previous next

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.

by Moses Whitcher Mann.
[Read before the Medford Historical Society, April 18, 1910, and illustrated by forty lantern slides.]

MEDFORD, one of the oldest towns of Massachusetts, had no church organization for over seventy years, and no meeting-house till sixty years after its settlement. The Gospel was preached here, however. Though at first styled ‘a peculiar,’ it was like others in the fact that nearly two centuries elapsed ere there was a second and other than Puritan church.

It did what all the others did, it had a spirit of conformity to Puritan ideas, looked with little favor on any non-conforming ones, Quaker, Anabaptist, Romanist or Anglican, and acted accordingly.

For nearly two hundred years there was a union of church and state in colony and province; the church called the minister, the parish concurred, and the town by taxation paid him and built its meeting-house, which latter was all its name implied.

A century and a quarter of theocratic rule and intolerance had wrought decay and spiritual languor, when Edwards aroused the Connecticut Valley by his preaching; but across the sea, in Oxford University, some young men of the Anglican priesthood had heard, also, the divine call to better service. Their devotion to duty gained them the name of the Holy Club, and the precision of their acts the nickname of Methodists.

Forty years before there had been a young man preaching for a brief time in Medford (Benjamin Colman), who became the minister of the Manifesto Church in Boston. He it was who invited one of the ‘Methodists’ of the [p. 26] ‘Holy Club’ to come over. This was a priest of the Church of England, the Rev. George Whitefield, who made four missionary tours through the colonies, and whose successful labors are matters of history.

The Medford minister, Rev. Ebenezer Turell (though the son-in-law of Dr. Colman), did not regard Whitefield favorably, and refused him admittance to the Medford pulpit, and, in reply to the ‘zealots’ asking it, preached a sermon magnifying his (own) office, and at Whitefield's death, in 1770, another, somewhat discrediting, if we may judge by the text—‘Man at his best estate is altogether vanity.’

Whitefield was followed by Richard Boardman in 1772. Freeborn Garrettson came in 1787, and Jesse Lee preached under the old elm on Boston Common in 1790. All these are mentioned as connecting links in the chain of circumstances of church organization.

The war of Revolution not only chilled missionary zeal, but wellnigh obliterated the Anglican Church.

The acknowledgment of American independence led to its organization in two branches—the Methodist Episcopal in 1784 and the Protestant Episcopal in 1789. Each adopted, with various modifications, the Articles of Religion and the Ritual contained in the Book of Common Prayer. Each was formed on the Anglican model, with bishops, presbyters or elders, and deacons in its ministry.

A few years after Whitefield's death the church at Medford secured as assistant to their minister the Rev. David Osgood, who on the former's decease succeeded him, and himself passed away on December 12, 1822. At his calling, four influential members (holding Arminian views) objected thereto, but after his settlement, in a manly way assured him of their friendship and support.

Dr. Osgood came to the Medford pulpit warmly espousing the patriot cause, and differences were forgotten for the time. But during his long pastorate of forty-eight years both Episcopal Churches had been slowly [p. 27] unfolding, and five months before his death, and thirteen months before the application of Galen James and sixteen others of Trinitarian views, for dismission from the First Church, which had become Unitarian, there assembled for worship the first congregation of a Medford Methodist Episcopal Church.

During the half century that followed were also organized (and in the order named) the Second Congregational (later called First Trinitarian Congregational), Universalist, Baptist, Mystic (Congregational), Grace (Protestant Episcopal) and St. Mary's (Roman Catholic) Churches.

A new element and order had obtained; the old conformity was gone. Each had rights the others must respect, and the better service each rendered to the common weal, the more secure its position.

Because the historian of the First Methodist Episcopal Church did not allude to its honorable lineage, the present writer has felt moved thus to do.

Just here, before beginning the more local part of his work, it may be well to consider the geographical and other conditions.

From a population of one thousand five hundred in 1822, in the half century Medford had grown to about four times that number. Instead of the one meetinghouse, seven denominations were represented by eight substantial houses of worship, five located eastward from Medford square.

The western village had then (1872) about six hundred inhabitants, and was in prospect of immediate increase. Wellington, Glenwood, South Medford, the Dudley street section and Hillside were thinly settled portions. No public conveyance existed between them. The Unitarian and Protestant Episcopal Churches were the nearest to the western section, the two Congregational were considering union of forces under one roof, and the Methodist and Baptist were to build new churches still farther removed. [p. 28]

At intervals a Methodist class meeting had been held at Mrs. Hawley's on Prescott street, beginning in 1864, under the leadership of Jacob Emerson, and connected with the Medford church.

There had been organized the Mystic Sabbath School by the efforts of a ‘mothers' meeting,’ and several of the mothers were Methodists. This took its name from Mystic Hall, where it was held. This school was undenominational, and as an outgrowth of it the villagers of the ‘west’ end began a Sunday preaching service, securing the services of Rev. Melville B. Chapman, then a student in the School of Theology in Boston.

Prior to 1870 the western section of Medford's population was almost wholly to the east of the railroad. In March of that year a large tract of land westward changed ownership and building operations began thereon and also in the other portion.

In April of the same year Mr. Chapman removed and was succeeded by Rev. Louis Charpiot (a Congregational preacher of ability, but out of fellowship with his order, and employed on a Boston newspaper). A goodly number attended the ‘Union Services’ as they were called, and also the Sunday-school; but the ‘Union’ was in no sense a church organization, and no one so considered it. It was simply a neighborhood or village effort to sustain public preaching, and there was no bond of church fellowship whatever.

At the opening of its third year (April, 1871) it was announced that the new owners would donate a lot of land if a meeting-house could be built, and soon after Mr. J. H. Norton offered to build one if the material was provided. The ‘Union's’ executive committee made effort to accomplish this end, but with no success, though several public meetings were held with such end in view. During the summer Mr. Charpiot had several weeks' vacation, and the ‘Union’ service was suspended until his return. Very soon after Mr. Charpiot resigned and left town. [p. 29]

The executive committee secured the services of Unitarian, Universalist, Baptist and Methodist preachers for about two months, and at last secured the services of Rev. William Edwards Huntington, who supplied the pulpit till the end of the year, viz., April, 1872. Mr. Huntington was a young man of rare gifts, just finishing his studies in the Theological School of Boston University, of which he is now the able and honored president.

During these months circumstances clearly indicated that it was time for some church organization to enter and occupy this field. The attendance on Sundays at the hall had decreased materially, till in March scarcely more than twenty-five attended.

One afternoon early in August Rev. N. T. Whitaker called upon some of his people in the west end, also came to the house where the writer was at work, and introduced himself as the Methodist pastor, and before leaving had secured a promise of attendance upon the weekly class meeting he proposed to establish on Tuesday evenings. He also gave a cordial invitation to attend the afternoon preaching at Medford when convenient to do so, though none realized more than he the effort it required.

On a Tuesday evening in October (187 I), Mr. Whitaker organized a class meeting, according to the usage of the church, at the home of Brother N. D. Ripley on Lincoln street. The Medford parsonage was then at the corner of Salem and Park streets and almost the nearest house to the Malden line, while the Ripley home was the last next Arlington, and the good man walked both ways.

Of the members then present only the writer survives. Youth and inexperience were his then, but in his few years of church membership he had learned to cherish the tenets and usage of the church of his parents and around which his earliest memories were entwined, and this gathering of others of like faith was helpful.

Others came on succeeding weeks, and on the evening of March 18, 1872, there gathered a company of men [p. 30] and women, in response to a publicly given notice, to consider the propriety of organizing a Methodist Episcopal Church. The class leader, William McLean, opened the meeting by an earnest prayer for divine direction. The call for the meeting was read, a chairman, C. E. Hippisley, and a secretary, M. W. Mann, were chosen, and the situation considered. A petition to the presiding elder of the Lynn district of the New England Conference, asking him to organize the signers thereof as a church, was drawn up and signed by ten persons holding membership in four churches. Various committees were chosen, and the meeting adjourned to a later date.

Just why the reverend presiding elder (David Sherman, D. D.) fixed upon the day usually given over to the patron saint of All Fools we have never known, but on the evening of April 1, 1872, he appeared, in company with the pastor of the First M. E. Church, in response to our call. He had designated the residence of Brother Mann, where the preliminary meetings had been held, as the place where he would meet the petitioners. All but one were present and a few in addition. After an earnest prayer for divine guidance and an address to those present, he proceeded to the business of a ‘Quarterly Conference,’ according to the ‘Methodist Discipline,’ thus organizing and recognizing the petitioners as the Second Methodist Episcopal Church of Medford. A board of ‘stewards’ was then chosen, with one of their number (M. W. Mann) designated as ‘recording steward.’ It may be noticed that these officers do not bear the titles of the Congregational order, but the duties are similar. (For the information of those unacquainted, we say that this body composed of stewards, trustees, class leaders and Sunday-school superintendents, duly chosen and meeting quarterly, is the governing body of each local church in the entire denomination the world over. Its fourth session is the annual meeting, at which officers and committees are chosen for the ensuing year). [p. 31] No board of trustees was chosen at this meeting, as the new church had no real estate in prospect. The Conference then adjourned. In the interim between the dates given various committees had been at work, one securing pledges toward expenses, another for a place of public meeting.

After the Conference adjourned, four of its members repaired to Mystic Hall to attend what was expected to be the closing meeting of the Christian Union, at which twenty-two persons were present. The chairman of the executive committee, Luther Farwell (Unitarian), presided. Mr. Stevens (affiliated with Baptists) was absent; the other three members, Messrs. McLean, Hippisley and Mann, were present. S. S. Leavitt was clerk and treasurer. His report showed that when a few subscriptions, of which the immediate payment had been promised him, were received, all bills would be paid and a balance of two dollars and a fraction over would be in hand. He named a sick man in the village and moved that the same be given him. It was so voted. The expediency of continuance being considered, a motion to elect an executive committee was made.

Mr. Hippisley, having been instructed by the Conference already alluded to, so to do, then stated that his church organization had been made, and in its name made offer of the free use of Mystic Hall to the Congregational Church that might be formed for one service each Sabbath, with selection of time.

Motion was made that the executive committee be elected for six months, and carried by a vote of nine yeas to four nays (nine not voting). By a similar vote the committee of the previous year was chosen, and all but Mr. Stevens, who was absent, declined to serve. Of the nine voting yea seven were Congregational, one Unitarian, one of no preference. After another vote, repeated with the same result, a committee of three, of whom Calvin Dows and Reuben Willey were two, was chosen.

There was then but one hall in the village, Mystic [p. 32] Hall (already named), used by the Union on Sunday morning and evening, and by the Sabbath School in the afternoon. Both had its use, free of charge. This generous arrangement had been made under former ownership and continued by the new, for the public welfare.

An interview of our committee with the owners of Mystic Hall on the next day revealed plainly the situation. They felt themselves bound by the verbal statement (made two years before to the Christian Union's committee), ‘Yes, have the free use of it as long as you want it.’

One of the owners evidently recognized what the ‘Union’ then was, as he remarked: ‘You don't propose to build a church and the Congregationalists do. It's better for us to let them have it.’ And so the effort we had made, and organization effected, seemed to many a sort of April-fool joke.

Our preacher, Rev. G. C. Osgood (afterward well known in Medford), was given another charge and we continued our weekly class meetings as before. It is well to say just here that it was not our intent to organize a Sabbath School until the time and circumstances should make it advisable. Neither was it our thought to erect a meeting-house at once, much as we would have desired to profit by the offer (made the year before by the land owners) of a gift of land. Our class leader McLean's reply, on February 26, was to that effect, when questioned as to our intent or purpose in that line. Nothing was known by others of our people of the movement of our Congregational brethren till after that date.

The writer commends to all a careful perusal of the excellent paper read last spring before this Society and just now published in the Register. Its author gives valuable information as to the western village and its residents, and concedes the early efforts there of Methodists in religious work. Because of this I have been brief in my earlier reference to the ‘Union’ and Sabbath School. [p. 33]

Thirty-eight years have passed away, and with them nearly all those who made the beginnings of the West Medford churches. Any differences or unpleasantness that may have been then are outgrown.

After the organization of the Congregational Church, on June 12, 1872, it was expected that a church edifice would be erected at once, and that Mystic Hall would soon be at our disposal. Many and anxious were our plans in relation thereto. During the winter one of our energetic laymen, Brother N. D. Ripley, died, and we felt his loss keenly. Another removed from town. Spring opened and the new house of worship seemed farther in the future. So with a courage born of desperation we said, ‘Let us arise and build.’ So after much preliminary work the second M. E. Church assembled in Quarterly Conference on June 20, 1873. Presiding Elder Sherman appointed Rev. Francis J. Wagner of the First Church (who was present) ‘preacher in charge.’

A new board of stewards was chosen, also trustees and a building committee.

The Conference adjourned and went to view several sites that had been informally considered, and selected one on Bower street as the most eligible. It was at once secured by the trustees, twenty cents per foot being the purchase price. The building committee procured a plan and contracted for a chapel, to be completed by October 15, and on the morning of July 4, with the contractor, staked out its location, reserving spaces for a future church edifice on one side and for a parsonage [p. 34] on the other. Work was at once begun, and the little village of West Medford awoke to the fact that there was something being done.

The Medford journal of that week announced the fact in a communication from Brother Wagner, over his reversed signature of ‘Rengaw Knarf,’ asking for cooperation, and containing the excellent suggestion, ‘If you can't help, don't hinder.’ This was pertinent, as some grim prophecies were ventured, such as ‘Before a year 'twill be made a tenement house,’ and others not well repeated, still better, forgotten.

Very soon the Ladies' Aid Society was organized, and by the time the chapel was completed had raised nearly four hundred dollars toward the enterprise, mainly spent in furnishing.

Meantime Holton street had been opened to Boston avenue, then just built, and from this street entrance was had to West Medford's first house of worship. Thither, on the evening of November 6, 1873, came an audience completely filling the house.

Introductory remarks were made by Presiding Elder Sherman.

Rev. E. L. Jaggar, pastor of the West Medford Congregational Church, read the hymn—

Great King of Glory come
And with thy favor crown
This temple as thy home,
This people as thine own.

The invocation was by Rev. A. E. Winship, pastor of the M. E. Church at West Somerville.

Scripture reading by Rev. W. E. Huntington of Roslindale.

Rev. J. M. Usher (Universalist) read the hymn—

The perfect world by Adam trod
Was the first temple built by God.
His fiat laid the corner-stone,
He spake, and lo, the work was done!

Rev. Andrew McKeown, D. D., of Dorchester, preached the sermon from Isa. 28: 16, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a foundation stone, etc.’

Rev. J. A. Richardson of Medford (Baptist) led the responsive reading of the one hundred and twenty-second Psalm.

[p. 35]

Brother Wagner made a statement of the business part of the new enterprise, and four hundred dollars was pledged towards the same. The trustees then came forward, and in the disciplinary form presented the building for dedication. The declaration thereof was made by Dr. Sherman, and the dedicatory prayer by the pastor, Brother Wagner.

An anthem (by the choir of the First Church, who, with their organist, kindly volunteered) was followed by the Doxology and Benediction, and the public worship of Almighty God according to Methodist Episcopal usage was thus begun in West Medford eighteen months after the organization of the Second Church, which, by the incorporation of its trustees in January following, assumed the present name of Trinity.

It is doubtful if such a case as this has a parallel. For a church to organize with ten members, find no public meeting place, lose one of its most energetic ones by death, reorganize with seven (but two men), build a house of worship (that the press styled ‘a marvel of neatness and beauty’), furnish the same complete for occupancy, during that time gather seven more members while holding no public service (for lack of place) until its dedication, was certainly in itself a novel situation. But this is just what was done.

The entire cost of the property was between eight and nine thousand dollars. Four thousand five hundred dollars was raised by mortgage, and for a time two hundred and fifty dollars was floated. While the chapel was in construction came the great tidal wave of financial depression that followed the Wall street panic known as Black Friday. The Boston City Missionary Society, that had given encouragement to the enterprise and promise of financial help, in the stringency was unable to redeem its promise and we were left to our own resources. Nevertheless, the work went on and the chapel was completed on time, and the prophecy of the tenement house still remains unfulfilled, though in its reconstructed [p. 36] form it has housed the Baptists, the Roman Catholics and Congregationalists.

On Sunday morning, after the dedication, we assembled for our first regular Sabbath worship. Brother Wagner arranged with a student of Boston University, Rev. Samuel S. Curry, to supply our pulpit. The responsive reading of the Psalm that day was probably the first in any Protestant church in Medford, save the Episcopal. The first hymn sung was, ‘I will follow thee, my Saviour, wheresoe'er my lot may be,’ and Brother Curry preached from the text, ‘And they received every man a penny.’ Seventy people were present. Though we had but few children, yet we organized (in the afternoon) a Sabbath School, with a membership of fifteen. In the evening about forty were present at a praise and prayer service.

The church, in its organization and effort, was now before the public as never before, and the problem was to be demonstrated as to whether or no it would or could live.

Our pulpit was supplied by students from the university for some weeks, till in January, 1874, when Leonidas L. H. Hamilton, a younger brother of our present Bishop Hamilton, was engaged as a supply till the session of the Annual Conference in April. Upon his coming he made a good impression and was favorably received. He entered heartily into the work, residing in our village, and at Conference was continued as our supply when Brother Wagner's charge over us ceased.

During the summer Mr. Hamilton became interested in the study of law, and the fact that ‘no man can serve two masters’ very soon became apparent.

Early in January (1875) following, Presiding Elder Dorchester removed him and placed the Rev. E. C. Herdmann, also a student, in charge of the society. He was a young married man, of rare gifts and engaging personality, and his wife, in the visits she made us, won all hearts. It was with regret that at Conference time [p. 37] we were obliged to part with them, owing to the failure to unite our society with one at Arlington as one charge. Could this have been done it would doubtless have proved beneficial to both. Brother Herdmann returned to his home in New York, and a few years later died there.

Rev. John F. Brant was the next to serve us as pastor, coming in April, 1875. He was from Ohio, unmarried, and just completing his studies at the university. He remained with us one year and did good work. During the summer he visited his Western home, and then was inaugurated the union vacation service with the Congregational Church, which was continued until the last summer. This proved helpful in various ways, removing some prejudices that needlessly existed. Up to the close of Brother Brant's ministry with us seven more had joined us, making our membership twenty-one in full connection and several on probation.

During this year we thought it advisable to sell a portion of our land, thereby reducing our indebtedness about one thousand three hundred dollars. At Conference, in April, Rev. William Full was appointed to this charge. He was a member of Conference and a native of Nova Scotia, and immediately came to live among us.

Brother Full put in some energetic work, as did also his wife, as far as her health would permit. The hard times were being seriously felt and our people were discouraged. One of our trustees tells of one occasion when only he, his wife, and the pastor were attendants at the mid-week prayer meeting. During the early autumn the West Somerville pulpit became vacant and the two churches were united under Brother Full's care, and the next year he was appointed to that charge. During the year seven new names were added to our membership from probation and by letter.

The conference and church year of 1877, beginning with April, opened with discouragements of the deepest kind. The clouds of the business world, dark enough before, were growing blacker. In its material concerns [p. 38] Trinity Church was then at the low-water mark of its history, and not all the causes of it were external. A waterlogged ship is a poor sailer, but mutiny on board adds to the gravity of the situation.

In an April snow squall Rev. Jarvis A. Ames appeared in West Medford, having been appointed thereto by the bishop at Conference.

The outlook was squally, too, but the sun came out again. The demonstration on an April Sunday in 1861, in the old church on Salem street, didn't frighten him then, and he gave the discouraged ones at once to understand ‘that he was here to attend to his duty for the year of his appointment.’ Frail in body, and not in the best of health, he gave to Trinity Church his untiring effort, and in the face of obstacles that might have daunted stronger men, brought it to a better state numerically, financially, and spiritually.

Details of his work would far exceed my space, and Christian charity throws a mantle of forgiveness over all unpleasant features that bore so heavily on him and others. He served the church three years, and received thirty-two in full membership. During the third year he was laid aside by sickness for nearly three months. Our pulpit was supplied in various ways, several times by laymen, and the term includes women. It is pleasant to note that twice Rev. Brother Cutter of the Congregational Church preached and administered the Holy Communion.

By a supreme effort enough money was raised to pay the interest overdue on mortgage to September, 1877, and the rate was reduced from eight to six per cent., but conditioned on prompt payment.

When executed the mortgage was to Mr. Samuel S. Holton (Sr.), who was ever a benefactor of the church. He had negotiated the mortgage and note, which was signed by the treasurer and secretary of the trustees in their official capacity, and in no way personally endorsed, until by Mr. Holton, at its assignment to the purchaser [p. 39] thereof. At its maturity the holder did not demand payment and the endorser's liability expired.

During this pastorate a beginning was made of contribution to the general benevolences of the denomination. These of necessity were small, but a step in the right direction.

Trinity Church owes a debt of love and gratitude to its faithful pastors, but to none more than to Jarvis A. Ames. On the central panel of our eastern window bearing his and Brother Herdmann's names, the morning sunlight streams through the passion flowers. On July 18, 1885, in the sunny southland (Florida) whither he had gone in search of health it was not his to find, he passed on to join the church triumphant. ‘Servant of God, well done.’

A few words about some of the faithful ones of that trying period. West Medford streets were not as good then as now. Such constant attendants as Father and Mother Walker, with ‘Auntie Cheney,’ who came to evening service with their lanterns, and Sister Sargent, the good old lady who gathered up the mites here and there to help in the missionary cause, deserve mention. The sainted Sister Winship, whose love for the church was shown by her presence, even when brought in the strong arms of her husband, and when she could come no more, for a year gathered the children of her neighborhood in her sunny room for Sabbath instruction. She was one of those who came from Arlington, and there was one who walked both ways from the ‘Heights’ twice on Sunday and to class meeting. At the Conference of 1880 Rev. George M. Smiley received his first appointment, and to our church. He had supplied a church in New Jersey while studying at Drew Seminary.

Far different was the outlook from that in 1877. The church, though small in numbers, was united, enthusiastic and ready, to the best of its knowledge and ability, to begin a new year's work with a resident pastor. During the year the Sunday-school increased and was brought [p. 40] to a high state of discipline and efficiency under the charge of Brother S. C. Johnson.

The benevolent collections also were increased, and a marked interest showed itself in the spiritual as well as social work. During the next year began the development of a special line of thought, later carried to an extreme, causing unhappy differences, but as yet not inharmonious.

A third appointment continued the pastor in charge (to what was then the ‘time limit’), who began an effort to clear off the mortgage upon the church property. His hopes were not entirely realized, but by various means a reduction of about seven hundred dollars was made.

Forty-nine names were added to the membership list during Brother Smiley's service. Among the number came one who, with his good wife, have been in labors abundant, and who, still with us, hold the record for longest continuous membership. A veteran of the war, and of the ‘church militant’ is Brother Nelson Taylor. Brother Smiley and wife have achieved prominence and distinction in other fields since their earnest work in West Medford.

Rev. Charles W. Wilder was assigned to Trinity in 1883, and also served three years. It is safe to say that a more discreet and self-sacrificing pastor has never ministered here. During his term the church steadily gained in membership and spirituality. Largely by his efforts one thousand two hundred dollars were raised and paid upon the mortgage. He also secured the funds to paint the chapel, which had been built thirteen years before. Twenty-nine persons united with the church during his labors. Mrs. Wilder is remembered as a worthy helpmeet, and their memory is as ‘ointment poured out.’ They went, at the expiration of their time limit, to our large and influential church at Leominster.

One April day, just after Conference in 1886, I saw on the street, with the president of the Ladies' Aid Society (to whom nature was generous), a boyish but scholarly [p. 41] appearing young man that some one called ‘a little one for a cent,’ and who did seem little by comparison. The Methodist ministers always called him ‘little Fred Upham.’ People soon found that the boy was a coming man in our ministry, and came to hear both him and the message he brought from his Master. For six years the society had, in a way, maintained a parsonage, and had just made ready for new-comers. Love's labor was lost for a time, as Brother Upham was unmarried.

At the close of the year some notice was taken of our fifteenth anniversary, and Brother Upham made an excellent historical address, a printed copy of which is preserved in the church records.

During his second year some changes were made in the furnishings of the church building in the form of new seats, carpet and hymnals. The pipe organ (of which an interesting history might be written, and which had been disused for several years) was sold and replaced by a reed organ, bought by the Ladies' Society.

Brother Upham finding the Scripture true that it was ‘not good for man to be alone,’ took unto himself a wife, so a parsonage became needful. As no house was available a good friend built one and rented it to the church, and to it, after the ‘Ladies' Aid’ had a hand in the furnishing, the pastor brought his bride. It was hoped that his would be a three-year term, for he was doing a grand work. Unhappily the doctrinal thought already alluded to had taken more pronounced form, and at Conference of 1888 he was appointed to the Old South Church at Reading, where he successfully served the then full term of five years. During his first year there all hearts were saddened by the untimely passing away of his estimable wife, whom all had learned to love. Beautiful in life and character was she, and lovely as the lilies in our window that is her memorial.

Baker Memorial (Boston) and Westfield next claimed him, and while at the latter he was called home. Twenty-one names are on our register received by him. [p. 42]

Rev. William J. Hambleton was next assigned to Trinity, and came with the experience of years to his credit, while of Mrs. Hambleton it was well said, ‘She is just like mother.’ The younger element that had been drawn to Brother Upham's ministry had hardly become assimilated to the church, and had much to learn of loyalty to the church and its polity. Some, however, remained and became staunch supporters of church and pastor.

The church edifice, originally designed for a chapel (before the modern idea that requires all accessories and conveniences had obtained), had been in use for fifteen years, and the need of more convenient quarters began to be evident. But ‘how,’ was the question that could be answered only by united effort, and such did not exist. After two years of faithful service the pastor requested another appointment, and has ever been a welcome visitor to his old charge, and during the past year has entered into rest.

At the Conference of 1890, Rev. William J. Pomfret became his successor. He had served large and important churches, and his administration was that of a master hand. Though advanced in years, he was at home among the young people, and very soon organized the chapter of the Epworth League that bears his name. Dear as was this to him, it remained for the Junior League to reach his great heart and receive his warmest friendship. Under his preaching the Sabbath congregations increased and the social worship was of marked interest. Early in the autumn the subject of a new house of worship was agitated, and for a time the prospect was highly favorable. Plans were secured, and the assistance of other churches invoked through the medium of our Church Aid Society. Though satisfactory to the majority, the feature of kitchen and supper room was disliked by some. An organization called the ‘Holiness Association,’ renewed its activity. The maintenance of Sabbath and evening meetings in a hall by a minority still holding membership [p. 43] in the church, complicated the situation and delayed further effort toward building a new house of worship.

Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, “it might have been.”

At this later day it would seem that the effort should have been carried forward; still, brethren who had heroically carried burdens for years can not well be blamed for waiting till harmony could be restored before entering into a new church enterprise, with its financial burdens.

As the result of the trial that followed, the church lost about a dozen members and some attendants, and a Primitive Methodist Church was formed, which after a little over a year disbanded. Trinity Church was not alone in such experience. In other places, the action here was followed by the formation of societies of like views, bearing various names, affiliated with the ‘Evangelical Association of New England.’ In what I have said of this movement there is no word of bitterness or aspersion of the motives or character of those who went out from us. It was an unhappy difference of opinion brought to conclusion, and had a depressing influence.

Our Quarterly Conference had, in voting to build, wisely limited commencement till five thousand dollars should be subscribed, and this was unsecured at the end of Brother Pomfret's third year. Seeing no hope thereof, he asked and received another appointment.

In 1893 Rev. William M. Cassidy came to our pastorate, this being his third charge. The society welcomed him and he became a favorite in the community.

Matters moved on well, save in the building enterprise, which, though not lost sight of, progressed but slowly, so slowly that some despaired of its accomplishment. But in March of 1896, the subscription limit being reached, plans were secured and work begun. On July 23, at 6 P. M., the corner-stone was laid, in the presence of two hundred and fifty people. This was taken from under the tower of the old house, the dates 1873-1896 cut in it by the contractor who originally furnished it, and was [p. 44] lowered to its place by the builders of both the former and present houses. The exercises were in charge of Presiding Elder J. O. Knowles, D. D. The pastors of the Congregational and Baptist Churches assisted, an historical sketch was given by Brother M. W. Mann, and the principal speaker was Rev. William N. Brodbeck, D. D.

The former house had been sold, moved to another spot, and was still in use, though perched high on the movers' timbers. Within its walls, in October, the newly formed Baptist church held its recognition service. On the last Sunday in November five services, all of special import, gave our first house, which had been our church home for twenty-three years, and around which so many hallowed memories cluster, an appropriate farewell.

We assembled for the first time in the chapel of the new one on the first Sunday in December, and there continued till March 11, 1897, when this second house was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, according to the ritual and usage of our church, by Bishop Edward G. Andrews, D. D., Ll.D. ‘On this rock I will build my church,’ was the text, and the sermon was simple, clear and convincing, a masterly effort of our beloved bishop. Other services followed during the week, and the society was settled in its new church home.

Space forbids details of this building enterprise. Its realization came only after much planning, labor and sacrifice. This latter house, with its tower bearing aloft the emblem of Christianity, forms the central figure in the vista seen westward from Cradock bridge, and occupies the spot originally selected for it in 1872. Its audience room, chapel, school-room and parlor occupy one floor, and all four open together if required. Kindergarten and class rooms are above, while a spacious dining hall and kitchen are in rooms below. Its cost was somewhat over fourteen thousand dollars.

It was with some surprise that the church, as well as the community, learned that their pastor, who had served [p. 45] four years, and to whom this success was in no small measure due, had asked for another appointment by the bishop at Conference. That this change was made, and a successor took up the work so smoothly, speaks well for the church polity.

Rev. Arthur W. L. Nelson was pastor for three years, Rev. Arthur Bonner for two years, and Rev. George A. Cooke for two years more, and each did good work under difficult circumstances. There was some reaction from the effort of building, and some financial embarrassment resulted that was happily removed during the stay of Brother Bonner. For a time Brother Nelson did double work, as did both his successors, in connection with the newly formed Hillside church. All these did good work, each in a different way from the other, and all were beloved by church and people.

The next three years our charge was read ‘to be supplied,’ and we were fortunate in our supplies. Rev. Sylvester S. Klyne of the North Dakota Conference, pursuing special study in Boston University, served us for two years. He was an able preacher and profound scholar, and in his limited time did no little pastoral work, and in this latter was ably seconded by his devoted wife. From here he went to an important church in West Virginia, and is now pastor of the largest church of our order in Baltimore.

In April, 1907, Rev. Herbert A. Keck from the Iowa Conference (and also the university) came to us under the same limit of partial work. He ably succeeded Brother Klyne in the pulpit, and in the weekly prayer meeting has never been excelled in the history of the church. His home in the West claimed him at the end of one year, where his people have just dedicated a fine new church edifice.

At the Conference of 1907 Rev. Herbert Smith Dow was appointed, and came an utter stranger to every one in his new charge. Loyal to our church polity, its greetings were sent him by mail as soon as the appointments [p. 46] appeared in print, and on Saturday he, with his family, were in our parsonage and ready for duty.

Our ministers are appointed by the bishop, whose cabinet (or advisors) are the four presiding elders or district superintendents. The term is one year, but a minister may be reappointed year after year for an indefinite time. Under our system, no minister is without a charge and no church without a pastor or supply. If any break occurs, it is for want of loyalty to the church polity. Thirty-eight years have passed away since the little gathering on April 1, 1872, and eighteen men have served, duly appointed to our church. Eight have heard the summons to ‘come up higher,’ the others are doing effective work. Our present pastor, on last Sabbath, began his fourth year with us, in response to the unanimous call of our official board. During his pastorate several have, because of business reasons, removed from our city and church, and the latter, especially, feels the loss. But with the newcomers and the recruits of the evangelistic effort our number steadily though slowly increases, and the young men of the Brotherhood are an inspiration.

I have written of our church history by pastorates. During these years over three hundred names have been upon our roll in full membership, not to mention the probationers who may have been received elsewhere, or those who have labored with us but never enrolled. Some have died in the faith; ‘they rest from their labors,’ their memory is blessed. But few have proven unworthy, none have ever been expelled for sinful conduct or immoral obliquity. At the present time our entire membership is one hundred and fifteen.

This sketch would be incomplete without mention of the untiring and self-sacrificing work of the Ladies' Aid Society. Commencing in 1873 with a dozen members, and at no time numbering over thirty, it has, in these years, done a work of financial help for Trinity Church that is unequalled by any other in the district when the [p. 47] number of its members is considered. For several years these ladies have paid the entire interest on the mortgage note and a generous pledge to the weekly offering, kept the parsonage furniture in order, and the pastor in touch with the people by telephone. Their efforts are not alone for their local church, as one of their former presidents (Mrs. Mann) has for the past ten years been connected with the New England Deaconess Aid Society, and for the past four years its vice-president. The first to enter this service, she has succeeded in enthusing numbers of others, and organized numerous circles of girls as deaconess' helpers. One of its number, Mrs. E. G. Came, was the prime mover, in 1893, of the effort that resulted in the Ladies' Aid Union, now representing over one hundred societies of Eastern Massachusetts, and was its first president, and in 1902 another, Mrs. Elizabeth J. C. Mann, who had served as secretary, filled the same honorable position. The building of the two houses of worship, their repair, and maintenance of public worship, has required an outlay during these years, together with the various benevolences, of upwards of one hundred thousand dollars, no inconsiderable sum when the numbers and circumstances of the society are considered.

Three years ago a special note of our anniversary was made by a banquet in the dining hall, a social hour and reunion in the chapel, and a more formal gathering (with music, addresses by former pastors and present members) in the audience room. It was the writer's privilege then to give an historical address, illustrated as this has been; not this, but a different paper. One illustration then given cannot be given tonight, but I quote these words: ‘A faithful brother entered into rest. Before his departure he made provision for the excellent pipe organ that was installed in the autumn of 1898. A noble memorial of a worthy man, presented to the church he dearly loved, it bears this simple inscription, “Gift of Elisha Pierce, March 20, 1898.” ’ In the darkness [p. 48] and quiet of the room the faintest tones of the organ began, gradually swelling until the last word, when the full organ was heard in his memory.

Other gifts there are—the pulpit, altar-rail and the windows, memorials of loved members and friends of the church. All these are expressions of the love for and interest in the work Trinity Church has done and is doing in Christian service. Its Sabbath School, Epworth and Junior Leagues, and latterly the Brotherhood, are each active in their place, and represented in the official board by their principal officer, as is also the Ladies' Aid Society and all subject to the discipline of the church. Its officiary for the current year is as follows:—

In common with others, Trinity Church holds the evangelical faith of Christianity, proclaiming a full and [p. 49] free salvation, with definite knowledge thereof, and only differing in minor matters and church government. It is tolerant and respectful of others, and has only this invitation to its observance of the Holy Communion, ‘All ye who do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, are in love and charity with your neighbors and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of Jesus Christ, draw near and partake to your comfort.’ Its belief is expressed each Sabbath by the congregation in the words of the Apostles' Creed. This, with the responsive reading of Psalm, the singing of Gloria and Doxology, and the use of the prayer-book version of the Lord's Prayer, form a liturgical worship, alike in all Methodist Episcopal Churches throughout our land. Its members and congregation have been people from the ordinary walks of life, good citizens and neighbors, and not burdened with wealth. In all our past they have given of their effort and means without stint for its maintenance, and found help and comfort in its fellowship. No inconsiderable number have here entered into the experience of Christian life because of the church. Therein is its greatest success, and in such work is its truest mission. Those that come to us from other places are heartily welcome, but our gain is others' loss. But a soul saved from sin, or redeemed from carelessness and indifference is truer gain, greater success, and it is on this line that our church effort is made. Our denomination is represented in Medford today by four societies—First, Trinity, Bethany and Hillside—all located near the border of Medford's territory, and all have found it no easy task to obtain their present status, but are here to stay as long as there is the Master's work to do.

The theocratic rule of the Puritan that hung the Quakers, whipped the Baptists and persecuted the Anglican Church when they came has passed away, and the charge of the ‘Lord's cavalry,’ the early Methodist preachers then known as ‘circuit riders’ in New England, had much to do with it. The Unitarian preaching of Channing [p. 50] and Universalist of Murray was in the battle also, until the old conformity to the standing order was no more. In its stead, with religious freedom, has come an indifference perhaps more fatal. This not only the Methodist Episcopal Church, but all others, Protestant and Romanist, must combat.

And now a few words in closing. Just fifty years from the time the First Methodist Church began in old Medford, the first organized effort outside the Puritan parish, Trinity began the first organized church effort in the new Medford that was to be and is. Five churches are now in West Medford (two others have organized but are no more).

It has been given to me (perhaps as to none other) to have a part in the work, to know the difficulties, the labors, the disappointments, and something of success; to be personally acquainted with the men and women who have given their best service to this work. I wish to bear testimony to the kindly assistance and friendship of several Unitarian and Baptist people in those longago days, the days of small things. I have already alluded to the passing of prejudice among our Congregational neighbors. I have never doubted that it was the Lord's will that our beginning was made, though sometimes the way has been ‘rough and thorny.’ I am content.

As these faces have looked on us tonight how the old memories come back. I could introduce but a few, but what a host there has been! This is the story of Trinity Church, Methodist Episcopal. ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.’

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Moses Whitcher Mann (9)
William McLean (6)
George Whitefield (5)
Unitarian (5)
Nelson Taylor (5)
David Sherman (4)
Lyman W. Proctor (4)
Baptist (4)
Frank U. Warner (3)
William Edwards Huntington (3)
Leonidas L. H. Hamilton (3)
Martin M. French (3)
Louis Charpiot (3)
Charles W. Wilder (2)
N. T. Whitaker (2)
Steward (2)
Stevens (2)
Frank E. Rollins (2)
N. D. Ripley (2)
David Osgood (2)
M. W. Mann (2)
Elizabeth J. C. Mann (2)
James A. Knight (2)
Samuel S. Holton (2)
Charles E. Hippisley (2)
C. E. Hippisley (2)
William J. Hambleton (2)
Benjamin Colman (2)
Melville B. Chapman (2)
Harry A. Blodgett (2)
Jarvis A. Ames (2)
A. E. Winship (1)
Reuben Willey (1)
Everett Wellington (1)
Samuel A. Walker (1)
Francis J. Wagner (1)
James M. Usher (1)
Fred Upham (1)
Ebenezer Turell (1)
April Sunday (1)
George M. Smiley (1)
George C. Rockwood (1)
J. A. Richardson (1)
A. C. Rich (1)
William J. Pomfret (1)
Elisha Pierce (1)
F. A. Oxnard (1)
G. C. Osgood (1)
J. H. Norton (1)
Arthur W. L. Nelson (1)
Murray (1)
W. T. Morse (1)
Andrew McKeown (1)
Charles E. Lowe (1)
Jesse Lee (1)
S. S. Leavitt (1)
Ladies (1)
Elder J. O. Knowles (1)
Sylvester S. Klyne (1)
Herbert A. Keck (1)
S. C. Johnson (1)
Galen James (1)
E. L. Jaggar (1)
E. C. Herdmann (1)
Hawley (1)
Frank W. Ham (1)
Edward B. Hall (1)
Samuel H. Guptill (1)
Samuel Guptill (1)
Charles S. Given (1)
A. Evelyn Gilbert (1)
William Full (1)
W. B. Foster (1)
Luther Farwell (1)
Epworth (1)
Jacob Emerson (1)
Edwards (1)
Calvin Dows (1)
Herbert Smith Dow (1)
Dorchester (1)
Brother Cutter (1)
Samuel S. Curry (1)
Heber J. Cripps (1)
George A. Cooke (1)
Jesus Christ (1)
Channing (1)
Roman Catholic (1)
William M. Cassidy (1)
E. G. Came (1)
William N. Brodbeck (1)
George W. Brintnall (1)
John F. Brant (1)
Arthur Bonner (1)
Richard Boardman (1)
Edward G. Andrews (1)
E. J. Albee (1)
Adam (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: