The New Campaign Of Calumny; Part 4
Elders of Norhill Church of Christ
and Brother Jack Meyer, Houston, Texas
In order to clear up any impressions you may have with reference to the meeting Norhill is sponsoring in the music hall, we would like to say:
(1) Our first letter wishing you good brethren success in every work of the Lord was intended as a tacit endorsement of your meeting. Brother Coffman explained this to you personally. Our reason for that type of endorsement was the possibility that a more specific endorsement might be misconstrued as an endorsement of the particular speaker selected for this meeting, which endorsement we never had any intention of giving. Subsequent developments have confirmed our judgment on this as altogether correct. Of course, any gospel meeting, even one for the announced purpose of the one in the music hall, we endorse "in principle." However, when it comes to signing in advance an unqualified carte blanche endorsement of a man in a meeting which we had no part whatever in arranging, we simply cannot do it in truth and conscience.
(2) We are planning now and have been since we heard of it to cooperate with you in this meeting in every way consistent with our sovereign independence as a congregation. This means that we shall attend the meeting, that we are with you in your objective of teaching the truth on all questions, including premillenialism, and that we shall announce the meeting as we are already doing. We have appointed a committee to secure rooms and board for out of town visitors you expect for the meeting. This fellowship and cooperation we are glad to give our sister congregations.
(3) However, we wish to state that we are not joint sponsors with you of this meeting, Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., being the speaker. The truth is we did not even know such a meeting was contemplated till all arrangements had already been made by you. Furthermore, as stated in our first letter, the heaviest financial program in our history makes it unwise in our judgment to assume any further load. There is also another reason which we had hoped it would be unnecessary to state; but the insistence of some makes it unavoidable. Therefore, we must tell you that although we have no doctrinal difference with the speaker for this meeting on the points to be discussed, nevertheless we do not endorse him because of his general reputation and tactics as they are well known throughout the brotherhood.
Yours in Christ,
L. P. Rutledge, Fletcher W. Dailey, M. E. Reddick, C. L. Patterson, Joe B. Foster, Elders. P. S. Enclosed is a copy of our letter of December 27th to Brother Jack Meyer for your information...
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March 1, 1945
Elders Central Church of Christ Houston, Texas
In your letter of January 5, addressed by you to the Elders of the Norhill Church and Brother Jack Meyer, you state among other things, that the reason you could not have any official part in the Music Hall Meeting in which twenty congregations of this city did cooperate, was because of Brother Foy E. Wallace's "general reputation and tactics which are well known throughout the brotherhood." We might still have been uncertain as to your meaning, not being aware of the fact that Brother Wallace has come into disrepute as far as the brotherhood at large is concerned, had not your preacher, Burton Coffman, and two of your group of Elders, Fletcher Dailey and L. P. Rutledge, in a meeting of preachers and brethren gathered together on January 8. In this meeting it was repeatedly made clear that by such a statement you meant to impeach and attack Brother Wallace's character and honesty, and to revert to the old time-worn attack made by all premillennialists, and those who sympathize with them, ever since he has led out in the fight against these false doctrines. This was made evident by such statements as, "It is a known fact that for twenty-five years he has failed to pay his debts," and "no honest man will have to write a 76 page magazine to prove that he is honest," and several other statements which were made at that time in the presence of many witnesses.
In view of the fact, therefore, that you have professed to be in the possession of some information or evidence that makes Brother Wallace unworthy of your fellowship, and in view of the fact that twenty churches of this city did fellowship and use Brother Wallace, and have made plans to use him again in just such another meeting in 1946, we deem it right and just that we ask you to produce the evidence which you have, and upon which you relied in such an attack. If Brother Wallace is not worthy of your fellowship, then he is not worthy of ours. If he refuses to honor his honest obligations, then he should not be fellowshipped by any of the brethren anywhere. These veiled and indefinite charges have been floating through the air long enough, and we believe that it is demanded by justice and righteousness that they be pinned down and either established and correction demanded or forever silenced. We give you our assurance that if and when you furnish us an instance and evidence of Brother Wallace's dishonesty, we will take the matter up with the eldership of the congregation where he has his membership and with Brother Wallace himself, and demand that it either be disproved or dealt with in accordance with the will of the Lord.
If such evidence is not furnished by you, then we will be forced to conclude that the charges were not made in good faith and are founded upon no evidence that is acceptable, in which case we believe that you are under obligation to retract and correct them.
In the interest only of that which is right and acceptable in the sight of our God and that which will further the interests of His kingdom among men, we are writing you as,
Your brethren in the Lord, D. C. Batson, Steve Holmes, Samuel W. Loe, G. W. Howard, (Elders Norhill Church of Christ) Roy E. Cogdill; L. C. Stephens, J. J. McCarty, H. B. Springfield, (Elders Heights Church of Christ) Jack Meyer, Minister.
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Feb. 20, 1945
Mr. Burton Coffman,
Minister, Central Church of Christ, Houston, Texas.
Dear Brother Coffman:
One day last week you called me and asked that I preach at a service in an approaching meeting at Central, in turn with all other preachers of the city. On the spur of the moment I agreed. After further reflection, however, I find myself unable to fill this appointment with a clear conscience, and I must therefore ask you to count me out. I am choosing this method of conveying to you this decision, so that I may have a record of exactly what I have said, in case there is any need for such documentary proof.
You may wonder why this refusal to participate as speaker in your meeting. I could evade the issue by giving you any number of excuses which would be quite plausible, but I prefer frankly to let you know my reason.
I could not conscientiously accept an invitation from you and the elders of the Central congregation until you and said elders correct to the churches of this city your charge against the man that we have all supported in our recent Music Hall meeting. I do not mean that I will not preach for a church that does not admire the men I admire. But the Central elders have just charged, over their signature dated Jan. 5, 1945 (and you orally before a preachers' meeting in Houston supported their charge) Foy Wallace, Jr. Your charge was this: "We do not endorse him because of his general reputation and tactics as they are well-known throughout the brotherhood." Central church thus charges that the general reputation of a gospel preacher, Foy Wallace, is so bad that Central refuses to endorse him. I deny that brother Wallace's reputation is bad. While I do not approve of everything that any gospel preacher has done (including myself) and do not support everything Brother Wallace teaches, I still endorse Foy Wallace as a gospel preacher, a great influence for good, and as thoroughly honest-regardless of what any scandal-mongers say about his honesty. Since Central has made such charges against the man whom we have supported, and I believe those charges to be untrue, scandal circulating in their nature, and unchristian, how could I keep my self-respect and participate in such a meeting as you propose? You and the Central elders are already known far and wide for this charge against Brother Wallace. I have every reason to believe that you feel the effects of it. My sincere opinion is that you are planning this meeting simply as a means of trying to restore at least some of your lost prestige and confidence of the people, and I aim not to be sucked in by the maneuver.
Further, according to testimony given me by Brother Thornton Crews, in whose integrity I have the utmost confidence, one of your elders, Brother Fletcher Dailey, after the rather "explosive" January preachers' luncheon at the Lamar, charged that jealousy among preachers was at the root of this Music Hall meeting trouble because Central is "paying Brother Coffman a pretty good salary"—Brother Dailey's quotation. Now, Brother Crews tells me he will face Dailey anywhere on that. This is a reflection on every preacher in town. I don't even know what your salary is, and I do not believe there is a preacher in this town jealous of you on that account, or any other. How could any gospel preacher accept an invitation from such an elder with such a charge as that made by the Central eldership?
This is the same Brother Dailey who made charges against Brother N. B. Hardeman in a preachers' luncheon last year when he was proposed for a downtown union meeting. According to Brother Crews' testimony to me, Brother Dailey charged the character of Brother Hardeman, and said that "I know plenty on him." Frank Smith also told me of this character attack. I believe Hardeman and Wallace to be Christians. I think such charges as you and the Central elders make come under the head of character assassination. You people resent rumors about Central, but the Central eldership and present minister are too free with charging gospel preachers, and in their absence, and I just can't accept an invitation from such an eldership and minister until these ugly personal charges are withdrawn and apologized for.
So, for these reasons please excuse me from accepting your invitation to speak. Sincerely, Jack Meyer.
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February 19, 1945
Mr. Burton Coffman,
701 Taft, Houston, Texas.
Dear Brother Coffman:
I am writing you in regard to the invitation you gave me to speak during the meeting you have arranged to be had sometime during March. I accepted the invitation, but wish to withdraw my commitment.
The church at Central could not and would not support the meeting at the Music Hall, nor endorse the speaker. I supported the meeting one hundred per cent and endorsed the speaker. Since we could not work together in that meeting I do not see how we could successfully work together in this one.
It is reported commonly that one of the elders at Central made this statement: "The preachers in Houston are jealous of Central and Brother Coffman because of the good salary he is getting." Nothing like that has every entered my mind, nor do I believe it has ever entered the mind of any gospel preacher in the city. I am not jealous of Central nor do I have any malice toward you or any member of the congregation. I felt like the statement I quoted above was a personal rebuff to every gospel preacher in Houston.
Since you talked to me on the phone, and I committed myself to speak, I have had time to reflect on the matter and do not feel that I would be very comfortable over there trying to make a speech.
Sincerely and fraternally Yours, -F. F. Conley, 4730 McKinney Ave., Houston, 3, Texas.
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Feb. 21, 1945
Mr. Burton Coffman, 701 Taft,
Dear Brother Coffman:
Since talking to you over the telephone concerning the meeting you are planning at Central with the preachers of the city participating and in which you invited me to have a part, I have given the matter further consideration and have reached the conclusion that I cannot have any part in the meeting.
I regard the attack made by you and the elders of the Central church against Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., as unfair, vicious, dishonorable, unchristian and sinful. Such "tactics" as were employed by you against a fellow-christian and especially a gospel preacher, were designed only to do harm and could not have been productive of good of any sort. It revealed a vicious disposition upon the part not only of yourself but also of the elders of the congregation for which you preach. I do not care to be in any manner associated with a group of that character, in any sort of endeavor.
Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the meeting is a political maneuver upon your part to overcome the impression made upon the brotherhood at large by your attitude toward the Wallace meeting. It would look well for the report to go out that all the preachers at Houston had preached in a meeting at Central and with such a report the impression be made that everything is lovely and all the preachers endorse you and the congregation for which you preach. It will take more than such a meeting, and an article or two in the Firm Foundation, to set you right in the eyes of most of the brethren in this country for they know what such display portends. As for me, I do not want to be put in the position of endorsing either you or the church where you preach until you make right the wrong you have done and manifest a different attitude toward the truth.
Finally, you and the two elders who were with you at the luncheon the first Monday in January were not only unfair but engaged in so many misrepresentations that I have no confidence in your honor or integrity.
These words are plain, but they state my attitude and I am telling you, not someone else and am giving you the real reason and not a subterfuge. I bear you no malice and if I know my own heart, I would be glad to see proper adjustments made by you concerning these matters. However, until you do adjust and make right these things wherein you are wrong, I cannot and will not extend you any co-operation whatsoever.
Roy E. Cogdill.