Saturday, January 16, 2016

This Week in Texas Methodist History   January 17

San Antonio Methodists Welcome Edwin Mouzon as Resident Bishop January 17, 1911

Travis Park MECC in San Antonio was the site for one of Texas Methodism’s great celebrations on January 17, 1911.  The event was a welcoming party for Edwin Mouzon, former pastor of Travis Park.  He served the downtown city church from 1904 to 1908 when he moved to Southwestern University to teach theology.  At the 1910 MECS General Conference in Asheville, NC, he was elected bishop.  

In this era bishops were not required or even expected to live in their episcopal area—after all each bishop supervised multiple conferences and traveled much of the year.  Mouzon’s chose San Antonio as his residence, and Methodists there were delighted.  

San Antonio was a major Texas Methodist hub in 1910, perhaps rivaling even Dallas. (remember SMU had not been founded yet.)  Five Presiding Elders of the MECS lived in San Antonio (English speaking San Antonio, Llano, and Uvalde Districts and the Spanish and German speaking districts as well).  A. J. Weeks, later editor of the Texas Christian Advocate, was president of the San Antonio Female College, and the Methodist home for unwed mothers was already in operation.  A. K. Ragsdale, president of the Texas Epworth League, lived in San Antonio.   

San Antonio was also a railroad hub and was the acknowledged commercial, financial, and cultural center for a huge swath of West and South Texas.  Mouzon’s choice made a great deal of sense.
Although Travis Park, pastored by V. A. Godbey, was the site of the welcoming celebration, all the MECS churches in the area participated in the gala.  J. H. Groseclose (Laurel Heights) served as master of ceremonies.  He introduced a succession of church and civic leaders who praised Mouzon.   

Then Bishop Mouzon took the pulpit to reply to the accolades.  That reply stressed how he was coming to a city he knew well and his intention to be a pastor to the community.  

Mouzon didn’t stay in San Antonio very long.  When SMU was founded, he went to Dallas to the Theological Department.  That assignment left him time for his episcopal duties in addition to his academic duties. 

Mouzon spent the 1920s and 1930s presiding over conferences in Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.  Mouzon took the lead in many of the issues of the day.  He supported the U.S. entrance into the League of Nations, opposed Al Smith for president in 1928, and was a stalwart prohibitionist.  

He was also one of the bishops most outspoken in the battle against fundamentalism.  His 1923 booklet So-Called Fundamentalism was expanded into a book, The Fundamentals of Methodism.  

Bishop Edwin Mouzon died at his home in Charlotte, NC, in February, 1937, and his body was returned to Oakland Cemetery in Dallas for burial.

The celebration at Travis Park in 1911 was one expression of the great love Texas Methodists had for Edwin Mouzon.  A more lasting one is the number of Texas Methodists who named their sons “Mouzon.”  At one time there were five members of the Texas Annual Conference with the given name “Mouzon.” 


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