This Week in Texas Methodist History December 4
“Mac’s” Promote Lane College, December 4, 1885
The Texas Annual Conference met in Austin during the first week of December, 1885. Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire (1824-1889) presided. Also present was John B. McFerrin, (1807-1887), Mission Secretary and editor of mission publications. Both men were among the group of leaders who made Nashville, Tennessee, the most prominent city in MECS circles. McTyeire was instrumental in obtaining the gift that established Vanderbilt University there.
The high point of annual conference is the ordination of preachers. With the new ordinands standing before him, McTyeire offered what may seem strange advice. He said. “Stay off the railroads. Use a horse to ride your circuits.” His reasoning was that many people lived away from the railroads. Their souls needed saving. Staying close to the tracks meant that some souls would spend eternity in hell. The recommendation echoed Francis Asbury’s decision at age 65 to sell his buggy and go back to horseback. There were some roads too narrow for a buggy.
McTyeire and McFerrin were joined by another “Mc” at the Texas Conference in the cause of another school—Paine Institute in Augusta Georgia.
On December 4, 1885, as the conference was concluding its business, a layman, Ben E. McCullouch, rose to present the case for Paine Institute (later College). Paine was a fledgling institution, having been founded in 1882 with equal number of trustees from the MECS and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (later Christian). It was named after Bishop Robert Paine of the MECS who had helped organize the CME from the African American membership of the MECS during Reconstruction. Classes began in 1884.
Ben E. McCulloch should not be confused with Benjamin McCulloch, one of the most distinguished military figures of Texas from his arrival in later 1835 until his death in the Civil War in 1862. As far as I can tell, the Ben McCulloch speaking for Paine was his nephew.
He presented the request (today we would call it an apportionment) for $250 from the Texas Conference for the support of Paine Institute for the training of African American preachers and teachers. It was known as “a school of prophesy.”
After McCulloch’s speech, McFerrin took the floor to add his endorsement of the project, adding that he had stayed with McCulloch’s grandfather as a young circuit rider on his first appointment in Tennessee.
Dr. A. E. Goodwyn, the pastor from Brenham, suggested that the conference take a collection of cash or pledges right there on the conference floor. McFerrin immediately thanked him and suggested that he give $25 to the project himself to start it. McFerrin and McCulloch then went down the aisles until the $250 had been pledged. When he returned home, Goodwyn’s congregation paid $30 and relived him of personally contributing.
At the same time a CME High School was starting in Tennessee. Eventually it rose to collegiate status as Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.
Solicitations for Lane and Paine were a regular feature of annual conferences in the MECS and even in the southern conferences of the MC after 1939. The Disciplinary language that asked MC annual conferences to raise funds for Paine and Lane did not disappear until the 1968 unification. Both Paine and Lane College continue to carry on their educational missions.