Symposium Sept. 21 to Celebrate 200 Years of Methodism on the Western Frontier


The Riddle Distinguished History Lecture and the Department of History and Anthropology at Southeast Missouri State University are co-sponsoring a symposium Sept. 21 titled “Celebrating 200 Years of Methodism on the Western Frontier.”

The symposium is being held in conjunction with the commemoration of Old McKendree Chapel in Jackson, Missouri, which is celebrating its bicentennial.

Old McKendree is the oldest Protestant church remaining west of the Mississippi. The symposium will explore the religious context of the era from an academic perspective, said Dr. Adam Criblez, associate professor of history and anthropology and director of the Center for Regional History.

“Hopefully, attendees learn about early Methodism, early Missouri and the growth of the early American nation,” Criblez said. “Old McKendree was founded even before Missouri became a state, and the issues considered at the time – divisions in Methodism/Protestantism involving civil rights – remain relevant today.”

The day starts with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. The symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. in Glenn Auditorium. Presentations later in the day take place in Old McKendree Chapel; at 102 S. High Street in Jackson, Missouri; and at Centenary United Methodist Church, Family Life Center in Cape Girardeau.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The cost is $30-$40 to participate in lunch and dinner. To register for meals and to make payment, visit

Sessions and speakers throughout the day will be as follows:

8:45-10:15 a.m., Glenn Auditorium:

“John Wesley’s Optimism of Grace”
Rev. Dr. Henry H. Knight III, Donald and Pearl Wright Professor of Wesleyan Studies and E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.

“African Americans in Early American Methodism”
Dr. Robert J. Williams, editor, Methodist History, former chair of General Commission on Archives and History, retired clergy.

10:30-Noon, Glenn Auditorium

“Bending Wesley: Francis Asbury and William McKendree at the Crossroads of

American Methodism”
Dr. John Wigger, professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia

“Westward Expansion, The Spread of Religion, and Methodism”
Dr. Frank Nickell, director, Kellerman Foundation, Professor Emeritus, Southeast Missouri State University

Noon-12:30, Glenn Auditorium


12:30-2 p.m., Glenn Auditorium

“Midwestern Mason-Dixon Methodism”
Rev. Dr. Russell Richey, Dean Emeritus of Candler School of Theology and William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Church History Emeritus, Emory University

Methodism Takes Missouri”
Rev. Dr. John Gooch, retired Methodist clergy, editor and author, Missouri Methodism

2:30-3:30 p.m., Old McKendree Chapel, 4080 Bainbridge Rd, Jackson, Missouri

“Descendants Talk about the Past and the Future of the Methodism in Southeast

Missouri Voices of the Past Define Our Future”

3:45-4:45 p.m., 102 S. High Street, Jackson, Missouri

“The Role of the State, Regional and Local Historical Societies in Preserving Community and Church History”
–Dr. William Eddleman, associate director, Cape Girardeau Research Center, State Historical Society of Missouri;
–Dr. Adam Criblez, director of the Center for Regional History, Southeast Missouri State University; and
–Carla Jordan, director of the Cape Girardeau County History Center

6:30-8 p.m., Centenary United Methodist Church, Family Life Center, 300 N. Ellis, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

“McKendree Chapel, a Microcosm of Methodism in Antebellum America”
The Honorable Stephen Limbaugh, Jr., U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of Missouri

The Riddle Distinguished History Lecture is named for Veryl Riddle, who was born and raised on a farm in Dunklin County, Missouri. He graduated from Campbell High School, enrolled at Southeast Missouri State College, and returned to Dunklin County to teach in a one-room rural school. He served four years in World War II, attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis and returned to Malden, where he maintained a law practice from 1948 to 1967. From 1967 to 1969, he was U.S. Attorney in St. Louis, where he established an outstanding legal record.

In 1969, Riddle joined the Bryan Cave law firm and, from his position as head of the litigation department, helped to build the firm into one of the largest law firms in the nation. An attorney and legal scholar, Riddle has never forgotten his origins in southeast Missouri and has endowed the lecture series, which brings distinguished historians to the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

For more information, contact Dr. Adam Criblez in the Center for Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University at (573) 651-2555.