Saturday, February 14, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History   February 15

San Antonio Methodists Honor the Late George Rankin, February 14, 1915

In 1915—one hundred years ago—Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday.  It was also scheduled as the opening session of a week long revival at Travis Park Methodist Church in San Antonio.  The featured preacher for the revival was one of the MECS bishops, Elijah E. Hoss (1849-1919), of Nashville, Tennessee.  Travis Park organizers invited other Methodist churches in the city and also the general public for the opening session on Sunday afternoon, February 14.  

The plans were changed, however, and became a memorial service for George Rankin, the editor of the Texas Christian Advocate who died at his Dallas home on February 2.  The San Antonio Express reported that hundreds of San Antonians attended the services. 

How could a preacher and editor whom most of the audience never met be so popular as to attract a large crowd on Valentine’s Day afternoon?  The answer is that Rankin used the Advocate as a strong voice for the prohibition campaign.  Rankin was a hero to the dry cause and known far beyond the readership of the Advocate for fighting the good fight.

 The Travis Park pastor, the Rev. W. D. Bradfield, started the services with “On with the battle!  There won’t be a stopping until the battle is won.”  Other Methodist ministers followed Bradfield.  J. T. Curry of West End and J. W. Hill of Laurel Heights delivered a flowery, literary eulogy which was reprinted by the Express.  After comparing Rankin to Napoleon, he closed, “Our great Ulysses has gone on his long wanderings, and who is left in Ithaca to bend his mighty bow?” Mrs. Hannah Cluck then sang Rankin’s favorite hymn, Christ is all the World to Me, to the tune of Annie Laurie.  

They weren’t through---J. E. Harrison, president of San Antonio Female College—made a special address to the youth who were present.  He encouraged them to model their lives on the example of Dr. Rankin.  The final words of tribute were delivered by the Presiding Elder, J. H. Groseclose.  

What about Bishop Hoss?  He certainly would have been the featured speaker—He had been elected to the episcopacy from the editorship of the Nashville Christian Advocate, and recognized Rankin as a fellow Christian journalist.  Unfortunately, Bishop Hoss did not arrive in time to participate in the huge outpouring of love for George Rankin and rededication to the cause of prohibition. 


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