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Fiftieth anniversary celebration (from Somerville Journal, Friday, February 19, 1904.)

With social reunion, pleasant reminiscence, and congratulatory messages from sister churches, the First Universalist Church has this week revived its early history, as with fitting ceremonies it has observed its semi-centennial.

The celebration of ‘Anniversary week’ began Monday evening with a parish reunion and reception, held in the vestries of the church, under the management of Mrs. Robert Hayes and Mrs. R. Y. Gifford. The heavy snowstorm of the day kept many from attending, but the affair was a complete social success in every particular.

The decorating committee, Mesdames Hayes, Gifford, E. C. Bullard, R. M. Richardson, W. J. Pingree, F. L. Pingree, and L. H. Brown, and Mr. Gifford, made the large vestry look the finest it ever did with their twinings of greenery. The effect was heightened by many ferns, palms, potted plants, and cut flowers from Holmes' Somerville nurseries.

Shortly after 8 o'clock a reception was held by Rev. H. D. Maxwell and Mrs. Maxwell, Mrs. Lydia A. Shaw, Mrs. L. H. Brown, John F. Mills, A. A. Wyman and wife, Miss Angie Williams, George D. Haven, David Horton, and C. A. Kirkpatrick. The guests were presented by W. E. Bolton, A. W. Glines, G. F. Horton, J. W. Mess, Warren Baldwin, R. K. Goodil, R. Y. Gifford, E. M. Hill, Harry Daniels, James Daniels, Oliver Wyman, Lyle Hersey, Mesdames A. W. Glines, R. Y. Gifford, F. M. Burrows, A. K. Spratt, J. W. Mess, Carrie D. Coulter, and Misses A. D. Southworth, Minnie Flagg, Fannie M. Glines, Willa Johnson, and Nellie Saben.

In the small vestries and about the right-hand side of [6] the vestry were six handsomely arranged and decorated tables, lighted with candelabra. The many pretty dresses of the attendants added much to the brightness of the event. W. T. Hayes, Miss Hayes, Percy Roffe, and Miss Myra Roffe presided at the chafing dishes, from which Welsh rarebit was served. Miss Nellie M. Briggs and Miss Alice Saben had a host of young misses serving frappe; while Mesdames Hattie Foster, Letitia Cowan, Mabel Gooding, and Misses Mary C. Mills, Mabel Delano, Carrie Munroe, Annie Stover, Edna Holmes, and Grace Smith poured coffee and chocolate. Mr.Messer and Mrs. M. J. Messer furnished delightful instrumental music, and Mrs. Carolyn Reed, of Arlington, and Harry Handy, of Hudson, gave several vocal selections during the evening.

Anniversary exercises

On Wednesday evening a large congregation, which included many former parishioners, and prominent residents of the city, assembled in the auditorium of the church for the anniversary exercises. Rev. Harley D. Maxwell, the pastor of the church, presided, and displayed his shrewdness as chairman by announcing each speaker's time limit. Among the list of speakers were several former pastors, together with the ministers of the other Universalist churches of Somerville.

The decorations in the auditorium included an effective grouping of palms about the church altar and pulpit, while bouquets of cut flowers were also conspicuous. From above the pulpit festoons of evergreen gracefully drooped over the significant dates 1854-1904, which, in figures of green, adorned a white background.

The exercises opened with an organ voluntary by J. L. Dennett, which was followed by the invocation by Rev. H. D. Maxwell. The church choir, Miss Anna Florence Smith, soprano, Mrs. William E. Miller, alto, W. H. S. [7] Hill, tenor, and E. S. Drowne, basso, rendered the anthem, ‘The Lord is my Light.’ Rev. Francis A. Gray read the scriptures, and prayer was offered by Rev. Charles A. Skinner, a former pastor.

Rev. H. D. Maxwell preceded his introduction of the first speaker with a few eloquent words of welcome. ‘The city of Somerville,’ said he, ‘has many things of which to be proud. Its soil has been pressed by heroes and martyrs. Its citizenship is progressive. It is a city of homes. Its churches are broad in spirit and motive.’ He then presented President E. H. Capen, of Tufts College, as the head of an institution of which Somerville is proud.

President Capen's interesting review of the life and services of ‘Charles Tufts’ was listened to with close attention.

John F. Ayer gave the historical address, which was a valuable contribution to the occasion.

The anniversary hymn, written for the occasion by Frank M. Hawes, was sung, following which Rev. Charles Conklin, superintendent of the Universalist churches of Massachusetts, in his short ‘one-minute speech’ expressed the pleasure and congratulations of the other churches of the state in such an auspicious event.

Rev. Charles A. Skinner touched many tender associations of the past in his brief address. The greetings of the Winter-hill Universalist Church, now approaching a quarter-century of history, and whose original members were parishioners of the First Universalist Church, were extended by Rev. Francis A. Gray. Rev. William A. Couden alluded to the Third Universalist Church as the youngest member of the family of Universalist churches.

The closing address was made by Rev. Levi M. Powers, of Buffalo, N. Y., who referred to several objects [8] of historic interest in Somerville, including Prospect Hill and its flag.

He expressed the hope that the First Universalist Church might be sufficiently endowed in order that its worthy history may be continued, when the present members no longer remain.

During the programme the choir rendered an anthem, ‘Rock of Ages.’ The anniversary exercises were brought to a conclusion with a hymn by the congregation and the benediction, which was pronounced by the pastor.

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