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Chapter 19

 

 

HOLINESS ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS

 

 

A general convention of all holiness people was called to meet in Terrell, Texas, in August, 1898, in connection with a campmeeting that was being conducted by Rev. H. C. Morrison, of Louisville, Ky., and Rev. Bud Robinson, of Georgetown, Texas. This call was prompted by the outspoken opposition to holiness among all churches. Many ministers and laymen had been expelled from the communion of many of the old-line churches for professing, or preaching holiness as a second blessing. Prominent among these was Rev. H. C. Morrison, who had been tried and expelled from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for conducting a great revival at Dublin, Texas, over the protest of the preacher in charge. More than one hundred people swept into the experience of perfect love at this meeting. Dr. Morrison’s home conference afterward restored him and he was at this time again threatened by the Texas Methodists, and he carried his church letter with him.

Rev. Bud Robinson and Rev. E. C. DeJernett had also been expelled from the same church for the same reason. Also Rev. C. M. Keith, Rev. J. W. Lively, Rev. Julian Woodson, Rev. Ben Hines, and many others had withdrawn from the same church for the same reason, and it seemed evident that something must be done, and that the time had come for some sort of an organization. Rev. A. W. Rodgers, and Rev. John Stanfield and others had been expelled from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, while hundreds of the laity and many ministers were turned out of the Baptist churches for professing or preaching holiness.

Great holiness campmeetings were springing up all over the South, owned, and controlled by these holiness people, and thousands of people were attending these camps. This so enraged the preachers in all the old churches that there was great opposition, but the more they oppressed them, the more they grew. Among these great camps were Scottsville, Waco, Greenville, Noonday, Hughes Springs, Terrell, Bates, and Poetry, Texas; Main Springs, Calamine, Cave City, and Beebe, Ark.; Martha’s Lake, Lake Arthur, and Hudson, La.; and a great camp at Indian Springs, Ga., and many others too numerous to mention, many of which are still running at this writing.

A bishop in one of the Texas Methodist conferences stated on the floor that they would Stamp the “second blessing heresy” out of their church if it took five years. They did succeed, and out of the eighteen preachers in that conference that preached holiness not one was left; they either changed church relationship or compromised and quit preaching holiness.

It was during this condition of things that this convention was called to meet in Terrell, Texas, in some sort of way to provide a home for the homeless holiness people of the South; or at least to organize them into an association for mutual protection, for the spread of scriptural holiness.

Those who had been excluded from their churches and had not found a congenial home, were denominated “come-enters” by many holiness preachers who were called from a distance to lead the great camps in the Southwest; while in heart they were not come-outers in any sense, but put-outers, by force. They wanted a church home, her communion, her baptism, and her friendship, therefore this call for the convention at Terrell.

This call was prepared by Rev. E. C. DeJernett, and urged by C. B. Jernigan, who was not yet a licensed preacher, as he had left the church when his co-laborer, DeJernett, was excluded; and was signed by a host of holiness people all over the Southwest.

At this convention representative men from the Holiness Church that had been brought from California by Revs. Dennis Rogers, Tom Rogers, and Rev. George Ted, and from the Free Methodist Church, and Methodist Episcopal Church; all of them hoping to become the asylum for the homeless holiness people.

Many questions were discussed, and many propositions offered. Among the questions discussed were the following:

 

“What are our people to do for a church home who have been turned out of the various churches for professing holiness, or who have withdrawn from, or who no longer find agreeable fellowship in the various churches to which they have belonged or of which they are now members?”

“What are we to do with the new converts who have been brought to pardon by the revival meetings held by our evangelists? For they are not, as a rule, welcomed into the churches; nor do the new converts themselves desire to seek fellowship in the church with those members, or put themselves under the pastoral oversight of those pastors who stayed away or ignored or ridiculed the meeting which furnished the means of grace that secured their salvation.”

“What shall be done to give official recognition and appointment to those of our people who feel called to preach the gospel? Many can get no ministerial license, ordination, or appointment at the hands of those churches of which they are members.”

“What is the holiness movement to do in order to protect itself against false professors and false preachers? It has no organization from which to exclude them if false, or recommend them if praiseworthy.”

 

In order to remove some of the above mentioned troubles that seemed to stand in the way of progress of the cause of God and holiness, some in this convention thought the holiness people of Texas should now organize themselves into a new church; others thought, as there were so many churches already, it would be best for our people to go en masse into some already existing church which might be favorable to the doctrine for which they stood. But after several days of deliberation the following conclusions were arrived at, and recommendations made:

 

“That the holiness people who were members of the various churches should continue to maintain their present church relationship, attending upon the ordinances and supporting its institutions, but to testify publicly and privately as occasion offered to what the Lord had done for their souls; in the meanwhile living the experience of perfect love before a gainsaying church and a mocking world, enduring patiently the slights or open persecutions of their fellow members and their pastors.”

 

The meeting advised those who had withdrawn from the churches, or had been turned out, or had never yet joined any church to seek some congenial church home and enter.

With the exception of the five or six holiness churches organized in Collin County by Dennis and Thomas Rogers, and about the same number of New Testament Churches of Christ planted in western Texas by Brother Lee Harris, and one Baptist Emmanuel Church at Denton, organized by Dr. and Jennie Bland Beauchamp, there were no other churches in Texas at that time which favored the second blessing doctrine of holiness except two: The Free Methodist Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church. According to the above-named recommendation of the convention a few, but only a few, of the unchurched holiness people joined any of the above mentioned churches. The reasons why they did not at that time join the Free Methodist Church are several:

First, that church would not permit the use of any instrumental music to lead or accompany the song service in public worship. Many evangelists had found in their evangelistic labors that on the streets and in the churches they derived much aid from the instruments.

Second, in those days (perhaps not quite so much as now) a too large share of their preaching and testifying was devoted to talking against cravats, rag roses, and other externals; not that we favored the putting on of these things, but this was emphasized to the neglect of weightier matters.

Third, for some reason either their matter or manner of preaching or something else seemed to have formed a barrier to their ministry reaching the masses for their salvation.

Fourth, they found in the conventions of holiness people the Free Methodists (with few exceptions) were conspicuously absent and seemed to have little or no sympathy or patience with anything which was not distinctively Free Methodist.

Some preachers who had been refused a pastoral appointment by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and took pastorates, partly supported by missionary appropriations, and there they found freedom to profess and preach second blessing holiness. These excluded preachers had been refused pastorates on the ground of “inefficiency,” when the facts were that these same pastors reported annually more converted under their ministry than three-fourth of the other pastors who were deemed efficient; they also maintained the same comparatively high standard when it came to raising the collections of funds ordered by the conferences. Others were turned out of the ministry of the same church on the charge of “contumacious conduct,” which charge meant that the offenders would not obey another preacher who forbade them holding a revival meeting in his circuit, station, or district, whether in a schoolhouse, tent, or on the street or under a brush arbor, notwithstanding the offending preacher felt clearly the lead of God to hold such a meeting. A number of communities of holiness people were induced by these preachers to form congregations in the Methodist Episcopal Church. These churches flourished for awhile or until the southern raised holiness boys were replaced by pastors of a different political faith and who also opposed the doctrine. After this the majority of these churches began to wane and most of them are now dead or are barely alive, except in the larger cities, where there is a large northern population, they have a measure of prosperity. But you would have to employ a remarkable magnifying glass to discover in these same city churches one grain of second blessing holiness.

Several good men among us thought that the Methodist Episcopal Church was the very door of opportunity for the holiness people of Texas to find a congenial and efficient church home, but it has proved otherwise.

So the Terrell convention did not provide any church home for the unchurched, but said to them, “Go and join some church and we will organize ourselves into a State Holiness Union, and auxiliary to this the counties may organize county unions, and the communities may organize local unions, and there we can meet for fellowship, conference, and evangelistic meetings.

No one could become a member of these unions unless he had a church membership somewhere or a “reasonable excuse” for not being a church member. Many went away from this meeting feeling that they had been prevailed upon by the very conservative leaders to leave undone the thing that should have been done, viz., to either organize a church or an association or to select a church; said association to perform some of the functions of a church (namely, licensing preachers and so forth), which was done the following year. This organization fell so far short of the wants and needs of the people that not a half dozen local unions were organized under its constitution, and it did not have life enough to have a second annual meeting.

When it was seen that the organization formed at Terrell was a failure on account of its requiring people first to unite with some already existing church, or to have a reasonable excuse, there was a clamor for another convention to provide a home for the homeless holiness people, since the Terrell organization did not have a second meeting.

A call was made as before, signed by quite a number of holiness people, even more than the first call, as the interest had increased in organized work. This call, like the first one, was drawn up by Rev. E. C. DeJernett and vigorously pushed by C. B. Jernigan, who was an enthusiast for some sort of an organization for the holiness people, as he, like many others, was not content to unite with the Free Methodists, nor was he willing to unite with the then existing Holiness Church, as it had the same difficulties in the way that the Free Methodists had, viz., opposition to church organs, and public collections. This convention met in a mission hall in Greenville, Texas, November, 1899, and matters concerning organization were discussed at length. The second day it met in the large dining room of the Texas Holiness University, at Peniel, the site of the college, two miles north of Greenville. There a heated discussion was carried on all day. Many views as to what ought to be done were advanced. The presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. J. W. Lively, who had been compelled to leave the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for preaching holiness, and who was now doing a good work along this line, made a vigorous plea for all of the holiness people to come to the Methodist Episcopal Church, as they could obtain the needed help from its great mission funds, and the preachers could be trained in its universities and colleges, and money could be procured to assist in building churches from its church extension funds. He closed his plea with these words: “Come home, boys, to your mother. Methodism is the mother of holiness. Come home, and we will do as they used to do: give you a horse to ride, and a pair of old-fashioned saddlebags, with a Bible in one side and a Methodist hymn book in the other; and put some money in your pockets, and send you out to preach holiness.” But the boys would not come home.

The convention did not see its way clear to go into his church, yet there is little doubt in our minds that his speeches, together with the influence of a few other conservative leaders, prevented the convention from taking any other action than to express themselves that they believed it to be God’s purpose and plan for the holiness people to not form a new church or denomination, but have its professors join or remain in the old denominations, and therein bear their testimony and do their church work.

Yet there was a large minority of this convention, who, feeling a need of a closer union of forces, and a more perfect fellowship, and a better protection to the cause from inefficient and false teachers, and of conserving the work being done by our evangelists, favored a new church, or some other organization which would perform some of the functions of a church, or else that the holiness people as a body go into some already existing church, provided the proper concessions and liberties be granted them.

A motion was then made that a committee of seven be appointed, to form a statement of doctrine that all could agree to and that they report in three years, at which time another convention would be called to hear this report. A substitute was offered: That this committee report in three months instead of three years. Both motions were lost and a motion then prevailed to adjourn sine die. And the convention adjourned without doing anything. At this juncture C. B. Jernigan who was still enthusiastic for an organization, held a hurried consultation with a few who were in favor of organization and privately called a meeting to be held at his home on North Wesley Street, in Greenville, that night, for the purpose of organization.

There were seven persons present at this meeting (the Bible number): C. B. Jernigan, C. M. Keith, C. A. McConnell, Dennis Rogers, William Jenkins, and Mrs. Johnny Jernigan. After a short talk by C. A. McConnell a motion prevailed to adopt the plan of organization used by the Northwest Texas Holiness Association, which was organized in August the same year at Sunset, Texas; but to make it larger in its scope, and call it the Holiness Association of Texas. Rev. Dennis Rogers was elected president, and C. B. Jernigan, secretary. It was decided to call another convention to meet in Greenville, December 23, 1899, to perfect this organization and to give others a chance to unite with this association. At the December meeting there were only a few present, since the most conservative leaders had decided that nothing could be done; and many talked of would-be leaders, and self-appointed Moseses. Such talk frightened many away from the December convention; but there were a few who had heard the wail of the unchurched holiness people, and were determined to follow the pillar of cloud and fire and provide a home for these excluded people.

C. A. McConnell wrote an article for the Texas Holiness Banner, then published in Sunset, which sets forth the action of this convention very clearly. We insert the article:

 

THE STATE HOLINESS CONVENTION

 

It was the privilege of the writer to attend the convention called at Greenville, on the 23d of November, for the purpose of discussing the necessity or advisability of providing a church home for the homeless holiness people of Texas.

Rev. E. C. DeJernett, one of the wisest and strongest of our leaders, was made chairman of the convention, and Brother Hall, secretary.

The convention was, as the writer believes, as representative a body of holiness people as could be gotten together in Texas. A number of evangelists, preachers, and workers were present from various parts of the state, and without exception they told the story of a necessity their experience had shown of some sort of local organization and perhaps more, to conserve the work.

Then the question was what kind of an organization? That was the meat of the whole matter. It developed in discussion that there were three minds among the people the “stick to our church” people, the independent church people, and people who thought there were already enough denominations, and that a denomination was not a church anyway. No decision of any kind was reached the first day.

The second day’s sessions were at the invitation of President Hills held at the splendid new building of the holiness college two miles from town. Throughout the morning session the various denominations were called in review to show their acceptability as a home for a people baptized with the Holy Ghost. Presiding elder Lively of the Gulf Mission Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church with his great heart overflowing with love for God’s sanctified people would have us all back in the bosom of the “mother church.” He declared to us that the church of Wesley was “the only logical home of every sanctified person” and the elder prophesied in his most impressive manner that we would see the whole holiness movement within the Methodist Episcopal Church—all except, perhaps a little remnant, not to be characterized in respectable terms.

The dear old father in Israel, bless his loving heart, for he is lovable sweet as honey, if he does wear Methodist glasses pointed out to us poor people the greatness of his church its power, its wealth and its stability, and then the certainty of destruction overtaking any holiness movement outside the fostering care of that church. He declared solemnly that a holiness church never would, never could be established; that were the holiness people to get all together in one body they would proceed to destroy each other. And Brother Lively believed every word he said.

Rev. C. M. Keith, editor of the Advocate, keen, logical, and earnest, led in expressing the views of those who are averse to being controlled by episcopacy.

Brothers Jernigan. DeJernett, Tom Rogers. Dennis Rogers, Cooley, and others favored action on independent lines.

President A. M. Hills, in a most wise and temperate address counseled against hasty action: He urged the gravity of establishing a new church, and begged the convention to give the matter mature deliberation.

By invitation the writer explained the “Sunset Plan,” or the “Northwest Texas Holiness Association.” as it has become.

At the first the voice was unanimous that “something must be done,” but finally it became evident that those who were “comfortable” in their church relationship, were strenuously opposed to the organization of a new denomination, and indeed, that any positive action whatever should be taken by the convention.

On the other hand, those who had been out and seen a great necessity, were equally earnest in calling for immediate relief. So the “new church” was talked up and talked around, and finally talked to death before it had birth. A motion by Sister Lula Rogers prevailed, that the convention adjourn sine die.

During the two days’ discussion the underbrush was cleared away, and at night after the second day the Holy Ghost had right of way. A number of preachers, evangelists and workers met at the home of Brother Jernigan and endorsed the method of work and organization of the Northwest Texas Holiness Association.

They determined to form a North Texas Association, and every worker went out from that place to organize at once the various communities into hands, which would send delegates to a called convention at Greenville, December 23, 1899, to form such association.

Representatives from the Holiness Church proposed a modification of the discipline and rules of that church, looking toward the union of that body with the Northwest Texas Association and North Texas Association into a Texas Holiness Association, to be chartered under the laws of the state.

 

Glory to God for leading His people in wisdom.

Texas Holiness Banner, December, 1899.

 

At the meeting in Greenville in December it was decided to meet the next May in connection with the Holiness Church Association, at Holiness Park, in Collin County, seeking a union with the Holiness Church in this association. At this meeting there was a good representation of the Holiness Church, which was about dead as a church, on account of its peculiar restrictions; and a goodly number of unchurched holiness people, together with a good representation from the Northwest Texas Holiness Association.

At this gathering things worked more smoothly, since those who did not want anything remained away, and left those who did want an organization to go ahead with their work. The Holiness Association from this time took on a permanent form and began to be recognized; but many of the most conservative ones were still afraid of the new organization, and would have nothing to do with it.

The next meeting of the association was held in November, 1900, at Sunset, Texas, where there was a still larger attendance, and many of the opposers began to see that something was about to be done in the way of a permanent organization; yet the attendance was still small in proportion to the number of holiness people in the country at that time.

A constitution and statement of doctrine were drawn up, and a further meeting was called for Peniel, in May, 1901, to submit the new constitution to the people for their adoption or amendment. There was a large and enthusiastic attendance at this meeting. The constitution, drawn up at the Sunset meeting, was adopted, and the Holiness Association of Texas was fully launched. It was incorporated in December, 1900, by E. C. DeJernett, C. B. Jernigan, and C. A. McConnell, and continued through ten successful years, or until November, 1910, when it was changed to the Texas Holiness Union. This body omits from its organization several of the functions performed by the former, as the changed conditions rendered this necessary.

 

STATEMENT

 

ARTICLE I -- NAME

 

This association shall be called The Holiness Association of Texas.

 

ARTICLE II -- OBJECT

 

The object of this association shall be the promotion of the doctrine and experience of scriptural holiness throughout the world.

 

ARTICLE III -- STATEMENT OF DOCTRINE

 

We accept the Bible, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, as our rule of faith and practice.

We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried: the third day he rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the communion of saints, forgiveness of sin, resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

We believe conviction is God’s work of convincing the soul of sin, of righteousness and of judgment—this He does through His Spirit through His Word, His providences and human agencies.

We believe repentance consists of a godly sorrow for sins committed, a forsaking thereof and turning to God in humble confession with works meet for repentance including the forgiveness of enemies and making restitution to those wronged up to the measure of ability.

We believe that conversion consists of justification and regeneration, which occur at one and the same time. Justification is the act of God whereby all past sins are forgiven through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It comes immediately in connection with true repentance and restores the guilty soul to peace and favor with God. Regeneration implants the spiritual life in the heart, changing the soul from death unto life and is always accompanied by the direct witness of the Spirit.

We believe in holiness, or entire sanctification, that it is a second definite work of grace in the heart whereby we are thoroughly cleansed from all sin; that only those who are justified and walking in the favor of God can receive this grace; that it is not absolute perfection that belongs to God alone. It does not make man infallible; it is perfect love—the pure love of God filling a pure heart. This love is capable of increase. It prepares for more rapid growth in grace. It may be lost and we need to continually watch and pray. It is received by faith, after consecration. It is accomplished by the baptism of Jesus Christ foretold by John the Baptist. It is loving the Lord our God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:27–30). It was this which the disciples received in the upper room at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, for which Jesus commanded them to wait. It is the inheritance of the Church; and with it comes preparation, and anointing, illumination and power for the work to which God has called us. Our preachers are to definitely preach it and urge it upon all believers—it is the privilege and duty of all believers to seek and obtain it. It is this to which we are called: “That we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 20:10).

 

ARTICLE IV -- HOW COMPOSED

 

This association shall be composed of individuals, bands, unions, county and district associations: local churches, or members of any denomination who hold and promulgate the statement of doctrine adopted by the association, and who shall make application for membership and are received by a majority vote of the association present, they giving evidence of being in or earnestly seeking the experience of entire sanctification.

 

ARTICLE VI -- LICENSING PREACHERS

 

This association shall have the right to license or recommend evangelists, pastors, or workers who come duly recommended by the local bands, unions, or churches of which they are members. If not a member of any organization, then by at least two members of this association.

The candidates had to appear before a committee of examination appointed by the association, whose business it was to inquire into their gifts, graces, qualifications, and call to the ministry, and see if they were in harmony with our statement of doctrine, and furthermore, they must give evidence of being in the experience of holiness. If all these points were satisfactory, the association granted them license for one year, when it might be renewed if they remained blameless in life and official administration. The seal of the association, with the names of the president and secretary were affixed to these licenses. A number of our preachers who held licenses from other churches and organizations obtained a second one from this association, as they desired its endorsement. The state authorities ruled that persons bearing license from this association could celebrate the rites of matrimony between parties, which was done in a very few cases.

 

ARTICLE VIII -- OPIUM, INTOXICANTS, TOBACCO

 

The use of opium, morphine and all intoxicating liquors, unless prescribed as a medicine, and the use and sale of tobacco in all its forms, is prohibited.

This association had its annual meetings in November, which were well attended by people from different parts of the state, and frequently from adjoining states. They were characterized by great revival power, and many were swept into the kingdom at these times. They served to bring the scattered holiness people together where they might form holy acquaintanceship and enjoy a precious season of fellowship with the saints. Some of those attending these meetings were so far removed from other holiness people that it was at these annual meetings only that they enjoyed the privilege of association with any other holiness person, or of hearing a holiness sermon.

From the first, at its annual meetings, this association had its missionary anniversary or rally, when missionary sermons were preached, and returned or outgoing missionaries made addresses, and financial pledges for missions were taken, sometimes amounting to more than $1,500. This association wholly, or in part, supported several foreign missionaries. In addition to the cause of missions, the association fostered and contributed liberally every year to the Berachah Rescue Home for fallen girls, also to the Peniel Orphans’ Home, and the Texas Holiness University, now Peniel University, in whose chapel it held three of its annual meetings.

Linked together as closely as were David and Jonathan were this association and the Pentecostal Advocate, formerly called the Texas Holiness Advocate. Its first two editors, C. M. Keith and C. A. McConnell, being two of the seven who set the association going.

The following were the places where its annual meetings were held: Holiness Park, Sunset, Peniel (the constitutional meeting), Oak Cliff, Waco, Fort Worth, Oak Cliff, Peniel, Arlington, Fort Worth, Plainview, and Peniel.

The Holiness Association of Texas has fulfilled its God-given mission and served its day and generation, and is fallen to sleep. “God buries His workman, but His work goes on.”

The last meeting of the Holiness Association of Texas convened at Peniel, Texas, November 15–20, 1910. It was found that there was no place for such an association longer, since the widespread organization of churches with its pastorate to care for the people. However, there were a few who strongly favored the carrying on the work of the association under another name, but this failed for lack of interest.

In the midst of the workings of the Holiness Association of Texas there was a cry made for the organization of real churches to care for the people. Their children had no baptism, and their people no sacraments, and the children of the holiness people were ostracized by others who had church membership.

In the summer of 1904 Rev. C. B. Jernigan got in touch with the Church of Christ—better known as The New Testament Church—which was started in western Tennessee in 1898 by Rev. R. L. Harris and carried to western Texas. Rev. R. L. Harris had died, and his wife, now Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle, Rev. William E. Fisher, Rev. J. W. Manney, Rev. W. F. Rutherford, and others were carrying on the work, there being a few churches in Arkansas led by Rev. J. D. Scott, Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, and others. With these he began to plan for a union of all churches that taught holiness as a second work of grace, and a delegated body of these two churches met at Rising Star, Texas, in November, 1904. The Holiness Baptist Church in Arkansas had also been invited to participate in this union; but they refused to unite unless all would agree that baptism by immersion would be the recognized mode for the church. The Church of Christ practiced baptism by pouring only; while the Independent Holiness Church was not restricted to any special mode.

At the Rising Star council, the two churches, the Independent Holiness Church and the Church of Christ, were united into one body; under the name of The Holiness Church of Christ. There were now three annual councils of this church, the western Texas, the eastern Texas, and the Arkansas. There was provided for a general council every two years. The first general council of The Holiness Church of Christ met in the college auditorium at Pilot Point, Texas. Rev. Dennis Rogers was elected president and Rev. C. B. Jernigan, secretary. The minutes show a total of seventy-seven churches, forty-five elders, and thirty licensed preachers represented at this council. The second session of the general council met one year later in the city hall at Texarkana, Texas-Ark. What followed will be treated in the chapter on church union.