Sunday, January 27, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 27

Bishop Candler  Opens New St. Paul’s Church Building in Houston, January 31, 1909

One of the most well known and historic Texas Methodist churches is St. Paul’s UMC in Houston.  Its cathedral style building is highly visible on South Main Street near the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District of Houston.  It is also near the Texas Conference offices at 5215 Main, and is often used for conference events. 
St. Paul’s had its origin at the Annual Conference of 1905 when Bishop Key appointed Rev. George Sexton of Galveston to organize a new church south of downtown Houston.   Houston was booming as a result of the petroleum discoveries nearby.  It was still the “Magnolia City” instead of the “Petroleum City,” but its growth trajectory was easy to predict. 

On Christmas Eve, 1905 Rev. Sexton led the first worship service in the City Auditorium, Main at McGowen.   Two weeks later Bishop Key came to preach and suggested that the working name, “South End” might not be appropriate and suggested “St. Paul’s”, facetiously suggesting that Paul was the first great Methodist Bishop.” 

After the church was organized, one of the first orders of business was to appoint a building committee.  Jesse H. Jones, already a prominent Houstonian with interesting in banking, construction, and publishing, was named chair of the building committee.  

The committee built a $225,000 building at McGowen and Milam, then a residential area.  The building combined several architectural traditions and building materials, including stone, bricks, and terra cotta.  

The building opening January 31, 1909 with Bishop Warren Candler preaching.  There were five stained glass windows, a Pilcher organ and a magnificent dome.   At the conclusion of the worship service Candler called on Sexton to give a financial report.  Sexton replied that they still owed $55,000, but they had $16,000 in reserve, leaving a true balance of $36,000.    Bishop Candler then announced that they would raise that balance that morning.  His appeal resulted in pledges of $23,000.
Under the four year rule then in place in the MECS, Sexton was appointed to Mt. Vernon Methodist in Washington, D. C. and J. Walter Mills was the pastor at St. Paul’s when the debt was finally paid off.  

Less than twenty years after its opening, plans began to move.   Under the pastorate of J. N. R. Score, a building committee was appointed to build an educational building.  

Jesse Jones, Walter Fondren, .J. M. West, Asa Reed, Dr. O. L. Norsworthy, and R. B. Walling constituted the Building Committee.  They recommended that St. Paul’s relocate.  The magnificent building was sold to Second Baptist Church and St. Paul’s moved to its present location.  The first service in the new building was held on Nov. 2, 1930—just 21 years after the opening of the prior building.  The new building, rather than being an eclectic mix of various architectural styles was truly one of the greatest examples of cathedral architecture in Texas if not the United States.  The architect was Albert C. Finn (1883-1964) who had been working with Jones since the construction of the Rice Hotel (1913). 

On a personal note---I volunteer as a docent for historic tours of Bellville.  Finn was born in Bellville, and part of the tour includes houses he designed and the carriage/blacksmith shop operated by his uncle.   The famous buildings he designed may be found in the New Handbook of Texas.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 20

Claude Carr Cody Begins Career at Southwestern, January 20, 1879

On January 20, 1879 Claude C. Cody began his long career at Southwestern University.  He served for decades, eventually becoming the “Grand Old Man” of Southwestern.  He was beloved teacher of mathematics and also held a variety of administrative posts. 

Cody was born in Covington, Georgia, in 1854.  He received the B. A. and A. M. from Emory and then came to Georgetown where he was to spend the rest of his life.  In 1879 Southwestern was still a fledgling institution.  It had great ambitions to become the central university for Texas Methodists according to the vision of Francis Asbury Mood, but its greatness lay in the future.  

Cody had to wear many hats.  At different times he managed the dormitories, was treasurer, librarian, secretary of the faculty, and eventually SU’s first dean.  Twice he served as acting president.  During the “removal controversy” of 1910-1911, he headed the faction that fought to keep Southwestern in Georgetown over the wishes of President Robert S. Hyer who wanted to relocate the university of Dallas.  Hyer eventually resigned and went to Dallas to found SMU.  

Cody is also known as an historian.  His Life and Labors of Francis Asbury Mood (1886)was informed by his personal relationship with Mood.  It remains a necessary reference on every Texas Methodist historian’s bookshelf.  Much later he was instrumental in organizing the Texas Methodist Historical Association.  That organization did not last very long, but it published 7 issues of the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly with Cody as one of the editors.  Those 7 issues are also an indispensable part of the Texas Methodist historian’s reference library.

Cody died in 1923 was buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Georgetown.  A memorial fund was initiated which eventually led to the construction of Cody Memorial Library on campus.  

On a personal note, both of my grandparents were students of Cody, my grandmother attended during the tumultuous year of 1910-1911.  Because of that relationship, my grandparents were the patients of Claude C. Cody, Jr., (1886-1959) an otolaryngologist who practiced in Houston and was one of the founders of the Houston Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital.  He was an officer in local, state, and national medical societies.

Cody, Jr., was also a trustee of Southwestern from 1934 to 1959.  Those were perilous years for SU’s financial health, and Cody was one of the trustees who managed to save the university. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 13

Bishop Mouzon Preaches at MEC and MECS Churches in Brenham, January 13, 1919

My local church membership is at Brenham FUMC which is the successor church to Giddings Memorial MECS Church and 4th Street MEC Church.  Exactly one hundred years ago, the beloved Bishop Edwin Dubose Mouzon preached in both the churches on the same Sunday.   My evidence for calling him beloved is the number of preachers who named their sons in his honor.  Several of those sons named Mouzon later became Texas Methodist preachers. 

Mouzon was born in Spartanburg, SC, in 1869 and attended Wofford College.  He was admitted to the Texas Conference in 1899 and served churches in Bryan, Austin, Caldwell, Galveston, Flatonia, Abilene, Fort Worth and San Antonio (Travis Park).  He also preached in Kansas City and was professor of theology at Southwestern University until his election as bishop in 1910.  In addition to his episcopal duties, he was also founding Dean of Theology as SMU.  He presided over annual conferences form Montana to Brazil.  

In January 1919 he was a single man, having lost his wife Mary in 1917.  Out of that grief came his book Does God Care?   In August 1919 he remarried.
His Sunday in Brenham began at Giddings Memorial with a sermon, “The Personality of God.”   That night he preached t 4th Street on “Thy Kingdom Come.” 

January 1919 was an important year in MEC-MECS relations.   The two denominations had cooperated during World War I supplying YMCA staff and support.  The two denominations were in the middle of talks to explore the possibility of reunification.  The most obvious manifestation of the cooperative spirit was the Centenary Campaign.  In observance of the centennial of the first official Methodist Episcopal Church mission in 1819 to the Wyandot People, the branches of Methodism cooperated on a massive fund raising campaign for both foreign and domestic missions.   Volunteers called “five minute men” gave five minute talks to solicit funds for the mission projects.  In Brenham that five minute man was Professor J. L. Neu of Blinn Memorial College—just one block from 4th Street Church. 

Mouzon died at his home in Charlotte NC, in 1937, but his body was returned to Dallas for burial.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History  January 6

Pastor Whipple Publishes Annual Sunday School Report for Houston, January 9, 1845

We have devoted several columns to the difficult travel conditions faced by Methodist Circuit Riders, Presiding Elders, and Bishops during the Republic Era.  There is an often overlooked corollary to that story of privation and sacrifice.  While the clergy were facing such difficulties, laity were keeping the church together during the extended absences of the clergy.   

Methodism during the Republic Era was structured to give considerable power and responsibility to laity.  The class leader was probably the most responsible lay official, but the stewards, Sunday School Superintendent, and Sunday School teachers were also important.  When mandatory membership in a class was abandoned, the Sunday School Superintendent became the most important lay leadership position in a congregation.

On January 9, 1845, Rev. J. W. Whipple of the Houston’s MEC church printed the annual report of the Sunday School in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register.  Here is an edited version.

The School was opened the second day of April eighteen hundred and forty-three, under the auspices of the Rev. T. O. Summers as Superintendent, and S. J,. Wood, Esq, as Secretary and Librarian, with 4 teachers, viz, 3 male and 1 female and with 16 scholars, viz,  9 male and 7 female.  This being the first Sunday School organized by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston.  It gradually increased for the first three-quarters of the year.  But for some time after, the institution languished, on account of the absence of the Pastor. 

But through the on going industry of the Acting Superintendent, S. J. R. Wood, Esq., the school was kept up and rapidly increased in number.

On the first of June, 1841, there was a new organization of the School under the direction of Rev. J W. Whipple.  When it was found, there were 15 teachers, viz., 8 male and 7 female.  69 scholars, 40 male and 29 female. 
. . . much credit is due the officers and teachers of the School for the energy and persistence which they have shown in persecuting the interest of the cause.   

Of particular interest is Whipple’s mentioning that the Sunday School languished on account of the absence of the pastor, Rev. T. O. Summers.   The absence was more than the consequence of having two churches although Summers did divide his time between Galveston the Houston.  The really long absence was due to his fund raising trip back to the United States.  Summers had transferred from the Baltimore Conference so he decided to return there to raise money for Galveston and Houston.  He made the trip overland which meant he was gone months instead of weeks. 
Summers was able to secure a generous donation from William Ryland, Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives.  That was the origin of Ryland Chapel in Galveston.  He also secured some donations for Houston.