The history of the Methodist movement in Mason is the story, of-a people with a similar understanding of what God wanted of them, that is trying to work together through language differences, regional differences, and differences in church organization! It is the story of four congregations cooperating together through their history in spite of their differences until their mission and organization merged into one body. The division of the Methodist people was along two lines: the first, the tragic division of the church over the issues that lead to the Civil War, the second, the division of language and culture between those who spoke English and those who spoke German.
The first pastor of record in the town of Mason was Thomas Myers who served the Mason Mission as a Lay Pastor in 1858-59. Little is known about this early English-speaking congregation. After Myers left, the church was placed on a circuit with churches in four other counties, the circuit was named the San Saba or Llano circuit. Only during the period from l868-69 was Ft. Mason listed "To-Be Supplied" by some one in the town. In the l890's pastors of the M.E. Church, South, were again living in Mason and serving circuits of English speaking people in the county.
The building which stood on Austin St. was the most remembered work of this congregation. It was sold to the Baptist in 1893 and they razed it in 1932 to build a new building, which is still standing. This first building was a joint effort of all the Methodist of Mason and it housed all four congregations - two German speaking and two English speaking. The building and the activities of the congregations were coordinated by a joint board. This worked well. Each congregation was on a circuit and by good planning one of the ministers would be preaching every week. In fact it seems that most Sunday's an English service was held in the morning and a German service in the afternoon, along with other services through the week. It was a good arrangement until the 1890's when the building became too small and friction began.
In 1870 the North-South split of the church came to Mason county. M.E. Churches were formed out of existing M. E. Church, South, congregations. In 1870 the M.E. Church lists Mason T.B.S. in their German conference work. Probably Conrad Pluenneke supplied that first congregation. From this beginning, both the northern and southern churched would be in Mason.
Because of the influx of persons from areas of the country, which were M.E. Church into Mason, the M.E. Church also decided to begin English-speaking work. In 1874 the first pastor for this work was appointed. Soon a building was begun and dedicated in 1877. This work was short-lived, only lasting from l874-93.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE METHODIST CHURCH(ES) OF MASON
In 1968 the First Methodist Church became the First United Methodist Church by General Conference action. It is a fitting name for a congregation that has been uniting people together into one body throughout the history of Mason. This congregation has remained active in the work of God both among their own members and the people of the larger community. It participates in the training of new ministers through the Minister-In-Training program through Perkins School of Theology, SMU. It serves the county by sponsoring the only Day Care Center in Mason. Its official bodies are always looking for additional ways to serve God and their fellow human beings. And so it will be through the next 120 year.
Rev. Peter Aguilar - Pastor
224 Broad Street / P.O. Box 178 Mason, Tx. 76856
The M.E. Church (German speaking) congregation decided to build its own building and in 1893 they dedicated their Spring St. Church. This congregation was to be commonly called the "German" or "Northern" Methodist church by the people of Mason.
A spirit of cooperation between the different Methodist congregations was to be shown throughout their separate histories. On the day of dedication, the M.E. Church, South was to also have an M. E. Church, German speaking pastor, Rev. Koch preach in the afternoon of their dedication services.
The M.E. Church, South, was not at all pleased in being the largest congregation and not having a building. In the 1890's they began to ask to buy the Austin St. Church and parsonage from the M.E. Church. An agreement for the sale was made, but it did not go through. In 1897 the M. E. Church, South, moved both their English and German congregations to a new building on Broad St. The new building stood on the ground where the church playground is located today. With the loss of the three other congregations from the Austin St. church building, the remaining English speaking congregation could not survive and most of the members transferred their membership over to the M.E. Church, South.
The M.E. Church, South, work among the German speaking people is harder to piece together. This work has always been on a circuit, and Mason was not listed in the Conference Journal until 1906. Rev. W.F. Hardt wrote one of the inscriptions in the cornerstone of the Austin St. Church. It follows that a M.E. Church, South, German Speaking congregation was worshiping there at the time. The congregation probably dates back to the work of C.A. Grote in the early 1870's. This work was to go on first in the Austin St. Church and then in the Broad St. Church until the dissolving of the German Conference in 1918.
After 1918 there were only two congregations of the original four left. The M.E. Church, South, served the English speaking Methodists and the M.E. Church served German speaking persons. The traditions of the two congregations were only a little different with language being the main difference. The two World Wars with Germany caused the language barrier to take on yet another character. In spite of the differences, the two churches did many things together. They were close enough that when the M.E. and the M. E. Church, South, began talks of merging in the 1930’s on a national level, the two churches began their own talks of merger at a local level.
In 1940 the long split of Methodist in Mason was over. The two congregations voted to merge after several years of talk. The new congregation would use the Broad St. property and sell the Spring St. property. The Board of the church would have members from both congregations, all debts would be paid before the merger, and a German speaking class would be maintained as long as needed. The new church was crowded in the Broad St. building and this new congregation began to look at a new building. When the Second World War was declared, building plans were stopped and much of the money was put in War Bonds. In 1950 a new church building was built. In 1960 the education wing was added to connect the old education building and the new church.