Saturday, December 12, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History  December 13

Texas Conference Gains 5000+ members, 55 Local Preachers, by General Conference Action, December 1882

The Texas Annual Conference brought a petition to the 1866 General Conference of MECS that the northern portion of its territory be struck off into a new conference.  The General Conference agreed and the Northwest Texas Conference was organized later in the year.  The Texas Conference had suggested the boundary between the two conferences.  That suggested division line basically followed the southern boundaries of Leon, Robertson, Milam, and Williamson Counties.  That line, suggested by the Texas Conference, was adopted.

The Texas Conference began to regret its generosity almost immediately.  It began petitioning General Conference to redraw the line.  The General Conference, then and now, has a committee on boundaries.  Most of the time that committee ratifies agreements already negotiated between annual conferences.  The Northwest Texas Conference resisted the retrocession petitions, and the General Conferences agreed with their position.

Finally in 1882 the Northwest Texas Conference had grown large enough that it would afford to give some charges back to the Texas Conference.

The new boundary basically returned Leon, Robertson, Milam, Falls, Freestone, and the southern part of Limestone Counties to the Texas Conference.  

That area included more than 5000 Methodists and 55 local preachers.  The charges included circuits and stations.  Circuits:  Marlin, Kosse, Bremond, Wheelock, West Falls, Big Creek, Headville, Davilla, Cameron, San Gabriel, Milano, Buffalo, Jewett, Centreville, Fairfield, Personville.
Stations:  Rockdale, Cameron, 

Nineteen preachers from the Northwest Texas Conference transferred to the Texas Conference and nine preachers from the Northwest Texas Conference who served in the impacted area chose to remain in that conference. 

One of the pastors so impacted was the 24 year old Seth Ward who had been ordained at the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of 1881.  The boundary realignment brought Ward into the bounds of the Texas Conference.  Readers of this blog will recognize Ward as the first native born Texan to be elected bishop.  Who knows what his career path would have been if he had stayed in the Northwest Texas Conference?  

The Northwest Texas Conference barely missed the six counties.  1882 was almost at the start of the great settlement of must of western Texas along the rail lines.  The Texas and Pacific and Fort Worth and Denver (think I-20 and US 287) created a boom in city and farm development.  Churches soon followed.  Within just a few years the Northwest Texas Conference was by far the largest MECS conference in Texas.  In 1910 it struck off its southeast portion to become the Central Texas Conference.


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