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The Synod of Canadian
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The following is the enabling act of the General Assembly at Columbus, Ohio, May 24, 1907, establishing the synod of Canadian, to consist of the colored Presbyterian ministers and Churches in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“That the Synod of Canadian is hereby erected and constituted, to consist of the Presbyteries of White River, Kiamichi and Rendall; and the synod of Canadian, as thus constituted, shall meet in the meeting place of the First Colored Presbyterian congregation in Oklahoma City, on Tuesday, the 8th day of October, 1907, at 7:30 o’clock p. m.; that the Rev. W. L. Bethel shall preside until the election of a Moderator, that the Rev. W. D. Feaster preach the opening sermon and that elder J. H. A. Brazleton act as temporary clerk, until the election of a stated and permanent clerk.”
The assembly at this time enlarged the boundary of the Presbytery of Kiamichi so as to include the south half of the state of Oklahoma and established the Presbytery of Kendall to include the north half of it, the Canadian river, and below its mouth the Arkansas River, forming the boundary line between them.
It also enlarged the boundary of White River Presbytery to include all the colored Presbyterian ministers and Churches in the synod, or state, of Arkansas.
The first meeting of the synod of Canadian, was held in the colored Methodist Church of Oklahoma City. The Presbytery of Kiamichi was represented by 3 ministers and one elder, namely, Rev. R. E. Flickinger, and Elder Jack A. Thomas, representing Oak Hill Church at Valliant, Rev. W. H. Carroll, Garvin, and Rev. T. K. Bridges, Lukfata.
The Presbytery of Rendall was represented by Rev. W. L. Bethel of Oklahoma, who served as moderator, John S. May of Watonga; William T. Wilson, Reevesville; Oscar A. Williams, M. D. Okmulgee; Samuel J. Grier, Guthrie; and elder J. H. A. Brazleton of Oklahoma, who served as temporary clerk.
The Presbytery of White River was not represented by any ministers or elders.
The Oak Hill Church was also represented by Miss Malinda A. Hall, representing the Women’s Missionary and Christian Endeavor societies, and by Solomon H. Buchanan, representing the Sunday school and Oak Hill Aid society.
At the first meeting, held on Tuesday evening, Oct. 8th, a special address was delivered by Rev. William A. Provine, D. D., representing the Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Nashville, Tennessee. Another visitor, who was present with him at this first meeting, also delivered a short address in behalf of the cause he represented.
Inasmuch as White River Presbytery was not represented by a minister or elder, the sentiment prevailed, that those present did not form a quorum, and nothing further was done save to adjourn until the next morning.
At the meetings held on Wednesday morning and afternoon considerable indisposition to organize was manifested by most of those participating in the discussions, because the colored people had not been previously consulted as to their wishes, before the Synod of Canadian was established by the General Assembly. As nothing further was accomplished the meeting was adjourned a third time.
On Wednesday evening Oct. 9th, after a sermon by Rev. R. E. Flickinger, the Synod of Canadian was organized. Kev. William L. Bethel was elected Moderator and elder J. H. A. Brazleton, clerk. The principal business transacted was the enrollment of delegates, the arrangement of the standing committees and the appointment of a special committee, to prepare a set of standing rules to be submitted at the next meeting.
The second meeting of the Synod of Canadian was held at Oak Hill Academy Oct. 1-4, 1908. The Presbytery of Kendall was represented by Rev. W. L. Bethel, who delivered the opening sermon, and elder J. H. A. Brazleton of Oklahoma. The Presbytery of White River was represented only by Rev. W. A. Byrd, Ph. D., of Cotton Plant, Ark., and he was elected Moderator. Rev. William H. Carroll of Garvin was elected stated clerk, after the adoption of the standing rules presented by Rev. R. E. Flickinger. The meetings, which included one in behalf of the Women’s work, were continued over Sabbath.
In 1909 the Synod met at Okmulgee, Oklahoma. In 1910 it met at Little Rock, Arkansas, and Rev. W. J. Starks of Frogville served as moderator. At this meeting a resolution was adopted establishing a Synodical Women’s Missionary society by the appointment of Mrs. C. S. Mebane of Hot Springs, president, and Miss Cassie Hollingsworth of Little Rock, Ark., secretary. The next meeting of synod was held at Hot Springs, Ark., Oct. 6, 1911, and the foregoing resolution was re-approved.
On Oct. 3, 1912, the Synod of Canadian met in the new Presbyterian Church at Garvin, Okla., and the opening sermon was delivered by Rev. C. S. Mebane, D. D., of Hot Springs, in the absence of the moderator, Rev. A. M. Caldwell. Rev. Virgil McPherson of Camden, Ark., was elected moderator and Rev. M. L. Bethel of Oklahoma, temporary clerk.
The representation and attendance at this meeting, the sixth one, was greater than at any previous one. It consisted of 15 ministers and 5 elders as follows:
C. S. Mebane, A. E. Rankin and Virgil McPherson from the Presbytery of White River.
Martin L. Bethel, the Synodical Sunday school missionary, and J. S. May from the Presbytery of Kendall.
Wiley Homer, T. K. Bridges, R. E. Flickinger, William Butler, R. D. Colbert, W. J. Starks, W. H. Carroll, the stated clerk, N. S. Alverson, P. S. Meadows, J. A. Loving, and elders, Calvin Burris, St. Paul, Solomon H. Buchanan, Oak Hill; Lee V. Bibbs, Forest; T. H. Murchison, Garvin, and William Harris, Hebron; from the Presbytery of Kiamichi.
At this meeting Rev. R. E. Flickinger presented his fifth and last report on the work of the Board of Missions for Freedmen. He had performed a leading part in effecting the organization of the Synod, at a time when it lacked a legal quorum, because of the previous order of the General Assembly establishing it. The General Assembly at its next meeting approved the organization and made it effective.
The following words of grateful recognition have been taken from the minutes of the synod of 1912, the first year they have been printed.
Rev. R. E. Flickinger, superintendent of Alice Lee Elliott School, in a lengthy and very pathetic address, made known to synod his intention of giving up his charge and returning to his home in Iowa.
The period of eight years which he spent in our midst was ended with many deep regrets on the part of all with and for whom he labored.
“His work as superintendent of Oak Hill Academy, now called Alice Lee Elliott school, will be long remembered, for he secured and permanently established the Oak Hill Farm, and developed industrial features in the school far beyond what was even expected. We cherish for him the feelings of gratitude and appreciation, that belong to the unselfish worker he was.”
The Women’s Missionary meeting at synod in Garvin in 1912 was the first one at which a complete organization was effected. It is therefore of historic interest.
The meeting was opened by Mrs. C. S. Mebane of Hot Springs, convener, and she was later elected president. Mrs. W. H. Carroll was elected secretary, Mrs. W. J. Stark, treasurer, Mrs. Emma P. White president of the Young People’s Work, and Miss Bertha L. Ahrens, corresponding secretary.
Others who were present and enrolled as members were Mrs. M. L. Bethel, Mrs. Martha Folsom, Mrs. L. Walker, Mrs. Nellie Milton, Sarah Milton, Ledocia Milton, Mrs. Fidelia Murchison, Mrs. Garfield Lewis, Mrs. Ed. Thomas, Mrs. Violet Shelton, Emma Beams, and Emma L. Carroll.
The address at their popular meeting in the evening was delivered by Rev. A. E. Rankin of Crockett, Texas; and a paper from Mrs. D. J. Wallace of Okmulgee was read by Mrs. M. L. Bethel. Muskogee was chosen as the place for the synodical meeting in 1913.
The synod in 1913 the sixth year after its organization, represents three Presbyteries, that include all our colored ministers and Churches in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and, since 1910, those also that are in the east half of Texas. Its roll includes 42 ministers and 46 Churches, whose membership of 1269 contributed to all local purposes, such as maintenance of buildings and pastoral support, the sum of $3,212.00. This is an average of less than $70.00 for each Church in the synod and less than $48.00 each, for the Churches in Oklahoma and east Texas. This statement indicates, that the ministers serving these Churches are almost wholly dependent for their income, on what they receive from other sources, than the dependent congregations they serve, and, that only by the practice of the most rigid economy, in personal expenses, is it possible for them to make ends meet and maintain a good name in their respective communities.
The evening meetings of synod and a part of the afternoon sessions may be made very profitable to the local congregation, by arranging before hand for special addresses on the part of representatives of the Boards, or members of the synod. There are some causes, such as education, evangelism, the Freedmen and Women’s work that are of popular interest, and a stirring address on these subjects is always appreciated. Such addresses are a means of instruction and serve to awaken popular enthusiasm.
Some synods have adopted the plan of holding an annual Sunday school convention during the evening and day preceding the meeting of the synod. These endeavor to bring before the young Sunday school workers, the very best speakers available, on the subjects to be discussed.
The arrangements for the popular addresses should be made several weeks in advance, so the speakers may be prepared and the people be duly notified.
“May the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you, that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ; to whom be dominion and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
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