THE HISTORY OF
THE SHINER FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
These historic events followed the dedication of the new First United Methodist Church:
During the pastorate of the Reverend Gordon Talk, a bequest from the estates of William Wendtland and Hildegard Sanford, together with gifts from Perry Wendtland, Lillie Wendtland, Louise Mikulik, and Isabel Thulemeyer, provided a Schulmerich Carillon. The Carillon was dedicated on October 25, 1970.
One Sunday in September 1977 a special observance for the church took place when the congregation celebrated its 90th Anniversary. Dr. Ralph W. Seiler, Austin District Superintendent, delivered the sermon. Mrs. William Wendtland and Mrs. Rudy Valenta were given special recognition as active members of the church since 1914, completing sixty-three years of service. Mrs. Martha Herder was also to receive this recognition; however, she was unable to attend. Also recognized were the Lee Littlefield and Clarence Littlefield families as descendants of a charter member of the church.
In 1982 one sermon was given John Wesley style as Dr. O'Ryan delivered a short sermon astride his horse. He wore traditional clothing and carried a Wesley Bible autographed by John Wesley.
In 1984 the Methodist Church celebrated its Bicentennial with a special program directed by Mrs. Jean Kaspar. The story of Methodism and the history of the Shiner Methodist Church was presented.
In May 1985 the first annual Shiner Sonshine Celebration, a city-wide ecumenical revival effort, was conduted under the leadership of the Reverend Don Duvall and the Methodist Church. The Reverend Emile La Fance, a Catholic priest from Louisiana, was the speaker.
In 1987 the Shiner Methodist Church celebrated its 100th Anniversary. Church members recalled the endeavors of the early church to provide a good Christian education and good leadership in the area. Two important organizations to these endeavors are Sunday School and the Methodist Youth Fellowship.
The Sunday School of the First United Methodist Church of Shiner had its beginning in 1890 when the Capt. Charles Welhausen family moved to Shiner from High Hill. Mrs. Welhausen - a staunch Presbyterian - organized a Sunday School for her children and other children of the community. This group worshiped with the small Methodist congregation which met on the lower floor of what is now known as the Masonic building. Mrs. Welhausen would drive in her horse-drawn buggy from her home two miles southeast of Shiner to conduct and teach the Sunday School, and it was her money that financed the organization.
In 1897 the Welhausens moved to town, and soon "Aunt Eliza" was joined in her labors in the Lord's vineyard by Annie Thatcher Habermacher, a gifted song leader. It was due to the ability and dedication of these two women that the Sunday School flourished. Mrs. Welhausen was elected life Sunday School superintendent. After her passing, Mrs. Habermacher was elected life superintendent; and when she passed on she was succeeded by Mrs. Lillie (Wolters) Wendtland. Reaching her Silver Anniversary of service, "Miss Lillie" resigned and was succeeded by Mrs. Ella Lane, daughter of Mrs. Elton Zander, the first man ever to serve as Sunday School superintendent. He served for seven years and was succeeded by Mrs. Edward (Lanelle) Kasper and Mrs. Elton (Lillie) Zander before serving a second time in this capacity. Upon his resignation, he was succeeded by Mrs. G.W. (Gayle Welhausen) Minear, great-granddaughter of the founder of the Shiner Methodist Sunday School. She was succeeded by Mrs. Clarence (Nancy) Littlefield, who was succeeded by Dan Kaspar. John Britsch held the position next.
The earliest records of the Sunday School reveal the names of the teachers in 1909 which included Mrs. C.B. Welhausen, Mrs. C.C. Ward, Miss Edna Holchak, Mrs. Eliza Welhausen, Mrs. Annie Habermacher, Miss Lissie Kyle, A.J. Dittmar, and Mrs. A.B. Chapman. The collections ranged from 96 cents to $7.00; average attendance was 50. A singular bit of information in the record always had a printed form for each Sunday's weather report.
The history of the Sunday School would not be complete without mention of Mr. Walter C. Schmidt, who served as secretary-treasurer of the Sunday School for many, many years. "Mr. Walter" would arrive early to build a fire in the wood-burning stove so the building would be warm and comfortable when the children arrived. After the death of "Mr. Walter", the secretary-treasurer's job was taken over by Mr. Marvin Null who served with dedication for many years until failing health forced him to retire at an advanced age. Honorable mention should go to Mrs. Ernest (Millie) Hajek who was the oldest member in attendance at the Women's Wesley Bible Class, and at age 87, was the still serving as the secretary-treasurer.
Junior and Senior Epworth Leagues organized by Eliza Welhausen and Mrs. Annie Habermacher in 1899 proved an impetus to teenagers and adults alike. The organization flourished and played and important role in the continuation of the Shiner Methodist Church. The conference saw fit to change the name of Epworth League to that of Methodist Young Peoples Union. In January 1935, this was reorganized with Mrs. Edgar C. Wolters as first counselor. Later this was merged in Methodist Youth Fellowship with Mrs. J.W. Boyle as counselor.
The MYF was especially active in the 1950's with a large membership participating in many phases of the church program. The members conducted the entire worship service on Youth Sundays and with the help of the counselor,planned their own worship and programs for the MYF meetings. They visited the shut-ins and sang hymns for them, collected for U.N.I.C.E.F. at Halloween and went caroling at Christmas time. They conducted outdoor Easter Sunrise Services, assisted with Vacation Bible School, sang in the Junior Choir (under the direction or Mrs. E.A. Ross) and attended worship services at churches of all denominations in the Shiner and Yoakum area during their study on "How Others Worship".
From about 1955 to 1965 the highlight of each summer was the Methodist Youth encampment at Mt. Wesley, Kerrville. The MYF members would raise funds for camp by cleaning the church, the fellowship hall, and the Sunday School rooms. Shiner was always well represented and even today the former campers have fond recollections for their days at Mt. Wesley. At the end of the summer the campers would give reports from the Kerrville Assembly at a Sunday evening service and sing some of their favorite camp songs. There was always a large crowd in attendance and the congregation thoroughly enjoyed the inspirational program.
The MYF also enjoyed hay rides, picnics, swimming parties, treasure hunts, and many other fun activities. Outgoing counselors and high school graduates were always honored with a farewell party. Every meeting and every party always closed with members and counselors forming a circle, joining hands and saying the MYF benediction in unison.
A great incentive in the program of the Methodist Church was the organization of the Woman's Parsonage and Home Mission Society in 1899. The ultimate aim was to secure the location of the circuit parsonage in Shiner. The parsonage location was not of long duration as the preachers found it more central to live elsewhere.
The Ladies Aid, known as the WHMS was organized January 18, 1903. Mrs. Eliza Welhausen served as president until January 1906 when she resigned to give more time to her Sunday School. Mrs. Annie Habermacher was elected president and served until her death in 1930. Mrs. Isabel Thulemeyer swerved as treasurer fifty-seven years.
The name of the society was changed to Ladies Aid Society on October 3, 1905. The church of 1914 seems to have been the product of the Ladies Aid Society. The Sunday School children wired the church and furnished paint for staining windows. (These were plain, clear glass painted with a green paint.) Elmo Merrem and Fred Birkman did the work. In 1916 a debt of $150 remained. Mrs. Habermacher, Mrs. Welhausen and Mrs. Edmund F. Wolters solicited contributions. Sunday School and Epworth League donations brought the debt down to $9, which Edgar Merrem, Jr. kindly paid. On April 26, 1944, Mrs. J.P. Bartak (who with her husband were serving as missionaries in Czechoslovakia) made a motion at a regular meeting of the Ladies Aid Society that it should join the Woman's Society of Christian Service. The motion carried. Mrs. Cecil Plageman was president at the time.
On March 27, 1968, the society was changed from Woman's Society of Christian Service, Southwest Conference to the Women's Society of Christian Service of the United Methodist Church. At the meeting of the W.S.C.S. July 19, 1973, Mrs. Ann Rider, president, informed the members, "We are no longer known as the Women's Society of Christian Service; we are now The United Methodist Women."
The work of these dedicated members has continued throughout the years. On February 3, 1904, the Ladies Aid agreed to present the Pastor with a complete wardrobe, "a suit, shoes, hat, socks and suspenders" which were bought for $10.90. Support of the church in every possible way has been given, and at the same time, carried out its purpose to know God, to develop a supportive fellowship, to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the Church.
A much needed move in Church organization was taken November 15, 1945, when the Reverend Walter L. Goehner organized the Official Board to meet the third Wednesday of each month. Officers elected were Wilbur Minear, chairman; W.C. Schmidt, co-chairman; and Gus Wolters, secretary. As a tribute of confidence the same officials were unanimously re-elected each year. Mr. Minear never missed a meeting until February 1957 when he was in the hospital as a result of an accident. Other Chairmen of the Board have been Arthur Kaspar, James Buske, C.A. Seiler, Don Kaspar, and Elton Zander. The Official Board is important to the planning and carrying out of Church policies.
The Administrators of the Shiner United Methodist Church in 1987 included Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. who was the Resident Bishop of the San Antonio Area of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Dixon received a B.A. Degree (Magnum cum Laude) from Huston College, Austin, Texas in 1943. He earned his B.D. Degree from Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, New Jersey in 1945. He was given many Honorary Degrees throughout his career. Bishop Dixon had an enviable Ministerial Record, serving in churches in New York, New Jersey, Alabama, and Texas. He was president of Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas 1965-1969. He held many administrative positions in the hierarchy of the Church, as well as in special activities in the Church Community. Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. was elected a Bishop of The United Methodist Church, July 1972; he was named Bishop of the Kansas Area (Kansas East and Kansas West Conferences) 1972-1980. He became Bishop of the San Antonio Area (Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences) of The United Methodist Church in 1980.
John C. Gilbert was the District Superintendent of the Victoria District in 1987. He was born in Rotan, Fisher County, Texas, and his wife, Joy Harper Gilbert, is a native of Ranger, Texas. Dr. Gilbert received a B.S. Degree with Honors from Texas Wesleyan College, Fort Worth, Texas and a B.D. Degree with Honors from S.M.U. in 1955. He did a year of graduate work at Perkins School of Theology in Bible during 1956. Texas Wesleyan College conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity upon Dr. Gilbert in May 1978. Dr. Gilbert served pastorates in several Texas Churches, including the First Methodist in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was district superintendent of the McAllen District and of the Victoria District at different times. Dr. Gilbert was ordained Deacon in 1955 and Elder in 1957 both in the Southwest Conference.
Dr. Gilbert had an impressive record of service. He was chairman and vice-chairman of several Boards in the Southwest Texas Conference. He was a delegate to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 1976 and in 1984, and to the General Conference in 1980. Shiner Methodists remember Dr. Gilbert, particularly, for his part in the planning and building of the present United Methodist Church and for his Leadership and working with the Youth of the Church during his pastorate in Shiner 1958-1962.
The Reverend Don Duvall was the minister of the Shiner United Methodist Church in 1987, and he had been there since 1982. He was active in all phases of Church and Community growth. His leadership in organizing and bringing together the local Churches for the Shiner Sonshine Celebration was an ecumenical success. The meetings were enjoyed by the people of Shiner and surrounding communities. Reverend Duvall attended seminars at Perkins School of Theology for three years. He also attended St. Paul Seminary at Kansas City, Missouri for one year.
Early records show that the Methodist church was connected with the Sweet Home Charge, Cuero District, West Texas Conference. The circuit consisted of Sweet Home, Hope, Terryville, Shiner, Oakland, Prairieville, Moulton, Big Hill and Andrews Chapel. The first Quarterly Conference held at Hope 1895-1896 showed $480, pledged by the entire circuit. Shiner was assessed fifty dollars a year for pastoral support. Since the condition of the roads and lack of money made it impossible for the ministers to visit the congregation on a regular schedule, the congregation met weekly for prayer meetings with S.A. Carnes, trustee and steward, presiding. A year later, in 1897, the Shiner Charge was free of debt, with a property valuation of $800.
In December 1890 Captain Charles Welhausen moved his family to Shiner from High Hill. Mrs. Welhausen, a Presbyterian, realizing her children needed a Christian education, organized a Sunday School for the children of the community. In 1898 Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Habermacher of Flatonia moved to Shiner, and Mrs. Habermacher, a devoted Methodist, joined Mrs. Welhausen in the work of the church and Sunday School. Another Lavaca County pioneer in Methodism in the Shiner-Sweet Home Charge was Mrs. Margaret Howard-Martin, whose descendants are Mrs. J.E. Martin, Mrs. Mary Martin, and Mr. and Mrs. George G. Griffin.
In 1899 the Women's Parsonage and Home Mission Society was organized. With the money these ladies raised by giving oyster and ice cream suppers, plays and other socials, a parsonage was located here in 1900. By 1900 Shiner had advanced to a one Sunday per month appointment. For about nine years ministers occupied the parsonage and worked out from Shiner.
In 1909 Reverend Joseph Dobes was assigned to the Shiner Church, and Shiner was established by the conference as a Bohemian Mission Circuit. Since most of the members were either German or of American descent, and English was their language, services conducted in the Czech language failed to meet the needs of the congregation. For two years there were no preaching services as such; worship, literary, and social activities of the Epworth League, and Sunday School departments carried on the work of the Church. Joe F. Webb of the Yoakum Church came occasionally for mid-week services. It was on his advice that the parsonage be sold, and the money applied on a fund for a new church building. The Quarterly Conference authorized the sale of the parsonage, and the property was sold to Mrs. Isabel Thulemeyer and Louis J. Wendtland for $1900. The deed was signed by Dr. W.A. Wilson, W.C. Schmidt, and Albert Dittmar, trustees, on January 27, 1914. In 1914 this building was moved a block down the street to make room for a new church, which was to be built on the old site of the parsonage. Schumacher and Wegener were named as the architects and builders. The new church became a reality in 1914 through accumulated funds, local contributions, and the liberal sponsorship of Mrs. Eliza Welhausen. It served the congregation for the next forty-eight years.
The second church building
1914 - 1962
After the completion of the church, membership increased, and the congregation advanced to a two Sunday appointment with Hallettsville and Mossy Grove. The parsonage was located in Hallettsville, but the Shiner Church shared in its upkeep. In 1940 Shiner was assigned to the Flatonia Charge. With the passing years, the organizations of the church grew. The Women's Parsonage and Home Mission Society, which in 1905 had become the Ladies Aid, joined the Woman's Society of Christian Service in 1944. At a later date, the Woman's Society of Christian Service became the United Methodist Women. Another organization of the church deserving recognition is the Methodist Church Choir. Through the years, there have been three organists; Mrs. William Wendtland, Mrs. Mary Lou Ross, and Mrs. Betty Wertz. Mrs. Mary Lou Ross also served as choir director for many years.
Many improvements took place during these years. A memorial Hammond Organ was installed and dedicated on May 11, 1947, with the pastor master of ceremonies, and Mrs. William Wendtland as chairman of the dedication. The following year, the addition of the education building, which accomodated the Sunday School classes, was completed. The Educational Building was dedicted on July 18, 1948. Glade Welhausen, chairman of the building committee, presented the building to be dedicated.
The Shiner Methodist Church steadily progressed. The small mission chuch grew to full stature in 1950 when a full time minister was appointed. In the same year, through the benevolence of Mrs. Sophie Wolters, a parsonage was built and furnished by donations of the congregation and friends.
Later memberships in 1890 included the familiar names of Roger Carnes, William J. Carnes, Jemina Carnes, Camella Carnes Ward, Mollie A. Carnes, William Fitzgerald, America Fitzgerald, Lavrinia Howard, Ralph Carnes, Lee Carnes, Robert Fitzgerald, Clinton E. Askey, Elizabeth Askey, and Caldwell E. Smith.
Pioneer "circuit riders" and preachers who visited this small congregation were the Reverends George Hinson 1887-88; R.J. Dietze 1888-89; W.T. Thornberry 7889-90; L.G. Friend 1890-92; and B.S. Brown 1892.
By a deed dated December 24, 1888, the S.A. and A.P. Townsite Company (H.B. Shiner) deeded to D.C. Hicks, G.C. Welhausen, S.A. Carnes, and L.M. Kokernot, trustees of the Methodist Church, Lot 11 Block 13. The following year in 1889 David Kokernot gave a two-story building 25'x40' to the village of Shiner. The lower room of this building was to be the property of the Shiner Methodist Church, and the upper floor was to be used by the Masonic Lodge. The building was moved in from the country and placed on a lot where the second church was later built. For twenty-five years, from 1889 to 1914, the Methodists met in this building for worship services.
In 1954 the Shiner Church was named the Outstanding Rural Church of the Year by the Town and Country Commission of the Southwest Texas Conference, and its pastor, the Reverend S.R. Horwood, was named Preacher of the Year. By August 20, 1958, it had become apparent that it would soon be necessary to either repair and expand the old structure, or to build a new church. Twenty interested families suggested a new church. Committees then explored the possibilities of 1.) repairs, 2.) repairs and expansion, and 3.) a new church. Questionnaires were sent out to all members of the church, and by June 15, 1960, 88% of those answering voted in favor of a new building. The District Superintendent was then asked to call a church conference.
When the decision to build the new church had been reached a Building Committee was elected. Don Kaspar was named chairman with Ray Welhausen as co-chairman, in charge of Administrative Program. Other members named were Arthur Kaspar, Worship Program; Norman Davis and Max L. Wolters, Education Program; Elton Zander, Fellowship Program; Clarence Sembera, Site Development; Glade Welhausen, Finance Program; and John Gilbert, Pastor, ex officio member. Each chairman was assigned a committee so that virtually every member of the church was involved in the new undertaking. These committees developed detailed reports explaining the needs for each part of the church programs. These reports made on August 30, 1960, were the guides from which the architect drew his final plans. Several applicants were interviewed for the choice of an architect. J. Jack Cloutier, A.I.A., was selected by merit of his work and proximity to the church. Mr. Cloutier presented seven plans, varying in design and cost. On November 16, 1960, one of these plans was accepted as the final choice, and it was then presented to the Official Board for approval; it was granted.
Seven sites for the new building were considered; the site chosen was the hilltop of 6.4 acres donated by the Welhausen Land and Cattle Corporation. Surveying was completed, and the plans for access roads and parking lots were made. Blueprints were completed, and three contractors were invited to bid. On July 13, 1961, the contract was awarded to Bohlmann Brothers of Schulenburg, Texas. A three-year pledge program was set up, and the debt was projected to 1967 for final payment.
The building committee held countless meetings to decide upon the many details incident to a building project of this size. The final outcome resulted in the construction and completion of a beautiful church of contemporary design. Within its beauty is incorporated a functionalism and a practicality. Keeping in mind the Christian concept of the Trinity, the entire church structure was developed on the theme of the Sacred Three-in-One, since there are three distinct fields of activity within the church; worship, education, and fellowship. This idea was carried out in the exterior design by the three heights of the building.
The Reverend Frank D. Charlton, District Superintendent of the Austin District, was the honored guest for the ground breaking services at the site where the new Shiner Methodist Church would be built. Eight of the nine chairmen of the Building Committee were with him that day: Glade Welhausen, Max L. Wolters, Elton Zander, Don Kaspar, Reverend John C. Gilbert local pastor, Norman S. Davis, Clarence Sembera and Arthur Kaspar. Not present that day was Ray Welhausen.
The three large steel lighted crosses placed in the center of the North Terrace set the theme for the interior decorative details of the church. They appear in miniature on the pulpit, the pew ends, and on the doors of the sanctuary and the parlor.
The present Methodist Church
Dedicated in 1962
In 1987 the First United Methodist Church of Shiner, Texas, celebrated its 100th birthday. Elaborate plans were made and carried out with these special guests present: Bishop Earnest T. Dixon; District Superintendent John C. Gilbert; former church members; members of the church; and former pastors in attendance. The special church service was held at 10:45 am on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1987.
Looking back through the years, we find that the Methodist Church has had a long and useful history of Christian service to this area. The church had its beginning when Shiner's first Methodist family, Mrs. Dorcas C. Williams and her son Cincinnatus L. Williams, arrived here in 1887 from Flatonia, Texas, where they had been devout members of the Methodist Church. As other families arrived, the desire for a church stirred up interest and action. In 1887 in the office of Mr. L.P. Amsler, who was Shiner's first Mayor and brother of Mrs. Charles (Eliza) Welhausen, the Shiner Methodist Church was organized, and the first sermon there was preached by the Reverend C.C. Armstrong.
Recorded among the charter members were: Mrs. Dorcas C. Williams, C.L. Williams, Mrs. Melba Williams, Reverend A.G. Nolan, D.C. Hicks, C.C. Wiseman, S.A. Carnes, Mrs. S.A. Carnes, L.M. Kokernot, David Kokernot, Alma Kokernot, Hulda J. Kokernot, Hannah Simpson, Blanch Blake, Leon D. Kendall, Nancy R. Kendall, Hartwell K. Jones, Mrs. Mary Jones, Hudson B. Littlefield, Mollie Littlefield, Gertrude Littlefield, G.C. Wiseman, M.J. Wiseman, Mrs. Walter Fitzgerald, Nancy Fitzgerald, Mrs. J. Fitzgerald, and Mrs. Emma Fitzgerald, who had been a member of the Methodist Church in 1868.
First church building donated by David Kokernot
1889 - 1914
First United Methodist Church of Shiner