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HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, by Winifred English

posted Apr 2, 2012, 10:37 AM by First Presbyterian

Men of Action

On March 7, 1842, in Volume 40 of Ohio Laws, was published this Act, enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio:  Sec. 1  - Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That David English, Thomas King, Thomas Sargent, Michael Smith and John Coventry, and their associates, for the time being, be and they are hereby created a body corporate and politic, by the name of the First Presbyterian Church of New Philadelphia; and, as such shall be entitled to all the privileges, and be subject to all the restrictions, of an act entitled “an act in relation to incorporated religious societies,” passed March the Fifth, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-six.


Section 2. –Notice shall be give of the first meeting under this act, by posting up three advertisements in the neighborhood of the persons aforesaid, at least ten days before said meeting, setting forth the time and place.  The Act was signed by Rufus P. Spalding, Speaker of the House of Representatives and James J. Faran, Speaker of the Senate.


The year 1828

The First Presbyterian minister who preached at New Philadelphia with any degree of regularity was the Rev. Jonathan Leslie, who was commissioned by the Assembly’s Board of Home Missions to labor here and at other points.  He was superseded in November, 1828 by the Rev. Charles Birge, who was sent to Ohio by the American home Missionary Society, and by the advice of the Rev. J.B. Morrow of Canton, came to New Philadelphia and preached for probably one year.  In 1830, the Presbyterian families of the village petitioned the board to send a missionary who should divide his time equally between New Philadelphia and Sandyville.  This arrangement was approved, and in April, 1831, the Rev. J.B. Morrow came under the appointment of the board.  He remained until September 1835, and returned April 1, 1840, filling appointments here and at Uhrichsville.



Church Organization

A church organization was effected in June, 1840.  David English and Thomas King were elected Elders December 15, 1840, and ordained on the following 10th of January.  The Rev. Mr. Morrow supplied the congregation until his death on July 30, 1842.  The church was then without a pastor until September, 1843, when the Rev. T.M. Finney was called.  He became the first regular pastor by installation, April 29, 1844, and remained until 1849.  His successor was the Rev. George S. Inglis, who served the church from November, 1851 to April, 1853.


A House Divided

That a “House divided against itself cannot stand” was proven in a ten-year period between 1853 and 1864.  In that interval a division occurred in the church, but a union was achieved in 1864, and the Rev. C.J. Hunter was received as Licentiate from the Presbytery of St. Clairsville.  He was ordained and installed as pastor on April 15, 1865.


The Trail Blazers

In a list of members of the early Mission church are the names of Mrs. Juliana Sargent, Mrs. Catherine Patrick, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson, James M. Smith, Mrs. Jane Abel and Mrs. Mary Morris.  Among those who were members of the organized church in 1841, were Michael Smith, John Ferris, John Emerson, David Barnhill, Charles Fowler, Mrs. Elizabeth King, Mrs. Lucinda Baltzley, Mrs. Sarah Williams and William Shear.


Church Built in 1841

The old church edifice, which served its people for eighty-one years, located on Lot 190, East High Avenue, was built in 1841, and in 1873 was remodeled at a cost of $6,000.  The lot was donated by Thomas Sargent, to be the property of the church so long as it is used for church purposes.  A provision was made that the lot was to revert to the legal heirs in case the church building was removed.  In 1873 the church was repaired and a Sunday School room added.  In 1903, it was again repaired, redecorated and a pipe organ installed.  The present church building was erected under the leadership of the Rev. M.G. Hanna in 1922.



Spirit of Brotherhood

The  Emmanuel Lutheran Church, the oldest denomination in New Philadelphia, was built in 1834.  This church has always shown a fine spirit of brotherhood to all denominations which followed, by allowing the use of its church for services during the period in which the various church buildings were being erected.  An item taken from the “Lutheran Standard” of November 30, 1842, published by the Rev. Emmanuel Greenwald, stated: “the First Presbyterian Church in New Philadelphia will be dedicated to God on December 24, 1842.  The sermon will be preached by the Rev. George Gordon of Millersburg, Ohio, at 11 o’clock a.m.

A collection will be taken on this day to aid in paying off the balance due on the building.”


Time Marches On

In 1950 plans for redecorating the sanctuary were completed and approved by the congregation.  An Estey organ was purchased and an altar-centered chancel was designed by Architect Charles Marr.  These added architectural features were completed in 1951.  A dedication service for the organ, chancel and chancel appointments was held April 22, 1951, on the 110th anniversary of First Presbyterian.  The appointments—all memorial gifts—included: the bronze Celtic Cross, the altar antependia with the English letters I.H.S., signifying the Greek abbreviation for Jesus, Savior of Man, the altar Bible, the lectern Bible and hymnal, the baptismal font, Altar vases, candle holders, missal stand and pulpit lectern antependia.


Building Purchased

On August 1, 1960, the apartment house adjacent to the church, was purchased, and three of the six apartments have been allocated for Christian Education, and house Sunday school classes.  Plans are now underway for further church improvements and additions to keep abreast of the march of time, and the needs of progress.


Changes In a Changing World

In 1941, the women’s organizations of the church underwent a drastic consolidation change.  The trend in the churches was to combine all women’s societies into one body, to be named the Woman’s Association.  With the encouragement of the pastor, the Rev. E. Frank Cody, and after much deliberation, the women of the church made the decision to unite forces.  These included the Ladies Aid Society, the Women’s Missionary Society and the Hanna Circle.  The first meeting was held April 2, 1941, with Mrs. H.A. Coleman as the first president.


This association, now twenty five years old, includes all the women who now are interested in its purpose, study, prayer and service in this church, in the local community and through giving and prayer to National and World Christian Work.  Programs are planned for enrichment, Bible Study, current interest relations and to our Missions and Fellowships.


February 22 each year brings the Martha Washington Tea—an afternoon of entertainment planned and given by the Association.  The women of the Church furnish cookies and coffee for the Coffee Hour each month, place flowers on the altar, and assist in Family Night dinners.  Through all the years, the Association and its Circles have been a constant and vital part of the Church.


A Singular Achievement

A record of history is a composite of individual achievements—the parts that go to make up the whole.  To the congregation came a glow of such achievement, when a member of the congregation, Mrs. W. Verne Buchanan was elected president of the Women’s Association at the quadrennial meeting of the National Council of Presbyterian Women’s Organization.  For the next four years, she and 14 other women on the executive committee, planned programs with the following concepts: (1) Setting goals for giving; (2) Challenging women to stretch their minds and hearts to embrace all people in the world: toward a united goal.


In this capacity, Mrs. Buchanan visited almost every state in the Union, and visited women in South America, Mexico, Hong Kong and Japan in behalf of the church and its aims.  As a representative of Presbyterian women she served on many committees of the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church and one of the most important was that of church union.  This resulted in the consolidation of the United Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church into one unit now forming the United Presbyterian Church of America.