Development in the Spirit of Methodism.”  He was followed by J. E. McAshan of Houston who spoke on “The League: A Factor in the Future of Methodism.”  Bishop Eugene Hendrix of Kansas City preached the concluding sermon that night.  

Thursday activities followed the same pattern with addresses by Professor H. C. Pritchett of Sam Houston State Normal (today’s Sam Houston State University), Rev. George Stewart of Cleveland, Texas, on temperance, and Rev. W. D. Bradfield of Weatherford on “The Duty of the League to Non-church Going Masses.”  Thursday night concluded with another bishop in the pulpit.  Bishop Joseph Key of Sherman preached a Jubilee sermon.

There were no scheduled activities all day Friday as delegates were invited to go to the tourist attractions in San Antonio.  Friday night the concluding service was a massed choir concert.

There were other opportunities even after adjournment.  About 1000 Leaguers went north to Austin and marched en masse from the station to the State Capitol and chanted until Governor Culberson came to steps and addressed them.  They spent the rest of Saturday touring the Capitol and the new dam that had just been built across the Colorado.  (The dam was finished in 1893 and was washed out by a flood in April, 1900.)

Another group took advantage of special excursion rates offered by the railroad to go south.  They stopped for the night at Laredo Seminary (later Holding Institute) to observe the boarding school for Spanish speaking students.  That wasn’t all.  Some Leaguers continued the excursion to Monterrey and  even to Mexico City.   There were Methodist missions in both cities, including a hospital in Monterrey and several more schools to visit. 

The text of McAshan’s speech was later printed in the Houston Daily Post.  It may be accessed at  James E. McAshan (1857-1916) was a banker, trustee of Rice Institute (later Rice University) and member of First Methodist Church Houston.  There was a McAshan Methodist Church in Houston named for him.


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