This Week in Texas Methodist History Jan. 15
Texas Conference of Evangelical Association Meets in Houston, Recognizes Lillie Belle Bayles For Serving Lissie January 18, 1945
The long struggle for full ordination of women was finally ended at the 1956 General Conference of the Methodist Church. What we sometimes forget is that women in other branches of Methodism had been acting in pastoral roles well before that date.
The Methodist Protestant and Evangelical Association branches of the Wesleyan movement were more open to women in ministry than the other branches.
A case in point occurred at Lissie when the pastor, the Rev. Francis McP. Bayles died at age 59 in June, 1944. Mrs. Lillie Belle Bayles, in spite of the grief she must have experienced, assumed the role of minister until October when Rev. Nevin Peterson arrived as a transfer from the Pittsburgh Conference.
The conference was meeting in Houston that year, in Oaklawn Church. Bayles had recently served that church. The conference looked ahead to the merger of the denominational with the United Brethren to create the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) the next year.
In addition to thanking Mrs. Bayles for continuing the ministry, the conference had many accomplishments to report. The conference was finally able to print its journals. For 10 years, the journals had been mimeographed. They had been able to purchase a district parsonage in San Antonio. The merger of Scotland church with First Wichita Falls was accomplished. The summer assembly was resumed. It had been suspended for the war years because of the shortage of tires and gasoline. El Campo offered to host that assembly in July.
Lillie Belle Bayles lived another 30 years. She died in Dallas in 1974.