Each year, our New Mexico United Methodist Historical Society plans a tour of a different section of the Annual Conference area to share some of the unique Methodist history. This year, the Conference tour will be here in the Four Corners area on Saturday and Sunday August 2 and 3. You are welcome to join all or any part (or parts) of this experience. On Sunday, August 3, the group will tour the old Cedar Hill Church building at the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village at 10 AM and worship with us at 11:00. I have invited the Rev. Hugh Griffin, the founding pastor of all the San Juan County Methodist churches, to return from the grave and give us his testimony about how he was converted and called to start these churches throughout the valley.
According to Virginia Whitney’s article “Methodism in San Juan County 1878” which is in the Churches of San Juan County, New Mexico Volume1 – 1876-1925 compiled by Marilu Waybourn published by the museum, the Rev. Hugh Griffin arrived in the San Juan County area in 1878 and preached in at least eleven places regularly. Rev. Griffin’s circuit included Upper La Plata, Lower La Plata, Hay Gulch, Cedar Hill, Flora Vista, Center Point, Cunningham School House, Cox Station, McHenry School House, Aztec and Farmington. In 1882, S. W. DeBusk reported to the Denver Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South that the “San Juan Circuit embraces a large extent of the country, consisting of mountains and a beautiful valley; the mountains rich in mineral and the valleys productive in vegetables, grain and fruit. Brother Hugh was appointed to this charge and found much to do; has nine preaching places; has organized six Sabbath Schools; has arrangements for a Camp Meeting soon after the adjournment of Conference; has organized a society and takes courage.” Rev. Griffin worked hard and traveled extensively. His perseverance enabled him to organize Aztec, Cedar Hill, Flora Vista and Farmington into active churches, which he served on horseback . For this his yearly pay was $97.00 raised from the four churches and six other preaching places during 1882-1883. By 1884, he had 18 preaching places. Preachers were paid very little in those days and had to have another job. Brother Hugh taught school here in Aztec, and so used the schoolhouse or the courthouse buildings to hold church services for the years he was pastor. Our building was not built until 1906, when James Lewis was the pastor.
Be sure and come hear what Brother Hugh has to say on August 3. Meanwhile, I will continue to serve as your Pastor for another year, even if I am nowhere near as energetic and ambitious as Brother Hugh!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jeff Symonds