Saturday, July 01, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History   July 2

Bishop Martin Receives Space Mementoes from Astronaut Thomas Stafford, July 6, 1966

On July 6, 1966, Astronaut Thomas Stafford and his pastor, the Rev. Conrad Winborn, Jr., came to the Methodist Building on South Main in Houston to present space memorabilia to Paul E. Martin, resident bishop of the Texas Conference. 

Stafford had taken three items into space.  The first was a bronze medallion honoring  the bicentennial of Methodism in America.  The second was another medallion, this one showing McMahan’s Chapel which honored the establishment of Methodism in Texas.  The third was Martin’s personal copy of John Wesley’s Psalms and Hymns which had been published in 1741. 

The original plan was for Stafford to present these items to the Texas Annual Conference as it met the previous June 6-9, but Stafford’s flight was postponed so that he was making his flight during Annual Conference. 
Stafford and his family were members of Seabrook Methodist Church where Winborn was the pastor. 

The decision to locate NASA on a large tract of coastal prairie on Clear Lake between Houston and Galveston was momentous in many ways.  Houston changed from the “Magnolia City” to “Space City.”   The impact of new industries including aviation, aerospace, space medicine, remote imaging, and so on cannot be denied, but NASA’s presence also changed the Methodist landscape.   There had been little development in the Clear Lake area before NASA.  There were some recreational and fishing settlements, but the arrival of tens of thousands of new residents prompted a wave of church building.   Seabrook, already mentioned, was a main beneficiary as were churches in Clear Lake. 


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