Cambridge Chronicle, Volume XXXII, Number 38, 22 September 1877
Prospect-St. Church. FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF ITS ORGANIZATION.
Historical Address by the Pastor. DINNER AT UNION HALL. ETC.
The fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Prospect street church, more properly called „First Evangelical Congregationa 1 Church, Cambridgeport,“ and of the dedication of its first house of worship, was held on Thursday last at the church and in Union Hat),• and the accompanying exercises were participated in by several hundred people. In the forenoon at il o’clock neatly every seat in ;he body of the church was filled. The edifice was decorated around the gallery and over the pulpit with appropriate emblems of the faith. The names of the men who found ed the society were displayed in large evergreen letters on a white ground : Win. Fiske, Bancroft, Hubbard, Bacon, Fairbank. Barrett, Chaplin. Over the pulpit was the inscription „Prospect street, 1827—1877 j Pilgrim—lB6s ; Stearns—lB72.“ The latter two names and their dates indicated the periods when those societies were formed out of the Prospect street church. The exercises opened with an anthem, which was followed by an inv.icttion, made by Key. Mr. Furber of Newton, and the leading of a devotional psalm. The following origina l hymn was then sung: Original Hymn. As backwatd turn our thoughts to-day, O’er fifty years, so tpiicklv fl’iwn, With reverent, gialcful heails we say, “ The Loid is mindful ol his own.“ Our lleavei ly Father’s name we praise, For constant watch and tender care. And illl-illlil which hive Clowned our days, Since first this churcN was formed with prayer. Then orward let us urce our way, Thus highly favored ol our God, And underneath his guiding .way, Walk in the path our Saviour trod. And when at last our j.iurney’s done, Arid we before the ttiione shall stand, Foiever may we praise llie Son, A ransonied, and unbroken band. _ A lesson in Scripture followed, and a piayer by the Key. Dr. Blagden, after which another original hymn was sung as follows : Our fithers’ Godl to whom appears Less than a day these fifty years, Accept the thanks we bring to Thee, Aud deisuio bless our Jubilee. We thank Ther for thy constant care Over thy children eveiywheie ; , We thank Thee lhat this church of thine Still witnesses lor Love Divine. For all its strength and usefulness, ~ Present or pass, thy name we bless, While all we are, or hope to be, This day anew we give to thee. When time for us shall he no more, May w_, wilh those who went belore. Sowing the teed perhaps with tears. Heap the Iruit of our filly years. Rev. Dr. Royt’i Address. Mr. Hoyt took his text from ist Corinthians, xv. chapter, 37th and 38th verses : „And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body which shall be, and bare grain . . . . And God givcth a body as it has pleased him.“ Camhl i.ll_r Fifty V .111. Ago. Mr. Hoyt said that it was on the.2oth day of September, 18.17, that this church wa> or “ ganized, and on that day its first house of worship was dedicated. Fifty years is a very long time to contemplate. When this church was founded John Q, Adams was President of the twenty-five United States, which had a total population of about 10,000,000 souls. Massachusetts had little over 50,000 inhabitants, and the town of Cambiidge but about 5000 souls. The Almshouse Block embraced the eleven acres of land bounded by Harvard, Norfolk, Austin and Prospect streets, and here stood the almshouse until 1836. The burying-grnitnd on Broadway was tin n in use. Not until six yean later was there any railway connection with Boston. Five years after this church was started the town of Cambridge built a town house on the present site of the Catholic church on Norfolk street, at a cost of J-tooo, anil this was also used as a City Hall until 1553. Cambridgeport was then an isolated village, separated from Old Cambridge by a narrow neck of land almost destitute of buildings. Kast Cambridge was almost an island, separated from the rest of the town by a great marsh. Two school-home*, one on the northeast corner of Winsor and School streets, and the other on the southerly side of Franklin street, built at a cost of jsdoo and JtSoo respectively, afforded educational facilities for Ihe children of the Port. Spacious biick meeting house, occupied by the Unitaiian Church, stood on Columbia street. Key. T. 11. Gannett, a native of Cambridge and graduate of Harvard, had been its pastor for thirteen years. The First Baptist church had been in existence ten years, and Key. Bcla Jacobs, its first pastor, was still at its head. The First I’nivcisalist church was organized the year previous, and Rev. Thomas Whittemore still held the office of pastor. The first Methodist class was not formed until several years later. Fifteen years after tlie Pmspect-strcet church was organized, St. Peter’s Fpiscopal church was opened, and in 1844 they completed their
first meeting house, which stood on Prospect street, opposite the present church. It was thirty-nine years after that St. Mary’s Catholic church was instituted, which occupied its first house of worship in March, 1868. Cambridgeport was in those days an island, enclosed by Charles Kiver, the marsh and Judge Dana’s farm. Turnpike avenues leading from the Charles Kiver, were the principal streets, and on them were seven taverns well provided with roomy barns for the teams. In this little village of Cambridgeport, not numbering more than 1500 souls, a number of people, not satisfied with the liberalism of the day, gathered and established this church. Wben Orthodoxy Was Despised. At this date Unitarianisin had obtained a strong foothold in this State. The Unitarian Association was engaged effectively in propagating its sentiments. Charming, Pierpont, and Dewey—all able men—were agreed in denouncing the Calvinism ol the day. Or thodoxy was the despised faith. All the literary men of the State, all the trustees and professors of Harvard, were Unitarians, and the -lete of wealth and fashion crowded their churches. The dominant majority entered at once into possession of churches and church property, leaving the minority to worship in school houses, town halls, or build, as best they could. At every accession to Orthodox churches a great cry was made, and even the press „belched and bellowed.“ Much credit is due to Dr. James P. Chaplin, and to the Hanover Street Church, ol Boston, for the organization of this church. There seemed to the eye no more probability of is success at first, than there is that the Turks will retake the Schipka Pass. Dr. Lyman Beecher’s diary contains reference to Dr. Chaplin and his efforts in this society. Dr. Beecher himself, in the year 1526, used to pieach to the Cambridgeport people of his faith In the Baptist chuich, kindly furnished them for the purpose by the society. Soon after it was detetmined to build a chuich edifice, where the people of Orthodox sentiments Could enjoy its full advantages. Says the o.d record : „Believing, as we do, that the doctrines of the entire alienation of the human heart in its .aluial state from God, Ihe necessity of regeneration by the special agency of the Holy Spirit, the Divinity and Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the future eternal punishment of the finally impenitent, are clearly revealed in the Scriptures, and indeed constitute the very csence of our Holy Kebgion, we feel anxious that ourselves, those connected with us.fiud those that come after us, may hear Ihtjn faithfully and statedly preached.“ Notwithstanding this, all of the oiiglnal members ol tie Prospect street society had been regular attendants on Unitarian preaching, no church of their own belief having been establislicd in the neighborhood. Origin of this Church. In the first church at its start were fortysix persons, seven males and thirty-nine females. Our first meeting-house was consumed by fire in 1854, and the residents of Mr. George 11. Folger, on Austin street, once occupied by Dr. Chaplin, is the only house historically connected with this church now standing In Dr. Chaplin’s house met the council which organized and dedicated this church ; the one that installed the first pastor, Key. Daniel Perry, in April, 1820, and the one that dismissed him in October, 183 a None of the original members of this church are living in Cambridge today. The first genuine effort toward getting a meeting-house under way was made at Dr. Chaplin’s, April 18, 1827, when the matter was discussed and the proper committee appointed. Messrs. Chaplin and Barrett were chosen to communicate to the Baptist Church the fact that this church proposed to build, and to request their co-operation and prayers, Eleven days after, a plan of a meet-ing-house was presented and approved. Between this date and the following September the house was completed. The dedicatory council was composed of delegates from eight different churches. Eight days alter the dedication of the church to God, a meeting was called to devise a name for it, and it was given the one it now bears. The original site was purchased of Kufus and William Fiskc, for _>Bio, and extended from Austin street to Washington street. The house was provided with an organ (now in the North Avenue church), and a bell, now hanging in the tower of Ptospcct street church. It contained sixty-four pews on the floor and ten in the galleries, S.imc generous individual spicadlhc walks leading to the meet-ing-house with brimstone. Dr. Iloyt’s address details the various changes which were made from time to time in t!’C matter of hymn books and choral service—much too long for repetition heic. It alludes to the fact tnat at no time has this chuich been without an expressed and definite creed. The Sunday .school. In 1833 IhC church resolved itself into a Sunday .School society. The first record ol the election of a superintendent is on July 17, 1842. Since then the following names appear connected with this office : June 17, IS4I. to Apr. t, 15.7, Aaron Sweet. May 14. i] 47» to Aug. ~i, I*4o, A. 0. Hammond. Oct. tb, 1549, to Oct. at, IMS, A. C. Smith. Oct. 15, lilt, to July s, 185.., J. A. Lovell. July ■], ISSJ, to free. It, IS.O, 11. M lapley. Jan. in, 1557, to Apr. 9, IHSS, L. B. Grover. Jan. 14, 1559, lo Dec. 16, 1856, A. C. Smith. Jan. 13, ■ _«->, lo Dec. 18, 1800, Wm. Keed. Jan. iS, 18.1, to Jan. 7, iSoj, X. I) Goodiich. lan. 16, isftj, to Jan. 19, iB6O, Charles Mellen. Mar. ~ 1860, 10 Sept. 11, 1808. C. W. Munroe. Sept. 18, 1868, to July 1, ,869, S. X. Oilman, Jr. Oct r, isr.S, to April, i, 1870, Chas. A. Fiske. April 15, lI.V. lojan. 6, 1875, 11. N Tillon. Jan. 6, 1875, still in office, John X. Vandervoort. Cniiiril Huimiinry of KventH. Various cases of discipline were cited in Dr. Iloyt’s address, some of which provoked a smile from his auditors. Chatges made in the hour of service from time to time, were alluded to. Ihe various uses made of the money collected at communion, were detail ed, showing that it has usually been devoted to chaiitablc purposes. The old church library was rntrgtd in tht General Theological Library ot Boston, where the pastor of this chinch will always have the rights of a member. In regaid to the temperance movement, the record shows the church to have been for«mo*l in the work. In Januaiy, 1830, a resolution in favor of total abstinence was adopted, and no backward step has ever been taken. In the recognition of the rights of women to vote in church matters this so-
ciety watt among the foremost. In the antislavery movement this church was not behind others. A list of the clerks, sextons, standing committees, deacons, and pastors of the church, was read by Dr. 1 In. i, and appropriate homage paid to the work of many of these. Reference was also made to its iin.ui cial history, missionary work, and the establishing of I’ilgrim church and Steams chapel. The entire address abounded in valuable facts, which must have been obtained with great labor, and will prove of deep interest to all members of the society, when suitably printed and bound fur distribution. Concluding- Exercise*. At the close of the address, which occupied over two hours in delivery, the anthem „Kejoice in the Lord,“ was rendered by the choir, and Key. Edward Beecher offered prayer. Key. George X. Leavitt then read the following original hymn, with the doxology, which was sung : Orlulnul il. inn. The years, O God, have swiftly passed Since here the lillie seed was so.sn, Which, nourished by ‘1 hy tender care, A nil and stately tree has grown.| llenealh its nhadow now we rest, And up to Thee our eyes we raise, White hearts and voices all unite To render Thee a song of praise. We praise Thee, lor the holy lives Thai here Thy power and grace have shown ; For praying lips that now rejoice Among the ransomed *rouu_ Thy throne. We p.aise Thee that our hearts are led To thoughts ol gratitude this day, That through Thy mercy we were won To walk with Christ the heavenly way. O, in the days that are to come, May we Thy grace and glory show. And thus, in thought, in word, in deed, ‘* Praise God from whom all btessiugs flow.“ Following the hymn, the benediction was pronounced by Key. Dr. Beecher, and the services in the church were over. AT UNION HALL.
The Dlnuer—Speeches, Etc.—Remarks by Hun. John Sargent, Dr. Blagden, Dr. Ileeeher, and others. At the conclusion of the religious exercises in the church, the portion of the congregation so desiring, repaired to Union Hall, where an excellent dinner had been set out by our well known caterer, Mr. J. B. Smith, embracing the usual delicacies of the season 1 Seven tables were spread down the length of the hall, with one at the head running cross wise. The front of the galleries were draped with light blue cloth, covered with white lace, and at regular spaces shields were placed, bearing the names of former pastors, vix., Steams, Perry, Karr, Twining, Murray, and Oilman, the first two in black color. Handsomely painted shields bearing emblems such as the cross and anchor, the dove of peace, autumn fruits, flowers, and the seal of Cambridge, surrounded’by a „glory“ of flags, with the dates 1827-1877, and a portrait of Dr. Hoyt, were interspersed with the above mentioned. Baskets of flowers hurg from the gallery gas-jets, while around the front uf the platform flowering shrubs ol many hues dispensed their grateful fragrance. The “ Feast of Reason.“ After the ample discussion of the viands was concluded, Hon. John Sargent announced „the feast of reason and the flow of soul,“ as being next in order. A fine double quartette of male voices then rendered „Absence very finely. Mr. Sargent said that he should not try to add anything to the exhaustive historical discourse, evincing such able research, and which all had listened to with so much pleasure, but he would only allude to a few incidents of minor interest. Fifty years ago, at the establishment of this church, there were but three others in this portion of the town, the Universalist, of about the same age as this, the Baptist, in Central square, and the Biick church on Columbia street, which took in the rest of mankind. Although he was not one of the original members, not having come here until 1836, yet he knew by tradition of many things which happened previous to that time. In regard to sprinkling the first flooring of the church during the night previous to the „raising“ of the frame of the original building with a yellow carpeting of brimstone, as had been alluded to, he would say that the early worthies of the church trampled it indignantly under their feet. As to the antislavery struggle and the attempted reading of notices of abolition meetings from the pulpit, all of which were engaged in by men hones’, well-meaning and true, who believed that they were right, he remembered them well. There was one ardent man who, when Dr. Steams declined to read such anti-slavery notices, fearing it might divide the church, one Sunday gave a notice himself by rising up in his pew and reading it. On the next Sunday, when he again attempted the same thing, a setics ol most unearthly discords issued from-somewhere about the organ loft, and drowned the speaker’? voice completely. This sudden and unexpected resistance overcame the brother, and completely crushed out his anti-slavery purposes in this line, and he never attempted it again, and so ended an effort which seemed then about to divide the society asunder, even to ruin. Music—“What Beams so Bright.“ it.-s Dr. Kdward Beecher, the author of „The Conflict of Ages,“ was next Introduced, and he proceeded to allude to the great conflict of the age of 1827, between the Unitarian! and the F.v angelical Congregationalists. The formation of this church only one battle of the great cam paign of that period, and the issue was whether Chrisiiauity should die Y. Oilman, the hour being hall past five o’clock.