If we are to celebrate Black History Month as a people of faith, we should make sure that history is accurate. Where it is inaccurate, we are obliged to correct it. Mere reconciliation and repentance is not enough, we must make reparations to make the Body of Christ whole. We need look no further than our own communities to make a start.
Despite what it says in the book “The Central Texas Annual Conference 1866-2010. At the Center of Texas Methodism” by John Michael Patison, et al, Prince Memorial CME was the first church in Weatherford, Texas AND the second church in Parker County. Founded in 1854 under the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, founded by freed slaves, it predates the City Charter by two years. First Methodist Weatherford, was also founded, less than a mile away, but a few years later, and was also a Methodist Episcopal Church, South congregation. Despite transferring to the newly founded CME in 1870, after, for a short time, being part of a separate, ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the M.E. Church, South, for 16 years, Prince Memorial was the first Methodist church in town. I read this omission this morning in the aforementioned book. Coincidentally, I spoke with folks at United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History at Drew University earlier this week in search of documentation of this history of Prince Memorial on a completely separate matter.
How a publication printed as recently as this book could eliminate this historically significant Methodist church is beyond me. Even the Weatherford Democrat, our local newspaper, recognizes the significance from a 2012 story:
“Prince Memorial Christian Methodist Church celebrated its 158th anniversary in April of 2012. The present church building, constructed after a 1912 storm, is a white clapboard edifice featuring an original bell tower, arched “cathedral windows” and steeply pitched gables. Prince Memorial is the oldest church building standing in Weatherford, and is the second oldest in Parker County.”
We cannot be a multicultural, multiracial denomination if we ignore, excise, delete, and fail to learn from our rich history of failing to be an inclusive church. And we cannot live in unity if we continue to twist history, both secular and church, to only depict what shows the dominant culture in a favorable light.