Saturday, June 03, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 4

C. A. West Announces Publication of Methodism on the March, June 4, 1959

On Thursday morning, June 4, 1959 the Rev. C. A. West announced the publication of the only comprehensive history of the Texas Annual Conference, Texas Conference:  Methodism on the March.  He also distributed order forms for the volume which had not yet been printed.  West indicated that the book would be available by the first day of annual conference, 1960.

The history was a project of the Historical Society of the Texas Conference through an editorial board it created for this effort.  In 1958 it received a loan from the conference.  Repayment of the loan would be made possible through books sales. 
1960 seemed like a good time to publish a history.  Bishop A. Frank Smith had presided over the conference since 1934.  He would be retiring in 1960, and everyone knew an historic era was ending.  1960 was also the publication date of the History of Texas Methodism:  1900-1960, edited by Olin Nail of the South West Texas Conference.  Nail’s history was an attempt to update the older histories written by Thrall and Phelan.  

Both history books were committee efforts and therefore vary in quality by section.  C. A. West is listed as Editor of March.  The other named contributors include Monroe Vivion, Mark Lewis, Gordon Alexander, Nace Crawford, Tom Felder, Harry Holmes, Ray Loden, Pat Thompson, and Mrs Lamar Clark.  

Readers familiar with Texas Conference history will recognize that Alexander, Crawford, Thomson, and Alexander all had Lakeview connections.  That was no accident.  In the 1950s there was no Commission on Archives and History.  The archives and historical interests of the conference were served by the Historical Society.  When the Central Building was built at Lakeview, the Society created a Historical Center as part of the new construction.   That Center displayed historic documents and artifacts.  

March is still useful, but more as a reference work instead of a history.  It contains the Conference officers for 1959, a photo directory of preachers, and capsule histories of the Conference institutions.  The largest section of March consists of summaries of the sessions of the Texas and East Texas Conferences.  They list ordinands, retirees, transfers, etc.  

March was published by Parthenon Press of Nashville.  I don’t know if sales were strong enough to pay off the debt incurred by printing expenses.  When I became Archivist, I found unopened cases of the book, still in the original shipping cases, in the Archives.  If you would like to own one, contact me.


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