Saturday, May 11, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History  May 12

Houston Post Recognizes Texans Serving in MECS Missions, May 18, 1919

Methodists, both MEC and MECS, celebrated the centennial of the first Methodist mission which had occurred in 1819 by a huge fund raising campaign called the Centenary Campaign throughout 1919. 
The religion editor of the Houston Post decided to run a full page article on Texans serving in MECS missions.  The reporter’s job wasn’t that difficult since the Mission Board published an annual which included a comprehensive directory and reports from all the missions.   

Texans were in seven different mission fields, as follows with the hometown (where known) of each.   

Three Texans were at Collegio Palmore in Chihuahua.  They included Norwood Wynn of Dallas, Virginia Booth of San Marcos, and Ethel McCaughan of Corpus Christi.  Edith Park from Galveston worked at the MECS school in Saltillo. 
Male missionaries to Mexico included J. F. Corbin; J. B. Cox; L. B. Newberry; J. A. Phillips; and Laurence Reynolds.

The missionaries to China which was still working out its government after the successful revolt earlier in the decade were mainly teachers.  They included Carey Touchstone of Merkel, Sid Anderson or Rising Star, Mary Tarrant of Galveston, Maggie Rogers of Marlin, and Sue Standiford of Waco.    Anderson was Presiding Elder of a district in which all the charges were villages around a large lake.  He “rode” his district in a motor boat donated by Methodists of Ranger.

There were two MECS Texan missionaries to Japan:  James Oxford of Turnersville and Miss Charlie Holland of Moscow.

Korea held a special fascination for Methodists of the era.  Ruby Kendrick, a former Southwestern University student, had died there, and in doing so created a special link to Texas.  In 1919 missionaries included Laura Edwards of Hereford and Agnes Graham of Comanche.

The MECS did not have a large presence in Africa.  The MEC did, and the British colonies had missions from the colonial power, but Texans served in Wambo Naima.  They were Mathron Wilson of Dallas and Etta Lee Woolsey of Bay City. 

The MECS has a huge investment in Brazilian missions which included a variety of schools including medical and dental.  Texans included Mary Lamar from Houston, Rachel Jarrett of Red Water, Lydie Ferguson of Belton, Maud Mathis of Arp, Mary Sue Brown of Gatesville, Lela Putnam of Albany, Charles Long of Cherokee County, and J. W. Daniel of Cotulla.   Daniel’s work is particularly interesting.  It was supported by students at the University of Texas.   In one year they raised $4000 to build a church.

Cuba was also an attractive destination for Texans.  Ben O. Hill (another Southwestern alum) was joined by J. F. Capterton of Itasca, L. H. Robinson of Live Oak County, Annie Churchill of Uvalde, and Rebecca Toland whose address was listed as Beeville, but was really from Chappell Hill.

The Post reporter included anecdotes supplied by the missionaries, and stressed the exoticism of the enterprise, but he also linked the missionaries with the Texas heritage.  He said  The old spirit of adventure and crusade that gave birth to Texas is being kept alive by these knights and ladies of cross.  

As a result of the funds raised by the Centenary Campaign and moral fervor of the last gasps of the Progressive Era, the MECS expanded its missions in the 1920’s, most notably to Europe, including Poland and Czechoslovakia.   

Some of the missionaries named in the article served a short time and returned to the United States.  Others made a career of missions.  Both groups were highly revered in the Texas churches to which they returned, either of periodic furloughs or permanently.  They were admired as the epitomes of Christian service.


Post a Comment

<< Home