Saturday, September 16, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  September 17

Nathan Bangs Informs Fowler of Reorganization of Texas Mission
September 1838

The death of Martin Ruter in May 1838 necessitated a reorganization of the MEC mission to Texas.  Ruter was one of the most respected and experienced administrators in the denomination.  He had been Agent of the Cincinnati Book Depository, president of two colleges, General Conference delegate, and well-known author.  His two junior partners assigned to the Texas Mission in 1837, Littleton Fowler and Robert Alexander were both younger men, and thus not nearly as experienced.

The bishops met in the summer of 1838 and decided to appoint Fowler as head of mission until the winter round of conferences began.  When the Mississippi Conference convened in December, the Texas Mission would be added to that conference. 
Fowler took his new responsibilities seriously, but Texas was a vast republic and he had just married in June, and was also trying to set up housekeeping.  In practice, an informal arrangement grew up in which Fowler remained in Eastern Texas and Alexander in Western Texas.   Folwer’s home base was the San Augustine area and Alexander moved to Rutersville where a “Methodist town” was being formed. 
The informal arrangement was eventually made official when two Texas districts were created in the Mississippi Conference with Alexander and Fowler being appointed the Presiding Elders. 

Putting Texas churches (except those in northeastern Texas which were part of Arkansas) proved disastrous.   The arrangement meant that preachers wishing to volunteer for the Texas Mission had to transfer to the Mississippi Conference where they were subject to appointment anywhere within the bounds of that conference—Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.  When Bishop Andrew appointed one of the 1838 volunteers for Texas, Lewell Campbell, to New Orleans, it had stifling effect on further transfer requests. 

Fortunately the arrangement lasted only until the creation of the Texas Conference in 1840. 


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