First Congregational Church of Austin, Ninth and Colorado, 1904
Reverend Ritchie Jones Briggs
March 21, 1914-1923. with assistants
March 5, 1914 – March 5, 1915, Assistant Pastor P. C Burhans
June 1, 1919 – September 1, 1919, Assistant John W. Harbeson
September 1, 1919 – December 31, 1920, Assistant Pastor A. D. Shaw
May 29, 1921 – June 18, 1923, Assistant Pastor A. O. Stevens
Rev. Paul Charles Burhans
March 5, 1914 – March 5, 1915, Assistant Pastor
New Life in Palestine
New Life in Palestine
PALESTINE. Rev. 1-’. C. Burhans came to this
church In April, 1915, and has done a splen-
did work. The church was for many months
pastorless, audiences had dropped to a hand-
ful and the members were discouraged. A
strong evangelistic campaign was conducted
in the summer with the use of a tent. a good
number of conversions resulted. and the life
of the church quickened. Stcreopticon lec-
tures have been given. and earnest work has
resulted in an attendance reaching 225. while
the average for the last quarter was 115. On
several oecaslons the Sunday school has registered 120. Old members are coming back to
the church, and new hopefulness and expects-
tion have come into the minds of the people.
The greatest dilllculty for Palestine church
was a poor location. near the railroad. But
now one of the tlnest corner lots for church
purposes in the city has been purchased, and
through the generous assistance of two In)»-
men, Texas Congregatlonnllsts. one in Austin
and one in Dallas. a clear title for this lot,
which cost over H.000. is in the hands of the
trustees of the church. The entire value of
the present property may now therefore be
turned to the acqulrernent of a new building,
and the prospects of this central church of
East Texas. under the able leadership of Mr.
Burhans. is one of the brightest and largest
of anything in this part of the state.
Professor Howard Arnold Seckerson
1920 – 1921, Preached sermons during Dr. Briggs illnes.
Howard A. Seckerson was born 3 May 1877 in Brooklyn, NY . He attended Wesleyan University (A.B., 1907) and Yale University (M.A.). His teaching experience, prior to coming to Connecticut Agricultural College included one year as head of the English Department at Miami Military Institute ( Germantown, OH ), eight years as department head at Lynchburg High School ( Lynchburg, VA ) and one year as an English instructor at the University of Texas at Austin . In 1921, Seckerson was offered the position of Department Head at C.A.C. His development of the department assisted in the conversion of the institution from a vocational college into a state university. His management of the dramatic club laid the foundation for the future Department of Speech and Drama. In addition to teaching, Mr. Seckerson was an ordained minister and returned to pastoral duties after retiring from the University. At the tie of his retirement on 14 August 1946, the English Department was the largest department on the UConn campus.
Howard Seckerson married Unade Barnes (22 May 1884, Middletown, CT ) at graduate of Wesleyan University (A.B., 1908). She was also an instructor at Connecticut Agricultural College, teaching German and English. The Seckersons had one daughter, Elizabeth.
Howard Seckerson died on 1 March 1970 at the age of 92.
Rev. John Wesley Harbeson
June 1, 1919 – September 1, 1919, Assistant Pastor
Rev. Arthur Desmond Shaw
September 1, 1919 – December 31, 1920, Assistant Pastor
In 1920, Rev. Arthur Desmond Shaw, his wife and son moved from Honolulu, Hawaii to Austin, TX. He started his ministry October 1, 1919 with the understanding that it was to run until the middle of January at which time a further appointment would be considered, both parties being agreeable. If he was not called then the church would pay his return train fare. His salary was $2000/yr. In 1919, he was the pastor of the First Foreign Church of Hilo. He resided at 506 Puueo Avenue, Hilo.
The Congregational Christian Churches of USA Year Book states “Arthur Desmond Shaw was born Derbyshire, England, July 26, 1875. His parent were John Bennet and Ann (Bennett) Shaw. Ordination, Baptist, San Jose, CA, 1908. Pastorates: Malden, WA, 1910-12; Tacoma, WA;1912-16; Hillsboro, Oregon, 1917-18; Hilo, T.H., 1918-19; Austin, TX, 1919-20; Lopez, WA, 1921-22; Pasco, WA, 1922-26; Cathlamet, WA, 1929-30.1939.
Rev. Shaw’s birthdate is elusive. In the draft registration it is July 26, 1874. His naturalization petition has his birth July 28, 1871. He was born in Nothingham, England. He says he immigrated from Linkford(?), England arriving Boston, MA, on December 20, 1901, on the ship Saxonia. There is an A. D. Shaw that arrives in Boston on the Saxonia about this time, his profession is listed as “actor.” The document states that Isabel was born in Newcastle.
The earliest records find him in New York City as an Adjutant for the Salvation Army. He is a popular lecturer in New York and Pennsylvania. In 1906, Shaw gave a lecture on the need to establish “Farm Colonies” to provide support for impoverished immigrants. The talk was entitled “The Landless Man to the Manless Land.”
An article appears in the Tuesday, March 21, 1905, New York Times about his marriage to Ensign Isabel Crozier of St. Louis.
Shaw was ordained into the Baptist Church in San Jose, CA in 1908.
In 1910 census, Arthur and Isabel were living in Moscow, Latah, Idaho. He is a minister. According to this census they both immigrated in 1902. He is likely naturalize but she is not.
In 1915, he is minister of East Tacoma Congregational Church. A church formed in 1885.The church in Tacoma had 250 members. He is living at 2712 East E. Street in Tacoma, Washington.
According to his 1918 WWI draft registration, Shaw was born July 26, 1874 in England. He and Isabel were living at 1569 Washington St, Hillsboro, Washington, Oregon. He was the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Hillsboro, Oregon. He was pf medium height, slender build with grey eyes and dark brown hair.
In the 1920 census, Arthur and Isabel lived at West Ninth Street in Austin. Isabel’s birth year was listed as 1876. He and his wife are lodgers in Francis and Bernise Nilsson’s home. Nilsson is a machinist born in Denmark. His wife was born in Texas.
In 1930, Shaw is a Congregational minister in Cathlaet, Wahkiakum, Washington. He and his wife were both 24 with they married, making the year about 1905, shortly after arriving in US. Isabella mother was born in Scotland. This census has her immigrating in 1910. Likely an error. Their son, Leslie Crozier Shaw, was born August 20, 1908, in San Jose, CA. Leslie died September 16, 1963 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Mountain Home, Idaho. He was a Master Sargent in the US Air Force during World War II. In 1940 census he is was living with his mother in Spokane and was a Senior Clerk in City Property Department. He had graduated from college.
Rev. A. O. Stevens
June 18, 1923-Jan 1925,
The Rev. Almon Odell Stevens (1868-1938) was the assistant who became pastor on Dr. Briggs’ death on June 18, 1923. His degrees included A. B., A. M., and B. D. Almon was born in Clifford, Susquehanna, PA on April 21, 1868. He graduated from Keystone Academy in 1887. He attended Cozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania during 1891-92 and the University of Chicago during 1892-93. He received his A.B. at Bucknell in 1894. At Bucknell he was awarded Second Herbert Tustin Prize, “…two prizes, in the proportion of fifteen dollars for the First Prize, and of ten dollars for the Second Prize, to the two students of the Senior Class who shall have attained the highest and the second highest standing in Psychology and Ethics (under such regulations for the pursuit of these studies as the Faculty of the College shall prescribe from time to time), and whose conduct for the last two years of their course in
College shall have been without exception.”
In 1894, he also received a Bachelor of Divinity from the U. of Chicago. He was ordained July 24, 1894 in Algona, Iowa, where he served as pastor 1894-95. His next church, 96-97, was Rochester, Minnesota; there he united with the Congregational Church. His remaining churches were Oakland, CA, 97-99; Pontiac, MI, 99-04; Anamosa, Iowa, 05-06; Elkhorn, WI, 06-13; Beloit, WI, 14-23. Other pastorates were in Austin, TX and Kentucky. He married Laura B. Waters in Columbia, Boone, MO, on May 6, 1896. He and his wife, Laura B. Waters (1867-1948), had four children, daughter Lucia C. Pelikan of Chicago (1901-75) and sons Theophilus, Ralph Waters, New York, (1897-1935) and John M. , Austin, TX, (1904-29), He resigned from Austin church on July 1, 1924 because of ill health. Apparently, his health improved as he served a church in Stearns, KY in 1930. Rev. Stevens and his wife wrote poetry; here are examples of their poems which won prizes in Beloit. Poems. (Many thanks to Linda Willis for sharing her information about the Stevens family.) Laura died in Jefferson, KY, Dec 11, 1948 at the Masonic Widows and Orphans home.
Rev. Ruel Pembroke Snider
January 1925-Dec. 2, 1928,
The Rev. Ruel P. Snider (shown at right) assumed his duties as minister in January of 1925. Ruel was born October 12, 1894, in Cherry Grove,Washington, Oregon to Asa B. and Mary Elizabeth Snider (picture of Mary below). Asa was a minister. Ruel followed in the footsteps of his father and studied for the ministry. He attended the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA. He married Cora E. Powell February 1, 1921 in Cook County, Illinois.. She was born April 9, 1891, in Riverside, CA. They had daughters Joan (born Portland, Oregon, 1922) and Barbare (Tallmadge, Ohio, 1924).
He had graduated from UC Berkeley in 1920. He emphasized work with students at the University of Texas. The Congregational Conference of Texas considered establishing a Bible Chair but never accomplished this goal. Mr. Snider left on Dec. 2, 1928 for a church at Hilo, Hawaii. In 1936, he resigned his position to return to the mainland. He later served Hope Congregational in Granville, N. D. and First Congregational Church in Pocatello, Idaho (there in 1941).
Ruel died October 25, 1962 in Washington County, Oregon. He is buried at Fir Lawn Cemetery at Hillsboro, Washington County, Oregon. His wife Cora P. Snider Davisson died July 22, 1987 and is buried in the same cemetery.
Sevier Eratus “Jack” Frost Jr
September 1, 1929-June 1, 1935,.
Rev. Sevier E. Frost Jr. (1899-1978) served from !929 to 1935. He was born in Ft. Worth, TX, S. E. (Sr.) and Mary Elizabeth Hammer Frost. His father (1867-1929) was a history teacher. Severe was the oldest of three boys, Sevier, Edward E. and Harvey M. His wife, Maude Disbrow (1906-2006), was born in Braddock Ward 4, Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1909. Her parents were Lloyd Lan and Maude Disbrow.
Rev. Frost earned a B. A. from Southern Methodist University in 1922. Upon graduation he entered Yale Divinity School. He received his B. D. in 1924. He entered Columbia University and earned an M. A. in 1925. He later studied at Texans Christian University and Vanderbilt. It is likely that he accepted an assistant minter position with the Plymouth Congregational Church in Coconut Grove, Florida.
Rev. Frost and Maude were married in 1927. Their children included John and Sandra Karen. During 1934, Frost was a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. With Professor Fred Eby he wrote a book “Graduate Theses and Dissertations Written in the Field of Education.” He resigned in 1935 to attend college in New York. He received a Ph. D. from Columbia University in 1939. In 1945, Dr. Frost taught English at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York. (see photo below.) His son S. E. Frost III, born 1928 in Florida, was attending the school also. Rev. Frost later wrote “Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers”, 1962. Frost later taught in the Department of Education, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He spent many years in the study and teaching of the history and philosophy of education and was the author of a number of books on philosophy, religion and education. He wrote “Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Western Education, Charles E. Merrill International Series in Education, 1966. He died in Laguna Hills, Orange County, CA. (Photo at right of Dr. Frost is courtesy of Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections. Special thank to Theresa Ferrara. Archives and Special Collections.)
Rev. S.E. Frost’s ministry. “Emphasis on student participation continued with an open house on Friday with dancing, which caused dissent from older members. The Fellowship Players was organized and gave four one-act plays each year. When other churches in the area had similar groups, competitions were held. The church invited UT students who had no other church affiliation to attend services and established a special student membership category for them.”
S. Marcus Houge
September 1, 1935-March 1, 1940, S. Mark Houge (1905-84), (resigned to go to Westwood Hills Congregational Church in Hollywood, CA.)
In the fall of 1935, S. Marcus Houge was called to the church. He was called as HOGUE- but had changed his name to HOUGE when he arrived. He continued the student work already in “full-swing” with an average attendance of 45 in the Fellowship Club, and added to the program: Campus Critics- in which books on social, economic and political issues were discussed.
He was very interested in ACTION- not just talk. He was asked by radio station KNOW to read the Lenten Meditation each day except Sunday – and then by popular demand, he was asked to continue with the Meditation the rest of the year.
He refurnished the Chancel – had it ready by Easter – and presented the JUNIOR Choir at that time – in their new vestments. The robes were made by the women of the church.)
He served on the Arbitration board in San Antonio dealing with a Pecan Strike. He started the Unified Church Service joint picnic with the San Antonio church. He held services with the University Presbyterian Church. Held meeting on civil liberties, natural resources, taxation, amendments to Texas Constitution and “How the U. S. can stay out of next war.” He supported the Emergency Peace campaign. He campaigned agains the establishing of an R.O.T.C unit on the UT Campus. The young people in the church attended a camp at Caterville, OK. Many programs were started during his ministry – Student Religious Council, an inter-church youth council of the University churches plus the YMCA and YWCA. He was chosen to provide the Invocation at the 1938 UT Commencement.
On January 8, 1939, Rev. Hogue invited Maury Maverick to deliver a sermon and lead a discussion on civil liberties. It was announced that Maverick was the only Southern member of Congress who had voted for the Antilynching Bill. From 1882 to 1968, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress, and three passed the House. Seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 petitioned Congress to pass a federal law. Not one bill was approved by the Senate because of the powerful opposition of the Southern Democratic voting block. The sermon proved to be highly popular. Two hundred and sixty people crowed into the church, including the mayor of Austin
Rev. Hogue was born in Iowa in 1905. He likely attended seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He was married on August 22, 1927, to Marguerite Constance Larson Hogue (1904-96) in the First Lutheran Church of Sioux Falls, SD. This was Marguerite’s home church. They had two children Constance (1929-?) and Freya (1939-?). Marguerite and Constance are born in North Dakota. Freya likely was born in Austin. Marguerite was a musician in a dance studio while in Austin. Income as minister in 1939 was $1200/yr. Marcus and Marguerite were divorced sometime before 1951. She was an office worker in Long Beach, CA, later moving to Seattle, WA where she died in 1996. She is buried in Hills of Rest Memorial Park, Sioux Falls, SD.
In 1955, Marcus was a minister in Belaire, CA and his wife’s name is Shirley. He is minister of Westwood Hills Congregational Church. He ran as a Democrat for Congress in the Sixteenth Congressional District in Los Angeles in 1952. He won the primary. He decided to run against Rep Donald L. Jackson because Jackson charged on the floor of the House that Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam “serves God on Sunday and the Communist front for the balance of the week.” This slanderous statement was to much for Rev. Hogue who made it a personal matter.” Hogue lost to Jackson.
Hogue’s involvement with peace efforts is suggested in this paragraph from “Meredith Willson, America’s Music Man: The Whole Broadway-Symphonic-Radio-Motion Picture Story” by Bill Oates (2005). He writes, “ In contrast to the lighter fare, Meredith Willson also composed his Anthem of the Atomic Age with Los Angeles’ Westwood Congregational Church Pastor, S. Mark Hogue. Published in l950, the song restates the theme that God made all men in His image, and that because God created each atom, man must use the power contained therein with the wisdom that the Creator gave to those who were set above all other beings. With the Korean “police action” of 1950 evolving into the Korean War only five years after the Second World War, Willson and Hogue sought to direct their peaceful musical sermon as a plea that cool heads prevail and not use atomic weaponry as had been done to end the Second World War. To send their message, the two envisioned singers from around the world expressing their desires for freedom in thirty-four languages. Willson told one reporter, “If we would appreciate what our fellow man is all about, and show him we care, we would not be in all this trouble.”
From 1973 Van Nuys newspaper, “Dean Martin and Model Tell Vows; Sinatra Best Man.” Model Catherine (Kathy) Hawn and entertainer Dean Martin were married last night before a small group of relatives and friends at Martin’s Bel-Air mansion. A spokesman for the couple said the marriage ceremony, performed by the Rev. S. Mark Hogue of Westwood Hills Congregational Church, took only 12 minutes. Best man was Martin’s longtime friend, Frank Sinatra.” He also christened Esther Williams’ daughter in 1954.
Milton Andrew Bierbaum Maxwell
Milton Andrew Bierbaum was called to be the next minister, however, when he arrived on the scene, he had changed his name to Milton B. Maxwell (taking his wife’s maiden name, Charlotte A. Maxwell). Milton was born in Illinois on August 17, 1907 to Rev. Daniel and Bertha Bierbaum. Daniel was an Evangelical minister in Chicago. Charlotte Maxwell was born in Virginia, May 11, 1911.
Milton attended Elmshurst College in Elmshurst, IL. He graduated in 1929. At left is his picture as Associate Editor of the yearbook. Charlotte attended Florida State University. Her picture is at right. Following graduation Milton attended and graduated from the Chicago Theological Seminary. They were married in 1935.
In 1931, Milton Andrew Bierbaum published a thesis at the Chicago Theological Seminary entitled, “Ethical Standards and Incentive in Humanism.” Rev. Bierbaum’s first three years of the ministry was serving a small Congregational church in Ault, Colorado. This was followed by a summer of clinical training at Elgin with Anton T. Boisen. Immediately prior to coming to Austin Rev. Bierbaum served as minister of the Flossmoor Community Church in Flossmoor, IL, a prosperous suburb of Chicago,. They had two son, Douglas Maxwell (1939-2010) and Ross Reid Maxwell (1941-). Milton had completed 7 years of college and Charlotte 4 years. Milton enrolled in the UT graduate schools in Sociology. He completed an MA in 1944; his thesis was entitled, “The Social Thought of Walter Lippmann.” He took an instructorship at Washington State College in Pullman, however he returned to finish his research. He was awarded a Ph.D in 1949 for the dissertation, “Social Factors in the Alcoholics Anonymous Programs.” During his research he was an instructor at UT. After Maxwell left in August 1945 to accept, he acquired a national reputation for his research into alcoholism. One of his articles was “Drinking Behavior in the State of Washington.” He became a professor at Pullman, Washington and served as consultant and speaker for the Hogg Foundation. For more about Dr. Maxwell’s career click…more. He died October 28, 1988 in Olympia, Thurston, Washington. His wife Charlotte died in same location on November 11, 1998. Their son Douglas Lee Maxwell died in Washington, DC.
Rev. Maxwell was strong on social action, and continued the programs already began. In his first quarterly report he wrote, “…that the most significant fact is least newsworthy. Just steady growth and development. Attendances have been over 80–six out of the last nine Sundays. ”
He continued to invite Congregational students and added to this list the Unitarian, Community, Quaker, Union or just Protestant students. Over half responded to a dinner invitation – and many continued to attend.
Under Maxwell’s leadership, the church adopted a program of social interest and expression: 1. Support of the Committee for War Victims & Services; Helping to find ways and means of raising the nutritional level of Austin and Texas; 3. Seeking more adequate medical care for Austin and Travis County; 4. Study recommendations made by Governor’s Commission on Improving Public Education of the State of Texas.
Such projects as a low-cost class was held in the church kitchen (10 sessions); Pilgrim Fellowship held joint meeting with students from Tillotson College. A community canning center (in the church kitchen) was established; A canning calendar in the Sunday American Statesman brought more request than the Church could handle. In 1944, the budget was oversubscribed.
In his March 31, 1944 quarterly report, Maxwell reported an average attendance of 99.
Below is a picture of the 1926 freshman class at Elmhurst College.
Fred Ealy Cole
January 1946 – September 1949, Fred Cole resigned to go to Coral Gable, Florida Congregational Church.
Rev. Fred E. Cole began as minister on Jan. 1 l946 after graduating from Vanderbilt Seminary.
Fred was born in Camden, Tennessee on March 15, 1916 to Charles and Maggie Cole. He was the youngest son of six children. His father was a farmer. Fred attended Union University in Jackson, TN, graduating in 1940. (Senior picture below.) He married Sara Virginia Harwood
(1918-93) in Trenton, TN on November 25, 1942. She had attended Sophie Newcomb College.
Fred’s pastorship in Austin was his first experience with a Congregational Church. He had come from a Southern Baptist background. In a letter, H. H. Lindeman, Conference Superintendent, wrote, “ Other Southern Baptists young ministers with liberal leanings were watching how things went with him. A mighty important point for us in the South where we need Southern local leadership for our churches but do not produce much of it ourselves.”
He continued the strong student emphasis with Unitarians, E and R, Congregational, and those with progressive backgrounds working together. A large turnover of the faculty at UT in a faculty-administration struggle deprived the church of some of its major financial support, and payments to the Church Building Society were suspended and outside aid was received. A 1948 study of University Community Church (name changed under Mark Houge in June of 1959) was requested by H. H. Lindmann and made these findings: “The Austin Church is the most liberal of Texas churches and has a much more transient membership and attendance than our average church. The average attendance of 90 in l947 is above average for a church of this size. Church school attendance was 75; 30 of these were in the children’s department, with 45 in the two students and adult groups.” Under Fred’s leadership the church adde 36 new members in the months of January to May.
There were two student Sunday morning church school classes, one on “Social Action” and another on “Religious Exploration.” These classes gained renown throughout the entire University Community. Personal counseling was an important service of the church. This was conducted by the minister with the assistance of Prof. Ed Kloppe, the minister to the E &R students, Professor Frank Cheareens, former clinical psychologist, Fanny Aster, psychotherapist and Grace Behrman, a marriage counselor.
Rev. Cole had monthly Sunday evening sessions of UT students, students from Huston Tillitson and Sam Houston. He was very serious about the denominational emphasis on racial equality and fellowship. Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Ralph Bickler started “Pilgrim Guild” with ten members attending regularly.
During Rev. Cole’s pastorate there was a large turnover in faculty due to a reactionary administration in the university. A number of generous financial supporters left Austin. Living cost were rising after the war and Rev. Cole had broken his ankle at a 1947 summer conference. He and Virginia were expecting their second child. There was little reason for optimism. The South Central Conference recommended that the Building Society suspend further collections on the churches loan for the year 1948 on the condition that the church apply some of this savings on the minister’s salary. The Conference sent $70 to Rev. Cole to help with the expenses for the ankle. They accompanied it with the statement, “Cole is the type whose idealism is infectious. Let’s not lose this man nor force his removal to a different field.”
A basement was excavated under the Fellowship Room (then the Student Lounge) with volunteer workers removing the dirt by buckets and wheelbarrows. A room of about 27′ by 27′ provided additional space for church school and fellowship dinners. Pilgrim Guild, a second women’s group, was formed for women who could only meet at night. Fred Cole left to pastor the Congregational Church in Coral Gables, Fla., where he served as Senior Pastor from 1949 until his death on August 21, 1967 in Coral Gables, Florida. Sara died October 8, 1993 in Trenton, TN. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Trenton.
Anthony Bertram Miller
Minister of Congregational Church of Austin: July 1, 1950- Fall, 1956
Rev. A. Bertram Miller arrived in Austin on July 1, 1950, after graduating from Yale Divinity School with a B. D. More information about Rev. Miller can be found here… more.
October, 1957-January, 1959,
August 1, 1959-
Rev William Mathews, greeting parishioners, was pastor of the church from 1957-1959.
?, Chester Lay (1921-1994), Dawn DeLong, Dorothy Lay, Rev. Mathews, Charles Trenckmann
The Rev. William B. Mathews was the minister of the church from Nov. 1957 until January 1959. He arranged for leaders of the denomination to talk with the members about what changes could be made. The name change of Pilgrim United Church of Christ was rejected. Three Congregational leaders, Dr. Philip Widenhouse, Dr. Stanley North and Dr. John Scotford suggested worship area changes. These included painting the woodwork the same as the walls, removing the globes under the fans for floodlights located near the ceiling, and bringing the pulpit out of the recessed area to a place in front of the wall at a lower level. The members did not approve these suggestions, and drawings of renovations to the sanctuary were submitted to the Building Society which disapproved of them at first. However, by the time approval was received, church school space had become a priority.
Rev. Dr. Das Kelly Barnett, who taught “Church and Society” at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, supplied the pulpit, and the Rev. Frank Horak, who was working for a degree, provided student leadership. Dr. Kelly Barnett suggested as a possible pastor the present minister, John C. Towery, who arrived in September, 1959.
Here is an excerpt form the book, Macon Black and White: An Unutterable Separation in the American Century
By Andrew Michael Manis. Published 2004. It discusses Kelly Barnett while he was on the faculty of Mercer College.
“Another professor hired by Dowell who undermined his students’ conventional wisdom on race was Dos Kelly Barnett. Arriving at Mercer in the late 1940s with a doctorate in theology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Barnett was a gifted preacher and idealistic enough to believe his oratory could change Southern Baptists. Besides filling Georgia Baptist pulpits on occasional Sundays, he taught courses in Christian and biblical ethics in the Mercer Christianity department. From his lectern he informed students that “basic civil rights are essentially spiritual, and to deny these rights to one is to endanger the same rights for others.” In another 1947 course, he gave a great proportion of his lectures to explaining the Social Gospel to his students, highlighting all the major works of the leading spokesperson for the movement, Walter Rauschenbusch. He told students that in the previous forty years the labor movement had done the most good for people in the United States, while “churches have just passed a few resolutions. The more un-Christian,” he noted, “have upheld the Christian principles.” He called the god of the Ku Klux Klan “a tribal god,” and informed students that the biblical book of Ruth refutes “racial intolerance.” Barnett was later known for deliberately riding in the “Negro” sections of Macon buses. Eventually, however, Barnett grew weary of trying to change Baptists. Always ambitious for bigger things, he left the denomination when he was overlooked for a prestigious position at his seminary alma mater in Kentucky. Becoming an Episcopalian, partly for that tradition’s social progressiveness and partly for its more liberal views on alcohol, he finished his career teaching in a seminary in Texas.”
Das Kelly Barnett born Dec 16, 1914, died June 22, 1973 (maybe in Hancock, Houghton, Michigan), buried in Boonville, NC with wife Virginia A. Barnett (maybe Virginia Craver (?-2001) Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Seminary of the Southwest, Austin.
Below is the link between Dr. Kelly Barnett and John Towery.
John Chesley Towery
b. March 25, 1926 – d. November 28, 2014
Complete write-up on John Towery here.
Rev. Yoshi Kanada
Resource materisl to be integrated above.
The Rev. A. B. Miller arrived on July 1, 1950 after graduating from Yale Divinity School. A new parsonage had been built on a lot donated by J.M. Kuehne and the Millers were its first occupants. The Lutheran Campus Ministry began in the old parsonage beside the church but the building was later used for a child care establishment. Rev. Miller taught at Huston-Tillotson College and was Executive Secretary to the Austin Council of Churches.
The name of the church was changed on March 28, 1951 to the Congregational Church of Austin. Some members left the church to start a separate Unitarian church. A member of the Congregational Church of Austin left a legacy to the Unitarian church which paid for its present building. Student work and social emphasis continued and the church became financially self-supporting with some funds being furnished for student work. The Millers left in 1957 to pastor North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
The Rev. William B. Mathews was the minister of the church from Nov. 1957 until January 1959. He arranged for leaders of the denomination to talk with the members about what changes could be made.The name change of Pilgrim United Church of Christ was rejected. Three Congregational leaders, Dr. Philip Widenhouse, Dr. Stanley North and Dr. John Scotford suggested worship area changes. These included painting the woodwork the same as the walls, removing the globes under the fans for floodlights located near the ceiling, and bringing the pulpit out of the recessed area to a place in front of the wall at a lower level. The members did not approve these suggestions, and drawings of renovations to the sanctuary were submitted to the Building Society which disapproved of them at first. However, by the time approval was received, church school space had become a priority. Rev. Dr. Das Kelly Barnett, who taught “Church and Society” at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, supplied the pulpit, and the Rev. Frank Horak, who was working for a degree, provided student leadership. Dr. Kelly Barnett suggested as a possible pastor the present minister, John C. Towery, who arrived in September, 1959.
Work with the university students was done by students from the Episcopal and Presbyterian Seminaries. Black membership rose to about 11% of the church membership during the 60’s (the first black member of the church joined during Rev. Miller’s pastorate). The parsonage was a bit small for the Towery family, and the present parsonage was purchased in 1961 and later sold to Rev. Towery.
A legacy of a building on Lavaca St. by E.J. Krohn in the early 60’s provided a basis for the new educational wing. A long study under the leadership of Richard P. Swallow, an architect and member of the church, resulted in plans for renovation of the old building and construction of the new wing. A Building Fund campaign over-subscribed the goal of $25,000 by over $4,000. Spiraling construction costs caused an abbreviation of the project. No renovation work on the old building was accomplished and only three floors of the new wing were completed. Dedication services were held on Sept. 28, 1969.
The church school grew for a period of time before leveling off in recent years. Donations to Our Christian World Mission increased with the church leading the Conference in per capita giving for many years. Short drama productions by the young people have replaced plays but continue an old tradition. Meetings on special topics have evolved through the years, with a guest speaker and a “talkback” session after the sermon. Working with a university psychology class, a program for runaways was housed in the church. The People’s Community Clinic took over this space and developed a medical service to the community.
In recent years the church members have done much of the work of painting, repairing, and cleaning and have now realized their earlier hopes with the complete renovation of the pastor’s study.