Saturday, August 11, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 12

Invitation to Preacher Creates Flap Between MEC and MECS   August 1871

David Coulson, the MECS preacher appointed to the Colorado Colored Mission invited George W. Honey, the Presiding Elder of the Austin District of the MEC to preach at a camp meeting in Bastrop County in August 1871.   The invitation resulted in controversy and illustrates several themes of Methodist history during Reconstruction.

The incident shows that as late as 1871, the MECS was still appointing preachers to African American congregations.   They were still in the process of spinning off those congregations into a new denomination; the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church South, later renamed the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, or C. M. E.

It also shows that the MEC was still trying to forge an interracial Texas Conference. 
George Honey was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1833.   In 1860 he was living in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin and enlisted as a private in the 4th Wisconsin Calvary.  He eventually became Chaplain for the unit.   In 1866 he moved to Texas as an agent for the American Missionary Society.  He encouraged the establishment of schools for former enslaved African Americans.  When the Texas Conference met under Bishop Ames, he was elected Secretary and appointed to Galveston. 
In 1869 he won the office of State Treasurer during the Republican administration.  He was then appointed Presiding Elder of the Austin District so he could move to Austin.  

He was a busy man.  He started building a brick church about a mile north of the Capitol in the Harney Addition.  He defended himself in district court against charges of misappropriating state funds.   He still had time to accept the offer to preach at the camp meeting in Bastrop County. 

Some Bastrop Methodists objected to having a “Black Republican” preach at a MECS event.  The hostilities of the Civil War were alive and well.  At least one of the most vigorous protestors was asked to leave the camp meeting.   

Honey’s church tensions were nothing like his civil ones.   Governor Davis asked him to step down as Treasurer, but the Texas Supreme Court reinstated him.  
In 1875 he decided he had had enough of Texas.  He moved to Kansas.  Honey died in 1906 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 


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