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Making History Today: A Tale of Two Saints

Presbyterian Historical Society of the Southwest

James S. Currie, Executive Secretary


This column is about two Presbyterians who lived about 150 years apart and in very different places. The one was born in 1791 in Midway, Georgia and died in 1857 in Austin, Texas. The other was born in 1960 in Houston, Texas and died in 2023, also in Houston.


The one graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and Princeton Seminary, the other attended a Catholic school before graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston and taking continuing education classes at the University of Houston.

The one traveled much across this country teaching, preaching, evangelizing, serving as a pastor at times and is recognized as one of the 19th century giants in the Presbyterian Church. The other lived in Houston her whole life and whose grandparents and mother were charter members of a congregation that was formed intentionally as a fully racially integrated church.


The one was Daniel Baker who served as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia, First Presbyterian Church in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and First Presbyterian Church in Galveston, Texas. In between those pastorates he preached in churches across the South. In 1840 he moved to Texas, stopping to preach in New Orleans. In Texas he preached throughout the state from Houston to Victoria, Cuero, Goliad, New Braunfels, La Grange, Palestine, and Brownsville. He founded what is now Austin College, located first in Huntsville, Texas and later in Sherman, Texas. He served as the second president of that school (the first being Samuel McKinney who had been recruited by Baker). His son, William Mumford Baker, was also a Presbyterian minister and was the organizing pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Austin.


The other was Carrie Walker, a member of University Presbyterian Church in Houston, a church in which she grew up. She was born in 1960 and that church was organized in 1965. Located near the campuses of Texas Southern University and the University of Houston, it hoped to serve students from both campuses as well as the greater Houston area. Over the years of the life of that church Carrie served as elder, clerk of session, treasurer, scheduler of pulpit supply preachers. At the end of that church’s life she filled all those positions, being the last member there. When that church closed, Carrie became part of First Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, Texas.


For over 20 years Carrie also worked on the staff of the Presbytery of New Covenant. In addition to organizing and serving as registrar for various events, she designed publicity for them. She did so much more than that, but many marveled at her creativity. She also served as an officer of the Southwest Region of the Administrative Personnel Association. Her winsome spirit and gracious smile as well as her administrative gifts won her many friends in the church. Many of us did not know much about her outside those roles. Indeed, it seemed to some that the church was her life. She was an only child and remained unmarried. She entered the Church Triumphant on June 13, 2023.


A brief tale of two saints, both of whom were strong and committed Presbyterians from beginning to end. Both loved the church and served Jesus Christ through it, each having different but important gifts. One a white man, the other an African-American woman, both children of God and both servants of Jesus Christ. In different ways both bore witness to the love and grace of God and had a powerful effect on others.


Jane Laurie Borthwick was a 19th century Scottish hymn writer and translator of German hymns. In the light of these two saints one of her hymns comes to mind:


Come, labor on. Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain

While all around him waves the golden grain?

And to each servant does the Master say, “Go work today.”


Come, labor on. Claim the high calling angels cannot share–

To young and old the gospel gladness bear;

Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly. The night draws nigh.


Come, labor on. Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!

No arm so weak but may do service here:

By feeblest agents may our God fulfill His righteous will.


Come, labor on. No time for rest, till glows the western sky,

Till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,

And a glad sound comes with the setting sun, “Well done, well

done!”


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