LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 17

 

 

HOLINESS CHURCH WORK IN TEXAS

 

 

About 1886 Revs. Dennis Rogers and George Teel came from California to Collin County, Texas, and conducted some great revivals. In these meetings they preached holiness of heart and life, and taught that people were converted and after that sanctified wholly as a second definite work of grace. Their meetings were so free and the power of God so manifest that great crowds attended, and hundreds of people were converted and sanctified.

Their first meeting was held at Howard schoolhouse, not far from where Frisco, Texas, is now located. At this meeting the old man Howard, for whom the schoolhouse was named, who was a confirmed infidel, was gloriously converted; and Ed James, a notorious drunkard, was converted and sanctified. This aroused the whole country, and great crowds attended these meetings. Sin of every kind was uncovered, and no quarter was allowed sinning religion preachers nor people. Tobacco chewers, lodge men, and backslidden church folks felt the sting of this rugged, old-time preaching, and great persecution broke out against these holiness preachers. At this meeting the power was on and people ran screaming to the altar to come away shouting. Here a mob of about thirty masked men, armed with shotguns, came at night to take these preachers out and whip them. They were met by a Mr. W. B. Giles, who had recently been converted from an awful life of drunkenness, fighting, and other public sins. Giles went out into the road when he heard of their coming, and all alone met this mob and passed among them, for they were his neighbors. He shamed them good for coming armed to take two unarmed holiness preachers. When they saw that he knew them they slipped off in the dark and disappeared, to be seen no more.

Preachers from the old-line churches began an outspoken war on these second blessing people. This opened the way for the organization of holiness churches, which they soon began to organize.

The first church was organized at Rock Hill, in 1888, and Rev. Dennis Rogers was called to be their pastor. Soon after that other churches were organized at Whites Chapel, Valdasta, McKinney, and Gainesville. At each of these places there was a good church house built. The McKinney church was moved to Holiness Park camp ground, seven miles north. Other churches were organized in schoolhouses at Uz and Evergreen in Montague County, west of Collin county and other places.

A paper was started at McKinney called True Holiness, edited by Rev. Dennis Rogers, which was the official organ of the church. It was, five years later, consolidated with the Texas Holiness Advocate. This church had an annual association composed of twelve churches, twenty ordained elders, and thirty licensed preachers.

In these pioneer meetings literally hundreds of people were saved and sanctified, and many called to preach who are still preaching or have gone on to their reward. A wave was set in motion that still rolls on, and in after years great revivals swept through that country, out of which came the Holiness Church of Christ, soon to become a part of the great Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.

These people had the missionary spirit, and when the weather was too cold for tent work they went to the large towns and conducted city missions through the winter. Such missions were conducted at McKinney, Greenville, and Gainesville, Texas.

While the mission was in progress in McKinney, a certain saloon keeper went to the meetings to laugh and make sport with the boys, and to see the people leap and shout as they did in those days. He became very much interested and was convinced that the religion that they preached was the only thing that would save a saloon keeper. He got him a Bible and as the preacher read, night after night, he would turn with him and mark the texts that taught holiness and a sinless life and condemned sin. He soon became an expert with his Bible, and could prove the doctrine of a sinless life from the Bible almost as well as the holiness preacher. He would lay his Bible on the bar in his saloon and when old backsliders and drinking church members came in he would argue holiness until they would get mad. One day out on the street he fell into an argument with a crowd of sinning church members. He argued holiness, while they argued that no man could live without sin, and that the Bible says, “He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar and the truth is not in him.” While the argument was at white heat, a sinning religion preacher, who had been preaching against holiness, came along and stopped for a moment to listen, then took a hand against the doctrine of holiness. He told the man with the Bible in his hands, whom he supposed to be a holiness preacher, that he was himself the pastor of a church with eighty members and that he sinned every day of his life, and that he had no respect for a man who claimed to be so good that he had quit sinning. The argument waxed exceedingly warm, and a great crowd gathered. Soon the preacher had to go on, and as he turned to leave, shook hands with the saloon keeper who had the Bible in his hand, and said, “Good-by, I suppose that you are a preacher.” Whereupon the saloon keeper replied, “No, I am a sinner just like you. You say that you sin every day, and so do I. The only difference is that I draw a salary for selling whiskey, while you draw one for preaching sin.” I am a sinner, and you are a hypocrite.

The Holiness Church at its last annual association held at Holiness Park, in Collin County, April 3, 1900, voted to consolidate with the Holiness Association of Texas, and Rev. Dennis Rogers, the acknowledged leader of the church, became one of the leaders in the Independent Holiness Church, and is now a staunch Nazarene. He was one of the agitators at the convention held at Terrell, Texas, where little was done, and he was one of the men who was not satisfied until a safe home was obtained for the holiness people. It is safe to say that the entire membership of the Holiness Church were satisfied with the movement for consolidation.