This was my November 2016 column in the SC United Methodist Advocate
I occasionally like to look back and see what South Carolina Methodists were talking about in the pages of the Advocate at points in the past. A hundred years ago this November, they were preparing for Annual Conference, discussing national politics, and celebrating our colleges.
November 1916 saw President Woodrow Wilson’s re-election. The Advocate wrote: “Mr. Woodrow Wilson has been reelected President of the United States for another four years. Nearly every reader of this paper rejoices over this happy event. The administration justified itself in the eyes of the voters by a four years’ record of patriotic and honorable service. The present government has been democratic in the best sense and progressive. The strongest opposition to Mr. Wilson was centered in those states where the money powers rule… His reelection is due to the South and to the West, where the people are the freest to express their own will and judgment. We are happy in feeling that our country will not, under Mr. Wilson, go to war against any people in the world except under the extremest provocation.”
South Carolina Methodists were strong supporters of prohibition, and the Advocate carried this piece: “Last year the United States brewers and rum makers shipped 20,000,000 gallons of rum, whiskey, wine, gin, and beer to the countries where we send foreign missionaries. If we could have complete prohibition of the sale of liquors in this country, there would be very much reduction of the need or home missions here. Let every home mission worker stand by any effort to get Federal prohibition laws. In line with the above it is meet that we call attention to the fact that consideration of the National Constitutional Prohibition amendment is expected soon after Congress convenes in December. Letters written by voters are said to have special weight, therefore, get your husbands, sons and brothers, each to write the representative from his congressional district and both the senators, asking for favorable consideration.
Members of the conferences mourned the accidental death of the son of one clergy member. “News has been received of a sad accident at Ruffin, near Walterboro, where an Atlantic Coast Line engine ran over and killed the two and one-half year old son of the Rev. J. B. Bell of Bethel Circuit. The child ran upon the tracks, falling under the moving engine. A flagman made a heroic, but vain effort to rescue the child, narrowly escaping injury to himself.
Members of the Columbia College Club enjoyed a meeting last Wednesday with Mrs. Arch Bethea. Her home was decorated with dahlias and ferns. Mrs. Bethea was assisted in receiving by her sister, Mrs. J. Stephen Bethea of Prescott, Arizona, who was a former member of the club. The committees in charge of the Book Day Club celebration reported 110 books sent on to the college library. Miss Major was asked to read Miss Omega Ellerbe’s “History of the Columbia College Club” and Mrs. Hayes read a paper on “Our Present Work.” Mrs. W. W. Daniel gave the history of the alumnae association. After a discussion, it was decided to concentrate the efforts of the club upon furnishing the College Library, and a group agreed to raise $50 before Christmas to buy another library table.”
Finally, Rev. Thomas G. Herbert shared some information about the arrangements for the upcoming Annual Conference in Florence, including asking how many of the brethren intended on bringing their “machines” – i. e. their automobiles – to Conference as a few families who wanted to host members were too far to walk to from Central Church, where Conference would be held.
And that is just a snippet of South Carolina Methodism a century ago.