Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History   May 31

North Texas Conference Epworth League Meets in Gainesville June 5-7, 1895

The North Texas Conference Epworth League met in Gainesville during the first week of June 1895 for an exciting time of preaching, business sessions, and socializing.  At least 3000 Leaguers from around the conference stayed in private homes, hotels, and the YMCA.  The people of Gainesville, including the Baptist preacher, the Rev. Splawn extended most generous hospitality to the visitors.

What did they talk about?  Here are a few of the topics:
Christianity from a Lawyer’s Stand Point (sic)  The Hon. John Church
The Relation of the League to the Church of the Future, E. H. Casey (Sulfur Springs)
How to Derive the Greatest Good From League Prayer Services,  Ed D. Steager (Bonham)
The Literary Department and its Possible Development, Miss Belle Marshall (Whitesboro)
The Best Method of Conducting the Junior League, Mrs. F. B. Carrol, Van Alstyne)
The Necessity for and how to Conduct Cottage Prayer Meetings, J. J. Clark, (Winnsboro) 

Bishop Joseph Key, an enthusiastic supporter of the Epworth League, was the preacher.  He chose his text from David’s lament for Absalom.  (II Sam. 18:33)
Although the League was only a few years old, it was already being criticized by some conservatives as being too social, and the meetings were too full of courting activities.   Rev. W. A. Rippey took that accusation head on and said,
“I hope the time will never come when Leaguers cease to court.  Let the courting go on, and if one leaguer falls in love with another leaguer, and they get married, it will help solve Bishop Key’s great problem about unscriptural marriages.”   

The most interesting message was delivered by Rev. C. B. Carter of Dallas.  His allotted time of twenty minutes must have seemed too brief for his twin topics, “Why I am a Methodist.” And “ Why I am a Southern Methodist.” 

His talk on the latter subject echoed the arguments being advanced by ex-confederates in the 1880s and 1890s that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War.  Carter similarly claimed that slavery was not the cause of the Methodist split.  Instead of reunion with the MEC, he called for a confederation of Methodist bodies—something like the World Methodist Council of today—a loose association of friendly denominations but not organic union.   The argument that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War still resonates today among Confederate descendant organizations and neo-Confederate groups, but not much support among academic historians.  The argument about the Methodist split carries no such modern resonance.

The delegates then passed a resolution asking the governor prevent a boxing match scheduled for the Texas State Fair and then elected officers and chose the site for the 1896 convention.
The officers included
E. D. Steager,  President (Bonham)
A. W. Cullum, First Vice president
Mrs. F. B. Carroll Second Vice president
Robert E. Cofer, Third Vice president
D. E. Emerson, Secretary
Miss Sue Warrant, Treasurer
Gus Thomesson (sic), S. A. Ashburn, and J. L. Inglish  executive committee

Sherman beat Terrell in the election for hosting the 1896 NTC Epworth League Meeting.


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