Saturday, May 03, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History   May 4

Bible Society of Coahuila y Texas Recognized at Columbia   May 7, 1835

One of the first, if not the first interdenominational organization the Methodist Episcopal Church joined was the American Bible Society, founded in 1816.  The ABS grew with an expanding nation and provided Bibles for Texas well before independence was achieved in 1836.

The first entry in the ABS Archives that mentions Texas is in the minutes for 1831.  E. R. Butler is given thirty Bibles and seventy testaments for sale or gratuitous distribution in Texas.   According to the minutes they were intended for a small colony of Americans and a few Swiss in Texas.

In 1833 a Colonel Langworthy was given twenty-five Bibles and fifty testaments  by the ABS and its Mississippi affiliate added another fifty of each—some of which were in Spanish. 

The real push came in 1834 when the ABS commissioned Sumner Bacon (1790-1844) as an agent for Texas and furnished him with one hundred English language Bibles, one hundred English language testaments, fifty Spanish language Bibles, and two hundred Spanish testaments.  Bacon travelled widely through Texas and eventually distributed approximately 2,000 Bibles and testaments.  

Bacon organized at least two local chapters of the American Bible Society in Mexican Texas.  The first was at San Augustine in September 1834 and another at Columbia on May 7, 1835.  A. C. Ainsworth was named secretary of the Coahuila y Texas Bible Society, but the names of the other members are not available.

After independence, Texans organized other local chapters of the Bible Society, and it became an important force in helping spread the Gospel message.  Schuyler Hoes, a Methodist preacher from New York was one agent who came to the Republic of Texas under the sponsorship of the ABS.  His work in and around Houston brought him into contact with Littleton Fowler and Robert Alexander.  


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