JULY 2016: 200 YEARS OF UNION PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
This month I am going to discuss some of the ministers we have had over the years. The first to speak here was Ebenezer Dickey, minister of the Oxford Associated-Reformed Presbyterian church.
You may remember me mentioning before that Union was a joining of several different types of Presbyterians? His family was largely responsible for the early growth of the village of Oxford. They also were the primary backers of southern Lancaster counties’ only railroad, the little, old and slow, which ran between Oxford, Peach Bottom and Quarryville.
Our first installed minister was Elkanah Dare. Don't you just love these old time people’s names, Ebenezer and Elkanah!! His parent’s first names were Benoni and Dameris!! A relative on his mother’s side was the governor of Minnesota and on his father’s side one was Ulysses Grants best friend and the United States ambassador to France. Mr. Dare was born in 1782 and we have the Bible that he used here as minister in the library downstairs! He died at age 44 of swamp fever and is buried in the small cemetery across the road.
Reverend Alexander Morrison, our second minister, is also the only minister to ever serve Union who was born in Colerain Township (as you may guess, on Morrison Mill Rd.). If any of you recall the talk about our stained glass windows, the Morrison family is well represented on them.
Our third minister was David McCarter, and don't worry, I am not going to talk about all 40 of them. Reverend McCarter lost a leg in an accident when he was 12 years old, but he didn't let that hold him back. He graduated from Columbia University in New York City and he spoke Latin and Greek fluently. Even with his hardship, he traveled between and served both Union and Strasburg Presbyterian Churches at the same time.
In 1856 we issued a call to Reverend Van Artsdale to serve Union. Nine months later he was removed and suspended from the ministry. We can be very hard on ministers here!! We would go without a pastor for the next 5 years! In order to raise money to attract a minister they instituted charging rent for the pews. In an 1860 list of families who paid their pew rent, only two last names were listed that are currently attending: Whiteside and Jackson.
Reverend Calvin Stewart served us from 1858 to 1890, 32 years, the longest tenure of any minister in Union's 200 year history. He served as a United States delegate to World Presbytery in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1877. Unlike today, a trip to Scotland was no small endeavor! It was under Rev. Stewart’s leadership that Union constructed its second sanctuary, the first floor of this building.
I will talk about some more of our pastors next month. By the way, when I am all done with this at the end of the year, there will be a quiz.