The early history of the church and the life history of its early members are closely related, one may be said to be interwoven with the other. The ones who hoped, prayed, toiled and scarified for its welfare were not many, yet their deeds of Christian
helpfulness were almost without number. It is well to record a few of these worthy acts, not that any discriminating is intended, but to show that some of them add to a fuller knowledge of the history of the church.
D. M. MILLER: There is no other name closely allied with the history of this Free Baptist church than that of D. M. MILLER. Mr. Miller was one of its charter members and remained an untiring worker up to the last years of his life.
His great liberality was one of the chief means of sustaining this church. After all the other members had subscribed toward its support, it was his custom to give an amount equaling all the rest. For another example of his benevolence, when the church
building was repaired and improved during the pastorate of Rev. E. CROWELL, to meet the expenses at that time, he gave the income of one month's business which amounted to $400.
For about forty years, Mr. Miller was superintendent of the Sunday-school; frequently, during the first twenty-five years of church history, the Sunday-school was the connecting link between the different pastorates; and oftimes, it was the only factor in
maintaining the visibility of the church.
His usefulness extended beyond the church. At the Otsego Quarterly Meeting held in June, 1881, the following resolution was taken: "Resolved, That the thanks of the Otsego Q. M. are due and are herby tendered to Bro. D. M. Miller for his faithful, efficient and
gratuitous services as clerk of the Q. M. for a period of thirty-three years; and we offer our hope and prayers for his future welfare and usefulness, while we reluctantly accept his declination of the office so long and acceptably filled by him."
Perhaps the following tribute to his memory gives, in brief, an insight to the true character of Mr. Miller: "He will long be remembered for his fidelity, liberality, and devotion to church and
Sabbath-school. Genial, courteous, kind, and with an unimpeachable Christian character, his memory furnishes an example which will not be lost sight of as long as the society
exists. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. C. A. GLEASON from the text found in Matthew 25:21, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.' It was a fitting tribute to Mr. Miller's character as a man and as a Christian." [D. M. Miller is buried in Riverside Cem.]
MRS. D. M. MILLER: The interest of Mrs. Miller in this church was not les than that of her husband. Her influence was ever a source of help and strength to Mr. Miller in his work, and also to the church during its many trying experiences.
Mrs. Miller was one of the most active and efficient members of the Ladies' Circle. Modest, quiet, and unselfish, she always took the post of duty that counted most for actual service. Devoted to Christ and giving herself for others, it can well be said
of her that her life was full of "faith and good works." [Salley Bowen Miller is buried in Riverside Cem.]
MRS. ETHLOINE MILLER ABBOTT: Ethloine Miller, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. M. MILLER, became a member of this church at the age of thirteen. I is said of her, "She commenced prayer when a mere child and truly grew up into Christ." Thus early she began to love the church, and was a leading spirit in all that pertained to its success. She was not only gifted and cultured, but for everybody she had a warm, loving sympathy that won her
many friends. Her sweet influence in this church was a genuine help then, and it still lives to bless other lives.
The funds for an organ were procured by her, and she herself was the first organist; before this, she had played a little, old melodeon, the first instrument in the church. Through her successful efforts, the bell which rings from Sunday to Sunday, was obtained at a cost of over a thousand dollars.
While her life was so useful, it was short; she died at the age of twenty-seven; and the bell, which stands as a remembrance of her, and which had tolled only once before, tolled again very sadly for one that was most dearly loved. The following is a stanza from a poem composed to her memory by Mrs. Ramsey:
"A soul of pitying kindness, like an angel, Alllied her even here
to those above, And all her life seemed like a sweet evangel,
A holy psalm of gratitude and love.:
[Mrs. Ethloine Miller Abbott is buried in Riverside Cem.]
DEACON NATHAN BINGHAM: One of the helpers in these earlier years was Deacon Nathan BINGHAM. Owing to his generosity and readiness to help, he made himself necessary to
all social occasions where refreshments were needed. It was his custom to make the ice cream from material which he furnished, and in other ways to provide abundantly. He also gave freely of his hospitality. If the church had guests to be entertained, they would receive a warm welcome at his home. Giving and entertaining with whole-hearted generosity was characteristic of the man. "Lend a hand wherever help is needed, and there is a worthy action done." [Nathan Bingham is buried in Riverside Cem.]
MRS. NATHAN BINGHAM: There are to-day most reverent memories of Mrs. Hannah BINGHAM. "She was thoroughly good," is the one thought that comes first to the mind of those that knew her. Her words, her life, her influence, all are remembered as a great blessing to this church. One of the pastors gave the following testimony of Mrs. Bingham: "Her uniform Christian example and life were of incalculable value in all the circles blessed with her presence. One who was an unbeliever and skeptic said, 'If anybody could ever make me a Christian it would be Mrs. Bingham.'" [Hannah W. Bingham is buried in Riverside Cem.]
DEACON DAVID MARVIN: One of the first deacons elected by this church was Deacon David MARVIN. At an early age he united with the Freewill Baptist church at Oneonta Plains; including his service in both churches, he was deacon over forty years. His interest in the early prayer meetings and his work as first superintendent of the Sunday-school seem worthy of remembrance. It was at his death that the new bell tolled for the first time.
[David Marvin is buried in Riverside Cem.]
MRS. OLIVIA SCHULTZ: Mrs. SCHULTZ united with this church in 1857. "She was well known for her love for God and devotion to His cause." One hundred dollars given by her toward the building of the church, at a time when funds were very low, was greatly appreciated. The large Bible used in this church was also her gift.
MRS. P. D. HILL-KENNEY: Mrs. KENNEY was one of the early members of the church, uniting with it in January, 1857. She was devoted to the church and took particular interest in its work. She was a woman of fine intellect, and was unusually well-informed in regard to the missionary work of the denomination. The exact date is unknown, but sometime before 1873 she presented the church with a new pulpit.
The Twenty-fifth Anniversary
The Church celebrated its Twenty-fifth Anniversary February 25, 1881, the arrangements for which were made by a committee previously appointed by the church. This committee consisted of the pastor, Rev. D. BOYD, Mrs. and Mrs. D. M. MILLER, Mr. and Mrs. F. BORNT, Dr. E. J. MORGAN, and Mrs. N. N. BULL. A report of the anniversary was published in the Oneonta Press of March 3, 1881. The following item is taken from that publication:
The Free Baptist church in Oneonta celebrated its 25th anniversary at the church on Friday, Feb. 25th, 1881, when a season of special interest was enjoyed. The members of the church and congregation came together in the afternoon and spent the time in sociality until about six o'clock, when refreshments were served. The evening was occupied with appropriate anniversary exercises. Deacon Nathan BINGHAM presided in a
most acceptable manner, the choir furnished excellent music, Rev. F. H. BUTLER read a scripture lesson, and Rev. T. A. STEVENS offered the opening prayer.
Mrs. O. A. MILLER sang an appropriate solo and gave a fine recitation, entitled "A Single Head of Wheat"; Mrs. E. J. MORGAN read an appropriate essay entitled "A Retrospect"; brief addresses were made by Deacon F. BORNT, D. M. MILLER, Dr. E. J. MORGAN, Prof. N. N. BULL, Rev. T. A. STEVENS, Rev. F. H. BUTLER, Rev. Y. B. FRANCISCO, Rev. H. H. ALLEN and others. An historical sketch was read by the pastor, and letters from absent friends were read by Mrs. O. A. MILLER. The occasion was one of deep interest, and will long be remembered by those present.
EXCERPTS AND LETTERS
The historical sketch of the pastor outlined briefly the history of the church from the beginning. His closing remarks were:
With all the sacred memories and holy influences that cluster around this anniversary occasion, we shall be untrue to ourselves, to our past associates, to our sacred professions, and to our God, if we do not go from this place resolved to do a truer, nobler, better work for God and this church during the rest of our lives.
The following is taken from the essay of Mrs. MORGAN:
Some places are vacant--those who filled them having passed on before us. And though we miss them so sadly here, yet, thank God, they are not lost, but are watching and waiting to welcome the dear ones left behind to their bright home above. And in fancy do we not hear them saying to us to-night: "Live, dear friends, for the honor and glory of God. Esteem not the pleasures and allurements of the world as of more value than that treasure which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." Be true to the sacred trusts committed to your care, and by-and-by, when all life's labors and cares are done, we shall all meet once more, an unbroken band, around the great white throne in our Heavenly Father's kingdom.
The letters read at this time were from Rev. E. CROWELL, Rev. J. P. VROMAN, Rev. O. T. MOULTON, and Mrs. V. G. RAMSEY.
An extract is taken from the letter of Mr. CROWELL:
My mind steps back sixteen years, and what do I see? Oneonta was then a very small village, but big with the expectations of a railroad. I rode into it by stage from Fort Plain, your nearest railroad station. Here I found a small people with no pastor;
congregation and Sabbath-school were nearly scattered, having preaching only occasionally. You then had no organ, no chandeliers, no parsonage, no bell. You did have a church building, bare, cold, and grim. I remember well the few weeks I spent on a summer visit; and then came the question: Will I come and settle as a pastor? I went on in the fall of 1864 and began my work as pastor. Congregations increased, the people were encouraged, a large Sunday-school was gathered around us, and those interesting children's meetings were begun, and which, I have heard, have been kept up ever since in some form. * * * * God bless the church in Oneonta! God bless all her sons and daughters! And may the Lord bless her pastor in his work; and may this blessing be on all who speak well of this Zion, that has blessed so many as they have passed on to their reward. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The letters of Rev. O. T. MOULTON and Mrs. RAMSEY are given in full:
Haverhill, Mass., Feb. 22, 1881
Dear Brethren and Friends: With pleasure I comply with the request of your committee in writing a few words, regretting exceedingly that this must answer instead of my presence at your twenty-fifth anniversary. Well, indeed, do I remember the evening of the organization in the Emmons schoolhouse, Feb. 25th, 1856, and the five years of toil, amid hope and fear, amid amid mingled success and discouragement. When I entered the pastorate April 1st, 1856, having no meeting-house the first year, we worshiped in the schoolhouse in Emmons the first few weeks, when we were kindly offered the use of the Presbyterian church one-half of the time, which we gladly accepted; and the churches wors hipped together until we occupied our new house. I am happy to say that the Christian fellowship, at that time tendered to us, continues still unbroken and strengthened. Often we looked at the lot on which stands or church and parsonage wishing we might be able to secure it, and we rejoiced greatly when we were able to call it our own. Then came the effort to build, and the noble self-sacrifice of all our dear band in sharing
equally the burden of building and in all ways sustaining. At the end of the first year some of the timber was on the ground for the new house, and the next winter witnessed its dedication but with a debt of $1,500.* This was indeed doing nobly, especially when we
remember that the entire cost of the building and lot (about $5,000), had been so far paid without a single dollar asked of anyone save our own little church. This was a mistake, for more than one of the generous citizens of Oneonta expressed to me their wonder that we had not circulated a subscription among them for aid. But we had come into the village to bless and not to burden them; and the dear people of that town, for such they were and are still to me, showed their appreciation of our effort among them by
annually rolling up such donations for us, repeatedly reaching and often exceeding $200.
* Other accounts give the debt as $1600. See page 19.
While ours was the youngest and smallest church in the place, our donations were always the largest; for which our thanks were due to a liberal people and the fraternal spirit of the other three
churches in the place. The debt was of course a serious embarrassment for us all, especially when we were all poor and
made still poorer by unavoidable business failures in which all, or nearly all shared more or less, thus making a call from others imperative. A few hundred dollars generously given by our churches and the citizens, with the kind forbearance of our creditors, saved us from financial failure. Especially was this true of the late E. R.
FORD, Esq., and our builder, brother Jasper BURGIN, yet the depressing influence of the debt was a constantly wearing burden, and while we held our own with commendable interest, growth was almost impossible, yet the work of those years was far from lost.
A large percentage of the impenitent in our congregation was brought to Christ, while the children trained in the Sunday-school have since nearly all come into the church; some of them are still living and working for Christ; others have gone to their reward,
but "their works do follow them." Of one, at least, of pure and noble spirit you are reminded, by the clear tones of the bell that call you to worship, and of many more God keeps the record.
On the 25th of March, 1861, I closed my first pastorate, having been with the church five years. After an absence of just ten years, I accepted a second call of the church, and April 16th, 1871, entered again on its pastorate. I need not go over those years;
they are still fresh in the memory of the church and people. After three and a half years, I closed labor there in September, 1874. During those years the old-time liberality and spirit of sacrifice were as manifest as ever. The parsonage was built, some friends won, some valuable additions made to the church; and if no material ground was gained, the interest was not suffered to fall. I need not tell you how warm a place the church in Oneonta has in my heart, or how solicitous I am for its success; and why not? Eight and one-half of the best years, if not the best work of my life, have been devoted to that interest. From the struggle it cost me to settle the point of duty that turned me to you through years of toil and hopes and fears; the Christian helpers that sacrificed more for the cause than any other of my pastorates; the dear comrades
in Christ that loved me and did for me more than friend or brother; the hallowed hours of sweet communion that lift themselves up before me through the darkness of all those years, like the oasis in a desert; the glad meetings and sad partings; the patience,
prayers and suffering of some who sleep in Jesus; the children who came to Christ and then went on to Heaven before us; all these, and many more events and personal ties of those years are woven in fadeless lines into my life, which would seem much
poorer than it is even now, were all that part of it cut out. God bless you all more and more, until "the little one shall become a thousand" and its "branches run over the wall" is still, as ever, the earnest wish of your first pastor.
O. T. MOULTON
North Berwick, ME., Jan. 31, 1881
To the Free Baptist Church of Oneonta:
Dear Brethren and Sisters: I have read the invitation through the STAR to all persons who are, or have been members of your church, to be present at the Quarterly Meeting which you expect to meet with you, or if that is not possible, to report by letter. I
would gladly be with you at this 25th Anniversary of your organization. I have a deep interest in its history which will be reviewed at this time. Four years of the earnest work of my husband's life enters into that history, and if the saints that rest with God are permitted to look back to their earthly labor, I am
sure he shares with you the interest of this occasion. It would be worth a long journey to have the pleasure of pressing your hands, of looking into your dear faces, but as this is denied me, I gladly avail myself of the privilege of writing.
The memory of your loving kindness to us, of your faithful untiring labor in the Master's cause, is still fresh in my heart, and my love is no less warm for you than when I was with you. Can I forget those holy seasons when the Holy Spirit overshadowed us, and our hearts were melted under His influence and flowed together so that we knew the prayer of Jesus, offered for us so near the cross, was being answered--that prayer, that all those who should believe on Him might be one. This is a union that time and distance do not dissolve, and as I write I feel my heart going out to you, and the salutation of Paul comes to my lips, "Grace be to you, and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
It has pleased our Heavenly Father to afflict me sorely--to leave me to walk alone into the sunset shadows that are gathering so rapidly about my path, yet I can truly say that in my sorrow I have felt His loving and tender care as I never had before. Every day
reveals to me more and more of the wonderful grace of God in the plan of salvation for a lost world; and as I look back on my past life, my only regret is that I have done so little to honor Him, and to serve the world. I feel ashamed that I ever, for a moment,
complained of any work that was given me to do in His service, or for any cross that was given me to bear for His dear name's sake. Those trails appear to me now as my most precious opportunities, and I feel that, "Those to whom it is given, not only to believe on Christ, but to suffer for His sake," are most truly honored and blessed.
Dear friends, I trust you are "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord"--that you are not only laboring for souls around you, but that your hearts are enlarged so that your sympathies and labors embrace the perishing in every land--
that you not only hold the post assigned you with fidelity and courage, but that your vision is enlarged, so that you see the conflict that is going on all along the line of the great battlefield, where Christ is leading His people against the strongholds of
darkness and sin.
We may meet no more on earth, but by the grace of God I look confidently to reunion with you, and with dear ones that have passed on before us, in that "better land."
V. G. RAMSEY
The Second Twenty-five Years
The beginning of the second twenty-five years in the history of the church occurred in the second year of the pastorate of Mr. BOYD. The church has been successfully brought through a critical period, but there was not the progress hoped for. Church interests grew dull and lifeless. The one thing needful seemed to be a reviving spirit. Yet the work of this pastorate was not lost; it was but a transition period between a state of almost hopeless apathy and the time when the church truly awakened to the consciousness of its real need. It was a preparatory step for the work of the next pastorate, of which an account is given by Mr. N. H. BRIGGS.
"In the spring of 1883, Rev. C. A. GLEASON was installed pastor of the church. At that time there were only fifty-seven resident members. Seven were added by letters the first year. The second year ten were added by letters and one by baptism.
Late in the fall of that year, preparations were made for revival work by earnest prayer and the cooperation of pastor and people. Rev. Hiram PAYNE of Bainbridge was called to assist. The result was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Some whole families
were brought to Christ, and in the following two years of his stay with the church, seventy-two were added by baptism and eleven by letters. Mr. Gleason had the confidence of his people, and as some one said, 'He only had to command and the work was
accomplished;' and we trust many will rise up and call him blessed, and praise God for his service with the Oneonta church."
The Pastorate of Rev. A. E. WILSON
Rev. A. E. WILSON, the son of Rev. Joseph Wilson, was born at Gilbert's Mills, N. Y. He was educated at Falley Seminary, Fulton, N. Y., and at Mexico Academy, N. Y. His ordination took place in 1869. Mr. Wilson came from Unadilla Forks to Oneonta in 1887; from here he went to Lowell, Mass. He is now very pleasantly situated at Dover, N. H. As far as we know, the only living expastors are Mr. GLEASON and Mr. WILSON.
During this pastorate there have been many examples of generosity, especially in connection with the building of the new church edifice, but lack of space forbids a detailed mention of the numerous donors. Other gifts during this period are a pulpit Bible, presented by Mrs. Minerva WHITNEY at the time of dedication; and a silver communion service, given in 1895 by R. Welsey MILLER, in memory of his mother, Mrs. D. M. MILLER.
The Pastorate of Rev. A. E. WILSON
The following account of the new church building is written by Roscoe C. BRIGGS. Unfortunately, certain records are missing, or a more definite statement would be given:
"The lack of room prompted us to feel the necessity of a new church building. Our congregation had increased to such an
extent that all chairs and standing room were employed and even the rostrum was used at one time by the smaller children.
"In the Fall of 1888, the first move was made toward this end. Meals were served for the men at a Firemen's Tournament. This gave us a small financial start; February 22, 1889, the pastor called a meeting of the church, and a committee to procure plans was appointed consisting of the following: Rev. A. E. WILSON, Dr. E. J. MORGAN, and Wellington HODGE. March 28, 1889, the sum of about $3000 was pledged, and by vote it was decided to build.
"Soon after, plans were secured that we believed would cover our needs, and the contract for the church was let to Briggs & Miller for $9300. This contract price did not include the seating or windows. The windows were furnished by various individuals and societies. The mechanics, who worked on the building, served a supper in the old church and realized about $125 from the same. With this money, the mechanics' window was purchased. The Sunday-school also furnished a window.
"In August, 1889, the Corner Stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies. This contained a set of the plans, names of committees, subscription list, and other papers of church interest.
"At the dedication, June 11th, 1890, enough money was pledged to complete payment for the building. Of the amount pledged, a small portion could not be paid, and a note was given
to complete the balance. The Dedication sermon was preached by Rev. A. T. WILSON, since deceased.
"The total amount of money raised for interest, carpets, seats, contract, etc., was about $12,000."
DEDICATION HYMN* (Zion) V. G. RAMSEY
1. God of hosts, and King eternal, Show us here thy wondrous grace! Condescend to meet thy people In this consecrated place. Make it glorious With the vision of thy face!
2. Like the spot thy presence hallowed, When the weary traveller lay; "House of God, and gate of Heaven," May it be to us, we pray! Holy angels Watching o'er it night and day!
3. Bless this house which we have built Make it for Thy presence meet Thee. Let Thy goodness pass before us, While we worship at Thy feet! Breath of heaven, Make our love and joy complete!
4. Give us, Lord, so great a blessing, That henceforth our lives may be, On the fields of sternest conflict, Proofs of love and loyalty; Ready ever, Where there's work to do for Thee!
* Composed especially for the dedication of the new church.
Sketch of Appreciation
By Mrs. R. E. MORGAN
Rev. A. E. WILSON became the pastor of the church April, 1887, and with his coming began the first long pastorate that the church had ever known.
Mr. Wilson is an interesting and fluent speaker, pleasing in manner, and possessing an abundance of enthusiasm and Christian zeal. All phases of Christian life, temperance reform, evangelistic effort, and all causes which he believed to be for the enlightment of his fellow-men appealed to him and received his prayerful consideration. He fostered the new desires and aims which were germinating, ever striving to impress his hearers with the thought of their personal accountability to God. His creed was the salvation of men. His text, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
Interest was awakened, the congregation began to increase, the Sunday-school to grow. The Christian Endeavor societies, both Junior and Senior were organized.
The church very soon was confronted with the problem, what shall be done with the people? The old church was too small. A new one was proposed. Could they build it? The pros and cons were discussed. Encouraged by their pastor, and with something of the faith which had characterized the fathers in those earlier days, they said, "Trusting in the Father's help, and the loyality of our people, we will build."
Each department of the church was in short time actively at work, vying with each other in their efforts to raise the funds necessary for the erection and furnishing of the new church. They were so successful that in the second year of Mr. Wilson's pastorate, 1889, the Corner Stone was laid. The following year, an edifice costing $12,000 was completed and dedicated to the worship of God, June 11, 1890. A note of $2,000, which was the
last obligation resting upon the church property, was publicly burned by Mr. Wilson in the audience room of the church while the congregation united in singing the Doxology.
A true pastor is always dear to his people, and especially so, if his term of service has been a long one. He tenderly and reverently discharges the duties of his office, rejoicing in their joy, sympathizing in their grief, endeavoring will all his strength to
lighten the burdens which sometimes rest so heavily. Mr. Wilson was truly all this.
His pastorate was especially noticeable for the unanimity of pastor and people. It was, therefore, with sadness in their hearts that they listened on September 13, 1896, to the announcement of his resignation, in the following words:
"After careful thought it seemed best that I should sever my pastoral relations with this church. For nine and one-half years the most pleasant relations have existed between pastor and people.
"The Lord has abundantly blessed us, and I trust we are devoutly thankful.
"But there are many for whom I have prayed and labored, who are still unsaved, and I have felt that a new pastor, with a different gift might reach them, and that I might be more useful in another field of labor.
"I believe that God has called me, and I go at his call.
"I shall never forget the dear people with whom I have labored during nine and one-half years of the best strength of my life, and I shall ever pray for your prosperity, and that we may meet in heaven."
The Present Pastorate by Andrew E. CEPERLEY
Rev. Charles S. PENDLETON, the present pastor of the church, is the son of Stanton and Amanda M. Pendleton, and a native of the town of Oxford, Chenango County, N. Y. Mr. Pendleton was converted at an early age, baptized by Rev. W. H. WALDRON, and united with the Free Baptist church of Norwich. He was graduated from the following institutions: Norwich academy, class of '82; Bates college, class of '87; Hamilton Theological seminary, in 1890. He was ordained at Columbus, N. Y., June, 1890, Rev. A. E. WILSON preaching the ordination sermon, and served as pastor of the Columbus Quarters church for seven years and six months. A call was extended from the Oneonta church, this was accepted, and the pastorate began November 8, 1896.
Mr. Pendleton came to Oneonta at a time when the village was suffering somewhat from a reaction following an era of over- development, and the church sufferer in common with other interests; several members, families and attendants being lost because of removals. The church, however, was quick to feel the pulse of new life and enterprise, and has steadily kept pace with the later growth and rapid development of business activity and
increase of population.
Some of the results of the first two years were the revision of the constitution, and the organization of an efficient corps of workers for active church work. A cabinet was formed, consisting of the pastor, church clerk, deacons, and Sunday-school
superintendent, which meets regularly and has in hand the active interests of the work. Under the present constitution the trustees are the financials agents of the church and are accountable for the raising of all money; the treasurer is also appointed by them. A
board of fourteen deaconesses was also formed and under the supervision of the pastor do a great amount of systematic work. The results of these plans have been a constant increase of interest, attendance, and membership. The present membership is 605.
During the pastorate, 210 have been baptized, the pastor has officiated at 155 weddings, 335 funerals, and averaged 1,100 calls per year. The pastor is at the head of a large library and reading circle; he has given much time to church music; on special
occasions, drilling with excellent success large choruses of young people, and is active in Sunday-school, Christian Endeavor and other departments of church work.
Financially, the church is as strong as in the other departments. The trustees manage its business with the same care as their private interests. Church and parsonage are kept in excellent repair and no dollar of indebtedness is allowed to stand against it. Plans are now perfected, and about $2,000 subscribed for an enlargement of the church edifice to meet the growing need for more room.
Some gifts have been received during this pastorate; namely, a legacy of $75 from Mr. and Mrs. NORTHRUP, an individual communion set by N. H. BRIGGS and his son, Roscoe C.
BRIGGS, and several cash gifts or subscriptions for special purposes such as hymnals, repairs, improvements, etc. The pastor and Mrs. A. M. Pendleton, the pastor's mother, have been among our most generous donors. Further gifts promised are a new church organ by Mr. and Mrs. R. Wesley MILLER to cost $2,000, and a communion table by Deacon Chauncey CEPERLEY.
If space permitted, mention might be made of many who have rendered efficient aid in the various departments of church work; their faces, many of them, may be seen in the illustrations of this work; others just as faithful in less conspicuous places, in
rank and file, shoulder to shoulder, are exerting an influence for righteousness.
As showing the conditions in 1903, which are no less evident today, some extracts from an article in Our Journal, penned by the present writer, are given:
Some one has said that every church gets as good a Minster as it really wishes. If the church is a sleeping car, the minister is a porter. The Oneonta church is no sleeping car, and its pastor is no porter. He is rather the conductor of a fast, fully
equipped Gospel train, running on a schedule time, and taking on through passengers at every station.
As an indication of strength, the prayer meeting is always large and enthusiastic, an expression of the genuine religious life of the church. With a system and organization that works quietly, but gets in touch with every member of the congregation, the pastoral work is on a par with the pulpit work.
These results are due largely to the pastor's genius for hard work, intellectual power, and spiritual elevation. As the years have gone by, there has been a growing appreciation for his conscientious and self-sacrificing work; his ministry of advise, of cheer, and of consolation has endeared him more and more to the hearts of his people, until there now exists between pastor and people a bond of Christian love that makes a delight of the
Mr. Pendleton has for his aid an audience, quiet, unobtrusive, felt as the silent forces of Nature are felt, a councilor in all the affairs of home and church. In all departments of church work a quiet leader, Mrs. Pendleton is such a helper as none but those intimate in their home life can ever know, and in her work for the church she had made a host of loving friends.
Our past history is but an encouragement for still better living and consequent better work. There are yet many things to strive for, many ideals beyond our present attainment, but our hope is in the progressive Christian spirit that has heretofore,
does now, and evermore will, we believe, pervade our membership.
SOME OF OUR IDEALS
A church can never be a perfect institution made up as it must be of imperfect men and women; yet the more earnestly its members strive to follow the one Perfect Pattern, the nearer the church approaches the ideal. That the church is imperfect is never a reproach or stigma only as it is not seeking to grow better; for Heaven itself is made up of redeemed sinners. Pastor and people have their ideals; if we keep them before us, this church is bound to win God's approval, and become a power in His name.
We believe in a soul-winning church, not only at special seasons of revival, but when the Word is preached in the ordinary way. We believe in saving souls through the influence
of its members; for God's plan was to save men by men. We believe that the Spirit's power is the strength of the church and that this power comes through prayer, hence we value the prayer meeting. We believe that the true aim of a Christian is not personal privilege or ease, but service to the kingdom of God.
Love, fellowship, tender, mutual regard for each other, making the church more like a happy family than an ecclesiastical organization, is another ideal. We believe in "Kind looks, kind
words, kind acts, and warm handshakes,--these are secondary means of grace when men are in trouble, and are fighting their unseen battles.
We believe that the church cannot be ideal without the children; for "Where the children are not, Heaven is not." They are our inspiration, our hope.
We believe among other things that we can do for our church that these are essential: to attend its services regularly, to give cheerfully, to pray for it and its pastor, to adorn its doctrines by godly living. These are but a few of the many ideals that may
Christ himself had an ideal for His church when He prayed, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name these whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." This ideal of Christian unity includes all; and as we draw closer to Him in this great common service, we shall realize more and more the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
The Fiftieth Anniversary
Sunday, February 25, 1906, was the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the church. The program of the morning service contained no unusual features, but it was especially adapted to the occasion. The music was excellent and appropriate; a soprano sole, "Send Out Thy Light," was finely sung by Miss Edna SHAFFER.
"Fifty Years," as the subject of the sermon by Mr. Pendleton. The text was from Matthew 13:31, The kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. Mr. Pendleton always presents the highest ideals of Christian living, he ever emphasized the value of worth and character in the individual, and the great personal responsibility of a life that is linked with Christ. Similar ideas were conveyed in this anniversary sermon, --the character of the individual being the essential factor in the growth of the church. The conclusion was given in substance like the following: "The outward growth is not important, it gives encouragement and inspiration to an extent, but in the increase of wealth and membership there is danger. The wealth of Jacob did not serve him in meeting the brother he had wronged. It was necessary that the army of Gideon be reduced. The ground of hope lies in the unseen.
In the unseen is to be found the seed of life. The honor of the kingdom is within you. You are a factor in the ultimate triumph."
While this Souvenir is prepared to commemorate the close of a half-century in the history of the church, yet there are particular features of much interest because written especially for the Fiftieth Anniversary; these are the pastor's letter, the letter by Rev. A. E. WILSON, and the poem, "The Oneonta Free Baptist Church," written by Mrs. O. C. TARBOX.
ORDER OF SERVICE, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1906.
MORNING SERVICE AT 10:30
Organ Prelude Miss ABELL
Novellette in F. Major, Opus 24. Schumann
DOXOLOGY; Invocation and Lord's Prayer
Responsive Reading, Selection 50
Anthem, "Recessional" DeKoven
Choir - Will FORD, Miss SHAFFER, Mrs. O. A. MILLER, E. E. HOWE.
God of our fathers, known of old-- Lord of our far flung battle line-- Beneath whose awful hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine-- Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget! Lest we forget! The tumult and the shouting dies, The Captains and the Kings depart, Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, An humble and a contrite heart, Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget! Lest we forget! - Kipling
Scripture Lesson Leviticus 25:1-2
Gloria Patri - Hymn 463 - Prayer - Response
Father, hear our prayer, In Heaven Thy dwelling place; And when Thou hearest, forgive.
Air from The Messiah Handel Choir
The Lord loveth a cheerful giver, Therefore, with gladness our offerings we bring. Amen.
Soprano Sole with Violin accompaniment, Miss Edna SHAFFER, Stuart HOWE.
Send Out Thy Light! Mrs. Carrie B. ADAMS
Oh, send out thy light; send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, Let them bring me into thy holy hill, Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, O my soul! For I shall yet praise him who is the
health of my countenance.
Announcements - Hymn 350
Sermon by Rev. Charles S. PENDLETON
Subject: Fifty Years. Matt. 13:31
Dedication Hymn (Zion)
Written by Mrs. RAMSEY for the dedication of the church in 1890.
Benediction - Organ Postlude T. M. Pattison
Dover, N. H., April 6, 1906.
In answer to your request that I send a letter for your Souvenir Anniversary book, it is with pleasure that I reply. Precious, may I not say hallowed, memories are awakened.
In the year 1887, having been elected pastor of the Free Baptist Church at Oneonta, on the fifth day of April I reached the town. I received a most cordial welcome. As soon as my household goods were located, in the name of the Master I entered upon the work. I found a goodly number of consecrated Christian friends ready to be led and to co-operate with their pastor. The church building was old and small, but pleasant, and with the parsonage was kept in good repair.
I think that I can say that I gave all my energies to the work. After reserving the forenoon for study, I gave the afternoon to pastoral calls; during one year I made 1600 calls, averaging for the entire pastorate about 1300 calls each year. Our church was
soon crowded; aisles and vestibules were filled; not alone through the efforts of the pastor, but also through the efforts of the efficient helpers found in the warm-hearted social membership of the church.
We were forced to build a new church edifice to accommodate the people. Our Sunday-school and Christian Endeavor Society had outgrown their quarters. No doubt others will give a report of the struggle and prayerful efforts to build our church home.
We placed as the limit of our ability $6,000. But with faith in God we planned larger things for the Lord, until $12,000 had been expended; with any other contractors except our own, a larger sum would have been required. Perhaps the darkest hours was about 11 o'clock the night before dedication; $4,000 must be raised if possible on the morrow. The building committee and contractors at that hour of the night in the darkness went into the church and knelt side by side in the aisle. There we renewedly consecrated ourselves to God, and presented to him the house and prayed for help. Then and there the victory and assurance were gained. Not many of us could sing aloud, but in our hearts
we sang the Doxology. The next day pledges were given for the entire amount, but some were unable to pay; and, at the close of two years, the interest and other expenses amounted to $2,000. But on Thanksgiving night a thank offering was taken, and when
counted, it amounted to the indebtedness. The note was cancelled and placed on a plate and burned in the presence of
a happy church. During the period of church building, a revival spirit continually prevailed. Later, during the pastor's vacation, the parsonage was wonderfully transformed, so that on his return he hardly recognized the place.
The nine and a half years was the pleasantest and best pastorate of my life. During that time I baptized 349 and received by letter 112, making a total of 451 received to
membership. The Sunday-school increased three fold. The Christian Endeavor which I organized with eight members that met in the musty, wasp-filled, old gallery, increased to 135 members that gathered in the pleasant and commodious vestry of the new church. We sorrowed when some of the true and faithful ones were called away, but we were comforted at the thought that they were called from labor to reward.
Since I went from you, I have prayed that God would bless you abundantly; and I have rejoiced as I have heard of your prosperity. May the Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace; both now and evermore.
Yours in His name,
A. W. WILSON
Fifty years with their record of church unity, human sympathy, and spiritual enthusiasm are behind us. The history is not complete, for there are more things to be included that report themselves to the senses; but it details the heroic deeds of a noble company of men and women in a way to inspire us.
Time is looked upon as a great Despoiler. It takes away the honored servants of the past; it seeks to take away all strength and beauty; it seeks to take away our hope. The tree that is now freighted with leaf and growing fruit will soon be bare. This seems
a loss. But there is a gain in the movement of time. Change brings sorrow, but if there were no change, there would be the terror of an endless death. Men build better houses than those which Time has unroofed; sorrows enrich; Christ was made perfect through suffering.
One thing that Time cannot destroy is the Church. It is the institution of God designed to promote religious life, and that fellowship with God which constitutes man's safety, development, and highest good. There are qualities in man's nature that can never be developed without the church. It is a home. The question is not whether God is in one place or another, but have we a place where God's presence is enjoyed, and where
constant association is most helpful? So long as our church incorporates this idea it will stand.
Our fathers have bequeathed to us an inheritance of work; not their work, but a new work,--a work which they could not do because the time was not ripe. Every generation has its own task. We are not to fight battles already won. Our fathers worked
with the idea of converting men; we must work not only to convert, but to develop the converted life, all things are pushed farther and farther into the perfection of development, and new possibilities appear at every step.
These fifty years are not a monument to mark the limit of life. As the stone before the tomb of the Saviour was rolled away and the angel make a new use of it, so we take these years as a plat form from which to preach the gospel of the resurrection better;
and to serve better the truth of God.
Thankful to God for the presence of some who labored in the early dawn; for your increasing missionary zeal; for your efficient service in every department, and grateful to you for your many expressions of favor, I press toward the mark, with you, for the prize of the high calling of God.