June 10, 1867 - July 4, 1937
|George Samuel Sexton was born at Middleburg. Tennessee, June 10, 1867. His
father, a Confederate soldier, died seven months after Dr. Sexton was born, leaving five eons, ranging in age from seven months to twelve years to the care of a widowed but resourceful and devoted mother. Dr. Sexton shared the hardships and the privation; of farm life, along with the difficulties incident to the loss of his father. Ho did manual labor, working in strawberry fields, helping at a cotton, gin, and working his way in college as janitor.
He was admitted on trial into the Little Rock Conference in December 1887, when he was just a little more than twenty years of age. His first appointment was Atlanta circuit in Camden District. His circuit Lad thirteen preaching places, two hundred and eighty-nine members, and at the end of the year, he left it with three hundred and forty-nine members—a gain of approximately twenty-one per cent in a single year. Following that appointment, he served successively: 1889, Texarkana circuit; 1890, 1891. College Hill circuit; 1892, Fulton and College Hill; 1893, he was transferred to the North Texas Conference on account of his health and was stationed at St. Joe; 1894. Henrietta; 1895, 1896, Broadway. Gainesville;. 1897. 1899, Piano Station; I 900, 1901, Terrell station; 1902, 1903. Presiding Elder, Gainesville District; 1904, he was transferred to the. Texas Conference and stationed, at Central Church, Galveston, for two years; I 906k 1909, St. Paul’s. Houston; 1910, Assistant Secretary of the Board of Church Extension; 191 1-5914, Field Secretary, Washington City Church Commission; 1915, transferred to the Louisiana Conference and served First Church, Shreveport, for two years; 1917, 1918, Commissioner for the Representative Church. Washington; 1919-1921, First Church, Shreveport; 1922-1932, President of Centenary College; 1933-1936, Presiding Elder, Shreveport District, and 1937, Direc-tor of Public Relations for. Centenary College. He died July 4, 1937.
It requires but little space to calendar the events of the longest life, and when it is done it is only a graph of the years in which that life is embedded. The life of Dr. Sexton was far more than a colorless routine of calendared service, It was as rich and as varied in character as was the personality of the man himself. As pastor, presiding elder, connec-tional officer, field, representative of a great national church enterprise, army chaplain, college president, and patriotic and public-spirited citizen, he touched and enriched every sphere of the life of which he was a part.
In 1898, he was for a time Chaplain of the First Texas Infantry, volunteer troops in the Spanish-American War. In 1918, when he was ineligible for chaplain service on account of age, he spent two months in the lumber camps of Louisiana and Arkansas doing his bit toward mobilizing, the resources and building the morale of labor for the great struggle in which his country was engaged. To the very end of his life, be gave ungrudgingly of his time and strength to every social and civic cause making demands upon him.
Dr. Sexton’s consecration of himself to the task of the’ ministry, made the Church his most fruitful field of labor. The list of his appoint-ments just recited shows how complete was his consecration to his one vocation, and his gradual climb in place and influence indicates the effectiveness of his toiling. His wide service received the recognition it merited in honorary degrees conferred by various colleges. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Kentucky Wesleyan College, the. degree of Doctor of Laws from Centenary College and southwestern, at Georgetown, Texas, conferred the same year.
It is probably true that Dr. Sexton’s most constructive work in the pastorate began in ‘South Houston” in 1906, where his assignment was merely a field of labor, without membership and without a building in which to worship. In the course of a ministry of four years he received seven hundred and thirty-eight members into his church, left a member-ship of six hundred and forty-two, and St. Paul’s Church—a building which cost two hundred and twenty-8ve thousand dollar., upon which he left a debt of only forty thousand dollars. It was upon that worthy foundation that the splendid church of the same name stands today.
The most widely publicized work of Dr. Sexton was that which had to do with the national undertaking now known as the Representative Church in Washington City. To that effort he devoted six years of the very prime of his’ life, and every stone in the magnificent structure is a monument to his leadership and ‘toil.
Notwithstanding these noble and splendid monuments to his genius and toil, the focus of. his greatest influence is Shreveport. Here he gave five years as pastor of First Church, eleven years as President of Centenary College, four years as Presiding Elder of the Shreveport District, and he drove into the sunset under full sail in a great and heroic effort to bring Centenary College to a stable foundation, both in equipment and, financial support.
As we linger today in melancholy reverie over the monuments, which bear the stamp of his consecrated toiling, let us catch also the radiance of the sunset as it fell upon, his splendid face. Let us catch the spirit of his good-bye to his pastor, departing for the summer’s vacation, as he led the hymn:
“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.”
And let us not forget that only a few days later’ he bade life good by in that same faith, and he went away to the Father’s house. There we shall find him when we have crossed the floods and shall enter into the rest prepared for the peop1e of God.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Pages 97-99, 1937, by W. L. Duren|