Monday, July 20, 2015

Hughes County Wanderings: Barnard Memorial UMC

Barnard UMC, 8th and Gulf, Holdenville
Marilyn A. Hudson, c2015
The first Methodist Church in Holdenville was formed (indeed it is probably the first protestant church to form in the community) 1896 with a small congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  In 1897, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South began a work 3 miles southeast of the present community in the spring and by the fall had moved into the town.  The two groups were the result of an 1844 split over the subject of slavery and how much authority the general church could have over affairs in the various conferences, a situation mirroring the national debate over slavery and state's rights. Hughes County emerging from  the region of Indian Territory had witnessed Methodist work in the region going back to 1845 among both the Creek and the Choctaw nations.  The southern branch always had a stronger presence and more resources in the region and so it was not long until the M.E. Church closed  (about 1911) and the building was sold in 1913 to the Episcopal Church which still occupies it with some additions to the original building. The M.E. returned in about 1923 and 'tried again' but soon they would make some history. Committed to both practicality and unity the two churches decided to join forces and so, several years before the 1939 denominational merger that reunited The Methodist Episcopal Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and a cousin, The Methodist Protest Church in 1939, the church in Holdenville blazed a trail of peaceful unity. 

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