Saturday, May 26, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 27

SU Hosts First Summer Institute, May 1901

Methodism has had continuing education programs since its origins.  Unlike prevailing Anglican and Roman Catholic practice, both of which required years of formal education before embarking on a clerical life, Methodists accepted relatively uneducated men into their ranks and sent them out riding circuits.  That system helps explain the rapid expansion of Methodism across the United States.  Lowering educational requirements created a much larger pool of prospective laborers in the vineyard.  

The expectation was that preachers would pursue theological and Biblical studies as they rode their circuits.  The practice was formalized in the Course of Study which still exists.  As the denomination created universities, summer institutes arose to provide continuing education.  It was a win-win situation.  The universities were able to provide meals and lodging in dormitories that would otherwise be vacant.  Preachers could continue their education.

Southwestern University offered its first Summer Institute in 1901 immediately after graduation.  The program featured a Who’s Who of Texas MECS preachers.

The Dean was Seth Ward from Galveston.  He was in the process of uniting St. James and St. Johns after the hurricane less than a year earlier.  In 1902 he would go to Nashville as Secretary of Church Extension and then in 1906 be elected Bishop—the first native born Texan to achieve that station. He also taught the course “History of Methodism.”

There were other future bishops on the faculty.   John M. Moore (elected 1918) of Travis Park San Antonio taught Church History.  E. D. Mouzon (elected 1910) of First Fort Worth taught Homiletics.  J. J. Tigert (elected 1906, died 1906) lectured.  Bishop Eugene Hendrix (elected 1886) and TCA editor George Rankin were also on the program. 

There were also professors.  H. C. Pritchett, President of Sam Houston Normal (today Sam Houston State University lectured on psychology.  John Allen and R. B. McSwain, both of Southwestern, taught philosophy and Evidences of Christianity respecxtively.  James Kilgore, then at Cameron, but later to move into university service, taught Morals of Christianity. 

About sixty students enrolled for the classes.  Many more, including townspeople, came to hear the lectures delivered by such a brilliant lineup.  SU certainly started its Summer Institutes off with a bang.

Personal note:    Although the name often changed, some form of a Summer Institute continued for decades.  In 1967 I was living in Georgetown during the Summer Institute.  The keynote lecturer was George Buttrick (1892-1980)—a superstar of the era, known for his editorship of the Interpreter’s Bible.  I attended the evening sessions which were open to the public without fee or registration, and my father enrolled.  One of my great memories occurred on Tuesday night.  After the lecture, a watermelon party was scheduled on the grounds.  It was the night of the Major League Baseball All Star game.  Buttrick, a baseball fan, asked if a TV were available.  There was in the corner of the Student Union Building.  Buttrick, my father, and I skipped the watermelons to watch the game, just the three of us---talking and conversing about the plays and players. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 20

SU Professor John C. Granbery Prepares for European Tour< May 1923

As Southwestern University seniors were preparing for graduation in 1923, one of their professors, John C. Granbery, was preparing for a grand European tour to investigate the possibilities of instituting prohibition in Europe as had recently been accomplished in the United States.  

Granbery, a professor of economics and sociology, was no stranger to Europe.  He had taken a leave of absence in 1917 to run a YMCA home in Saloniki Greece to help war refugees.  His work there brought him much praise from the Greek government, including being named to the rank of Colonel in the Greek Army.  Now he was being called back by the World League Against Alcoholism.

His itinerary included Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Tripoli, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Latvia.  He returned to Georgetown in time for the Fall Semester.

William B. Jones, author of the definitive history of Southwestern University, calls Granbery “probably the most controversial long term teacher ever employed by Southwestern.”   He was born in Virginia in 1874 to John C. Granbery, Senior, who later was elected Bishop of the MECS.  John Granbery, Jr., received his education at Randolph Macon and Vanderbilt where his father was professor of philosophy and theology.  He served as a minister in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and found time to pursue a doctorate at the University of Chicago which was awarded in 1909.  While at Chicago, he threw himself into the progressive causes of the era, getting to know Jane Addams who was creating settlement houses to tackle problems of the poor.  His embrace of the Social Gospel did little to endear him to the rural churches in Appalachia especially when he tried to bring the settlement house reforms he had learned in Chicago to his rural parishes.  His efforts to improve the lives of coal miners enraged the coal mine owners.  

He came to SU in a temporary capacity, but was offered the head of the department after only one year.   Granbery was brilliant and a provocative speaker.  Naturally he received many speaking invitations.  He spoke on many topics, but became known for his advocacy of women’s rights and his anti-lynching activism.  
Criticism began appearing in the Texas Christian Advocate.  This criticism had the effect of making him well known throughout Texas Methodism.  He did not relent.  He attacked the Megaphone (SU student newspaper) because it ran a tobacco advertisement.  He was delegate to the 1916 State Democratic Party convention and made speeches from the floor against Senator Joe W. Bailey and “Pa” James Ferguson---the leader of the “wets”.  Back at SU, he tried to stem the rise of the fraternities.  

Eventually he resigned so he could accept a position at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University).  Controversy followed him to Lubbock.   J. Frank Norris, found some of his writings sympathetic to evolutional theory, and in 1932 he and several other “liberal and socialist” faculty members were fired.  

Granbery spent two year in Brazil at the college named for his father, and returned to SU in 1934 at the invitation of President Vivion.   After the death of Dean Laura Kuykendall, Mrs. Granbery was named Dean of Women. 

Granbery had enjoyed the confidence of 4 Southwestern presidents and his faculty colleagues.  He served with distinction in the YMCA in World War I.  He was in great demand as a public speaker.  In spite of, or perhaps because of his accomplishments, SU trustees terminated his employment in 1938.  He and Mrs. Granbery stayed in Georgetown and began a monthly newspaper, the Emancipator.  In 1941 the couple moved to San Antonio where they continued to publish the Emancipator until Granbery’s death in 1953.  

He was an internationalist, a proponent of women’s rights, a foe of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Semitism, and a proponent of racial integration.  No wonder that conservative groups such as the Houston Chapter of the Minute Women of the USA denounced him as subversive.

Friday, May 11, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  May 14

C.     C. Gillespie Reports on General Conference, May 1866

The 1866 session of the General Conference of the MECS met in New Orleans for 26 days.   Previous posts have dealt with the election of bishops, including Enoch Marvin, the first pastor who served a Texas church to be elected to that office.  Five bishops were elected in part because the General Conference of 1862 had been cancelled because of the Civil War.  Two bishops, Andrew and Soule, were already on the retired list, and Bishop Early reluctantly added his name to that list at General Conference.  Early was 80 years old but declared he was much more fit than most men that age.  There was no mandatory retirement age for bishops, but Early’s friends pressured him to retire, and he did so.

In other matters, the 1866 produced a revolution in church administration, changing more disciplinary provisions than any MECS General Conference to that date.   

Houstonians received up to the minute reports on the events through the Tri-Weekly Telegram, edited by the Rev. Clayton C. Gillespie (1822-1876).  Gillespie was a member of the Texas Conference, served as presiding elder, but then received a commission as one of the “Three Methodist Colonels” and led the 25th Texas Cavalry in its inglorious surrender at Arkansas Post. (The other two Colonels were George Washington Carter and Franklin C. Wilkes.)
After the end of the war, Gillespie did not return to the itinerant ranks, but because a journalist, editing not just the Tri-Weekly Telegram in Houston, but later the Texas Christian Advocate.
As the General Conference met, he published reports from a correspondent who signed the reports” Itinerate.”   I cannot identify “Itinerate,” but the most likely candidate was I. G. John, who later became TCA editor.

Here are some of the changes wrought by the 1866 General Conference.
·        The book editor, who published the Discipline, was instructed to replace “society” with “church” throughout.   Previously the local unit of Methodists was called a “society,” not a church.
·        The class meeting was made optional.
·        The six month probationary period for membership was abolished.
·        Lay delegates were authorized for annual and general conferences.
·        The ritual for matrimony was amended to allow for exchange of rings.
·        Bishops were authorized to call special sessions of General Conference and to change the location of as previously-announced General Conference.
·        The extension of a pastor’s maximum appointment at any one church from two to four years
·        The authorization of local churches to set pastor’s salaries. (Previously all pastors received the same salary.)
·        The introduction of the liturgy into worship.
·        A name change from Methodist Episcopal Church South to Episcopal Methodist Church (this proposal was rejected by the annual conferences.)
·        Delegates instructed the Book Editor to insert a ritual for the dedication of church buildings
·        A charge to parents was included in the ritual of infant baptism.
·        A delegation was named to confer with Methodist Protestants about possible merger

Another radical proposal was rejected.  That was to give the bishops power to veto a General Conference action they deemed unconstitutional. 

The “revolution” at the MECS set the tone for the denomination until the next big revolution, that of the 1939 creation of the Methodist Church from the merger of the MEC, MP, and MECS churches. 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  May 6

General Conference Convenes in Dallas, May 7, 1930

General Conference delegates of the MECS came to Dallas in May 1930 to conduct the business of the denomination.  The most dramatic event during the event was the tearful apology of Bishop James Cannon, Jr.  (see post for May 3, 2008 for the details).   The public apology was the price the bishop had to pay to avoid a church trial.

This was the era in which bishops were elected by the General Conference as the jurisdictional system we now have was not yet in place.   Three men were elected bishop.  Two of them Arthur J. Moore and A. Frank Smith were relatively young and would come to exercise considerable influence in the MECS and its successor, the Methodist Church.   Both men achieved their influence mainly through force of personality and their powers of persuasion.  The creation of the Methodist Church in 1939 enhanced their power.  The MP Church had no bishops and therefore had no tradition of episcopal leadership.  Although I would not stress it too much, the MEC practiced a more collegial episcopal style and the MECS a more authoritarian one.  Although the MEC brought more members into the Methodist Church, the MECS brought forceful personalities and a heritage of strong episcopal leadership.   Both Smith and Moore assumed leadership roles in the new denomination.
They were also good friends, having both lived in San Antonio.  Moore had served Travis Park and Smith, Laurel Heights.  

What about the third bishop elected?  That would be Paul Bentley Kern (1882-1953).  Kern was born in Alexandria, Va, the son of a pastor.  He earned three degrees from Vanderbilt and also worked as an administrator at the Nashville school.  From 1907 to 1915 he served appointments in the Tennessee Conference.  When SMU opened in 1915, he joined the faculty as professor of English, Bible, and homiletics.  In 1920, he became Dean of the School of Theology.   He remained in that position until 1926 when he became pastor of Travis Park, San Antonio, replacing Arthur Moore who had been appointed to Birmingham. 

In addition to his pastoral, academic, and episcopal duties, Kern found time to publish a number of books, including The Church and its Work (with Worth M. Tippy, 1919), The Miracle of the Galilean (1930 SMU Fondren Lecture), The Miracle in Eternity (1935), The Basic Beliefs of Jesus (1935), The Bible in a Time of Confusion (1936), Methodism Has a Message ! (1941), Why I Am a Protestant (1946), and What Methodists Believe:

Kern was a pacifist who opposed both World War I and World War II.  He died in Nashville, in 1953.  He had retired there the previous year.  Both Moore and Smith served two more quadrennia.  .