This Week in Texas Methodist History February 14
Huntsville Preacher Hears Complaints about Members Losing Old Time Religion. February 1884
Rev. J. G. Johnson served Huntsville as pastor from 1843-1845 and also pastored nearby Martha’s Chapel. Much later he received letters from his nephew, Benjamin A. Giger, about the sad state of religion. Even worse, the pastor himself was among the “worldly” members of the congregation.
Here are excerpts from two letters to Johnson from February, 1885.
We have got our new church done and are in it, but I am sorry to say have lost all our religion. It was dedicated last Thanksgiving Day and our preacher in charge was married to the Widow Hicks and had a big Thanksgiving Dinner in it the same day, and then again in January, they had a big Festival. They put up a big cook stove in the basement and cooked and eat and upstairs they had a candy store and auction sale and I am sorry to say our preacher in charge was at the head of all it; Uncle Jim, that kind of religion may do, but is not the kind Ellen and I have. We think the Church of God is a sacred place and if the people have any regard for god, they will for His House.
We have just closed a protracted meeting at our new church that lasted four weeks, there was twenty that joined. Religion now days is not the same that is was thirty or forty years ago. Then they would become convicted of sin and when they were converted, they would not keep it to themselves, no the only way you can tell when they were converted they would not keep it to themselves, now the only way you can tell when they are converted is by asking them. Then, when they joined the church, they were not allowed to attend the theater, dance, and play cards, and attend all the play parties, but now all of them things has to be allowed or they will not join, of course the church does not sanction all of them things, but permit it and what is the difference? I have not heard a person shout when they were converted in fifteen or twenty years. How I would like to see the good old times religion once more and see every body happy and praising God once more. .