A history of the Reformed Churches in Chester County, Pennsylvania
The first efforts in preparing a history of the Re- formed Churches in Chester County date back to 1879. At this time J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope were collecting data for their general history of Chester county, published in 1881. The sketches in this book contained but meagre outlines of the beginnings, rise and progress of these churches, still, they were generally read with a great deal of interest and satisfaction.
Among those directly interested, either by past or present connection with the churches, there seemed to be a desire for sketches going more into detail. Accordingly, in 1889, Captain A. Fetters, of Edgefield, commenced to write a series of historical sketches based upon such of the old records as were accessible. These were published in "Our Banner," beginning with January, 1889, and apparently read with increased interest.
Believing that their publication in a permanent form would be a means of preserving the old records, and, therefore, a service to the historical interests of the church, the present work was undertaken in the spring of 1891.
Table of Contents
Brownback's Reformed Church 16
East Vincent Reformed Church 32
St. Peter's Reformed Church (Pikeland) 44
St. Peter's Reformed Church (Warwick) 51
St. Matthew's Reformed Church 59
St. Vincent Reformed Church 73
St. Paul's Reformed Church 83
Shenkel's Reformed Church 97
St. John's Reformed Church, Phcenixville 107
First Reformed Church, Spring City 113
Biographical sketches of pastors since 1850 125
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Reverence for sacred places is as old as the religious instinct in man. The devout heart loves to cherish associations which cluster around the places of its communion with God. In the history of ancient nations, far back beyond where all other land-marks have ceased, there stand the temple and the altar, around which are gathered all we know of that period of their existence. Even among Pagan nations, that which was associated with their religion, has been best preserved in their traditions; these glimmer farthest back into the morning twilight of their annals. "While their thrones, their capitols, their laws and their pageantry of state, have, to a great extent, vanished, so that their places are scarcely known, their temples, their altars, their gods, their religious doctrines, services and songs, have been faithfully preserved and transmitted, amid the ruinous changes which time has wrought, through many hoary centuries." So, likewise, among the Jewish nation we find this same ardor of devotion to sacred places, only increased in intensity. The places where God revealed himself in dreams and visions is the spot where the patriarchs built their altars, where the tribes built their tabernacles, and where the nation built its temple and its holy city. No gift was too costly, no labor too burdensome, no devotion too ex- acting, if thereby the Jew could adorn and make memorable, for ages to come, the place where he worshipped the God of his fathers. Travelers tell us that to this day the Jews of Palestine and pilgrims to the Holy City pay tribute to Mohammedans for permission to approach and kiss the ruins of the ancient temple; and pressing their foreheads against its foundation walls, they wail in mournful tones:" If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
Such is the strength and beauty of sacred attachment, and should not we respond to its appeals by showing an intelligent interest in that past, which brought to us the privileges of the present? Shall we forget our fathers and their history? Shall we possess the inheritance which their pains have gathered — shall we worship in the temples which their hands have reared — shall we pass by the silent and solemn graves in which their ashes rest, without inquiring into their history, doing honor to their memory, and stirring up our hearts with gratitude towards God, that our lines have fallen into such pleasant places, and that we have been made the possessors of so goodly a heritage?
The history of these congregations is, moreover, the spiritual history of our ancestors in the faith. Here is where beloved parents and grand-parents, and in some instances, great-grand-parents came to worship God on the Sabbath day. What hallowed associations of affection, of friendship and of worship cluster around these holy places! Other buildings have been erected, other surroundings created, one generation has laid another to rest in the adjoining graveyard; but while these changes indicate the transient character of all things temporal and mortal, they draw us closer to the place where last scenes were witnessed, where last farewells were given, and where the heart still dwells in yearning love over the remains of its sacred dead.
As to the part which these combined influences play in the redeeming actions of the world, this cannot, in the nature of things, be a matter of record. The church's most becoming attitude on this point is silence. Of the work she hath done and the good she hath wrought, others must speak through lives ennobled, affections purified, character enriched and purpose elevated. Let every reader of these sketches be stirred up to greater activity in the Lord's work, so that from these temples of light shall go forth a steady current of sanctifying influence to heal and bless and raise a world afflicted with sin.