What A History! February 2014

(Madison Presbyterian Church has a rich, interesting and sometimes surprising past.  What follows was researched mainly by Frank Miles and the 175th Anniversary Committee, as well as from the minutes of early Session meetings.  Pam Newhouse)  

 

From November 10 through 21, 1915, “.... the Historic Old First... celebrated its 100th anniversary.” There was an historic address on Friday evening, and a memorial sermon was given on Sunday by the Rev. Campbell, the church’s new pastor. Congratulatory messages from former pastors and members were read.  No special activities were conducted at Second Church, which apparently did not recognize 1815 as the year of its founding.

 

During this centennial year, vigorous attempts were made to reunite the two churches.  But there still were hard feelings, and, even when pastors of both churches left this year, due to the same old reason - financial problems - merger attempts failed.   Second Church members exclaimed, “...we must fight for our lives!” and the women began a series of fundraisers, including pancake suppers, picnics, and special oyster and codfish dinners.  Baked goods, aprons, Christmas trees, and overshoes were sold. The money raised went toward the new minister’s salary, reupholstering pulpit furniture, office supplies, and hand fans.

 

First Church called six ministers before the seventh one, the Dr. W. Logan, accepted in 1918. This same year, Dr. Logan sent a letter of protest to the mayor of Madison over the showing of motion pictures on Sunday at the Opera House.   This practice was discontinued promptly.  Also in 1918, the influenza epidemic resulted in closing all churches for six weeks...including Christmas week.

 

In 1921 – eighty years after the two churches separated – they finally reunited.  At this time, First Church had 211 members and Second Church had 196.  There were a few rough years with a lot of bickering over various decisions, such as which church building to use, what the name of the church would be,

who would be the minister, who would stay on the Session, and who would be the deacons.  However, all knew they had to make this union work, hard as it seemed.

(Next: Challenges of the united church; the Rev. Tidball ministry, 1923-1946) 

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