THE HISTORY of the
FIRST METHODIST CHURCH - WELLSBURG, NY
1849- CENTENNIAL - 1949
One hundred years ago, in 1849, the first Church building for the Methodist Society of Wellsburg (formed in 1839) was built. In 1875 the present building was dedicated. Last November, 1948, a Special Committee was authorized by the Official Board of the Church to plan for this significant occasion in 1949.
HARRY KELSEY, Chairman
MRS. EZRA LAIN
EDWIN S. MERRIAM
HARRY HILLMAN, Church Lay Leader
THE CENTENNIAL PROGRAM
at 8:00 P. M.
" THE CHEMUNG STORY "
by Carleton Burke, Elmira, NY
(A Kodachrome-illustrated lecture on the fascinating history of this region.)
10:00 A. M. Worship Service broadcast from the studios of WELM, Elmira.
11:30 A. M. Divine Worship Service at the Wellsburg Methodist Church; Rev. Harold S. Swales, Supt. of Elmira District of The Methodist Church, speaking.
3:00 P. M. Anniversary Service; Church History read by Mr. Harry Kelsey and address, "Early Methodist Pioneers," by Rev. Alfred P. Coman, Elmira.
AS WE REMEMBER the past we build for the future. "Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod." The Wellsburg Methodist Church will always be indebted to Mr. Harry Kelsey for his conscientious research and indefatigable labor in producing this History of Methodism in Wellsburg. As we read of the joys and sorrows, the failures and successes of yesterday, let us pray today:
"God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power;
Crown Thine ancient Church's story;
Bring her bud to glorious flower,
Grant us wisdom,
Grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour." 1
"O God, we pray for Thy Church, which is set today amid the perplexities of a changing order, face to face with a great new task. We remember with love the nurture she gave to our spiritual life in its infancy, the tasks she set for our growing strength, the influence of the devoted hearts she gathers, the steadfast power for good she has exerted. When we compare her with all human institutions, we rejoice, for there is none like her. But when we judge her by the mind of her Master, we bow in contrition. Oh, baptize her afresh in the life-giving spirit of Jesus! Put upon her lips the ancient gospel of her Lord. Fill her with the prophet's scorn of tyranny, and with a Christlike tenderness for the heavy-laden and down trodden. Bid her cease from seeking her own life, lest she lose it. Make her valiant to give up her life to humanity, that like her crucified Lord she may count by the path of the cross to a higher glory. Amen."
Frederick L. Turner
Pastor of Wellsburg Methodist Church
(1) By Harry Emerson Fosdick.
(2) "Prayer for the Church," by Walter Rauschenbusch.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to those who have so generously aided me in making this Centennial observance possible and the compiling and publication of this historical sketch a reality.
HARRY B. KELSEY
Christianity and the Methodist Church
Wesley and the Great Awakening
When the religious life of England seemed almost dead, God provided for a wonderful revival. It started in the heart of John Wesley (1703-1791), whose father was an earnest minister and whose mother was a most remarkable and saintly woman. Trained by such a mother, and schooled at Oxford University, Wesley went to Georgia, vainly hoping to convert the Indians. But during the long stormy sea voyage to America he came in touch with the Moravian Brethren, a wonderful, religious people. Through Peter Boehler, one of the Moravians, Wesley was finally led to seek a personal religious experience through faith. George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley all found peace with God about the same time. Aglow with their new religious experience, they went like a flame of fire through England, preaching salvation from sin, and holiness. When they were barred from the churches they preached in the fields or on the streets to tens of thousands of eager listeners, and everywhere people were converted. At first they worked with the Moravians, but they soon found it best to start an independent work. The first Methodist Society was organized in 1739 at Bristol, England, and during the same year the "Old Foundry" was dedicated at London as the first "Methodist Chapel." The Societies multiplied rapidly. Soon persecution broke out, but it could not stop the great revival. Wesley and his fellow workers not only preached, but also provided aid for the sick and the poor, schools for the children, work for the unemployed, and cheap good books for the thoughtful. When Wesley died there were one hundred and twenty thousand Methodists
"For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."--Acts 11:24.(1)
Why We Are Methodists
Most of us are Methodists because we have been brought up in our Church. But there are many people who have joined the Methodist Church because it emphasizes the things on which the apostles laid stress and because it is the most helpful to them in their religious life. Methodism insists on a few great truths and allows perfect freedom of thought as to all the rest. Wesley said, "We think and let think." Methodism proclaims that the gospel is for all men without any exception, and that whosoever will may be saved from sin. (For ages this was questioned by honest but mistaken Christians.) Methodism has preached from the beginning, "You must be born again." Our Church seeks to lead all its people to a Christian experience and to an assurance that they are truly children of God. Methodism lays stress on a holy life. Mr. Wesley preached the need of perfect love to God and to our fellow men. We dare not aim at anything less, for Jesus asks us to be "perfect" as our "Father in heaven is perfect." Methodism is social and democratic in its spirit; it welcomes all, whether rich or poor, educated or ignorant. It tries to make every one feel "at home." Methodism is aggressive in its fight against evil. It does not compromise with wrong and does oppose worldliness in every form. Methodism is a world-wide brotherhood at work in almost every part of the earth. It is the largest of the Protestant denomintions. Our government is a system of careful universal supervision. This gives us the strength of a great army. It is a privilege to belong to such a Church.
"And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us:
And establish thou the work of our hands upon us; Yea,
the work of our hands establish thou it." --Psa. 90:17 (2)
(1) Membership Manual of the Methodist Episcopal Church, prepared under the authorization of the General Conference, 1928, p. 61.
(2) Membership Manual of the Methodist Episcopal Church, prepared under the authorization of the General Conference, 1928, p. 67.
A HISORY OF WELLSBURG METHODIST CHURCH
BY HARRY KELSEY
Member of the Wellsburg Methodist Church, Historian for the Town of Ashland, and Chairman of the Centennial Committee, 1949.
The origin of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America goes back 165 years, beginning with a Christmas Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, December 24, 1784. At this conference the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized, the Articles of Religion accepted, the Order of Worship adopted, and Francis Asbury(1) consecrated a bishop. This Church was the first church with an episcopal form of government to attain an independent existence in the United States. It is worthy of note that, following the conclusion of the War of the Revolution and the signing of the Treaty of 1783, John Wesley declared: "They (American Methodists) are now at full liberty to follow the Scriptures of the Primitive Church and we judge it best that they should stand fast in that liiberty wherewith God has so strangely made them free." During the years that followed, Methodism spread rapidly throughout the new Republic, even into the frontier settlements and beyond. It is said that through the efforts of Anning Owen(2) there were one hundred professors of the Methodist faith in the Wyoming, Pennsylvania valley when that section was taken into the Methodist Conference in 1791.(3) The history of Methodism in this particular section goes back 157 years and begins with a Methodist junior preacher named William Colbert, who, in 1792, was sent from Wilkes-Barre on a tour of the "western wilds of New York." His mission carried him to Niagara(4) and
(1) Francis Asbury, first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Born at Hansworth, Staffordshire, England, August 2, 1745. Itinerate preacher under the guidance of John Wesley. Came to America in 1771. General Superintendent of the Methodist Churches in America until the close of the Revolution, when Methodists were organized into a body separate from the Church of England. During the thirty-two years following his consecration as a bishop he traveled throughout the United States, ordaining not less than 3,000 ministers and preaching not less than 17,000 sermons. He died at Spottsylvania, Va., March 31, 1816.
(2) Anning Owen was a blacksmith in the Wyoming Valley. He fought in the memorable Battle of Wyoming which took place July 3, 1778; his experience in that battle (See Harvey-Smith, History of Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley, Vol. 3, p. 1747) caused him to become a very devout Christian. Owen unquestionably was well known to many settlers who came here from the Wyoming Valley section. He died at Ulysses, Cayuga County, (now Ithaca), NY, on April 14, 1814, aged 63 years.
(3) That district then embraced Newburg, New York, New Rochelle, Long Island, and Wyoming.
(4) Reference to vicinity of "Old Fort Niagara."
his report to the conference on his return caused Bishop Asbury to form this immense region into a circuit. From William Colbert's records we learn that while on this mission, on December 14 of that year, he swam his horse across the river near Chemung,(5) preached at Daniel MacDowell's cabin, and proceeded on to a tavern in Newtown(6) where on December 16 he preached: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Colbert is believed to have been the first Methodist to carry the Gospel into this valley. The "Seneca Circuit" was formed in 1793 and Alward White became the first rider on this circuit in 1794. According to the regulations of the Methodist Church at that time the preachers itinerated from one circuit to another every one or two years; therefore White was succeeded in 1795 by Anning Owen and he in turn by others. New districts were formed and great circuits were broken down into smaller ones. Where once a preacher visited a community at indefinite intervals of several months, gradually the circuit rider became able to make more regular calls. The roads, which first were little more than Indian paths, were widened. The log school house succeeded the pioneer's home as a place of gathering for prayer and worship. The Genesee Conference was organized by Bishop Asbury in 1810 and Newtown(7) became part of a regular circuit in 1812. The first Methodist Episcopal Society of Elmira(8) was organized in 1818-19 at a time when the Conference embraced Upper Canada and all western New York. About this time the Chemung Methodists formed a class of some thirty members under the guidance of Rev. Horace Agard, who, with his colleague Rev. Isaac Chamberlayne, was holding religious revivals and serving the Catherine Circuit organized that year. The Chemung Methodists held their meetings in the old log school house that stood near Wyncoop Creek. In 1838 they erected their first edifice.(9) About this time the Wellsburg Methodists were meeting in the old log school house that stood just south of the Baptist Church.(10) Here,
(5) Reference to old "Town of Chemung," bounded on the east by Cayuta (now Shepard) Creek, on the west by Baldwin Creek and east line of Town of Newtown; on south by State line; on north by the Finger Lakes. Sermon Text II Cor. 13:5---(On Dec. 15 preached at Seeley Creek).
(6) Reference to "Newtown" presumed to have meant "Newtown Village," located at that time near junction of Newtown Creek with Chemung (then Tioga) River; Sermon Text Matt. 5:6. He records in his journal "part of my congregation was drunk." On Dec. 17 he proceeded south to Wyalusing and returned to this section in February 1793.
(7) Reference to "Town of Newtown," boundaries of which at that time were: on the east by Baldwin Creek; on the west by what is now the Steuben County line; on the South by the State line, and on the north by the Town of Catherine (now south line of Catlin and Veteran). What is now Wellsburg was included within this Town of Newtown.
(8) From article in Elmira Telegram, Apr. 14, 1912; reference believed to be to "Town of Elmira," as the city was not so named at that time.
(9) This building was removed to make way for the Erie Railroad's right-of-way.
(10) The Baptists built this church in 1812. It is the oldest of any denomination in the Chemung Valley. They organized their first church by banding themselves together on Sept. 2, 1789. Their first preacher was Elder Roswell Goff, who came from Pittston in Feb. 1791. It was the first designated as Chemung, later Elmira and Chemung, still later Southport and Chemung. It is now known as the Wellsburg Baptist Church. The original records of this church are still in an excellent state of preservation.
in 1839, they formed their first class, consisting of ten members: Henry Watson,(11) and Clarissa, his wife, Jerusha Comfort, Elizabeth Brown, Betsey Brown, Silas Simpkins, Elizabeth Simpkins, and Jessie Simpkins and his wife. Rev. Charles Davis was their preacher. During the next eight years the class grew and prospered sufficiently to organize into a Methodist Episcopal Society by (or before) January 7, 1847. On that date this society entered into an "Indenture" to purchase the two lots upon which the present Church and Parsonage now stand. Rev. John Crane was the preacher at that time. The deed to "Lots 4 and 5 in Block No. 2, in the Village of Wellsburgh' was signed, sealed, delivered and recorded(12) two days later, on January 9, 1847. The Grantors were: Jabez Gross and Betsey, his wife, Abner Wells and Orphia, his wife, James Robinson and Catherine, his wife, and Harry Smith, assignee of J.D. Robinson. The stipulated consideration was One Hundred Dollars. The Grantees were the trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Wellsburg: William Hanmer, Asaph Colborn, Robert Comfort, Elias Wyckoff, Abner Wells, Timothy T. Brown, and Edmund D. Gross. The exact date of the building of the first church is somewhat uncertain; some authorities say 1848, and others 1849; we do know that the dedication took place in 1849. We therefore assume that the construction started in 1848 and the building was completed in 1849. It is said to have been a frame building, 40 feet long and 30 feet wide; it was boarded vertically and battened. A small cupola housing a bell was afterwards added, during the pastorate of Rev. Dana Fox.(13) At the dedication ceremonies the Rev. Moses Crow and Rev. W.H. Goodwin presided, and Rev. D. Leisening became the first pastor in that year, 1849. The East Genesee Conference, in which the Elmira District was then located, lists the Wellsburg Church as a "Mission" in 1849. Rev. Richard Beach is listed for 1850 and Rev. Daniel Clark for the following year. The next year, 1852, the Charge was left open "to be supplied." In 1853 the Rev. I.J.B. McKinney was assigned; but from there up to and including the year 1857, the church or mission was left "to be supplied." From the year 1857 through 1867 there is no mention of Wellsburg in the list of appointments for the Elmira District; consequently we have no official record of the pastors serving during those years. The oldest record book in possession of the church appears to have been started under the pastorate of Rev. Ferguson, in 1891. This book ante-dates to the pastorate of Rev. U.S. Hall, who took over the Wellsburg pastorate in 1867. It also refers to "see old book," but a thorough search has failed to uncover the same and we must therefore assume that the "old book" is long since lost or destroyed. Nevertheless, from the private daily diary kept by Lawrence Lain,(14) we have been able to
(11) Class Leader.
(12) Recorded at Chemung County Clerk's Office, Elmira, NY, Liber 12, p. 581.
(13) Rev. Fox is believed to have preached during the latter part of the 1850s. It was in this church during these years that the "Union Sunday School "Services" were held.
(14) Lawrence Lain, father of Tim, grandfather of Ezra Lain. He resided on Comfort Hill, was a farmer, carpenter and highway superintendent. He was an active member and regular attendant of this church until his death, Dec. 18, 1892 at the age of 78 years.
compile a fairly accurate, though unofficial, list of the pastors who served from 1859 through 1870, together with some other interesting notations concerning the early Church. The growth of the Church during the first twenty years appears to have been slow. Cooper(15) attributes this in part to the scanty financial support by the members. Beginning with January, 1859---and perhaps, before--Rev. J.M. Coley conducted services regularly through the years until March 30, 1862. It was during Coley's pastorate that Abraham Lincoln became President and the Civil War began. On Sunday, September 8, 1861, Rev. Thomas K. Beecher,(16) of Elmira, spoke from the pulpit of this church. Those were dark days, and knowing Beecher's stand on the slavery issue, one can visualize the temper of his sermon. Rev. Coley was succeeded by Rev. Du Bois and through 1863 and 1864 such able ministers as Revs. George, Hermans, and Alabaster ministered to the congregation. During the fall of 1864 the church was closed for a time and re-opened on December 11th of that year. Rev. Chubbuck is believed to have preached in 1865, followed by Rev. Dewing in 1866. Under the date of Saturday, May 5, 1866 Mr. Lain recorded in his diary: "...plowed around the Methodist Church." A similar entry was made on Thursday, Oct. 18, 1866; and on April 30th of the next year: "Dug seven maple trees for the Meeting House yard," which he planted on May 2, 1867. Several of these maples are still standing around the Church. Rev. Mattison was the preacher in the year 1867, and he was succeeded in the fall by Rev. U.S. Hall. Rev. N.B. Congdon came in 1870; he served one year and was succeeded by the Rev. R. Vidian, Jr., whose pastorate also was only one year. In the fall of 1872 Rev. W.W. Hunt, a young man in his twenties, came to this charge; he found the church, as Cooper puts it: "....in a delapidated state," and "the need of a new church was imperative." Blessed with the ambition of youth and the resourcefulness of a natural born courageous leader, Rev. Hunt lost no time. He embarked at once on this difficult enterprise. Enlisting the aid of Bros. A.I. Decker and William Hanmer they had the project well under way by mid-spring of 1873.(17) These men, with the assistance of committees and the church members, worked with great enthusiasm during the months that followed. One year later, in early June of 1874, the demolition of the old church began and three months later, on Tuesday, September 1, 1874,(18) the cornerstone for the new edifice was laid with appropriate ceremony, by Rev. T. Tousey, presiding Elder of the Elmira District. Addresses were made by Revs. J. Alabaster and A.C. George. In the construction of the new church many who were unable to contribute financially, did help greatly by donating several days or weeks of labor, much of which was skilled labor. Some contributed in both money and labor. Thirteen months are said to have elapsed from the
(15) Rev. Rufus T. Cooper, pastor of Wellsburg Methodist Church, 1895-1897.
(16) Pastor of The Park Church, Elmira, NY, 1854-1900.
(17) Elmira Daily Advertiser, May 12, 1873. It is believed that it was under Rev. Hunt's administration the Wellsburg Church was readmitted into the conference.
(18) Southern Tier Leader, Sept. 5, 1874, p. 8.
time the old building was removed and the new one completed. During this time services were held in the Hiram Young Hall.(19) The new church, having reached a state of completion, was publicly dedicated on Thursday, July 1, 1875. That it met with high approval can be ascertained from newspaper accounts,(20) covering the dedication ceremonies. Rev. Dr. B.I. Ives in charge of the services. Many ministers were present from other places, among them were: Revs. Tousey, George, Izer, Coussant, Hall, Brown, Williams, Bull, DeWitt, Herman and others. Rev. Hunt was highly congratulated for his achievement.(21) The following August 23, 24 and 25, the Sixth Session of the Elmira District Conference was held in the new Wellsburg church. Rev. Thomas Tousey was the Presiding Elder and C.W. Winchester secretary. There were present 23 ministers, 3 local preachers, 1 exhorter, 6 district stewards, and 3 Sunday school superintendents.(22) Rev. Hunt left the charge the following September. He was succeeded by Rev. W.A. Ely who stayed two years. Rev. Dwight Smith came in ' 77 and was pastor for the next three years. He returned to the Wellsburg church thirty years in 1910. Unquestionably, many of the present members recall him. Rev. M. Coyle followed Smith. He stayed until early summer and was succeeded by Rev. E.D. White, a young man who filled out the conference year. Rev. S.F. Stanford came that fall, 1881. During his pastorate of one year he published a small four page bulletin, a copy of which is still in existence. Rev. Stanford was succeeded by Rev. E.B. Gearhart and one year later Rev. Townsend came to the assignment. Townsend stayed three years and in the fall of 1885 Rev. D. VanTuyl became the new pastor. VanTuyl stayed three years and was followed by Rev. O.A. Retan who served from the fall of ' 89 to the fall of ' 90. He was succeeded by Porter McKinstrey, a man of 80 years, 50 of which were spent in the ministry. Mr. McKinstrey died August, 1891, at Penfield and Rev. Troxwell of Big Flats completed the conference year. That fall, 1891, Rev. C.E. Ferguson came to the Wellsburg charge. Although Rev. Ferguson lived in Elmira with his family, he took keen interest in Wellsburg and Lowman. It is said that he began his work at Lowman in a one room school house, and held a very successful revival, organized an official board and took an active part in the Lowman's first Methodist church building which in turn was dedicated on October 3, 1894.(23) During Rev. Ferguson's pastorate the construction of the present Wellsburg Methodist parsonage was begun. This building was carried well along toward completion before he left in 1895. To Rev. Ferguson we are indebted for the present and only set of "Pastors' Records" now in our possession. For the Lowman M. E. Church we did likewise.
(19) Young's hall was located in the Hiram Young's store, northwest corner of Front and Mechanic Sts., store burned Feb. 6, 1892.
(20) (21) Southern Tier Leader, July 10, 1875, p. 8. "...the whole cost of the building was $6,500..." W.H. Hayes, (of Elmira) was the architect.
(22) Southern Tier Leader, Aug. 28, 1875, p. 8.
(23) "50 Years With Lowman Church" by Mrs. Bertha Hoffman, Mrs. Florence Myers and Rev. Harold Steer, Elmira Telegram, Oct. 8, 1944.
Succeeding pastors have, for the most part, maintained these records faithfully. Rev. Rufus Cooper succeeded Ferguson in the fall of 1895. Cooper was an author in his own right and during his pastorate he published, among other things a "Manual of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Wellsburg, NY." Copies of this "Manual" are believed to be still in existence. The Wellsburg M. E. Parsonage was completed, furnished and dedicated on Thursday, March 5, 1896. Rev. C.C. Wilbor, D.D., presiding elder of the Elmira District was in charge of the services. Bishop Cyrus Foss of Philadelphia gave a very interesting sermon. A supper at Young's Hall was provided by the ladies. Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Park Church, Elmira, also spoke.(24) Rev. Cooper was succeeded by Rev. R.W. MacCullough, who, during the two years of his stay passed the "Golden Anniversary" of the building of the church. He turned the pastorate over to Rev. Mark E. Bowman, "the tall man."(25) His pastorate, fifty years ago, marked the beginning of the second half of this Centennial which we are now celebrating. Serving one year, and passing the "Silver Anniversary" of the present edifice, he turned his charge over to Rev. William Jaques that fall, 1900. Rev. Jaques served one year and in the fall of 1901 turned his charge over to Rev. Byron Showers. This was Rev. Showers' second appointment in the Conference; he came here from Wayne and Barrington, stayed four years, and in the fall of 1905 went to the Hopewell and Flint charge. Years later he became Chaplain of Auburn State Prison, and still later Superintendent of the Syracuse East District. Rev. B.J. Tracy came that fall, 1905, and stayed one year. He was succeeded by the Rev. K.M. Walker, who with his bride came in the late fall of 1906 and stayed four years. In his own words he said: "The first Sunday I preached to eleven people at Wellsburg and to seven at Lowman. However, the attendance was not to remain that way for long. This young, jovial, red-haired preacher, often referred to as the "horse-swapper," was not only a capable preacher but a genial host and his home and church were the scenes of many enjoyable social functions. In the fall of 1910 he turned the charge over to Rev. Dwight W. Smith, that fine old minister who thirty years before had said farewell to the Wellsburg church. Rev. Smith served a little over three years and passed away December 1, 1913. He was succeeded by Rev. J.C. Sterling, who stayed until the fall of that conference year. Rev. Douglas Baylis came in October of 1914 and stayed for two years. He left to become pastor of the Caton church but often returned to visit his Wellsburg friends. In the fall of 1916 the Rev. B.G. Sanford came to the Wellsburg charge. He was an elderly man and wore a beard. Older members may recall witnessing his baptisms in the riffles of the Chemung River--the season of the year made little difference. Rev. Sanford was pastor during World War I. He died in February, 1919, during his third year on the Wellsburg charge. Rev. Edward Scholz completed the
(24) Elmira Advertiser, Mar. 6, 1896, p. 6.
(25) Bowman is said to have been well over 6 feet in height.
Conference year. Rev. John T. Roney came that fall. He left after two years to farm near Dundee. But the call of the Church caused him to return to the ministry, and for many years he was pastor of the Baptist Church at Chemung. It was during the early part of Rev. Roney's pastorate that Archie A. Soper received his local preacher's license. Rev. Earl H. Robertson succeeded Rev. Roney in 1922. He came to Wellsburg directly from his honeymoon with his bride, the former Miss Rose Wood of Dundee. Rev. Robertson and his bride left the parsonage in mid-year of 1925, and Rev. Grant Sechrist completed the Conference year. Rev. C.L. Terrill came in the fall of 1925; after a three year pastorate he was succeeded by Rev. Leonard A. Guiles in 1928. Rev. Guiles spent nine happy, fruitful years at Wellsburg; for length of stay he holds the record for all the pastors. Rev. Albert Trickett came in 1937; he was succeeded the following year by Rev. Chauncey Ellison who served for three years. It was during Rev. Ellison's pastorate, on July 2, 1939, that the One Hundredth Anniversary of the founding of the first class was observed. For this significant occasion the interior of the church sanctuary was redecorated by papering, varnishing, and the lowering of the ceiling structure; the platform and choir loft were then altered and the Worship Chancel was divided. Rev. Ellison was succeeded by Rev. J. Frank Holmes in the fall of 1941. It was during his pastorate, on Dec. 7, 1941, that the awful news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced to the world, and once again we were engaged in what became the most terrible conflict ever known to man. In those dark, uncertain days and years that followed many young men and women of our church entered the armed services.(26) Among them was Rev. Holmes, who in June ' 42 went into the Army and served thereafter as a chaplain in the Pacific and for the duration of the war. Rev. Ellison, his predecessor, became chaplain in the Naval Forces, and still serves in this capacity. Rev. Harold Steer followed Rev. Holmes as pastor of the church that June. It was during his pastorate that the North Chemung Union Church was added to the charge. The Lowman Methodist Church celebrated its "Golden Jubilee" anniversary in 1944; at this time Rev. Steer compiled considerable historical data regarding both the Lowman church and the Wellsburg church.(27) Lightning, wind and flood struck the Wellsburg church during Rev. Steer's pastorate. In the course of a severe thunderstorm on the Sunday evening of August 16, 1942, lightning struck the steeple of the church; within a few months the steeple had to be removed because of its dangerous condition. On May 28, 1946, the worst flood in the history of the valley brought water over the sanctuary floor, destroying the church carpeting, a church piano and other valuables. A few days later, on June 11, 1946, a terrific windstorm uprooted one of the maple trees planted by the side of the church, crashing it
(26) There are 26 names on the Wellsburg Church Honor Roll.
(27) Rev. Steer was co-author of "50 Years with Lowman Church," Elmira Sunday Telegram, Oct. 8, 1944; compiled much historical data on Wellsburg church and parsonage from writings by Rev. Cooper (1895-97); Acted as a scribe and aide to Abner C. Wright, County Historian, in compiling original manuscript, "The History of Lowman," which appeared in Elmira Sunday Telegram, Oct. 29-Nov. 26, 1944.
into the roof of the church. Rev. Steer left in the fall of 1946 having served more than four years, most of which were during the war. He is now pastor of the Methodist Church at Jordan, New York. Rev. Arthur Schultz, of Elmira, served as supply pastor until June, 1947. In June, 1947, the present pastor, Rev. Frederick L. Turner, came to the church. In his administration extensive repair work has been accomplished: both church and parsonage have been painted white; new carpeting for the Sanctuary has been laid; inside lavatories have been installed; new flooring and sills laid in the lower Sunday School room; the church dining room remodeled and the garage renovated for use. In June, 1948, the North Chemung Church left this charge to become a part of the Newtown Creek Larger Parish (Methodist), served by a pastor in Breesport and an associated in Erin. Commencing June, 1949, the Official Boards of both the Wellsburg and Lowman Churches have been organized into four commissions for their work: Commission on Worship and Evangelism; Commission on Community and World Service; Commission on Education; and Commission on Lay Activities and Finance.(28) Today, September 25, 1949, we are commemorating the ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY of the building of the First Methodist Church in Wellsburg, NY.
"Remember the days of old, consider the years of many
generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy
elders, and they will tell thee." ---Deuteronomy 32:7.
(28) Discipline of The Methodist Church, 1948, p. 152.
I know an old white meeting house
Among New England hills
Whenever I behold it,
My heart with courage thrills.
With mountains piled 'round it
And blue skies arched above
A harbinger of hope
A messenger of love.
When hearts of men are troubled,
And war drums never cease
The old white meeting house
Still speaks of God and peace.
For God is God, my brothers,
And Christ is on the throne
With steeples on the skyline
Keeping watch above His own.
-----Raymond H. Huse
Greetings From Our Bishop
Rev. Frederick Turner:
Inasmuch as it will be impossible for me to get to Wellsburg on September 25 I would be grateful if you would extend my greetings to your church family. A centennial always stirs the imagination. I have been trying to picture in my mind what Wellsburg looked like a century ago--how the congregation looked walking along the streets to the new church.... While I cannot picture that scene very definitely I do have a better idea of what that congregation looked like a hundred years ago than I have of the congregation that will assemble there in the Wellsburg Church a hundred years from now! Things are changing so fast these days that it would be a reckless spirit indeed that would attempt to describe the manner of life of the Methodists in 2049. By the way, will there be any Methodists in 2049? I really hope not! For as much as I love Methodism, I hope by that time---and long before--we Christians will bring our various denominations together into a church more glorious and more Christian than any of our churches today. Our ultimate loyalty is not to any denomination---however dear or glorious--but to the Lord of all the churches, Jesus Christ the Head of the Church. Isn't it a wonderful thing to belong to a movement that has such a sweep as the church--having lived now for sixty generations and going on through all the centuries ahead until it becomes His own perfect church? On this centennial occasion it is good to recognize that you belong not only to time but also to eternity; that in belonging to the church you belong to the God whom we all serve, and that your own life is a part of the Divine on-going purpose... So I hope your centennial will give you long thoughts of the past and still longer thoughts of the future, knowing that you belong to Him forever. And may His blessing rest upon you this day, and upon you and your children's children throughout the new century ahead.
W. EARL LEDDEN
Bishop Methodist Church
Dated September 9, 1949
IN MEMORY OF
DR. ELI PITTMAN
THE BIBLE HOUSE
"If It Honors Christ We Have It"
316 E. Water St, Elmira, NY
John J. Dunn
Wellsburg, New York
DAVID JONES TRUCKING
Building & Painting Contractors
915 Baylor Road
PAGE FUNERAL HOME
Harold A. Jamieson, Lisc. Mgr.
Phone Elmira 7811
MERRIAM B. ABER
Phone Elmira 2-0011
GEORGE M. WOOD & SON
Wellsburg, New York
BENEDICT'S VEGETABLE MART
GLENN M. SCHUYLER
FEED & GRAIN
C & R FARM SUPPLY
1018 Grand Central Ave.
Congratulations to the Church on
their 100th Anniversary.
F. F. MILNE & CO. INC.
INTERNATIONAL FARM MACHINERY
714 Lake St., Elmira, NY
Birthday & Wedding
14 W. Fifth St, Elmira, NY
111-115 R. R. Ave.
BURT C. ABER & SON
M. DOYLE MARKS & SON
THE HAMMOND ORGAN
"Music's Most Glorious Voice"
Since its introduction in 1935, more churches have chosen the Hammond Organ than have elected other comparable instruments combined. Today, over 17,000 churches, of every denomination and size, use and endorse the Hammond.
"Everything in Music for 51 Years"
309 E. Water St., Elmira, NY.
Walter Wilcox, Mgr.
Memorial and Domestic Windows
Repairing a Specialty
LYMAN O. GIBBS
Art Glass Studio
519 Hart St., Elmira, NY
Frank Dunbar & SON
Carpenters & Builders
Plumbing and Electric Wiring
Wellsburg, R. D. 2
Laundry and Dry Cleaning Service
Every Monday and Friday
C & K LAUNDRY
DALTON'S MEAT MARKET
WELLIVER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY
CHEMUNG SPRING WATER CO., INC.
The Home Complete
THE WELLSBURG METHODIST CHURCH
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Fellowship of Prayer and Service
11:00 AM---Divine Worship
12:00 M----Church School
7:30 P.M. ---Youth Fellowship
"The Church which serves God and you all through the week."