Saturday, April 22, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  April 23

Martin Ruter Writes Nathan Bangs from Texas, April 26, 1838

Probably the last letter Martin Ruter wrote was to Nathan Bangs on April 26, 1838.  His last letter to his wife, Ruth Ruter, in New Albany, Indiana, was written 3 days before.  Nathan Bangs ran the Publishing House in New York City, edited the Advocate, and handled mission correspondence for the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The two men knew each other well.  Ruter had headed the Cincinnati Publishing House from 1820-1828, and they knew each other from General Conference sessions. 

The “last letter” mentions the illness that would kill Ruter within only three weeks from the writing, but also contains a prayer for spiritual welfare of Texans.  Here is the letter.

My health was uniformly good until the first of the present month.  Since that time I have been afflicted with a fever, which I hope is now nearly subdued.  It is supposed to have been produced by fatigue, and by riding too much in the sun.  My travels on horseback have exceeded two thousand miles, and may have been in some instances, too great for my strength.  My object has been to visit as much of the country as practicable, and supply with occasional preaching all the destitute places my time and strength would permit.  And when we consider the change of climate, new state of country and the privations with are unavoidable, it is surprising that my health has been thus far preserved.  It has pleased the great Head of the Church to smile upon our feeble efforts, enabling us to say,  “We know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  Even here, in the land where hostile armies recently met in dreadful conflict, and where the thunders of battle were heard, where we still hear of war and rumors of war, the Prince of Peace is extending his peaceful kingdom.  And let it extend!  O let it spread rapidly here, and in other regions until the angel shall proclaim that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of the Lord

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History April  16

Tragedy Strikes Opening Night of 1968 General Conference, Rev. and Mrs. D. L. Landrum, Jr., Killed in Plane Crash   April 21, 1968

Sunday, April 21, 1968 was the opening of the historic General Conference that would result in the creation of the United Methodist Church through the uniting of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.   Unfortunately as the delegates recessed from the evening session, they learned that a tragic plane crash has killed the Rev. and Mrs. D. L. Landrum, Jr. of First Methodist Wichita, Kansas.  The pastor’s father, D. L. Landrum, Sr., was a delegate to the conference and the District Superintendent of the Palestine District of the Texas Conference. 

The younger Landrum was born in Houston in 1928.  He attended Southwestern University and Perkins School of Theology.  He served pastorates in the Texas Conference including Milano Circuit, Calvert, Joaquin, Brookshire, and in 1958 was appointed to organize a new church in west Houston, Memorial Drive.  That church grew rapidly and soon became one of the largest churches in the conference.  In May 1967 he transferred to First Methodist Wichita. 

Wichita is known for its aviation industry and the large number of private citizens who own airplanes.  One of the church members offered his private plane for D. L. and Betty Landrum to visit friends in Houston for a weekend, and then stop in Dallas to visit other friends at the General Conference.  Their two children, Laura Lee (11) and Lawrence (10) remained in Wichita.   They were only seven miles from Wichita when the plane crashed. 

There were two services.  Bishop McFerrin Stowe led a service at First (now United) Methodist Church in Wichita.  At Memorial Drive UMC Rev. Charles Williams, who had replaced Rev. Landrum, Bishop Stowe, and Bishop Paul Martin conducted another funeral service. 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 9

Bishop Paul Martin Participates in Ecumenical Food Aid Project in Galveston,  1966

Surrounded by clouds of grain dust, cranes, and Galveston dock workers, Bishop Paul E. Martin participated with other church leaders in blessing a cargo of 21,000 tons of wheat being shipped to Bombay, India where it would be distributed by Indian churches.  The Rev. Jester White, Galveston District Superintendent, was there along with about 45 Methodist preachers and spouses.  The Rev. Norman Sundwall, director of CROP was there as well as Msgr. Daniel O’Donnell of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Galveston.  Canon Gerald McAlister, President of the Texas Council of Churches was also on the docks that day. 

The wheat was donated by the U. S. government through the AID program, but the transportation and distribution were paid for through Church World Service and Catholic Relief Services.  Bishop Martin and Canon McAlister stood beside a 500 pound sack of wheat, and Bishop Martin said, “Perhaps this is one of the most sacred moments you and I have ever known.”

Saturday, April 01, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  April 2

Ellen J. Downs Robinson Urges Creation of Woman’s Missionary Society Units

The April 4, 1885, Texas Christian Advocate contains an appeal from the North Texas Conference WMS President, Ellen J. Downs Robinson of Paris.  The WMS was a relatively new organization, having been established in 1880.  Robinson’s goal was to have a chapter “at every appointment on every circuit.” 
“Aunt Rob,” as she was called, was born on Christmas Eve, 1824, in Canada to James and Freedom Rider Downs.  She and her whole family were converted to Methodism and were all baptized on Christmas Day, 1837.  Ellen taught school for about ten years in New York, but then responded to the call for missionary service. 

In October, 1856 she left Champlain, New York, for New York City.  She then travelled to New Orleans were she was met by Bishop and Mrs. Kavanaugh.  Then she travelled by steam boat to Shreveport and a smaller boat to Jefferson, Texas, which was the main entryway into northeastern Texas.  She then made her way to Daingerfield, and then north to Bloomfield Academy in the Chickasaw Nation.  Bloomfield Academy had been founded by the Rev. John H. Carr and the Chickasaw Nation in 1852.  It was a female boarding school. 
Funds for the Academy dried up during the Civil War so she moved to Paris, Texas, where she lived the rest of her life—until 1910.

She taught Sunday School for 40 years, was president of the Paris WMS for thirty years and served seven years as President of the North Texas Conference WMS.  She was buried in Old City Cemetery after services at Centenary Methodist Church in Paris.