« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
No records of the church during this early period have been preserved, if indeed any were kept. But the fact that the church continued to exist, and that it survived the succession of disasters with which it was beset, would not seem to need the corroboration of written chronicles to prove its strength and vitality, and hence its ability to fill its sphere of usefulness. It is known, however, that the church was self-supporting; that the organization was preserved; that services were regularly held when circumstances did not render meetings impossible; and that its sustaining influence was felt in the community.
A house of worship had been built soon after the settlement of the village, which served the needs of the congregation for a few years, but its destruction in 1778, in common with most other buildings, left them no fixed place of worship. The inhabitants, upon their return to Wyoming after the disaster of 1778, used for this purpose the schoolhouses, several of which had been rebuilt, and also met for worship at the houses of some of their own number. In 1791 meetings were held in the log courthouse situated on the public square, the use of which, in part, as a house of worship, was continued until the completion, twelve years afterward, of the church building known as the " Ship Zion."
In 1791 steps were taken to erect a church building, but many obstacles intervened to delay the work, and the house was not ready for occupancy until 1803. "Ship Zion" was occupied by the congregation about thirty years. It was a frame building, well constructed, and possessed some beauty of architecture. The hight and graceful proportions of its spire gained for it a local fame that has not yet entirely passed away, and it remained an interesting and familiar landmark many years after its use by this church as a house of worship had ceased.
After the death of Mr. Johnson efforts were made to secure a pastor, but they were not attended with immediate success. In the interval the pulpit was supplied by missionaries who came under the auspices of the Connecticut missionary society, as well as by others who, under temporary engagements, preached from time to time. Among those who preached at this time were Messrs. Jabez Chadwick and James Woodward, of the Connecticut missionary society; the Rev. Dr. Porter, of Catskill, and the Rev. D. Harrower.
The earliest records of the church that have been preserved bear date July 1, 1803. On thiitday the congregation of Wilkes-Barre, augmented by a number of the residents of Kingston and other neighboring villages, took the name of the "Church of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston," and the record shows that a confession of faith and a covenant were adopted and signed by twenty-seven members of the church. On the 30th of the same month three deacons were chosen.
In August, 1806, the Rev. Aril. Hoyt, was ordained and installed pastor of the church of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, there being at that time thirty-four members. Six years later the covenant of the Luzerne association of congregational churches was adopted by this church. During Mr. Hoyt's pastorate of eleven years, eightyfive members were added to the church—sixty-one on profession and twenty-four by letter. Mr. Hoyt continued his pastoral relations with the church until November 10, 1817, at which time he resigned. Soon afterward he was appointed a missionary to the Cherokee Indians in the State of Tennessee, where he died February 18, 1828.
The year following Mr. Hoyt's departure, Mr. Hutchins Taylor, a missionary, was minister in charge. He assumed the duties with a view of permanent settlement, but at the time of the division of the congregation, which took place soon afterward, he appears to have gone with the Kingston members, and became the first pastor of their church. Mr. Taylor was succeeded by the Rev. D. Moulton, as stated supply who remained until 1820. The Rev. Eleazer S. Barrows also preached here occasionally during the years 1817-21.
The growth of the church at this time seemed to warrant a division of the con
gregation and the organization of another church. The Presbytery of Susquehanna, accordingly, March, 1819, divided the church of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston; the members of Kingston constituting a separate church. During the period of five years succeeding 1817, there were added to the church thirty-seven members, and twenty-one were dismissed to unite with the Kingston church.
June 15, 1821, the Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve was called to the pastorate of the church of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston. He continued in this charge until 1826, when he gave up his relations with the church in Kingston, and thereafter, until the year 1829, was pastor of the Wilkes-Barre church alone. He resigned in 1829, but continued for a time to preach in the vicinity as a missionary. Like his predecessors, Mr. Gildersleeve in addition to his regular duties, was accustomed to preach in Hanover, Newport, Pittston and other neighboring villages. During his pastorate there were two revivals of religion—one in 1822, when thirty members were received into the church on profession, besides a number added to the Kingston church; and another in 1826, when nearly fifty were united with the church. Some of these, says Dr. Dorrance, in a sermon preached in 1853, were residents of Hanover, Newport, Pittston, Providence, etc., and became the foundation of separate churches. The whole number added during Mr. Gildersleeve's ministry of eight years was 129. He removed from Wilkes-Barre to Bloomfield, N. J., and died within a few years.
In 1829 the churches of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston joined in a call to the Rev. Nicholas Murray, who accepted the call and was installed in October, 1829. He continued in this charge until June 26, 1833. Soon after the installation of Dr. Murray the number of communicants residing in Hanover was thought to be sufficient to form a separate church, and accordingly seventeen members were dismissed to unite with the new church of Hanover. During his pastorate the membership of the church was increased by sixty-six. By the advice of Dr. Murray the form of church government was changed from Congregational to Presbyterian; also, through his efforts, the congregation were induced to sell their interest in their old church building, "Ship Zion," to the Methodist congregation, and to erect a church building more suited to their uses. It was situated on Franklin street and was occupied by the congregation for sixteen years; then removed to make room for the brick structure still standing and now used by the Osterhout Free library.
The Rev. John Dorrance succeeded Dr. Murray as pastor of the church, and was installed August 22, 1833, the day the new church was dedicated. In addition to his regular pastoral duties, Dr. Dorrance extended the field of his labors throughout the county; the influence of the church became much increased. At abater period a church organization was effected at White Haven; and the Coalville chapel was established, now the Presbyterian church of Ashley. Under the auspices of this church also the Wilkes-Barre Female institute was established in 1854, and a substantial brick building was erected for the purposes of the school at a cost of about $12,000. During Dr. Dorrance's ministry the frame building that had served as a house of worship since 1833, was removed, and on its site was erected a handsome brick structure. The building was begun in 1849 and finished soon afterward at a cost of $15,000. It was occupied by the congregation until the year 1888.
Dr. Dorrance was graduated from Princeton college in 1823. He was ordained November, 1827, by the Presbytery of Mississippi. He was the pastor of the Baton Rouge church from 1827 to 1830; and from 1831 to 1833 was settled over the church at Wysox. In the latter year he was called to this church, where he continued until his death, April 18, 1861.
The Rev. A. A. Hodge, D. D., succeeded Dr. Dorrance, and was installed in September, 1861. In 1864 the general assembly assigned him the post of professor of didactic and polemic theology in the Alleghany seminary; his pastoral relations with this church were thereupon dissolved.
Dr. A. A. Hodge was graduated from Princeton college in 1841, and from the Princeton Theological seminary in 1846. He was ordained in May, 1847, and in 1861 he was called to the pastorate of the Wilkes-Barre church. From 1864 to 1877 he occupied the chair of didactic and polemic theology in Alleghany seminary, and from 1866 to 1877 he was also pastor of the North Presbyterian church of Alleghany. In 1877 he became associated with his father, the Rev. Charles Hodge, D. D., LL. D., in the professorship of systematic theology in Princeton Theological seminary; and upon the death of his father in 1878, he succeeded to that professorship, which position he held until his death, November 11, 1886.
In 1864 the Rev. S. B. Dod was installed pastor of this church. During his ministry of four years eighty-five members were added to the church. In October, 1868, Mr. Dod resigned the pastorate. He was graduated from Princeton college in 1857; ordained in June, 1862; called to Wilkes-Barre in 1864.
Mr. Dod was succeeded by the present pastor, the Rev. Franklin Bache Hodge, D. D.; he was installed February, 1869. The present active membership of the church is 550.
Dr. F. B. Hodge was graduated from Princeton college in 1859, and from the Princeton Theological seminary in 1862. He was ordained May 9, 1863.
Two chapels, the South Wilkes-Barre, or Westminister chapel and the Grant Street chapel have been connected with this church. The South Wilkes-Barre chapel was established in 186S, and enlarged in 1873. In 1882 the building was replaced by a substantial brick structure of larger dimensions to accommodate the growing congregation.
July 1, 1885, Westminster chapel became self-supporting and, on June 8, 1888, was organized as a church with sixty-nine members. The present membership is 137. The Grant Street chapel was established in 1871; Rev. C. I. Junkin, minister in charge at the present time. This was organized into a separate church in 1889.
In 1874 the Memorial church was organized out of the membership of this church, and a number of other members have since been dismissed to unite with it.
The brick structure, built in 1849 and occupied by the congregation for thirtyeight years, not affording the room needed, the congregation undertook the building of a new church edifice. The corner-stone was laid July 11, 1887. The larger auditorium will have a seating capacity of 1,100, and the total cost of the building and ground about $170,000.
The officers of the church: Elders: Calvin Parsons, *A. T. McClintock, LL. D, George Loveland, C. S. Beck, M. D., D. D. S., T. H. Atherton, Clerk, *J. L. Miner, M. D., Nathaniel Rutter, J. W. Hollenback, Samuel H. Lynch, Lee Stearns. I. M. Thomas, Robert Ayres. Deacons: *R. J. Flick, Treas, E. J. Leutz, H. N. Young. Sec, Joseph A. Murphy, M. D.; trustees: G. Murray Reynolds, Pres.; A. H. McClintock; I. P. Hand, Sec, David P. Ayars, Treas.; George R. Bedford.
The Memorial Presbyterian Church, North street, Wilkes-Barre, was built and given by Calvin Wadhams as a memorial to his three children, Frank Cleveland, Mary Catlin and Lynde Henderson, who died of scarlet fever in 1871. The church was begun May 21, 1872, and dedicated April 8, 1874. In 1874 the membership of the church was 303. The Rev. W. H. Smith was the pastor of the church from May 7, 1874, to 1885. He was succeeded by Rev. Casper R. Gregory, 1885-92. Present pastor, Rev. Thornton A. Mills, Ph. D.
The Covenant Presbyterian Church (colored) was organized June 23, 1876, with eighteen members. The Rev. William D. Robinson was the pastor from August 10, 1876.