Saturday, November 21, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History  November 22

Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph Publishes Methodist/Freedmen’s Bureau Exchange   November 26, 1865.  

One of the main objectives of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Texas was to make sure formerly enslaved persons received the education that would enable them to move up the economic ladder.   Schools for freedmen were opened throughout Texas and the rest of the South, and men and women, boys and girls flocked to them in their thirst for knowledge.   In most cases a Bureau official was put in charge of making sure those schools received the support they needed.  The agent for Houston was Henry W. Stuart

In November, 1865, he inserted himself into the relations between the African American Methodist Church (today’s Trinity UMC) and the European American Methodist Church (today’s First UMC).

The African American Methodist congregation was large enough that it was able to organize its own church and build its own building.  When the European American Methodist church building deteriorated to the point it could not be used, the African American congregation rented their building to them.  

The arrangement worked until the African American congregation decided to begin a Sunday School.  They therefore wished to reclaim their building during the Sunday morning time slot the European Americans had been using.  

For reasons we do not know, Henry Stuart inserted himself into the situation by writing the following letter to the stewards of the European American Methodists

Rev. W. R. Fayle,
Rector of the Methodist Church Houston,
Dear Sir, It is the wish of the colored people, the owners of the Church you now worship in, to establish a Sabbath School, and in order to do this, it will be necessary for them to have use of the Church on Sabbath mornings.
In the absence of Lt. Col. DeGress, Provost Marshal of this district, who had intended giving you notice to give up the Church to-day, I address you, asking that you will be pleased, after this days services, at the free and entire disposal of the colored people so they may commence their Sabbath School next Sunday, the 26th of November, inst.
I am, Sir, your obliged and ob’t s’v.
Superintendent and Teacher Government Colored Schools, Houston, Texas
P. S. –arrangements can no doubt be made for placing the Church at your disposal on Sabbath afternoons, H. W. S.

James Dumble, Secretary of the trustees, replied to Stuart.
Superintendent and Teacher Government Colored Schools, Houston, Texas
Your communication to the Rev. W. R. Fayle of the 18th inst. is herewith returned by the officers in charge of the property belonging to the Methodist Church in this city.  They are not able to recognize you as having any voice or shadow of authority to act for the “colored people.”  They have their official members connected with the colored congregation, and recognized Pastor, “colored,” whose wishes we are, as we always have been, ready to meet in a proper spirit

Without any desire to make your honored acquaintance, we remain,
The Trustees of the M. E. Church South, Houston Station,
Jas. F. Dumble, Secretary


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