This history of Old Brick, a.k.a. Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church, is courtesy of the late Dr. Mildred Christian.
Below is a copy of the 1801-1893 Annals of the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, compiled by Rev. W. Swindells, D. D. for the 100th Anniversary of the church (1804 to 1904). To the extent possible, the information is a true copy of the publication and was re-typed by Diana Gujzi. Although some of the writing is antiquated, we hope that you will enjoy and appreciate the early struggles and successes of Old Brick’s founding and growth and be inspired by this history to continue the faith and devotion of these members in the service of our Lord.
Compiled by Rev. W. Swindells, D.D.
May 1st, 1893
A WORD FROM THE COMPILER (Rev, W. Swindells, D.D.)
The annals of the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church cover a period so extended, that a full history of the church would be a record of the growth of the district of Kensington, for many of its members have been influential factors in the development of this section of Philadelphia. Many events have been briefly touched that might have been much enlarged, and some incidents have not been noted. The aim has been to present only salient facts. In this labor of love the compiler has received valuable aid from a former member of the church, Brother Lemuel C. Simon, who placed at his disposal the materials gathered by him several years ago. Few churches have made a better use of a great opportunity, and the cases are more rare where a church has accomplished more for God and the welfare of human souls. Thousands have been rescued by it from a life of worldliness and sin, whose holy lives and inspiring deeds are now the patrimony of the church. The population of Heaven has been much increased by multitudes that were fed with the bread of life within its sacred walls, and many remain who as fondly speak the name of the dear “Old Brick” as the name of their own mother. We have done what we could to embalm her works and worth.
May 1st, 1893. W. Swindells.
At the annual meeting of the male members of Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church, April 18th, 1892, on motion of W. R. Wooters the following resolution was adopted:
“ That a Committee, consisting of the Board of Trustees and nine other members named by the Chairman, be appointed a Ways and Means Committee to recarpet the church and purchase a new organ.”
It was also agreed that the Committee should favorably consider the celebration of the founding of the Church, in securing a written history of the Church by the pastor, W. Swindells, and its publication in suitable form.
The following composed the Committee:
Board of Trustees: Joseph Bennett, A. H. McFadden, George Kessler, Henry Kessler, I. P. H. Wilmerton, J. F. Fox, R. J. Simmington, D.S. Clunn, A.H. Claypoole.
Other Members: W. R. Wooters, Louis Weidig, John Clouds, Jr., Joel G. Bateman, A. S. Test, S. M. Simmington, Charles H. Dedaker, Francis Shubert, James Simmington. The pastor, W. Swindells, was added to the Committee.
The committee met on May 11th, 1892, and organized as follows: President, Joseph Bennett; Vice-President, J. F. Fox; Secretary, Charles H. Dedaker; Assistant Secretary, Louis Weidig; Treasurer, George Kessler.
On motion of James Simmington, the pastor was requested to write a history of the Church. The pastor consented, and submitted his work from time to time to the inspection and judgment of the Committee, for their aid and advice. The Committee unanimously approved it, and it is now presented to the consideration of the members and friends of a church, that has never faltered in its work of saving souls, befriending the poor and needy, caring for the young, and building up the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be glory in the Church throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
At the beginning of this century, what was known as Kensington presented the appearance of a rural village. It comprised the territory covered by the Eighteenth Ward, but when the district was incorporated, in the year 1820, its bounds were much larger, extending from Cohocksink Creek, now Canal Street, to Gunner’s Run, and from the Delaware River to Sixth Street. The people were chiefly of English and German descent, and numbered about 5,000.
At that early period, wooden ship-building, an industry for which this section of the city is renowned, was even then carried on extensively. As late as 1813 it contained but two grocery stores and no dry-goods store. There were six taverns of the nature of country inns. There was not a street or sidewalk in the entire district. When the frost left the ground, there were ditches from three to four feet deep along the sides of Queen (now Richmond) Street, from Palmer to Hanover Street, and thence to the Delaware, that served as conduits to convey the water to the river. Palmer and Shackamaxon Streets were not opened below Queen Street; there was no thought of Allen Street. There was not a connected row of houses or block of buildings in the district; in a few places two or three buildings were joined together, but with these exceptions there were irregular gaps between single houses. The people generally owned the houses they lived in, which had garden plots attached to them. The dwellings were mainly two and a half stories, and were confined to streets contiguous to Frankford Road and the Delaware River. The river front was then in its natural state, and the foot of Bishop(now Vienna) Street was a clean, sandy shore, and a favorite baptismal resort for the Baptists of the vicinity.
This is a brief pen-picture of this section of the city of Philadelphia when the preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church raised the banner of the Cross in it, and organized a church society among the people. A few members of the Methodist Episcopal Church had resided here for several years who were members of and accustomed to attend St. George’s Church, at the corner of Fourth and New Streets. If the weather was stormy they occasionally stopped at Zoar Church, on Brown above Fourth Street, which was in charge of the preachers of St. George’s and worshiped with our people of color there. In the mouth of June, 1801, a schism occurred among the members of St.George’s, that in its outcome was of much importance to Methodism in Kensington. About sixty of the members of the Church seceded, and formed a new Society under the title of “The United Society of the People called Methodists.” They had four preachers, two of whom - Charles Cavender and Thomas Haskins - had been itinerant preachers. The members of the new Society were at once organized into four classes with suitable leaders. The members who resided in Kensington were constituted a class under the title, “The Class in Kensington. John Hewson, Leader.” The following persons composed the class: John Hewson, Sr., Zebiah Hewson, Edward Jones, John Jones, Anthony Jones, Ann Hewson, Wife of John Hewson, Jr. This class met on what was called Sheep Hill, at the northwest corner of Richmond and Crease Streets, then called Queen and Crown Streets. The Hill extended from the corner to the residence of the late Clement Keen, Esq., No. 221 Richmond Street. It was occupied by a double two-story brick house, painted yellow, standing twenty feet back from the street, with a paling fence around it, and was reached by a flight of steps resting against the back on Queen Street. It was in this building, in the month of June,1801, that the first class was held in Kensington. John Hewson, the first member of the church, spent all his life in the district of Kensington. He published two books, one with the title of Christ Rejected and the other containing an account of a singular vision, in which he saw countless coffins in the sky. The ghastly sight inspired him to prophesy an invasion of yellow fever, which, coming to pass according to his prediction, made his book famous in the neighborhood for many years. He died fifty years ago, and is interred in the Palmer Burial-Ground.
In 1802 the Union M. E. Church was formally recognized by the Bishop as a separate and regular Society, and Rev. George Roberts was appointed by Bishop Asbury preacher in charge. This led to a partial rearrangement of the work of the church. The class in Kensington was abandoned by the Union Society, but was instantly reorganized by the preacher in charge of St. George’s Church, who, at that time, was Rev. J. McClaskey. Robert Boretree was appointed class leader. The names of the members of the class were as follows: Joseph Dean, Elizabeth Dean, John Rudy, Sarah Rudy, Francis Glenn, John Glenn, Mary, Tabor, Susannah Livesly, Michael Bow, Mark Devon, James Holt, Griffith Vaughan Margaret Vaughan , Mary Tees, George Tees, Elizabeth Tees, William Slattery, Mary Kerzey, John Kerzey. The class continued to meet on Sheep Hill. The Methodists of that day, like the founder and early disciples of Methodism, were obliged to endure persecution. They were few, poor, and despised. James F. Brindle, who was a subsequent member of the class, states: “that he was often present in the class-room when the rowdies would carry off the yard gates and the window shutters. They would throw stones on the roof and through the windows of the house.” Similar treatment, if not worse, was inflicted upon the congregation at Zoar.
In 1803 Solomon Sharp and Thomas F. Sargent were preachers in charge. Of the first-named, Abel Stevens, the historian of Methodism, writes: “ His form was tall, remarkably robust, with long white locks flowing upon his shoulders, and a bearing of no little dignity, original, eccentric, but a mighty man.”
In 1804 the preachers appointed to St. George’s were Solomon Sharp and W. Bishop. Previous to this year the Methodist preaching services in Kensington were held on Sunday afternoon, under the shade of the Penn Treaty Tree, on the shore, at Beach above Hanover Street, and were conducted in the main by local preachers. Logs of the ship-yard served as benches. If the weather was unfavorable the congregation met in an old shed near by, used by the carpenters. The people always referred to the place of meeting as “down on the shore,” and Sunday afternoon services were held there regularly in the summer as late as 1850. The members determined, early in the year, that they would erect a house of worship.
At their solicitation the Trustees of St. George’s, on August 1st, 1805, purchased of William Clark and his wife a plot of ground composed of three adjoining lots on the southeast side of Queen Street (now Richmond) and on the northeast side of Marlborough Street, or, as it was then called, Point Road and Meeting House Lane. The size of the lot was 60x120 feet, and was subject to a ground-rent of S 60.00. The rear part of the lot was set apart as a burial-ground, and remained so until the erection of the present church. It was in care of the sexton, who received from S1.00 to S1.50 for digging graves and from fifty cents to S1.00 for serving funeral invitations.
In 1805 W. Colbert and James Smith were appointed to St. George’s, and Kensington was under their care. During this year a church building was erected. It had a front of 36 feet 6 inches on Meeting House Lane (Marlborough Street) and a depth of 46 feet 6 inches on Queen Street (now Richmond). It was commonly called the “Brick Church,” from the materials of which it was composed, and finally “ The Old Brick,” and is better known by this title than by any other. There was a deep gallery on three sides of the audience-room. At the pulpit platform it was so near the preacher that he could shake hands with those who occupied the front seats, if they but leaned over. The interior remained unplastered for several years. The one point gained, and a vital one, was a church home and a place of shelter. This was the third house of worship built by the Methodists in Philadelphia, the second being Ebenezer. (Note: Zoar is now identified as the third church, with Old Brick as the fourth).
In 1806 James Smith, Joseph Totten, and Thomas Everard were assigned to St. George’s charge, which included Kensington.
In 1807 Thomas Ware, R. Sneath, and T. Dunn were stationed preachers.
In 1808 Thomas Ware, David Bartine (father of Rev. D. W. Bartine, D. D., late of the New Jersey Conference), and John Walker.
In1809 Michael Coate, Thomas Smith, and James Bateman.
At the opening of the Conference year a committee was appointed by the Board of St. George’s to confer with the members of Kensington, and at a meeting of the Trustees, held July 18th, 1809, the committee presented the following report, which was adopted: “On the 18th of July, 1809, at a meeting of the Trustees of the Incorporated M. E. Church in Philadelphia, the committee appointed to confer with the Kensington Society, made a report as follows, which was adopted:
“1. That the Kensington Society agree to have Trustees of their own, to hold Kensington Church in trust for the use of the connection, according to the form of deed in the Discipline, and that in future the said Society shall manage all their temporal concerns.
“2. The Trustees of Kensington Church bind themselves to pay annually $200, in quarterly payments, to the Trustees of St. George’s Church, for the support of the preachers that may be stationed in the city from time to time, otherwise if a single preacher board in Kensington, they agree to pay his board, salary, and expenses, as their proportion of all the expense in supporting the stationed preachers.
“3. It is also agreed that Kensington shall be supplied with preaching as usual.
“4. That all that meet in class in Kensington shall be considered as the members of the Kensington Society, and shall not be allowed to vote at election at St. George’s nor be eligible for a Trustee in that Board, unless they have been members of St. George’s Church at least six month previous to such election.
“5. That no person shall be appointed a Trustee or Steward of Kensington that is not a member of that Society.
“6. That Kensington shall still be considered under the charge and direction of the assistant preachers in the city, unless the Bishop should otherwise direct.
“7. That these regulations and articles of agreement shall be entered upon the journals of the respective Boards of Trustees, and shall be considered mutually binding, unless they should hereafter be rescinded or altered in a joint meeting of the two Boards.
“8. The assistant preacher at any time shall call a joint meeting at the request of either Board, and all such meeting shall be held in St. George’s Church.
“9. That these regulations shall not be considered as affecting the Leaders’ meetings or Quarterly Conferences, but that the official members shall attend such meetings as usual.
“10. That the members of St. George’s Church shall be entitled to interments in the Kensington Church Burial-Ground, on the same terms as the members of Kensington Society.”
These articles of agreement were ratified at a meeting of the male members in St. George’s Church, called for that purpose, on July 24th, 1809, and on August 1st,of the same year, a meeting of the male members of the M.E. Church in Kensington was held for the purpose of electing nine Trustees for the said church. The following members were present: James Bateman, Minister, presiding; Samuel Bacon, Secretary of Election; James Keen, Aaron Daniels, Judges of Election; Geo. C. Schively, William Clark, Samuel Boggs, John Rudy, Jeremiah Dennis, Anthony Jones, Thos. Vaughan, Matthias Wurtz, Christian Young, William Cobb, Benj. Young, Griffith Vaughan, Richard J. Bower. The following were elected as the first Board of Trustees: James Keen, Samuel Boggs, William Clark, Matthias Wurtz, Aaron Daniels, Geo. C. Schively, John Rudy, John Vaughan, Samuel Bacon. William Clark was appointed Steward.
During this year the Trustees of St. George’s came to the conclusion to surrender the ownership of the property to the Kensington congregation, and on the 18th of September, under the title of the “Methodist Church in the City of Philadelphia,” conveyed its interest in the property to the Trustees of the Kensington Church. The deed recited that a house of worship had been erected on the lot, on account of which there due by the church, to Clark, debts amounting to $2,000, and that the Trustees of Kensington Church had agreed to pay the ground-rent and to assume the debt, in consequence of which the transfer of the title was made to the Trustees.
At a meeting of the trustees held March 13th, 1810, a petition was adopted and sent to the Bishops at the ensuring Annual Conference, requesting the separation of the church from the St. George’s charge and appointment of a pastor to Kensington. The request was granted, and Thomas Everard was appointed preacher in charge, and Kensington appears in the Minutes of the Conference this year for first time as a station.
The first Quarterly Conference was held July 16th, 1810. The following members were present: William Hunter, P. E.: Thomas Everard, Elder; Richard Bowen, Local Preacher; William Clark, Exhorter; Matthias Wurtz, Class leader; Aaron Daniels, Class Leader; George C. Schively, Class Leader; Samuel Bacon, Exhorter. James Holt, Exhorter, and John Vaughan, Leader, were members, but not present. John Vaughan was the largest ship-builder of his time in America. He built several of the well-known Cope’s line of packets. Thus, cutting loose from the parent stock, the church, full habited, began her mission as an angel of light and mercy. The number of members was 45.
1811. Union and Kensington were a circuit. T. F. Sargent and James Moore were the preachers, the latter being junior preacher, and specifically assigned to reside and preach in Kensington. The Society refused to accept him, and therefore Rev. T. F. Sargent, of St. George’s, took charge of the church until the ensuing Annual Conference, when a “ committee was appointed to confer with the Kensington Society Concerning the matter.”
1812. Union, Kensington, and Bethel. John Robertson was appointed assistant preacher on the circuit and stationed at Kensington.
1813-1814. No church in Philadelphia is mentioned in the Minutes of the Annual Conference for 1813. The preachers are recorded merely as stationed in Philadelphia. David Best’s name is found opposite Dauphin, but the Quarterly Conference Minutes for Kensington, in the month of October, contain his name as present and as stationed preacher. “A man of strong mind, sound judgment, unflinching firmness, and of great pathos as a preacher.” He must have been transferred to Philadelphia and stationed at Kensington after the Annual Conference adjourned. Two sons entered the ministry - Rev. Silas B. Best, deceased, and Rev. Wesley C. Best, now stationed in Philadelphia.
1815. William Williams, pastor. “A man of great zeal and industry.” The church appears in the Annual Minutes as a separate station; number of members, 150.
1816. Sylvester Hill, pastor. “A good preacher.” The Quarterly Conferences frequently met at this period and adjourned for want of business. The business transacted in the few held related chiefly to church trial.
Members, 177. The church was troubled with debt - so deeply involved, indeed, and its credit so poor that the store-keepers would not trust it for a pound of candles. Appeals were continually made for money. Committees were frequently appointed to canvass the classes for assistance.
1817. Samuel J. Cox, pastor. Number of members,179.
At this session of the Annual Conference an address from the Trustees of the church was read in the Conference, describing the financial straits of the Society and appealing for aid. It was referred “ to the Presiding Elder of the Schuylkill District and the preachers stationed in Philadelphia.”
A letter from Brother Cox written to Rev. J. W. Jackson, pastor, in 1869, and one to L. C. Simon, in 1870, will best set fourth the state of the church at this date, as well as reveal the kind of a preacher stationed here at that time. In his letter to Rev. J. W. Jackson he wrote:
“ ZANESVILLE, OHIO. September 14th, 1869.
“Rev. J. W. Jackson.
“Dear Sir: Your kind letter was received a few days since. It is very pleasant to be kindly remembered by those who sat under ministry fifty-two years ago. I am glad that there are a few who belonged to the church in Kensington when I was there, and who have not forgotten me. I think there must be but very few. They will probably remember that the state of the church was not very prosperous when I was stationed there in the spring of 1817. I never went to any place so reluctantly.
“I always remembered Kensington with the warmest feelings of affection. I was most kindly treated by every man, woman, and child with whom I had any intercourse. I rejoice to hear that the “Old Brick” is now a new brick, and that the Society (as we used to call it) is large and prosperous. I earnestly pray that they may not only be strong in number, in pecuniary means, in social position and influence, but more, much more, in depth of religious experience, in active usefulness; in short, holiness of heart and life. I hope that they will never depart from the ancient plainness, simplicity, and humility of Methodism.
“ It must seem strange to my friends, as it is to myself, that I should still be living at so advanced an age. Seven weeks from to-day will be the eightieth anniversary of my birth. I have been in feeble health from my earliest infancy. When I located, in 1822, my friends did not think I would live a year, and I did not expect it myself. I have preached very frequently in this town and the surrounding country, but for several years past have had chronic inflammation of the throat, which has so impaired my voice that it is now difficult and almost impossible to perform any public service.
“ I am waiting now, with confident expectation, that in a short time, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, I shall enter into the rest that remains to His people. The God of my youth is the strength and comfort of my old age, and my prospect has brightened as I approach nearer to the end of my course.
“ Give my most affectionate regards to the few who still remember me, and indeed to all who love the Lord Jesus.
Samuel J. Cox.”
In his letter to L. C. Simon, Esq., he writes as follows:
“ZANESVILLE, OHIO, March 11th, 1870.
L. C. Simon, Esq.”
“Dear Brother: It is so long since you wrote to me for information concerning events which took place while I was stationed in Kensington that I suppose you have concluded you are never to hear from me. I have been considerably engaged about other matters, am very old and feeble (being more than eighty years old), but in truth and mainly, I have been quite at a loss what to write. You do not ask for any information except of what took place during my pastorate. I know very little about Kensington, except what took place while I was there. Indeed, I had scarcely thought of there being such a place until I heard my name announced as the minister there.
“Although you do not ask it, and I suppose you have the bound Minutes, I will advert to what I learn from that source. I have no knowledge of when the Society in Kensington was formed, nor when the meeting-house was built. I believe the first year in which Kensington is mentioned in the Minutes is 1811. Previous to that time, I suppose it was an appendage to St. George’s. Before that time the preachers for Philadelphia were appointed without any designation of the churches in the city they were to supply; and yet there was an understanding to that effect, for I well remember that in 1810 Peter P. Sanford was appointed to Philadelphia, with the understanding that he was to supply the Union, then generally called “The Academy.” The official members there declined receiving him, and he was sent the New York Conference, and Newman Bishop was brought from the New York Conference in his place.
“In 1811 a separate appointment was made for “Union and Kensington”. The preachers appointed were Thomas F. Sargent and James Moore; but although they were named together, it seems that Dr. Sargent was to serve the Union, and James Moore, Kensington.
“I traveled first among the mountains in the northern part of New Jersey, and then over the sands in the counties of Worcester and Somerset, Maryland; Accomac, Virginia; and Sussex, Delaware, and I would have much rather continued in that kind of service. But to Kensington I was sent, and to Kensington I went.
“I was received with the utmost cordiality. The people seemed pleased with my extreme plainness of dress, of manners, or preaching. But the state of things seemed very unfavorable at first. A heavy debt encumbered the church property, more, indeed, than the property was worth. After the house was built, the war came on. Business was depressed, and especially the ship-builders, of whom there were many there, were thrown out of employment. The money that had been advanced was more than balanced by the interest which had accrued on the remaining debt. Besides this there was a lamentable want of harmony among the members. My temperament had always been extremely sensitive. It was very much so at that time. The burden that lay upon me, and my extreme anxiety brought on a headache, which became chronic, and with which I am still affected. I have never been entirely clear of it since. The people saw how I was troubled, and I believe that partly, at least, out of pity to me, the matters in dispute were dropped, the contentions in a great measure ceased, and a good degree of harmony was restored. I became strongly attached to the people, and they appeared to be so to me. The great blessing which resulted was that, strange and unusual as it was, the Saviour favored us with a gracious revival in the long, hot days and short nights of June. A considerable number of young men and boys were converted, some of whom became permanent and useful Christians. Toward the latter part of the year an effort was made to pay off, or at least to reduce, the debt. From upward of $4,000 it was reduced to about $1,300, which brought it under their control, and removed the danger losing of the property.
“I was treated with the utmost kindness by every man, woman, and child with whom I had any intercourse, and left with a warm feeling of affection and kindness to them all.
“There were four local preachers. Fithian Stratton, a very old man, long in the local ministry. He died during the year while on a visit to his friends, and I believe his native place, in Cumberland County, New Jersey. John Fernon, who had been a traveling preacher, but had located. William Clark, a very active member and a class leader as well as local preacher. The church debt was due to him, and he relinquished a large part of it. The other was James Holt, a very unassuming and inoffensive man. The local preachers did very little preaching during the year. I seldom failed to preach four sermons a week, either preaching class, or leading prayer-meetings six nights a week. Among the other members was George C. Schively, an active member, Leader and Trustee. He contributed liberally to the payment of the debt. I boarded with him and was most kindly treated. I fear he was never paid for my board, so straitened was the church at that time. He moved to New Albany, Indiana, and became a preacher. I saw an account of his death in the Western Christian Advocate some time since. The account was highly favorable. I might have said that William Clark also went to New Albany, and died soon after his removal. John Vaughan, James Keen, Jacob Keen , Robert Hodgson, and John Haines were also prominent members, and various others nearly or quite as much so. A daughter of John Haines, wife of my intimate friend, Thomas J. Taylor, is a member of my class here.
“From Kensington I was sent to Wilmington in 1818. At the next Conference (1819) the subject of the Kensington charter was brought before the Conference. William Ryland, then in charge of St. George’s, denounced it in severest terms. I had never been in the habit of speaking in the Conference, and almost the only times I ever did, was on two occasions, when I rose up against the giants of that body. This was one of these occasions. Excessively timid as I was, I ventured to rise and say that the Kensington charter was no worse than the St. George’s. Brother Ryland, in the most emphatic and positive manner, declared that it was; that it only recognized the Methodist Discipline by acknowledging its authority where it did not conflict with the charter, thus placing the charter above the Discipline. I rose again, and I believe I succeeded in showing that in every instance in which the Kensington charter deviated from the Discipline, the same deviation existed by specific enactment in the law incorporating St. George’s. It was then remarked by some one of the preachers that the Union charter was quite as objectionable as either of the other. A motion had been made to refer the Kensington charter to a committee. I had moved that the St. George’s should be referred to the same committee, and it was finally ordered that all the charters should be referred to a committee, to consist of the preacher in charge of the four stations. I had seen that the small and weak Society at Kensington was in danger of being crushed by the power that was brought against it, and, bashful as I was, I came to the rescue.
“My successor at Kensington said not a word. The brethren of St. George’s and the Union seem not to have any offense at what I did, for they both asked to have me stationed with them at that Conference. I was first read out for St. George’s, and was finally fixed at the Union. The four preachers in charge, who constituted the committee, were Solomon Sharp , St. John Street; William Ryland, St. George’s; Robert Burdy, Union, and Thomas Smith, Kensington. My colleague, Brother Burdy, informed me that Brother Sharp remarked that so long as the Societies did not interfere with the vital requirements of the Discipline, and not attempt to prevent the occupancy of the houses, it was not worth while to dispute with them about the mode of raising the money and managing the temporal affairs of the church in their own way. This, as well as I remember, was the substance and I think the words that were used. Brother Burdy and Brother Smith agreed to this. The subject was therefore dropped. Whether or not it has since been taken up I do not know.
“While I was at Kensington Martin Ruter, who was in charge of St. George’s, proposed that all the Philadelphia churches should be formed into a circuit, and all the ministers should preach in turn at all the houses. William Rider, of St. John Street, and myself acceded to the proposition, but John Emory, in charge of the Union, declined. The five houses in the plan were St. George’s, Ebenezer, Salem, St. John Street, and Kensington. The preachers were M. Ruter, S. Hill, J. Rusling, W. Rider, and S. J. Cox (Nazareth was not then an appointment; I think I never heard of it until after my return from Wilmington). The service was very hard according to this plan. For instance, on one of my days I walked from Kensington to Salem to preach in the forenoon; to Ebenezer in the afternoon, to St. John Street at night, and then home to Kensington to lodge. Every day was not quite so hard as this, but all were so hard that when the Sabbath came I was not rested from the labors of the preceding Sabbath. I was far the most feeble of the five men, and was breaking down pretty fast, but did not like to complain. But Brother Ruter, a strong athletic man, found it so severe that he was the first to propose the abandonment of his own plan, and I believe we were all glad to return to our proper stations. I think I preached about half a dozen times in each house.
“A number of the excellent young men who united with the church that year moved to New Albany. Among them Peter Stoy, William Clark, and John Evans. The two former did not live long. John Evans became wealthy, and was the principal means of building a new house, as I understand, for an additional station. I saw an account of his death in the Western Christian Advocate some years ago. Another excellent young man, Henry Bassett, went to Mobile, Ala. I received a message from him some years ago.
“I think it likely that I have written many things that you already know, or of which are of no importance. You will of course only make use of what you think proper, if indeed, any part is worthy of notice. Should you publish a book I do not wish to be made prominent in it, even if mentioned at all, and I have no desire that my picture should appear in it. I feel some reluctance to send the picture. I never was handsome, and old age has not improved my appearance. I send a larger picture to Brother Lybrand. Brother John Eddleton, in Kensington, has a small one, and my especial friend Edmund J. Yard, of the Union, another.
“And now hoping and praying that you may be successful in every useful enterprise, I must close this very long and I fear tedious epistle.
“ Samuel J. Cox”
He died August 23d, 1870, the year in which this letter was written.
As noted in the above letter, the members of the church adopted a charter this year, on July 15th, 1817. It contains only the usual features of such an instrument for the government at a Methodist Episcopal Church, except that the pastor was ex-officio President of the Board. W. Clark was elected Treasure and Robert Hodgson, Secretary.
1818. Thomas Davis. Members, 181.
The prosperity of the church was retarded by its debt. William Clark, the principal creditor, agreed with the Trustees to receive $625 for his claim of $1,000 against the lot and annual ground-rent, if paid in six months. The money was borrowed and a deed executed in favor of the Trustees.
1819. Thomas Smith. Members,196.
The charter of the church was approved by the Annual Conference.
1820. Richard Sneath. Members, 166.
1821. William Smith. Members, 143.
During his pastorate the first Methodist Sabbath-School Association for the District of Kensington was organized on February 22d, 1822. A union Sunday-School Association had been maintained for years.
A very important step was taken this year in the formation of a Church Sunday-school. A union school had been maintained for years by the Northern Liberties Sunday-School Association. In the month of June, 1821, all who desired to connect themselves with the Kensington M. E. Sunday School were invited to meet in the church. The following teachers responded, and a separate school was organized:
George C. Schively, Matthias Cremer,
James Mickle, John Blanchard,
Thomas Elston, Benjamin Young, Sr.,
John W. Schively, Elizabeth Johnson,
George Schively, Jr., Ann Thomas,
David Sprong, Eleanor Vanhorn.
Samuel Bacon, Sarah Lutz,
William Murphy, Mary Robinson.
Joseph Johnson, Mary Hammett,
Jacob Andrews, Margaret Van Dusen.
Henry Bassett, Amy Elwine,
David Clayton, Elizabeth Dewart,
William Cobb, Susanna Sedinger,
Henry Pitcher, Margaret McAllister,
Frederick Emerick, Kezia Reaver,
William Bennett, Ann Sharp,
Jacob Faunce, Elizabeth Zargable,
David Clunn, Margaret Keen,
Joseph Vaughan, Deborah Conn,
Rev. William Mann, Elizabeth Boleau,
Jesse Harman, Susanna Roberts,
Ephraim Rulon, Susanna Beideman,
DIRECTORS AND DIRECTRESSES
Andrew Dewart, Ann Brustar,
John Bennett, Margaret Wright,
Adam Heinbach, Maria Murphy,
William Vaughan, Artemesia Parker,
David Clayton, Samuel Bacon,
Directors and directresses performed the same duties assigned to superintendents now.
On February 22d, 1822, in accordance with a public notice, “The first Sabbath-School Association for the District of Kensington” was organized. The Constitution was very elaborate. The internal regulations are worthy of a place in these pages.
DUTIES OF CHILDREN
“First class shall recite in the morning that portion of Scripture Committed to memory during the week. In the afternoon recite Catechism…read and spell from the Testament, and to prove lying, swearing, and disobedience to parents, etc., to be condemned by the Word of God, so that each scholar may produce three passages of Scripture against each of those sins.
“The Second Class shall read in the spelling-book, study the spelling lessons, and spell out of book. In the afternoon recite hymns.
“The Third Class shall be employed in spelling.
“The Fourth Class shall be taught the alphabet. All the classes are to receive religious instruction.”
The officers were: President, Rev. W. Smith; Treasurer, George C. Schively; Secretary, Samuel Bacon.
The average attendance of scholars was 130. Scripture recitations, 675; catechetical, 108.
1822-1823. Solomon Sharp. “One of the most remarkable men of Methodistic olden time. The best every-day preacher of the time.” (P. Coombe). He was a very attentive pastor. In a Sabbath address to the congregation he remarked: “I have visited you so often, and you know me so well, that now even your dogs don’t bark at me.”
Members, 150 first year, 232 second year. Receipts for 1823, $537.49.
The early Methodists were earnest men and therefore positive men. Two incidents this year show this. The peace of the church was very much ruffled by a report that Rev. Sylvester Hill was to be reappointed to the charge, and a male members’ meeting was called to consider the matter. A committee was sent with a decided remonstrance to the Bishop, objecting to him on account of “ bodily infirmities.” The result was that in 1824, Samuel S. Kennard was appointed. Members, 257.
A poor fund was established this year, and the first collection was 424.00.
The Trustees of St. George’s denied the right of other Methodist Churches to hold meetings within certain bounds claimed by them, but the Trustees of Kensington replied to that assumption by the following resolution: “ When any member or members of the Kensington M. E. Church may think proper to establish a place of meeting contrary to the alleged line drawn by the St. George’s Church as aforesaid, he shall by us be supported; any articles, rules, or other instruments of writing by the said St. George’s Church to the contrary not-withstanding.”
The following entry appears in the Church Record in the writing of S. S. Kennard, pastor:
“Shortly after Conference it was evident that days of grace were not far distant; some were awakened and a few converted, while a general quickening appeared among the members. About the 1st of August, 1824, our expectation were even more than realized. A glorious and powerful revival commenced, which has continued to the present time, April 12th, 1825. We suppose that more than 150 have professed conversion, several professed sanctification, and nearly 170 received into the Society.” ( Extract from Church Record.)
1825. S. S. Kennard was reappointed. Members, 359.
In the Midst of the second year Brother S. S. Kennard, for certain personal reasons, left the church, and organized an independent Methodist Church, and built a frame church on Richmond below Shackamaxon Street. A few sympathizers followed him, but the Society had a brief existence. Samuel Grace was placed in charge of Kensington until after Conference.
1826. George G. Cookman. Members, 251. It was this year associated with St. John’s, but had a separate pastor, and one whose name is immortal. It was his first appointment. He was born in England, and embarked for America March 3d, 1825, landing at Philadelphia May 16th of the same year. He was received as a local preacher by Rev. Joseph Lybrand, who was then the Presiding Elder of the district, and attached himself to St. George’s. At the next session of the Philadelphia Conference he was received as a travelling preacher, and was appointed to Kensington. During this year he returned to England to see his friends and to fulfill a matrimonial engagement, being absent three months. He filled various appointments in the Conference, and in 1833 was transferred to the Baltimore Conference. He was elected Chaplain to Congress in 1838 and again in 1839. He was among the best pulpit orators. His style was nervous and often elegant, and such was the power of his imagination he was seldom at a loss for images of beauty and apt illustrations. Being a man of intense filling himself he possessed the power of arousing the feelings of his audience. He was an able advocate of our benevolent institutions, and his assistance was eagerly sought at their annual celebrations. He had many seals to his ministry. The thrilling and effective appeals he was wont to make to the judgment and feeling may no more vibrate upon the ears or sink into the heart of crowded assemblies, but the remembrance of them will call up recollections of the man who, under God, was made the instrument of the conversion of many souls. After an absence of fourteen years he determined to return to England, that he might receive the blessing of an aged father and visit the grave of a sainted mother. A few days before he left home, he said, in a conversation with his children: “ Now, boys, remember, if your father should sink in the ocean, his soul will go direct to the Paradise of God, where you must meet him.” On the 11th day of March,1841, he embarked at New York in the steamship ”President,” which has not been heard since. Two sons, Alfred and John E., succeeded in the ministry. The name of the first will appear again in these annals.
A plot of ground on Hanover Street was purchased as a burial-ground, between Duke and West Street, now Thompson and Belgrade, at a cost of $700. It is still owned by the church and used as a place of interment.
The Sunday-School, up to this date, met in the gallery of the church, but the place was so unsuitable that a lot was bought in the rear of the present church from Ely Deal, on a ground- rent of $10, and a two-story building erected, 25 by 40 feet. Cost about $400. In this year two superintendents - George C. Shively and John Bennett - were elected to govern the Sunday-School instead of eight directors.
1827-1828. W. W. Wallace. Members, 243.
The Sunday-School, up to this date, had been connected with the American Sunday-School Union, but in 1828 it withdrew, and united with the Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The name of Rev. Joseph Holdich appears on the minutes of the Sunday-School Association for the month of March as Chairman of the meeting. He became an eminent divine, an honor to the Church, and rendered distinguished service as the Secretary of the American Bible Society from 1849 to 1878.
The church was deeply impressed with the necessities of the poor, and on January 2d, 1827, an undenominational organization was effected for their relief under the name of the East Kensington Benevolent Society. It has never ceased in this noble work, but, if possible, increased its diligence.
An encouraging effort was made to systematize the church finances. And a committee waited upon the members to secure a pledge from each of ten cents per week for the support of the church.
A singular method was adopted to secure greater fidelity of offices and teachers of the Sunday-School. Teachers not sitting with their classes during time of divine service were fined 6.25 cents, and the Superintendent, for neglect of duty, 12.50 cents.
The new school-house was dedicated. The upper room rented to the Masonic Lodge. Four superintendents were elected instead of two.
1829-1830. R. W. Petherbridge. Members, 316 first, and 248 second year. The salary for 1829 was $282.
1831-1832. Bartholomew Weed. Number of members, first year, 284, and second year, 392. A man of simple tastes and manners. His ministry marked by clearness, warmth, and strength; heroic and magnanimous in spirit.
Twenty feet were added to the front of the lot on Richmond Street, at cost of $2,200. The ground was occupied by a two-story brick house, which became the parsonage. At the close of the Conference year, February 8th, 1833, it was decided to enlarge the church, and a contract for that purpose was effected with Ralph H. Smith for the sum of $4,500. The contract was duly executed, and the church occupied the next year. The new church faced Queen Street, the old, Marlborough Street. The basement story was not completed.
1833-1834. William A. Wiggins, father of Rev. A. M. Wiggins, of the Philadelphia Conference. “A good preacher, of business habits, and deservedly popular” (P. Coombe). Number of members: first year,480; second year, 516. Number of scholars, 279. Twenty-five thousand verses of Scripture and 750 hymns were recited in the Sunday-School during the second year. This custom was retained for several years, and an exact report submitted at the monthly sessions of the Sunday-School Board.
The dedication of the new church took place July 21st, 1833. Rev. J. P. Durbin, D.D., preached in the morning, from the text II Chronicles, vi, 18, “ But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?” etc. Rev. Bartholomew Weed preached in the afternoon, from the text Isaiah xxviii,16, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone,” etc. Rev. Charles Pitman, D.D., preached in the evening.
The Association adopted a Sunday-School organized in Richmond Village, now Port Richmond, and it was designated School No. 2. It had an attendance of 84. In 1842 it was cut off for a while, and it arranged for an independent existence, but afterward was reunited with Kensington.
Three important matters were determined in July, 1833,viz.: That the males occupy the seats under the western gallery and the eastern side of the center block, and the females the seats under the eastern gallery and western side of the center block. G. C. Schively, David Clayton, John Eggleton, and G. J. Hamilton were appointed a committee to attend to it. It was also decided, after some debate, to substitute baskets for purses in taking the collection on the main floor. The purses were used in the gallery for several years afterward. Further, after some debate, the choir was located in the front gallery. Such was the salivary excitement from the use of tobacco that fifty spittoons were bought for use in the church in 1833. The salary of the preacher was $400.
Toward the close of the first year, the Trustees decided to “ascertain the preference of each member for a pastor the ensuing year. It was therefore proposed, and acceded to, that each member write the name of whatever person he desired. This being done, it was found that every member had written the name of W. A. Wiggins. A committee was appointed to so notify the Bishop” (extract from Minutes).
1835-1836. James Smith, Jr. A man of genial spirit, a fair preacher, of fine appearance, and a ready speaker. Number of members in 1835, 466; in 1836, 382. The upper room of the school-house was granted to the Kensington Debating Society, afterward Kensington Institute, which still exists, for its meetings. About this time candles were displaced by oil lamps for lighting the church. There was some dissatisfaction during the first year, owing to disturbances in the choir. About 81 members seceded and, organizing the Melody M.E. Church, rented a building at Hope and Thompson Streets, known as the “Hemp House.” A male members’ meeting was held May 4th, 1836, and an elaborate remonstrance against the official recognition of the seceders was adopted, and also a resolution severely censuring the Presiding Elder for his conduct in the matter. A copy of the paper, by order of the meeting, was sent to the Presiding Elder, and another to the Annual Conference. But the protest was laid aside and East Kensington Mission was announced as an appointment. It had a short life.
In the midst of internal strife and serious annoyances from creditors, plans were adopted and contracts were made for the completion of the basement, which included the eastern half of the church cellar, with an entrance on Marlborough Street under the steps leading to the main door of the church, and the work was done at an expense of $377.96, although it was not ready for occupancy until the next year .
A Sinking Fund Society, to pay the debt on the church, was organized November 17th, 1835. It raised considerable money, and was dissolved February 22d, 1842.
An effort was made to systematize the contributions of the members, and after a canvass of the entire church, the class leaders reported 437 members, and that 230 had agreed to pay in monthly installments the total sum of $618.40 for the year.
1837. John B. Hagany. “A close reader of books. At times a marvelous orator. The sweetest preacher of his day.” Number of members, 282. The decrease in part explain by the secession of the previous year.
At the request of the Annual Conference, the Trustees supplied the parsonage with heavy furniture. The salary was $400.
1838-1839. Henry G. King. “Truly eloquent in both prayer and sermon, and exceedingly clear in the exposition of Bible truth and doctrine. Attractive in personal appearance, one of the most genial, courteous, and best inclined ministers ever in the pulpit. A special favorite with the children; fond of good shouting and hearty ‘Amens.’ Simple as a child and exceedingly demonstrative.” He was very effective in winning souls. His name is written deep in the memory of some who now survive. He was the means of adding many to the church. Number of members in 1839 was 355. The Sunday-School was governed by two male and two female superintendents for the year 1839.
1840-1841. George Lacey. His sermons were always instructive and some times overpowering. He was a devoted pastor, and many sheaves were gathered by him in his social contact with people. Number of members in 1840, 480; in 1841, 540. The spiritual growth of the church is indicated in the advance made in its numerical strength. The Sunday- School received the utmost attention. It had always been well officered, and never better than at this date. The governing body was changed to the Sabbath-School Association of the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church. Matthia Creamer was Superintendent; Henry Kessler, Treasurer; George J. Hamilton, Secretary, and Joseph Bennett, Librarian. The Sunday- School decided to go on an excursion June 9th, 1840, and its first summer outing was to Second Street Woods, about two miles from the church, to and from which they walked in procession. Each teacher was fined 50 cents for not attending the excursion unless prevented by a reasonable excuse. The time spent on the ground was occupied chiefly with religious exercises. The subject of temperance was quite prominent in the school.
1842-1843. John S. Inskip. A man of great energy, a strong preacher, a born reformer. He became celebrated above all else as the advocate of the doctrine of entire sanctification. Number of members in 1842, 600; in 1843, 700. The figures show the effect of his ministry. He was a soul-saving preacher.
1844. James Neill. Gifted with an eloquent tongue and a warm heart. He had both pathos and humor in a remarkable degree, and both were consecrated to God. He took a prominent part in the defense of the Bible in the public schools, a subject that this year stirred the public mind to a violent degree. Number of members, 665. The salary was increased to $450.
The slavery agitation now exciting the entire nation, reached the Quarterly Conference; and Solomon Higgins, Presiding Elder, presented a paper reciting the perils of the Church, deploring the use of intemperate and harsh language, and seconding the call of the Illinois Conference for a session of the General Conference for May, 1846, which was unanimously adopted. The charter was slightly amended this year.
1845-1846. James Smith. He was a very successful minister. His term here was not distinguished by unusual effects. But he built up the church in faith and virtue. Numbers of members in 1845, 600; in 1846, 517.
1847-1848. J. L. Houston. Eccentric in manner and singular in his personal appearance. He was an earnest preacher, and sometimes quite interesting and effective. Number of members in 1847, 512; in 1848, 515; Sunday-School scholars, 353. Port Richmond was attached to Kensington, and J. B. McCullough, now editor of The Philadelphia Methodist, was appointed preacher.
1849-1850. David Dailey, Alfred Cookman. The senior preacher was a man of great influence and power; his person was impressive, for he was fully six feet high. He was one of the editors of the Hymn Book-edition of 1847. The junior preacher was a son of George G. Cookman, who was one of the early pastors, and destined to rank as one of the most saintly of men and eloquent preachers. The following letter to J. Walter Jackson, in 1869, is like restoring the dead to life in its vigor and love:
“WILMINGTON, September 14th, 1869.
MY DEAR BROTHER JACKSON: I have your note. It would be my joy to be in at the Kensington family gathering. September work, however, in the home field is so engrossing that I will have to deny myself of this gratification, though “Old Brick,” as you entitle it, is enshrined in my most sacred memories. On that corner my excellent father began his brief but eventful ministry. There I, his unworthy son, had one of my first delightful fields of labor. Father Dailey, so wise, gentle, pure, lovely, and good was my senior colleague at that time. He gave the orders, and I with the Kensington people, a brave and blessed band, tried to execute them. God favored us, and had two years full of the inspring joy of victory. Oh! What scenes were witnessed, what triumphs we shared around that hallowed altar. We will never all gather again. Father Dailey, my noble colleague, is with Jesus in Glory Land, which is far better. So is Father Brindle, so is Sister Cramer, so is Brother Theodore Birely, so are many others with whom we took sweet counsel.
“A goodly number, however, of my precious Kensington friends still linger on the shores of time, and will be present at your Congregation Reunion. Please say to them for me that I still remember with liveliest gratitude their kindness to me in my early ministry, and that I still love them all as sincerely and warmly as in 1851.
“They will assemble in their family gathering on the same corner, but in a larger and finer church than that occupied by their fathers. The present structure in its surroundings, size, style and spirit always reminds me of a magnificent ship under full sail, careering along in the direction of its destined port. Let its captain, the beloved pastor, be filled with the Spirit, let its entire membership be sanctified wholly, let holiness to the Lord stream definitely and constantly from its mast-lead and 1860 and 1870 shall mark unprecedented progress and success in the history of the “ Old Brick.”
“Grace Church, a beautiful craft in these Delaware waters, signals affectionate greeting to Old Kensington.
“after a while we will anchor together, and the crews mingle amid the peace love, and glory of the same eternal home. Hallelujah to the Lamb!
“This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way,
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
“ From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign,
Through all eternity.
“ God bless you and yours, my old comrade and friend,
“ P.S.- On Sabbath afternoon I will be thinking of you in your family gathering. Would it be improper to ask the Kensington friends to sing as they can sing the last two verses of the 290th hymn to the tune and with the chorus of
“ Oh, how I love Jesus because He first loved me.”
“ Remember this is my testimony at your meeting. While they sing it in Philadelphia I will sing it in Wilmington, and the strain ascending shall fill the ear of the same blessed Jesus, who I believe at the same moment looks lovingly on the congregation, and on their former unworthy pastor.”
George W. Brindle was recommended to the Presiding Elder as a suitable preacher to be employed in the regular work. The Sunday- School scholars presented him with a horse for his circuit work as a mark of esteem and an evidence of their sincere and best wishes for his welfare. Number of members in 1849, 540; 1850, 530. Probationers,100. Port Richmond is still a part of the charge.
1851-1852. H. R. Calloway; R. W. Thomas, supernumerary. The preacher in charge was well furnished for his work, and was especially effective in exhortation. His associate was a devout, practical man, who aimed to set forth in the plainest terms the doctrines of the Gospel. The tide of revival swept on each year. M. A. Day was recommended to the Annual Conference and was received on trial. J. S. Lame was recommended to the Presiding Elder for employment in the ministry. Number of members in 1851, 600; scholars, 231. In 1852, members, 610; probationers, 80; scholars, 562. Port Richmond was detached at the Conference of 1852.
1853-1854. Pennell Coombe. A man of splendid physique, compact, flexible, and strong one who believed what he said, and expected others to believe it. Fearless, bold, a clear and convincing logician. As a preacher, polemist, advocate, and leader of thought few have excelled him. He was the dire foe of the liquor traffic, and no man was better equipped to grapple it. Number of members in 1853, 587; probationers, 85. In 1854, members, 600; probationers, 205; scholars, 400.
The following I have copied from his own pen: “ The members and congregation of the Kensington M. E. Church worshiped for twenty years previous to the year 1853 in the edifice at the corner of Queen and Marlborough Street, known by the familiar name of the “Old Brick.”
When built the house was sufficiently large for the congregation, but as the classes met in private houses there were no class-room provided, and they continued to meet there until the year above named.
“The lecture-room, being in the basement and partly below ground, was not only too small for the then increasing Society, but became damp and unhealthy. In consequence of this state of things the prayer-meetings were not well attended, and thus the interest of the church suffered. It having become apparent that the Society could not increase its numbers nor extend its influence, and not being able to accommodate those who were anxious to attend the ministry of the church nor to furnish room for the Sabbath-School; two of which met out of the building-absolute necessity of a new church edifice became self-evident.
“After several ineffectual efforts to build, the Trustees, by and with the consent of the members, determined, at the commencement of 1853, to obey the Scriptural injunction, and enlarge the place of their tend and stretch forth the curtain of their habitation.
“They accordingly procured suitable plans, drawn by L. D. Burton, Architect, and issued their call for proposals for building, in the month at March of the same year,”
They also applied to the presiding Bishop of the Philadelphia Annual Conference, Rev. Thomas A. Morris, for the appointment of a suitable pastor. Rev. Pennell Coombe was appointed, who entered upon the discharge of his duties on the first Sabbath of April, 1853.
The pastor no sooner entered upon his duties than the idea of a new church assumed definite shape. At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees, on April 11th, 1853, proposals were received for a new church. Subsequently a conference was held with the two lowest bidders to obtain their closest estimates, and at an adjourned meeting of the Board, on April 13th, 1853, it was agreed to award the contract to Mr. Zebedee Dobbins. A male members meeting, held April 19th, sanctioned the plans of the Board, and authorized the Board of Trustees to proceed forthwith to contract for and build the said new church edifice, 65 feet wide by 90 feet long, at a cost of $15,300, “and we do hereby pledge our full support to aid them to the utmost extent of our ability.”
On April 27th, 1853, the contract was signed, and the work of demolition begun, following by the erection of the new house covering the site of the former church and parsonage and part of the burial-ground. The Building Committee were George J. Hamilton, President and Treasurer; Rev. P. Coombe, Secretary; Franklin Eyre, Joseph Bennett, Joseph Lippincott, and David Duncan.
While the building was being erected, the congregation, with the Sunday-School and Branch School No.2, met in the room of the Kensington Engine Company. School No. 1 held its session in Kensington Masonic Hall. The lecture-room was dedicated December 11th, 1853. Before the day of opening, $7,150 had been subscribed, and a very large additional subscription was secured when it was opened. The main auditorium was dedicated May 28th, 1854. Rev. John P. Durbin, D. D., preached in the morning from the text, John i, 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taken away the sin of the world.” Rev. Francis Hodgson in the afternoon, and Rev. John F. Inskip in the evening.
Large subscriptions were made during the day, and the church started again on its mission of salvation with great enthusiasm. J. M. Hinson was recommended to the Presiding Elder for the work of the ministry. At this time no person was admitted to the Sunday-School as a scholar under five years of age.
1855-1856. Anthony Atwood. An expositor of the Scriptures of rare ability. He enriched the Scriptural life of his hearers by feeding them the very bread of Heaven. He was full of hope and joy. A friend of the people who could make them feel that he loved them. He paid much attention to the children, and they were fond of him. Number of members in 1855, 645; probationers,184; scholars, 550. In 1856, members, 714; probationers, 65; scholars, 800. The Sunday-School showed wonderful prosperity. The library was increased from 1,000 to 1,887 volumes. The Anthony Atwood Sunday School was organized in the water-works building, foot of Otis Street, April 29th, 1855, with 38 officers and 250 scholars. Superintendent, Alfred Flanders.
Only members of the church were admitted to the love feasts in these times, and those only on presentation of a ticket or a note from pastor, and when the hour for commencing arrived the door was locked, and no more were admitted.
The original title to the property given by the “Corporation of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia” was too indefinite to be satisfactory to the creditors of the church, and therefore, by an amicable arrangement, suit was instituted, in 1855, against the Trustees for amount due on ground-rent, and judgment rendered in favor of the petitioners. The sheriff exposed the property at public sale, and it was bought by Jacob Keen and George C. Schively, Surviving Trustees of the original Board, for the sum of $225. The following year they conveyed all right and title in the property to the Kensington Corporation, and at the same time assigned and surrendered the ground-rent deed to the Trustees, and it then merged in the general title.
1857. Thomas C. Murphy. A man of clear intellect, with a well-furnished mind, and a forcible preacher. Always the refined Christian pastor. He stayed but one year, being appointed Presiding Elder in 1858. Number of members, 722; probationers, 44; scholars. 761.
The Lord poured out His Spirit on the community in unusual measure, and under the ordinary agencies of the church many were drawn to the church and saved. The Sunday- School especially shared in the revival. Fully 90 per cent of the probationers were received into full membership. Two additional Schools were organized, one named McKendree, located on Frankford Road, Alfred Flanders, superintendent, and the other on Howard Street near Norris, Joseph Lippincott and Joseph Bennett, superintendents. Salary this year, $900.
1858. Robert H. Pattison. He was cast in the finest mold. Tall and well proportioned, dignified and genial, with a voice that, in the reading of hymn, was as impressive as the tones of a great organ. His sermon were Scriptural and his prayers inspiring. Number of members, 702; probationers,228; scholars, 761. The R. H. Pattison School, designated No. 3, was organized at Duke and Ash Streets, in a carpenter shop. Daniel B. Mickle, superintendent. Officers and teachers,19; scholars, 150.
The accompanying letter is replete with kindly reflection from this man of God:
1017 Race Street, Philadelphia, September 16th,1869.
“Rev. J. Walker Jackson, Pastor of Kensington M. E. Church.
“Dear Brother:- The year that I spent as pastor of the Kensington Church was to me a very pleasant one. The members of the church received us with a cordiality that I have not, cannot forget. Brother Jackson, some of the very best friend that I have ever had were found in the congregation you now serve. Some of them are in Heaven now, and it will be pleasant to meet them on the shining shore. Others still remain in the church militant, and it does me good to feel the warm grasp of their hand as I meet them along the pathway of life.
“I remember a family gathering we held in your grand old church; it was Tuesday afternoon, but every part of the house was crowded. What a glorious meeting it was. At your family gathering on Sunday afternoon, may the Holy Ghost fill the church, and fill each heart therein. I shall think of you and pray for you.
“While in Kensington death visited my family, and from the parsonage on Queen Street, above Palmer, we buried a lovely boy. He is in Heaven today. I wonder if the spirit of a kind lady, who with others, watched with us day and night, has recognized him among the redeemed in Heaven? God bless you and your people today and every day.
Robert H. Pattison.”
1859-1860. James Cunningham. A sturdy yeoman, ever valiant for God, the Church, and humanity. There was some feeling over his assignment, because they had asked for another man and were refused, but as the people acquainted with him they felt that he was a true servant of God, and he was warmly cherished by them. He held a revival meeting in a frame building erected by the Kensington charge, at the corner of Moyer and Otis Street, that resulted in the organization of Siloam M. E. Church. Number of members in 1859, 820; scholars, 1,100. In 1860, members, 676; scholars, 932.
At the session of the Annual Conference, held in March, 1860, Siloam was recommended as a separate charge, and the neighboring Sunday-School, Attwood and Pattison, composed of 470 scholars, were transferred to it.
1861-1862. J. H. Lightbourn. A chaste preacher, whose sermons were well digested and warmly delivered. He was always interesting and instructive. Number of members in 1861, 676; probationers, 36; Scholars, 902.
In 1862, members, 520; probationers, 160; scholars, 660.
The Sunday-School was organized into a missionary society, on April 9th, 1861. President, D. M. Test; Secretary, W. McDonald; Treasurer, L. C. Simon. The collections for the year aggregated $200, part of which was appropriated for home work.
In 1862 William P. Howell was recommended to the Presiding Elder as a suitable person to preach the Gospel.
“ Parsonage of Fourth Avenue M. E. Church,
1136 Fourth Avenue
“ Brooklyn, February 22d, 1893”
“ My Dear Brother Swindells:- The following is an excerpt from memoranda written about twenty-five years ago:
“At the fifty-eight session of Philadelphia Conference (1861) held in Union Church, Philadelphia, I was appointed by Bishop James to the Kensington Church. My first year was among the most successful of my ministry. One of the most extraordinary revivals occurred. In one week 92 professed conversion. On Sabbath, March 2d, when I gave the invitation for the converts to join the church on probation, they rose like a flock of birds all over the congregation, and 67 surrounded the great altar of the church. Between 200 and 300 professed a change of heart, and I received 180 on probation.”
“As you desire brevity, I will not trouble you with other reminiscences. Shadow and sunshine alternately rested upon my home at Kensington, but private matters do not interest the public.
“ Yours Truly, James H. Lightbourn”
The second year was distinguished by a widespread revival, in which 170 were added to the church on probation.
1863-1864-1865. John H. Alday. Slender, six feet in height, measured in speech, a natural and impressive speaker, social, keeping in touch with the home life of the church. Number of members in 1863, 675; probationers,13; scholars, 650. In 1865, members, 800; probationers, 16; Scholars, 750.
Dr. Alday came to the church in war times. The church was thoroughly aroused in support of the Government. The district in which it stood was intensely American. The Stars and Stripes floated over the front entrance of the church, so that whoever entered the building was compelled bow to the flag. Many of its members had enlisted, while many young men at the front had been members of the Sunday-School. To show the patriotism of the church, it is worthy of note that the day succeeding the Battle of Gettysburg, although it was Sunday, twelve sewing-machines were brought into the lecture-room, the Sunday-School was dismissed, and the entire afternoon was devoted to the manufacture of hospital raiment and the picking of lint. At the same time a meeting was held in the main audience-room, and addressed by Colonel Edgar M. Gregory, of the 91st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, who referred with much enthusiasm to the large number of young men of the church who were on the roster of his regiment. On July 4th,1862, at the opening of the war, a Ladies Aid Society was formed “ to furnish relief to sick and wounded soldiers.” The officers were: Mrs. Mary B. Hort, President; Mrs. J. P. Cramer, Vice-President; Mrs. L. C. Simon, Secretary; Mrs. Geo. J. Hamilton, Treasurer. It accomplished a vast amount of good, and was only dissolved with the return of peace. The Banner of the Cross and the flag of our Union have always floated from the same staff in the “Old Brick.” On the death of President Lincoln the church was draped in mourning and a portrait of the president suspended over the pulpit platform, with the words “ Our Chief has fallen,” inscribed beneath it. A preamble and resolutions, submitted by M. Z. Senderling, M. D., exalting the virtues of the great Chief Magistrate and deploring his death, were adopted by the Quarterly Conference, and it was ordered that they should be “ entered upon the journal as a record of our uncompromising loyalty to our country in this her hour of trial.”
A parsonage was purchased at 247 Richmond Street, at a cost of $5,000. The sum of $1,200 was raised by subscription, as part payment on it, and the balance secured by a note and mortgage.
1866-1867. William J. Paxson. Vigorous in body, soul. and spirit. An intelligent, direct, biblical, earnest ambassador of Christ, loving the soul of men and seeking to save the lost. Positive in his belief, and preaching what he believed. He both sowed and reaped, for many were brought to Christ under his ministry. The plague of large cities - Asiatic cholera - raged with great fury during his pastorate, but true to his office he remained at his post. Number of members in 1866, 714; probationers, 50; scholars, 700. In 1867, members, 619; probationers, 90; scholars, 600. In 1868, members, 669; probationers, 51;scholars, 600.
A Ladies’ Auxiliary to the general society for the support of the Methodist Episcopal home for Aged and Infirm Methodists was organized October 8th, 1867.
A Ladies’ Mite Society was formed March 9th, 1869, in class-room No. 4. The purpose of the society was to take charge of and provide for the maintenance of the parsonage, in furniture and such other articles as would conduce to the comfort and convenience of the pastor and his family. Mrs. Elizabeth Senderling was elected President; Mrs. Jennie Hamilton, Vice-President; Mrs. E. J. Anderson, Secretary; Mrs. E. D. Simon, Treasurer.
The following letter will delight those who know the author, as it contains the salient fact of this period:
“4231 Paul Street, Frankford, Philadelphia, January 19th, 1893.
“ Mr. Chas. H. Dedaker, Secretary.
“Dear Brother:- Your polite note of 18th inst. Is at hand, and contents noted.
“I succeeded Rev. John H. Alday, M. D., in the pastorate of the Old Brick, at the Conference of 1866, receiving my appointment pursuant to the invitation and request of the official members of the church, with not one of whom had I any acquaintance. I entered on my work with much timidity, feeling the effect of the contrast between myself and my eloquent and popular predecessor. I was, however, received with much cordiality and kindness by the church; a kindness which was continued throughout my term of service.
“I found the names of 714 full members on the list, and 50 probationers. I found it necessary, during the year, to revise and correct the list of the members, reducing it, notwithstanding some accessions, to 619 members at the Conference of 1867, while I was able also to report 90 probationers.
“The church was in debt, in 1866, to the amount of $10,600, secured by mortgage on the church edifice, and $2,500 on the parsonage, 247 Richmond Street, then recently purchased. There were also unpaid bills, and notes in bank to the amount, I think, of about $800, representing a deficit on account of current expenses. It was the custom to take a special collection, semi-annually, of $300 to $400 to meet interest payments. We took one such collection in June, 1866, after which we introduced a new financial system, increasing the receipts for class-money from $1,670 to $2,840 (if I recollect rightly), and obviating the necessity for further special collections.
“In 1867, after many private consultations, I brought before the Board of Trustees the subject of an effort to pay the church debt, which represented a considerable part of the original cost of the building. An organization was effected, subscription books were placed in the hands of the members and friends of the church, monthly meetings were held to receive reports, and after strong effort we succeeded in raising in cash $8,000. Finding further progress difficult the ladies were called into consultations, and it was resolved to hold a fair, from which all objectionable features should be excluded. The ladies worked, as usual, with zeal, energy, and perseverance. The fair was held in American Mechanics’ Hall, corner of Fourth and George Streets from November 4th to November 17th, 1868. It was very successful. The net proceeds were $2,600, a sum which, added to the $8,000 previously collected, enable us to pay off the whole mortgage dept on the church building, amounting to $10,600, and leaving only the parsonage debt of $2,500 at the close of my term, and a bill for repairing and painting the hall and vestibules, incurred just previous to the Conference of 1869.
“The visitation of the Asiatic cholera, which became epidemic in July, 1866, and raged with great severity in the Eighteenth Ward, and indeed throughout the city, rendered the pastoral work unusually laborious, and interrupted the regular and systematic visitation in which I was engaged, and which I was never able satisfactorily to complete. Great numbers of our neighbors were stricken, and many died, among whom were several of our own members. God graciously preserved me and my family, and I was enabled to respond to every call for service, whether by day or by night.
“During my term quite a number of person were converted at our altar and joined the church on probation. I think, about 170, most of whom became full members. My report to the Conference of 1869, when my term expired, was: members, 683; probationer, 35. During my term of three years, 46 of our members died in the faith, and went to their reward. I expect to greet them on the other shore.
“ W.J. Paxson.”
1869-1871. J. Walker Jackson. Slight of physique, fertile in mind, fluent of speech, tropical in thought and style, strong in power of reasoning and feeling. True as he was strong, a friend of the oppressed, a patriot of patriots. God greatly blessed his preaching and personal labor. Number of members in 1869, 679; probationers, 35; scholars, 600. In 1871, members, 695; probationers, 40; scholars, 486. The church commemorated its origin on Sunday, September 19th, 1869, in a family gathering of former pastors and members with those then connected with the church. The church always participated in all general church affairs, and was deeply interested in the extension of the power of the laymen. A vote on the subject of lay delegation in General Conference resulted in 284 for, 2 against.
A Young Men’s Christian Association was organized on September 29th, 1869. The following were charter members: James I. Linker, Joseph R. Mickle, George R Dingee, William A. String, Samuel Jenkins, and Frank L. Morton.
On Sunday and Monday, June 11th and 12th, 1871, the Sunday-School celebrated its golden or semi-centennial anniversary. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion. From the ceiling center-piece was suspended a large wreath, encircling the figures “50,” beneath which was a large basket of flowers, with long lines of evergreen reaching to the corners and sides of the galleries, forming a beautiful canopy. The front of the galleries was tastily festooned with evergreen, interspersed with bouquets, while hanging baskets, filled with choice plants, were suspended at various points. The whole presented a fairy-like appearance. On either side of the reading desk in the pulpit was a rustic flower-stand, filled with vines and flowers, with wreaths and garlands suspended overhead. In front of the reading desk was hung a wreath made from locks of the hair of the officers and teachers of the school. (Note: for many years, this wreath hung in the Trustees’ Room and later was brought out only for anniversary displays; unfortunately, it was stolen from the church during renovation of the Sunday School room in 1996). The altar and railing was covered with bouquets and vines in vases, urns, and rustic stands. In the pulpit recess was suspended the old banner carried by the school; in the procession so much in vogue some thirty years ago, bearing the inscription: “ Sabbath-School of the Kensington M. E. Church. Instituted 1821.”
Bishop Simpson had been engaged to preach on Sabbath morning, but the prostration consequent on his recent illness prevented his fulfilling the engagement. His place was supplied by Rev. A. J. Kynett, D. D., who preached an excellent discourse from Matthew xvi,18. In the afternoon a reunion of Siloam School, the youngest daughter of Kensington, with the parent school, was a scene of peculiar interest. About 1,200 children, with their teachers, crowded the lower floor, while the galleries and vestibules swelled the audience to at least 2,200 people. The singing rolled out grandly, and appropriate addresses were delivered by Rene Guillou and Thomas W. Price. In the evening a reunion meeting was held. Rev. A. K. Street, of the New Jersey Conference, and Thomas W. Price, both old scholars of the schools, delighted the audience with reminiscences of forty years ago. They were followed by Brother Joseph Bennett, W. M. Levis, and others. A brief sketch of the early history of the church was read by L. C. Simon.
Monday evening had been set apart as the occasion of a grand jubilee concert. The scene was beautiful. In addition to the decorations of the Sabbath, a cross composed of gas-gets with the word “Jesus” across the arms, and surrounded with the figure “50,” was placed over the reading desk. In front of the choir gallery was a blazing sun, with the “ Light of the World,” flanked on each side by a burning star, and in either gallery the words “Onward” and “Upward,” also in letters of fire. Cages with singing birds were scattered through the house. The center blocks of the church were filled with children of the school. Rev. W. J. Paxson and Rev. R. H. Pattison, D. D., former pastors, were greeted on their appearance by a rising audience and loud bursts of applause. Rev. James Neil, whose pastorate dated so far back that few were present who were associated with him then, was welcome in a manner that plainly evinced he still held a warm place in the hearts of the scholars and teachers of thirty years ago that was present.
The exercises were very interesting and entertaining. Several piece were sung and spoken by scholars of the school, and short, interesting addresses made by Rev. H. W. Warren, D. D., now Bishop, and Rev. James Neill. During the evening Rev. W. J. Paxson presented, on behalf of the school, a silver goblet to the pastor, Rev. John Walker Jackson, who, in return, presented Brother Paxson a beautiful hanging basket from a class of young ladies in the school who had been converted under his ministry. Mr. Joseph Bennett, one of the superintendents, was presented with a fine chandelier by the school, through his colleague, Lemuel C. Simon, who, in turn, was made the recipient of a handsome silver ice-pitcher and goblet from the school. Hon. William B. Mann, a son of one of the founders of the school, presented Mr. George J. Hamilton, a former superintendent, with a handsome rustic flower-stand filled with beautiful flowers. Bouquets and baskets of flowers were presented to several clergymen present and to several teachers and friends.
The whole jubilee was a grand success, and will long linger in the mind of those who witnessed it.
The following letter properly closes this epoch:
“ PARKESBURG, CHESTER CO., PA.,
March 2d, 1893
“My Dear Brother Dedaker:- I ought to have answered your letter of January 18th, long since, but I have been too busy to do more than hope from day to day for a spare day or two in which to refresh my memory and write.
“All my memories of the “Old Brick” are pleasant, and I shall take delight in the perusal of the record of the better work of others that made it then and now a power for good.
John Walker Jackson”
1872-1874. John F. Crouch. Instructive, practical, persuasive, animated in his preaching, attentive as a pastor. He obtained a strong hold upon the young people. Number of members in 1872, 610; probationers, 30; scholars, 486. 1873,members, 608; probationers, 96; scholars, 537. 1874, members, 681;probationers, 142; scholars, 675.
The idea of a young men’s hall, fostered for some time, began to take definite shape in 1872. A proposition was made by the Young Men’s Christian Association to the Trustees, offering the sun of $1,400 toward the erection of a two-story building, provided the second story be in trusted to the Association for their use, subject to the rules adopted by the Board of Trustees. Plans submitted were approved, and a contract for the erection of the building made with John Gill, for the sum of $4,800. A. H. McFaden loaned the Trustees, for the above purpose, the sum of $1,000 for five years, without interest, and at the expiration of the five years he generously donated the amount to the church. In addition to this he furnished the infant school-room at an expense of $704.67, and presented receipted bills for the entire sum, and then took charge of it as Superintendent. Brother McFadden remarked to Brother Gill, “John, we were late coming into the church, and it is time we were doing something to keep these little ones from running to waste.” He has been doing what he could to “keep them from running to waste” ever since. He is still the Superintendent of the Infant School. Special resolutions of thanks were tendered him for his liberality. The hall was dedicated in 1873. While these movements were in progress, the Sunday-School room was reseated, frescoed, and inside blinds placed at the windows, at a cost $2,000.
The action of the Annual Conference recommending the use of unfermented wine at the Lord’s Supper was approved by the Board of Trustees, and alcoholic wine was banished from the Communion Table. The appointment of Brother Crouch was at the request of the church, and the following letter from him is of deep interest:
“ Philadelphia, March 24th,1893.
“ Mr. Chas. H. Dedaker.
“Dear Brother:-Yours received, and in compliance with your request for a ‘general letter’ respecting the pastorate of the years 1872-1875, I send the following:
“At the Conference session held in March, 1872, in St. Paul’s this city, I was assigned by Bishop Ames to Kensington charge. I have believed ever since that was the order of Divine Providence. I entered upon my work with some degree of difference, owing to the increased responsibility, coming as I did from a charge in a country town and a small membership to the largest church and congregation in Philadelphia at that time. It taxed my faith and energies to the utmost, but I found very soon that there were many congenital spirits and earnest co-laborers in both church and Sunday-School.
“The young men were especially enthusiastic, and were perfecting plans for their building in the rear of the main edifice. Some of the older members did not favor it, but consent was obtained, and as provision was made in the plan for the primary department on the first floor through the liberality of Brother A H. McFadden, the opposition was greatly lessened. This addition proved during the immediately succeeding years to be a great help to the church in widening our influence in the community, as it opened a door for intellectual improvement as well as increased spiritual advantages among our own young men and those of the neighborhood. Many were brought to us who would not otherwise have come.
“Increased musical attractions were introduced into the church during this pastorate. A large pipe organ was placed in the gallery of the audience room, and a small one in the Sunday-School room. These two pipe organs had a marked influence upon the congregation and school, the latter filling the side galleries at Sunday morning service, and crowding the lower room at the Sunday-School sessions. It was a great departure for the Old Brick from primitive methods and an advance.
“Many names of young men who were identified with the church and school at that time are now prominent in the professions and in places of public trust as well as in the industrial arts. I often meet them and they greet me kindly, and call up early associations with the old church. About 325 souls were converted and joined the church; 263 were reported to Conference as probationers; 720 were the number of full members at the close of the pastorate.
“The memories of the dear old church are precious to me. Some scenes of revival power can never be forgotten, when strong men trembled under the Divine baptisms, and sinners yielded to be saved. A people more loyal to God and their church could not be found anywhere than I found in this charge. It was a united and strong society with commanding influence in the community. There was a love for the peculiarities of Methodism and for the ministry of the church that made the pastor feel he was constantly supported in his work by a warm sympathy and earnest prayers. This was specially encouraging to one pressed on all sides with the arduous duties of so large a field.
“No one can estimate these who has not tried to meet all the requirements of the Old Brick charge, with an average of from four to six funerals a week, a sum total of 305 baptisms. Beside the multiplied duties of so large a pastorate.
“My heart often turns to the fellowship of those years, the helpful seasons in the homes of the people, the triumphant scenes of departing saints, and then with delightful anticipations to the’ home over there,’ where we shall meet again. God bless those upon whom the duties and responsibilities now rest, and make them more and more to abound in love and good works than those who have preceded them.
“Ever sincerely yours, J. F. Crouch.
“I think it is a timely thought that suggests the writing of the history of the old church.”
In 1875 to 1877, William M. Ridgway. A man of acute and tender sympathy. Fervent and clear in the presentation of the Gospel. Large-hearted and bountiful. No labor was too arduous when called to minister to the distressed, bereaved, and suffering. Ready to weep with the sad rejoice with the glad. His appointment was a surprise to himself and to the people, as the church had applied for another preacher. His name had been mentioned before the Conference met, but he had promised another church and would not break his word. His first report to the Quarterly Conference reveals both his timidity and the good-will of the church. “ Unexpectedly sent to so large and influential a charge, I have fully appreciated the responsibility, and have been trying to meet it in the fear of God. The hearty welcome of the membership, the cordial greetings at their homes, and their earnest in the sanctuary have already won my heart.” Number of members, 1875, 720; probationers, 25; scholars, 700. 1876, members, 640; probationers, 25; scholars 7, 900. In 1877, members, 580; probationers, 22; scholars, 900. The reduction in the number of members reported was due to the very rigid revision of the church record. The envelope system of maintaining the revenue of the church was adopted, and some expressed the opinion that the decline upon attendance at class meeting was in part due to this change of financial plans. The Philadelphia Annual Conference held its session of 1876 in the church.
“POTTSTOWN, February 3d, 1893.
“Rev. William. Swindells, D. D.
“My Dear Brother:- It affords me pleasure to hear that you are writing the history of Kensington M. E. Church. What a record the ‘Old Brick Church’ has made. Her sons and daughters have helped to make the history of many other churches, and few charges have contributed so many to the company of the white robed, who serve God day and night in His temple. Very unexpectedly to myself and to the people I was appointed in the spring of 1875 to the pastorate of Kensington M. E. Church, to succeed Rev. John F. Crouch one of its most faithful and popular pastors. A royal welcome was extended to the new pastor and his family, and we were soon made at home among the royal people, who did their utmost to minister to our comfort and happiness. God gave us favor among this people, and we spend three of the most pleasant years of our itinerant life in their fellowship. A good degree of success attended our ministry, and we gathered some sheaves for the Master, and in all our efforts we were ably sustained by an earnest and godly company of believers. Friendships among the most precious of our lives were formed. Names ever to cherished live in our memories and affections. Some of them to whom every brick in your church was sacred, are not with you now. God has taken them, but they like live in deeds that are imperishable. The life of the pastors of such a church could not and cannot now be one of ease. So many of the families of the old district of Kensington have been associated in some way with this historic church that numerous sick call and funerals, added to those which belong to the legitimate work of the charge, makes his life one of constant engagement. An assistant pastor or a deaconess could find abundant work for every day in the year, and both the church and the community be blessed thereby.
“In the early part of our first year God brightened our home by the gift of a daughter who is now our only living child. At the close of that year the Philadelphia Annual Conference held its Session in the church, as also did the Laymen’s Electoral Conference. Most of the ministers and many of the laymen were handsomely entertained within a few squares of the church. Bishop Gilbert Haven presided over the sessions of the Conference, and never was Conference better cared for or more enjoyed. Years have slipped away, and in all our joys and sorrows we have had the fellowship and sympathy of the good people of Kensington, but the shadow of sadness is with as the faces of so many come before us who have left your ranks, and the shadow is only lifted when we remember that they swell the chorus of the redeemed in the sinless world. God bless and prosper Kensington M. E. Church and its present able and efficient pastor.
“Let me say in conclusion that no church of which I have ever been pastor can show a record of prayer-meeting attendance equal to that of the ‘Old Brick’
Wm. M. Ridgway, Pastor from 1875 to 1878.”
1878-1880. E. I. D. Pepper. Doctrinal, expository; direct, forcible, spicy, closely Scriptural as a preacher. A true, loving, and watchful shepherd of the flock of Christ. Number of members in 1878, 583; probationers, 63; scholars, 900. In 1879, members, 660; probationers, 23; scholars, 900. In 1880, members 595; probationers, 29; scholars 925.
The spiritual life of the church afforded much encouragement to pastor and people.
The ladies of the church were always ready in all its history to aid every department in every collective effort required of them. In 1879 a festival was held under their management, resulting in the net sum of $416, paid into the treasury of the Board of Trustees. This is one of many evidences of their devotion and tact for the benefit of church. The debt of the church was $6,800. On October 7th, 1879, the pastor invited George Kessler, Henry Kessler, A. H. McFadden, and William Swindells, Presiding Elder, to meet him at the parsonage. At that meeting the above laymen were informed that the object of the meeting was to consider the payment of the church debt. After an extended conference each of the laymen agreed to contribute the sum of $1,000 if the entire debt was paid. At a meeting of the Trustees, held October 17th, 1879, the offer was accepted, and the pastor and W. Swindells were appointed a committee to draft a plan, call a meeting of the members, give all that would take them subscription book, and thus enlist the church in the cause. The pastor carried out the plan, books were accepted by the members for different amounts, and the result was the committee to audit the pastor’s account reported January 25th, 1881, that $7,732 had been received, the church debt canceled, and $1,000 paid on the debt of the parsonage.
The sum paid on the parsonage was prompted by the offer and subsequent of $100 from the Young Men’s Christian Association. A debt-paying jubilee was held, at which congratulations were exchanged and thanks rendered to God for His blessing on the church. This brief letter will be read with pleasure:
“ January 27th, 1893.
“My Dear Brother Dedaker:-I can remember nothing of any special note that occurred during my pastorate at your church, except the payment of the debt on the church building, a full account of which is in possession of your Board of Trustees. I think all will agree that it was three years of general financial and spiritual prosperity. I never served any people who treated me with greater consideration and courtesy and kindness.
“ Yours truly, E. I. D. Pepper.”
1881-1883. Rev. Theodore Stevens. As a preacher, systematic, intellectual, fervid, frank, aiming at the heart and conscience. Abundant in pastoral labors. Number of members in 1881, 560; probationers, 45; scholars, 975. In 1882, members, 588; probationers, 27; scholars, 977. In 1883, members, 586; probationers, 53; scholars, 985.
The church was maintained in its unity and power in the community. Toward the close of the second year the Sunday-School was visited with a revival of religion. Brother Samuel Halstead, of New York, assisted the pastor the ensuing year and was a great blessing to many. On January 10th,1884, Brother Joseph Bennett declined a re-election to the office of Sunday School Superintendent, after having very ably served the school in that position for twenty-four years, and W. P. Simmington was elected his successor.
1884-1886. William Downey. Analytical, versatile, wide in his range of topics, energetic, dealing with present issue, distinctive in style, he drew many to hear him, and to Christ. Number of members in 1884, 599; probationers, 80; scholars, 921. In 1885, members, 616; probationers, 110; scholars, 852. In 1886, members, 658; probationers, 53; scholars, 946.
The church was largely attended, and the spirit and piety of the church kept in a state of much activity.
During the year 1885 it was decided to reseat and renovate the church. Plans were examined and approved, a contract effected, and subscriptions secured to the amount of S9,034.47. New seats, windows, and carpets were put in the audience-room and the interior repainted and frescoed at a cost $8,956.31.
The re-opening services were held on Sunday, November 1st, 1885, and such was the financial success of the enterprise that the expenses were all met by contribution in hand, exceeding the required, before the day of re-opening, and therefore no special collection was necessary. The pastor and committee were highly commended by the annual meeting for the able and efficient manner in which they had discharged their trust.
In 1886 the Sunday-School room was frescoed, re-carpeted, and stained glass windows substituted for plain glass. The Sunday-School was also reorganized and thus more room secured for additional classes.
“Miss Emma Trotter, in walking down Hanover Street, was accosted by a man whose family was sick and in a state of starvation. He was unable to procure work and would not beg. She mentioned the incident to a number of persons, and among others to several teachers, and the Sunday School Superintendent, W. P. Simmington, when some one remarked, ‘we ought to have a Dorcas Society,’ and a Sunday-School Dorcas Society was organized February 14th, 1886, that has done a vast amount of good.” - Extract from Minute Book.
1887-1889. John W. Langley. Pictoral, chaste, dealing with standard Gospel truths, often overwhelmingly eloquent, master of the entire emotional nature. Number of members in 1887, 713; probationers,128;scholars, 920. In 1888 members, 680; probationers,70; scholars, 920. In 1880, members, 680; probationers, 70; scholars,1,020. In 1889, members, 726; probationers, 45; scholars, 1,000.
A Flower Mission was organized June 3d, 1887, and many a sick has been cheered by its remembrances.
In 1888 a Tent Association was formed and a tent purchased and erected on a lot situated on Girard Avenue above East Montgomery Avenue. Services were held in it during the summer, on Sunday afternoons, and frequently during the week. This was sustained for three years, and much good was done.
It was decided to procure charts, to be suspended in the church, containing the names of the members of the church, and indicating by a mark who had contributed and dates of payment. Some objected, but all soon acquiesced in the plan. The fame of the pastor brought many strangers to the church when special topics were announced.
1890-1893. William Swindells. Number of members in 1890, 825; probationers, 30; scholars, 1,005. In 1891, members, 753; probationers, 41; scholars, 1,050. In 1892, members,775; probationers,71; scholars, 1,105. In 1893, members, 820; probationers, 37; scholars, 1,125. The roll of members was revised the first year and corrections made for such causes as death, removal, etc., reducing the membership from 825 to 721.
The question of a new parsonage, debated for years, was settled early in the year 1890. The Trustees agreed to buy a well-built and in every sense a well-arranged and commodious house at 1117 Shackamaxon Street for the sum of $8,500. In addition a sum of $418.40 was paid for carpets, fixtures, etc., making a final total of $8,918.40. At a meeting of the male members, on March 27th, 1890, the Board was authorized to effect a purchase of the afore-said property, and it was accomplished. It is a beautiful home, with few to equal and none to excel it. The ladies of church, through the Mite Society, took steps to properly furnish it, and before the pastor and his family entered it, every room was comfortably supplied with furniture. Measures were at once adopted to pay for it. The old parsonage was sold for $2,063.76, subject to a mortgage of $1,000. From other sources the sum of $313.55 was received, and during the year subscriptions were paid amounting to $5,072.30, leaving a debt of $1,468.79.
On the 5th of September, 1890, the church held a public reception on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the marriage of the pastor and his wife. The church was well filled with the members and invited guests, and after interesting addresses a beautiful silver testimonial was presented on behalf of the church to the pastor and his wife.
An Ushers’ Association was formed March 9th, 1890, with Edward Carlin as president, and is now in a flourishing condition.
The center of the church being dimly lighted, two chandeliers, in 1892, were suspended from the ceiling at a cost of $239.60.
The lecture-room was so crowded with scholars that increased accommodations were needed, and a committee was appointed by the Sunday- School Board to devise some plan of enlargement.
The committee recommended the organization of a Senior Department in the Young Men’s Hall, on condition that the pastor take charge of it. The pastor consented. The report then was approved and the consent of the Young Men’s Christian Association secured. The Association, by agreement with the Board of Trustees, altered, renovated, and adorned their hall, paying all expenses, and on Sunday, December 6th, fifteen classes from the lower room took possession of it. Subsequently one additional class was promoted to this department. It has been so prosperous that, though many were reluctant to join it at first, all now greatly enjoy the new Sunday-School home. The Association deserves and has the sincere gratitude of members of the Senior Department for such a beautiful room.
A Choral Society was formed on Saturday evening, May 3d, 1890, with the pastor as president. Its sessions are held in the lecture-room. It has a registry of over 300, and upward of 200 members attend its meetings. It has never flagged in interest since instituted.
A Christian Endeavor Society was organized October 23d, 1890, and has been an arm of power in church work. A Junior Branch of the Society was organized January 3d, 1892.
On October 8th, 1891, W. P. Simmington resigned the office of Sunday-School Superintendent, after seven years of very efficient service, and James Simmington was elected his successor October 15th, 1891.
Toward the close of the year of 1891, God poured out His Spirit, and the altars of the church were crowded with penitents, while the walls echoed with song of salvation.
The William Swindells Missionary Band, auxiliary to the Women’s Missionary Society, was organized February 19th, 1892. President, Mary A. Bennett; Vice-Presidents, Laura Test, Ella Pass; Treasurer, Laura Willingmyre; Corresponding Secretary, Lulu Hearseman; Recording Secretary, Viola Wilmerton. Number of members, 25; total amount contributed the first year, $200.64.
During the year 1892 the Young men’s Christian Association decided to raise money to free the parsonage of debt. With the approval of the Board of Trustees, they arranged to hold a fair toward the close of the year. The cooperation of the ladies was secured and the fair was held in the vacant Presbyterian Church, on Frankford Avenue. It was a great success. The proceeds were equal to the debt.
The payment of the debt was regarded as an event worthy of special commemoration, so it was decided to set apart an hour of the watch-night services for that purpose. The Board of Trustees was seated within the chancel rail, and with them a committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association Joseph Bennett, President of the Board, was called upon and delivered an interesting address. Edwin Carlin, President of the Young Men’s Christian Association, followed with appropriate remarks, and then presented a check for $1,200 to A. H. McFadden, Secretary of the Board, who responded for the Board in a felicitous speech. At the end of his remarks he turned the check over to George Kessler, Treasurer, who handed a canceled note of $1,200 to Edwin Carlin, of the Young Men’s Association. The note was handed to the pastor, who congratulated the church on the freedom of the entire property from all claim of man, and then set fire to the note, while the congregation united in singing “Praise God from whom all blessing flow.” Our excellent choir had charge of the singing. The entire service was very impressive, and constituted a happy closing of one year and the beginning of a new one. God be praised for a church property free of debt.
The sum of good accomplished by the “ Old Brick” can never be calculated.
Mrs. Catherine Bennett is the oldest living member, joining the church in the year 1831. Her love for it, and devotion to its courts, like the path of the just, “ shineth more and more.”
Joseph Bennett, her husband, joined one year later, in 1832, and has been in active service since he gave his name to the church. He offered himself as a teacher in the Sunday- School in the year 1832. He was accepted, and still honors the school by his presence at the head of a Bible class every Sunday. He served as Superintendent of school for twenty-four years, and then voluntarily retired that a younger man might wear his official mantle. He was elected a Trustee of the church in the year 1847, and has served without intermission to this date. For several years he has been President of the Board. His works praise him, and the church loves him.
Henry Kessler, who joined the church in 1833, and whose death occurred while these pages were presented for final revision, witnessed its progress with unabated satisfaction. He contributed much to its strength and influence. He was elected a teacher of the Sunday- School in 1835, and Treasurer thereof in 1841. He was elected a Trustee of the church in 1839, and remained a member of the Board to the day of his death, May 23d, 1893, serving faithfully for many years as its Treasurer.
Among the former members of the church we find the following named ministers of the Gospel: Joseph Holdich, Anthony Atwood, Abram K. Street, Wm. L. Gray, Wm. Bishop, Henry Sutton, Wm F. Brenner, Samuel Irwin, Dayton F. Reed, Geo. W. Brindle, Michael A. Day, Joseph S. Lame, Wm. S. Zane, Jos. N. Mulford, James M. Hinson, Henry H. Bodine, Wm. P. Howell, Geo. W. Dingee. Out of influences starting from it sprang Summerfield, Port Richmond, Siloam, and Cambria Street, now Simpson Memorial, Methodist Episcopal Churches. Its history is a record of priceless souls saved from sin, of multitudes instructed in the way of holiness and Heaven, of thousands strengthened and encouraged in their purpose to realize in personal character and life all the will of God. The ranks of the unseen host that have crossed the flood contain many who sat in her pews and sang God’s praise within her walls, but many abide, at home and abroad, who revere her name and rejoice in her prosperity. To the friends of the church who may read these lines or inquire of her welfare, we are glad to be able to report that the church is carrying forward the work of salvation with undiminished vigor and unabated success. To God be all the glory. Amen.
Presiding Elders who have had oversight of Kensington Church.
1804. W. Colbert
1805-1808. Solomon Sharp
1808-1809. W. P. Chandler
1809-1813. W. Hunter
1813-1815. Henry Boehm
1815-1816. R.R. Roberts
1816-1820. Daniel hilt
1820-1824. James Bateman
1824-1828. Joseph Lybrand
1828-1831. W. Thacher
1831-1833. Manning Force
1833-1837. G. Banghart
1837-1841. James Smith
1841-1845. Solomon Higgins
1845-1849. James A. Massey
1849-1850. John P. Durbin
1850-1853. Robert Gerry
1853-1857. Joseph Castle
1857-1861. Pennell Coombe
1861-1865. D. W. Bartine
1865-1869. Joseph Mason
1869-1873. William Cooper
1873-1976. William H. Elliott
1876-1879. Aaron Rittenhouse
1879-1881. William Swindells.-District rearranged when he was appointed to Northwest Philadelphia District.
1881-1885. Jacob M. Hinson
1885-1891. Samuel W. Thomas
1891. Samuel W. Gehrett. Term not expired.
The following Preachers were stationed in Philadelphia, while the Kensington Church was connected with the Union, or the St. George’s Charge:
1801.Samuel Coate, Daniel Higby
1802. John McClaskey, George Roberts
1803. George Roberts, Solomon Sharp, Thomas F. Sargent
1804. Joshua Wells, S. Sharp, W. Bishop
1805. W. Colbert, M. Coate, James Smith
1806. J. Totten, T. Everard, M. Coate, James Smith
1807. T. Ware, R. Sneath, S. Bunn, T. Dunn
1808. T. Ware, D. Bartine, S. Bunn, John Walker
1809. T. F. Sargent, M. Coate, T. Smith, I. Bateman
Kensington Church severed her connection with St. George’s in 1810, and became a separate charge.
List of Preachers Stationed at Kensington.
1810. Thomas Everard
1811. Thomas F. Sargent, James Moore
1812. Thomas F. Sargent, John Robertson
1813. David best
1814. David Best
1815. William Williams
1816. Sylvester G. Hill
1817. Samuel J. Cox
1818. Thomas Davis
1819. Thomas Smith
1820. Richard Sneath
1821. William Smith
1822. Solomon Sharp
1823 Solomon Sharp
1824. Samuel S. Kennard; Thomas Dunn, Supernumerary
1825. Samuel Grace; Thomas Dunn, Supernumerary
1826. George G. Cookman; Thos. Dunn, Supernumerary
1827. Wesley W. Wallace; W. William, Supernumerary
1828. Wesley W. Wallace; Thos. Dunn, Supernumerary
1829. Richard W. Petherbridge
1830. Richard W. Petherbridge
1831. Bartholomew Weed; James Smith, Sr., Supernumerary
1832. Bartholomew Weed; James Smith, Sr., Supernumerary
1833. William A. Wiggins
1834. William A. Wiggins
1835. James Smith, Jr.
1836. James Smith, Jr.
1837. John B. Hagany
1838. Henry G. King
1839. Henry G. King
1840. George Lacey
1841. George Lacey
1842. John S. Inskip
1843. John S. Inskip
1844. James Neill
1845. James Smith
1846. James Smith
1847. James L. Houston
1848. James L. Houston
1849. David Daily, Alfred Cookman, Kensington and Port Richmond
1850. David Daily, Alfred Cookman, Kensington and Port Richmond
1851. Henry R. Calloway; R. W. Thomas, Supernumerary
1852. Henry R. Calloway
1853. Pennell Coombe
1854. Pennell Coombe
1855. Anthony Atwood; George W. Brindle, Supernumerary
1856. Anthony Atwood
1857. Thomas C. Murphy
1858. Robert H. Pattison
1859. James Cunningham
1860. James Cunningham
1861. James H. Lightbourn
1862. James H. Lightbourn
1863. John H. Alday
1864. John H. Alday
1865. John H. Alday
1866. William J. Paxson
1867 William J. Paxson
1868. William J. Paxson
1869. J. Walker Jackson
1870. J. Walker Jackson
1871. J. Walker Jackson
1872. John F. Crouch
1873. John F. Crouch
1874. John F. Crouch
1875. William M. Ridgway
1876. William M. Ridgway
1877. William M. Ridgway
1878. E. I. D. Pepper
1879. E. I. D. Pepper
1880. E. I. D. Pepper
1881. Theodore Stevens
1882. Theodore Stevens
1883. Theodore Stevens
1884. William Downey
1885. William Downey
1886. William Downey
1887. John W. Langley
1888. John W. Langley
1889. John W. Langley
1890. William Swindells
1891. William Swindells
1892 William Swindells
1893 William Swindells
Local Preachers-Kensington M. E. Church.
1810. Richard F. Bower
1812. Fithian Stratton, William Clark
1813. George Jones, Truman Bishop
1814. Solomon Wiatt, John Fernon
1816. James Holt,
1825. Edward Larkins
1827. William Granville, James W. Newberry
1828. James Brindle, David Oliver
1829. Isaac Childs
1830. William Mitchell, M. D.
1833. Josiah W. Ells, Samuel S. Sneyd, George C. Schively, Sr.
1834. Henry Sutton
1836. William H. Fonerdon
1837. William Bennett
1840. William E. Manlove
1842. Samuel Harrison
1843. William Taylor, Ralph Lee
1844. William F. Brenner
1845. L. Q. C. Wishart
1847. Samuel Irwin
1849. Dayton F. Reed, Thomas Carey, George W. Brindle
1851. Michael A. Day
1852. Joseph S. Lame
1856. M. Z. Senderling, William S. Zane
1857. Richard W. Thomas
1858. Joseph N. Mulford
1854. J.M. Hinson,
1864. Lemuel C. Simon
1866. Jacob Palmer
1868. Joseph Brockbank
1871. John Clouds, Jr.,William Vanderherchen
1883. William P. Simmington, W. H. Vanderherchen, Thomas Davis
1889. John J. Green
1891. John Edwards, L. Deacon
1892 Joseph W. Watts, Stoddart M. Simmington
1893 Francis A. Manlove
1810. William Clark, James Holt, Samuel Bacon
1813. Solomon Wiatt
1825. George C. Schively, Sr., James W. Newberry
1826. John Shoemaker, Francis Westerman
1827. James Devine, John Nealy, Willam Denyer, Lawrence Snively, Sr.
1830. Thomas Chew
1834. Elias Mason, Henry Sutton
1835. Joseph Butler, Obadiah Wade, George Street
1838. David Nichols, David Young, William Galloway
1839. John Spence
1840. Samuel Harrison
1842. John C. Deacon
1843. William F. Brenner, Alexander King
1846. John F. Brindle
1850. Michael A. Day
1851. Joseph S. Lame, Alexander D. Hamilton, John S. Davidson
1853. Christopher Hassell
1854. Michael Z. Senderling, William S. Zane
1859. Joseph Mercer
1861. Lemuel C. Simon, Jacob Palmer
1862. John Kessler
1864. James M. Boden, Samuel M. Ritter
1865. John Clouds, Jr.
1866. William Vanderherchen
1868. John I. Merrill
1869. James Gillinder
1870. John Eggleton, George W. Dingee
1871. John L. Hutchinson
1873. Alexander Glass
1874. Henry Homrighausen, Francis P. Gibs, W. P. Simmington
1877. Frank W. Booth, Robert Donal
1882. John J. Green, William H. Vanderherchen
1887. W. L. Bacon, I. P. H. Wilmerton
1889. George W. Jacoby, Elmer E. Brown, Smith C. Wells
1890. George W. Shaler, Cameron Todd, W. H. Wilmerton
1891. John Edwards, Stoddart M. Simmington
1892. John L. Stewart, Francis E. Manlove
1893. 1893. James E. Clapier, Isaac S. Trexler
1801. John Hewson
1802. Robert Boretree
1803. James Brindle
1810. William Clarke, Aaron Daniels, John Vaugham, Matthias Wirts
1811. George C. Schively, Sr.
1812. George Jones
1813. James Keen
1816. William Clarke, Fithian Stratton
1817. Henry Pitcher
1818. John Haines
1819. John Fernon, David Clayton, William Rotan
1820. Thomas Mullen
1822. Mathias Creamer
1823. John Bennett, Anthony Atwood
1824. Joseph Rinear, Jesse Harmer
1825. William Denyer, Francis Turner, John Eggleton
1826. John Sprong
1827. William Granville, Sr., Richard Synar, Solomon Wiatt
1828. James Devine, John Shoemaker
1829. Joseph Brown
1830. George C. Schively, Jr.
1831. R. Lynn, John Synar, Samuel Huffsey, John S. Davison, Joseph Capewell, William Mitchell
1832. Henry Bassett, David Nichols
1833. Josiah W. Ells, James W. Newberry
1834. George Merritt, Thomas C. Crouch, S.S. Sneyd
1835. Charles Roberts, Henry B. Stoy, John F. Brindle, George Eltonhead
1836. Joseph Butler
1837. George Aufort, Paul Bacon, Joseph Linthicum
1838. Daniel Peak, James Mason
1839. John Smitck
1840. William Bennett
1841. Samuel Harrison, William Rigg, Samuel Adams
1842. Samuel Duval, Joseph Lippincott, Christopher Hassell
1843. Joseph Harman, A. W. King, Franklin Eyre, John Glenn, John Deacon, Elijah Bartlett
1844. Alexander King, Ralph Lee, Samuel Beideman
1845. Samuel Mortimer
1846. Peter Brown
1848. George W. Brindle
1849. John Kessler
1851. Jacob Palmer, George C. Shepherd, Daniel B. Stevenson
1852. Samuel Irwin, Cornelia Daly
1854. William Corkrey, M.Z. Senderling, Lawrence Snively
1855. Joseph Bennett, George J. Hamilton
1856. George Humes, George Wiedersum, William Pearcy, Daniel B. Mickle, L. Q. C. Wishard, William S. Zane
1857. John Trinkle
1860. James Sowden, Samuel Green
1861. Jonathan Dungan
1862. Lemuel C. Simon, Samuel Duval
1863. Samuel M. Ritter, Franklin Knight
1864. William Vanderherchen, William Glenn, James M. Boden
1866. John T. Sowden
1867. John Clouds, Jr., William Rigg, John Eggleton
1868. Israel A. Kurtz
1869. George S. Cramp, James Gillinder
1870. William L. Bacon
1871. Andrew Zane, William J. Trotter, Francis P. Gibbs, Thomas D. Robinson
1877. Robert Frazier
1878. W. P. Simmington
1879. Henry Homrighausen, Stoddart M. Simmington
1881. G. W. Vandusen
1887. John J. Greee, John L. Stewart
1888. Frank W. Booth
1890. William N. Wilmerton, Thomas White
1892. David Steelman, Joseph W. Watts, Isaac A. Trexler
1893. James Simmington
James Keen, from August 1,1809, to October 24,1817; from March 31, 1818, to July 7, 1818.
Samuel Boggs, from August 1,1809, to October 18, 1816; from October 24, 1817 to March 23, 1818; from October 21, 1819, to April 3, 1820.
Aaron Daniels, from August 1, 1809, to September 1, 1814; from November 17, 1815, to October 1816.
George C. Schively, from August 1, 1809, to November 17, 1815; from October 18, 1816, to April 12, 1819; from September 28, 1819, to April 28, 1835.
William Clark, from August 1, 1809, to September 9, 1818.
Matthias Wurts, from August 1, 1809, to November 17, 1815. John Rudy, from August 1, 1809, to January 24, 1815.
John Vaughan, from August 1, 1809, to February 20, 1846.
Samuel Bacon, from August 1, 1809, to September 1, 1814.
“ The Above Constituted the First Board of Trustees.
John Johnson, from September 1,1814, to November 17, 1815; from October 18, 1816, to October 21, 1819.
Robert Hodgson, from September 1, 1814, to March 23, 1818; from July 7, 1818, to December 9, 1826.
John Haines, from January 24, 1815, to October 18, 1816.
Jacob Keen, from November 17, 1815, to October 18, 1816; from March 23, 1818, to September 28, 1819.
John Bennett, from November 17, 1815, to October 24, 1817; from September 25, 1821, to April 4, 1831; from March 31, 1834, to April 28, 1835.
William Cobb, from October 18, 1816, to March 23, 1818; from September 9, 1818, to March 27, 1826; from July 12, 1827, to April , 1828.
John H. West, from October 18, 1816, to October 24, 1817.
Joseph Ball, from October 24, 1817, to March 23, 1818.
Israel Maddox, from October 24, 1817, to April 12, 1819.
John Fernon, from March 23, 1818, to September 28, 1819.
Matthias Creamer, from March 23, 1818, to April 16, 1838; from August 30, 1840, to April 24, 1848.
William Vaughan, from April 12, 1819, to September 28, 1819; from April 8, 1822, to July 12, 1827.
David Clayton, from April 12, 1819, to April 8, 1822; from March 31, 1823, to April 20, 1829; from December 9, 1830,to March 29, 1836.
William Rotan, from September 28, 1819, to April 21, 1821.
Thomas Mullen, from September 28, 1819, to September 25, 1821.
Jesse Harmer, from April 3, 1820, to March 31, 1823; from April 20, 1829, to April 23, 1832.
James Mickle, from April 21, 1821, to April 12, 1830.
William Bennett, from March 27, 1826, to April 20, 1829; from March 31, 1834, to March 23, 1837; from April 16, 1838, to April 8, 1844.
Robert Connell, from December 9, 1826, to April 13, 1830; from March 29, 1836, to April 1, 1839.
Jacob Tees, from April 7, 1828, to March 31, 1834; from May 27, 1834, to April 20, 1835.
John Eggleton, from April 20, 1829, to April 20, 1835.
William Lynn, from April 12, 1830, to December 9, 1830.
George J. Hamilton, from April 13, 1830, to April 22, 1878.
James Randall, from April 4, 1831, to March 31, 1834.
Joseph Capewell, from April 23, 1832, to May 27, 1834.
Henry B. Stoy, from April 20, 1835, to April 9,1839.
John F. Brindle, from April 20, 1835, to April 27, 1841; from April 8, 1844, to April 24, 1848.
George Merritt, from April 20, 1835, to April 16, 1838; from April 21, 1848, to April 18, 1852.
David Sprong, from April 28, 1835, to March 26, 1836.
Peter V. Calder, from March 29, 1836, to November 29, 1836
Thomas C. Crouch, from November 29, 1836, to March 28, 1843.
Samuel Adams, from March 23, 1837, to October 2, 1854.
Henry Bassett, from April 16, 1838, to November 27, 1838.
Elijah Davis, from November 27, 1838, to April 1, 1839.
Henry Kessler, from April 1, 1839, to date.
John Smick, from April 1, 1839, to August 30, 1840.
William Rigg, from April 27, 1841, to April 25, 1843; from April 21, 1851, to October 7, 1852; from April 5, 1858, to April 1, 1861.
Andrew Zane, from April 25, 1843, to April 5, 1847; from April 24, 1848, to April 21, 1851.
Joseph Lippincott, from April 25, 1843, to April 25, 1859.
Samuel Beideman, from March 3, 1846, to April 21, 1851.
Joseph Bennett, from April 5, 1847, to date.
Theodore Birely, from April 9, 1849, to April 12, 1852.
David Duncan, from April 21, 1851, to April 6, 1874.
Christopher Hassell, from April 12, 1852, to March 24, 1856.
Thomas D. Stites, from April 12, 1852, to April 5, 1858; from April 25, 1859, to April 6, 1874.
John S. Davison, from October 7, 1852, to March 28, 1853.
Franklin Eyre, from March 28, 1853, to January 12,1864.
Lawrence Snively, from October 2, 1854, to April 25, 1859.
John Richmond, from March 24, 1856, to April 5, 18598;from April 25, 1859, to May 10, 1869.
Robert C. Bennett, from April 5, 1858, to April 1, 1861.
Henry F. Shissler, from April 1, 1861, to April 14, 1873.
George W. Bates, from April 1, 1861, to April 14, 1873.
George Wiedersum, from January 12, 1864, to April 2, 1866.
Samuel B. Ely, from April 2, 1866, to March 20, 1875.
R. H. Vaugham, from April 10,1871, to April 2, 1877.
Charles B. Souder, from April 6, 1874, to March 26, 1883.
John Wood, from May 24, 1870, to March 29, 1880.
John F. Wilt, from April 14, 1873, to May 9, 1876.
A. H. McFadden, from March 29, 1875, to date.
Robert J. Simmington, from March 29, 1875, to date.
Alfred H. Claypoole, from May 9, 1876, to date.
George Kessler, from April 2, 1877, to date.
J. F. Fox, from April 22, 1878, to date.
George W. Vandusen, from March 29, 1880, to April 22, 1889.
David S. Clunn, from March 26, 1883, to date
I. P. H. Wilmerton, from April 22,1889, to date.
Sunday- School Superintendents Directors and Directresses from 1822 to 1827
Four Males and four Females
1822-1824. William Bennett
1822-1823-1825. William Vaughan
1822-1823. Adam Heimbach
1822-1824. Andrew Dewart
1822-1827. Margaret Wright
1822-1824-1825. Ann Brustar
1822-1825. Artemisia Parker
1822-1827. Maria Murphy
1823-1825. George C. Schively (1826-1827)
1824-1827. John Bennett
1824-1825. James Mickle
1824-1825. David Sprong
1824-1825. D. Clunn
1824- 1826. Margaret Vandusen
1825-1827. Frederick Emerick
1825-1827. Lawrence Snively
1825-1827. Sarah Sprong
1826-1827. Margaret Keen
Two Male Incumbents, with Joint Authority, from 1827 to 1829
1827-1828. John Bennett
1827-1830. George C. Schively
1828-1829. James Divine
Four incumbents from1829 to 1840
1829-1830. David Sprong
1831-1836. David Sprong
1829-1830. Joseph Reger
1829-1831. Thomas H. Sickel
1830-1831. John Synar
1830-1834. Richard Synar
1830- 1831. William Denger. To fill unexpired term of George C. Snively, resigned.
1831-1832. F. Shoemaker, School No. 2.
1831-1853. Matthias Creamer
1831-1835. George J. Hamilton
1837-1841. George Hamilton
1848-1849. George Hamilton
1831-1837. P. V. Calder
1842-1843. P. V. Calder
1833-1836. L. Schnaible, School No. 2.
1833-1837-1845-1848. Henry B. Stoy, L. Schnaible, School No. 2.
1834-1836. John F. Brindle
Two Male and two Female Superintendents from 1839 to 1840
1839-1840. Maria Tomlin
1839-1840. Martha Connell
Two Male Superintendents, with Joint Authority, from 1840 to 1884
1843-1844. Joseph Lippincott
1849-1853. Samuel Adams
1853-1856. Christopher Hassell
1854-1860. John Kessell
1861-1867. John Kessell
1856-1859. George C. Shepherd
1859-1861. R. S. Allen
1860-1884. Joseph Bennett
1867-1868. John Clouds, Jr.
1869-1873. L. C. Simon
1873-1891. William P. Simmington
One Superintendent-in-Chief from 1884 to Date
1891-1893. James Simmington. Time not expired.
1830-1831. John Nealy
1833-1834. Henry Bassett
1834-1835. James Mason
1835-1836. Samuel Perry
1842-1843. Henry B. Stoy
1842-1843. John Deacon
1843-1845. George Stites
1843-1846. George J. Hamilton
1845-1847. John F. Brindle
1846-1849. Samuel Beideman
1847-1849. Christian Vanborn
1849-1850. David Stetson
1855-1857. Daniel Mickle
1855. Jacob Bennett
1857-1858. Alfred Flanders
ANNUAL REPORT of Kensington M. E. Church To Philadelphia Conference, March 9, 1893.
Number of Probationers-37
Number of full members-820
Number of local preachers-6
Number of deaths –11
Number of children-49
Number of adults-12
Number of churches-1
Number of parsonages-1
Amount paid on old indebtedness-$1,200
Number of Schools-1
Number of Officers-16
Number of Teachers-71
Total officers and teachers-87
Number of Scholars:
Number of library books-2,200
Number of officers and teachers who are church members or probationers-87
Number of scholars who are church members or probationers-240
Number of conversions in Sunday-School this year-15
Current expenses: Lesson leaves, books, etc,-$589
Annual Statement of the finances of the Kensington M. E. Church.
( From April 1, 1892, to April 1, 1893.)
To balance on hand, April 1, 1892. – $11.16
To cash from Sunday collections- $652.58
To cash from week-night collection- $165.95
To cash from envelopes-$2,819.22
To cash from collections for bishop-$48.00
To cash from collection for poor- $127.62
To cash from collection for coal- $190.00
To cash from concert-$140.93
To cash from donation of J. L. Tull- $25.00
To cash received from burial-ground agents-$80.00
By pastor’s salary-$2,000.00
“leader of choir, organist, and assistants-$290.50
“ books for choir-$26.50
“ tax on parsonage, 1892.-$110.31
“ water rent of church and parsonage, 1892.-$25.00
“ gas bills-$255.45
“ coal bills-$173.00
“ love-feast elements- $9.87
“ communion wine-$16.50
“ envelopes (Robinson) – $54.05
“cleaning well at parsonage- $15.50
“ removing ashes church-$12.00
“ insurance on church furniture-$34.00
“ paid poor of church- $60.00
“ expenses Columbus week-$19.87
“ Bennett’s bill-sundries-$4.70
“Taggart’s bill-repairing heaters-$20.00
“hose for sexton-$5.05
“ bacon’s bill-drainage-$102.50
“ goblets-$2.85; and baskets-$5,50
“ Wagner’s bill-hardware-$3.36
“ brick work and repaving front pavement at parsonage-$22.02
“ Fillman’s bill-carpenter work-$19.50
“ By Borneman’s bill-printing- $7.25
“ incidentals- $9.93
“ Nichols repairing organ-$28.00
“Balance, April 1, 1893.-$3.87
‘ George Kessler, Treasurer.’
Conference and other Benevolent Collections
-For missions from church-$475.00
-For missions from Sunday-School- $653.56
-M. E. Hospital-$1,552.00
-Mount Olivet Church- $15.59
‘George Kessler, Treasurer.’
Parsonage Debt Account, Dr.
March 30, 1892, to balance due Geo. Kessler, treasure-$26.63
March 31, 1892, note Northern National Bank-$1,150.00
March 31, 1892, eleven months’ interest on note Northern National Bank-$40.30
November 30, 1892, by proceeds from fair-$1,200.00
November 30, 1892, by donation-$16.93
Applied to payment of note and interest, etc.,-$1,216.93
Burial-Ground Agent’s Report
To balance, March 31, 1892.-$134.19
To water rent received from adjoining grounds-$4.00
For ground and vault charges-$185.00
April 26, 1892, paid water rent-$8.00
August 26, 1892, paid Pettit and Co. for iron fence on Earl Street-$150.87
For repairing stone wall-$6.00
March 29, paid George Kessler, treasurer, by order of Trustees-$80.00
Paid Charles Stoop for services-$70.75
March 31, balance on hand-$7.57
‘Joseph Bennett, Burial-ground Agent.’
To the Presidential and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Kensington M. E. Church
Brethren:-Your committee appointed to audit the account of the Treasurer and Burial-Ground Agent respectfully report that they have examined the books and accounts, and find them correct.
‘David S. Clunn, I. P. H. Wilmerton
Report of the Kensington M. E. Sunday-School.
Balance cash on hand April 1, 1892- $227.66
To proceeds from Children’s Day-$17.59
To balance from Anniversary Committee-$15.00
To proceed from Excursion-$69.23
To proceed from Harvest Home- $56.00
Books and collections-$552.30
By Anniversary decorating-$29.00
Perkinpine and Higgins, $313.34
Temperance Association pledges-$5.85
Moyer and Lesher, printing- $22.15
Columbus Week Decorations-$12.37
Christmas Jubilee- $147.34
New curtains in Sunday School-$9.00
Children’s Day Entertainment-$17.00
By balance cash on hand April 1, 1893.-$280.38
‘Wesley Zane, Secretary.’
Flower Mission Report.
Balance on hand March 31, 1892.-$36.62
Proceeds of entertainment-$53.80
Care of garden-$3.75
Loss on flower sale-$2.08
Pipe for garden-$7.40
M.C. Otten’s bill $3.90
Balance on hand March 31, 1893-$62.50
‘W. N. Wilmerton, Treasurer.’
Report of Ladies’ Mite Society.
Balance April 1, 1892.-$135.29
Collections during year-$96.50
Expended for furniture, etc.-$22.40
‘L. Mason, Secretary.’
Report of Dorcas Society.
Balance April 1, 1892-$67.68
Donations for special cases-$6.90
Expended for groceries, shoes, coal, clothing, etc.,-$379.98
‘M. V. Fisher, Secretary.’
M. E. Orphanage, 1893
Filled 50 bags
‘Mary F. Fox, Secretary.’
Report of Methodist Home.
Sale of tickets and donations for supper,-$30.00
‘L. Mason, Secretary.’
Report of Ushers’ Association of the Kensington M. E. Church.
Book-room, 1018 Arch Street, 100 Hymn Books-$40.00
Paid on account-$20.00
Balance due Book room-$20.00
‘Edward Carlin, President.’
Choral Society of the Kensington M. E. Church.
Balance April 1, 1892-$59.34
From Cantata of Esther-$211.65
Rent of piano-$12.00
Purchase of piano-$175.00
Balance April 1, 1893-$83.40
‘ Louis Weidig, Treasurer.’
We your committee appointed to audit the books of the Treasurer’s report, find them correct.
‘Geo. L. Martin, Fred. G. Kurtz.’
Report of the William Swindells Missionary Band.
From Missionary boxes-$159.42
Contingents Fund for General Society-$2.00
Paid Women’s Foreign Missionary Society-$200.64
Received from incidental expenses for our own Band-$9.44
Balance on hand March 31, 1893-$3.37
‘Laura E. Willingmyre, treasurer.’
Report of the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Balance per last report-$128.56
Part proceeds of Fair-41,200.00
Incidentals (strawberries, painting, etc.,)-$15.35
Fair Executive Committee-$50.00 Paid Parsonage debt-$1,200.00
Donated on quilt, Mrs. Fox,-$7.62 Not previously reported.
‘ James Simmington, Treasurer’
Rev, William Swindells, D.D., No.1117 Shackamaxon Street
John Clouds, Jr.
John J. Green
Joseph W. Watts
Francis A. Manlove
Stoddart M. Simmington
I. P. H. Wilmerton
W. L. Bacon
George W. Shaler
Isaac S. Trexler
Smith C. Wells
John L. Stewart
James E. Clapier
W. J. Trotter
Trustees and Stewards
Robert J. Simmington
Alferd H. Claypoole
J. Frank Fox
I. P. H. Wilmerton
1. Isaac S. Trexler Sunday Morning
2. John Clouds, Jr. Monday Evening
3. Joseph W. Watts Monday Evening
4. Stoddart M. Simmington Monday Evening
5. John L. Stewart Monday Evening
6.George S. Shaler Tuesday Evening
7. Joseph Bennett Tuesday Evening
8. William L. Bacon Tuesday Evening
9. George s. Cramp Wednesday Evening
10. William J. Trotter Wednesday Evening
11. James Simmington Wednesday Evening
12. William Swindells Thursday Afternoon
13. Thomas D. Robinson Wednesday Evening
Benjamin S. McVaugh
Sadie R. McVaugh
Stephen A. Burgess No. 309 Richmond Street
Sunday-School Organized June, 1821
Superintendent James Simmington
First Assistant Superintendent John L. Stewart
Second Assistant Superintendent A. H. McFadden
Third Assistant Superintendent Dr. William Swindells
Secretary Wesley Zane
First Assistant Secretary Frederick G. Kurtz
Second Assistant Secretary Edward Carlin
Third Assistant Secretary Edward Royal
Financial Secretary A. Stevens Test
Treasurer J. Frank Fox
Librarian George H. McCalmont
First Assistant Librarian James H. Kurtz
Second Assistant Librarian C. Howard Gilbert
Third Assistant Librarian Joseph Duval
Doorkeeper Nicholas Erb
President A. Stevens Test
Treasurer J. Frank Fox
Secretary Charles H. Dedaker
Senior Department Teachers
Mary A. Price
Mary B. Clark
Mary F Fox
Mary L. Sutton
Maggie V. Fisher
Emma F. Simons
Mary E. Dawick
Robert J. Simmington
J. F. Fox
George W. Shaler
William V. Matlack
Sallie Albertson ( Female)
Emma C. Test
Mary A. Harter
Lizzie S. Burr
Maggie M. Eaton
Florence W. Lynn
Martha H. Albertson
Cornelia E. Peak
Grace H. Wilmerton
Emily B. Rudhart
Laura E. Willingmyre
Florence A. Du Hamel
Rosa B. Swindells
Anna C. Raymond
Lulu S. Hearseman
Lizzie Mc Kinley
Sallie K. Metzger
Morris Teaf (Male)
John S. Thomas
F. A. Manlove
Daniel H. Hewsted
Martha V. Lutton
William A. Pass
Joseph W. Watts
Edward J. Swindells
Carrie F. Seebeth
Joseph J. Dilworth
Isaac S. Trexler
William J. Bowden
William J. Manlove
A.H. McFadden – Superintendent
‘Organized March 9, 1869’
President Elizabeth Senderling
Secretary Lizzie Mason
Treasurer Christiana Stewart
Young Men’s Christian Association
‘Organized September 29, 1869’
President Edward Carlin
Vice-President C. H. Dedaker
Secretary Charles Dilworth
Treasurer James Simmington
Librarian Edward F. Thompson
Managers of Methodist Episcopal Home for Aged and Infirm Methodists
‘Organized October 8, 1869’
President Elizabeth Senderling
Secretary Lizzie Mason
Treasurer Amanda Williamson
Mary F. Fox
Managers of Methodist Episcopal Orphanage
President Elizabeth Senderling
Secretary Mary F. Fox
Treasurer Margaret N. Seebeth
‘Organized February 14, 1886.’
President Mary E. Dawick
Vice-President E. R. Seddinger
Secretary Maggie V. Fisher
Treasurer Mary A. Price
Flowers Mission Committee
‘ Organized June 3, 1887 ‘
President Joseph W. Watts
Secretary Grace Wilmerton
Treasurer William N. Wilmerton
‘ Organized May 3, 1893. ‘
President Rev. W. Swindells
Vice-President William A. Pass
Secretary Howard Gilbert
Assistant Secretary Charles C. Simmington
Treasurer Louis Weiding
Society of Christian Endeavor
‘ Organized October 23, 1890.’
President William A. Coster
Vice-President Charles H. Dedaker
Vice-President Florence Du Hamel
Recording Secretary Birdie Tees
Corresponding Secretary Stoddart M. Simmington
Treasurer David W. Levy, M. D.
‘ Organized November 25, 1890.’
President James Simmington
Secretary John Boyland
Treasurer Joseph W. Watts
Junior Society of Christian Endeavor
‘ Organized January 23, 1892.’
Superintendent Laura E. Willingmyre
Assistant Superintendent Grace Wilmerton
Assistant Superintendent Louis Weiding
Recording Secretary Gertie Duff
Financial Secretary George Bennett
Treasurer Grace Wilmerton
William Swindells’ Missionary Band, of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society
‘ Organized February 19, 1892.’
President Mary A. Bennett
Vice-President Laura Test and Ella Pass
Treasurer Laura Willingmyre
Corresponding Secretary Lulu Hearseman
Recording Secretary Viola Wilmerton
CONSTITUTION of THE KENSINGTON METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
“As Amended by the Members thereof, June, 1843.”
“We, the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Kensington, in the County of Philadelphia, citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, believing that it will be for the advancement of its interests, both spiritual and temporal, that the said church should be incorporated, have agreed upon the following as the fundamental articles of our government.
The corporation shall be denominated the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church.
Section 1. The officers of this corporation shall be a President and nine Trustees, one of whom shall be appointed Treasurer and one Secretary.
Section 2. The president of the Board shall be chosen from among the members of the Board.
Section 3. The present Trustees-namely, John Johnson, William Clark, James Keene, George C. Shively, Aaron Daniels, John Vaughan, William Cobb, John H. West, and Robert Hodgson shall continue in office until an election shall take place.
Section 4. The day called Easter Monday in each and every year forever shall be the day of election. And on that day the Trustees shall be elected by the male members of the said church, who shall be of at least twenty-one years of age, and shall have been one year in full membership. The said Trustees, when elected on the Easter Monday, which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-four, shall be divided into three classes by lot, of three persons in each class; and the time of service of the first class shall expire at the end of one year, the time of the service of the second class at the end of two years, and the time of the service of the third class at the end of three years, so that at each election after the first, three trustees only will be chosen, and no person or a Trustee will serve longer than for the term of three years, unless reelected. And in case of death, resignation expulsion from member-ship, or refusal to serve when elected, immediate notice shall be given by the Board, and the vacancy shall be filled by the members of the church entitled to vote for Trustees, subject to the same rules and regulations as is observed at the general election, and the person or person so elected shall serve for the same time the Trustee or Trustees, whose place he or they was or were elected to fill, would have been entitled to serve.
Section 5. No person shall be eligible to serve as a Trustee but a male member of the said church, above twenty-one year of age, and who shall have been two whole years in full member-ship next preceding the election
Section 6. In case anything should prevent the election from being held on the day appointed in any year, it shall be held as soon thereafter as a majority of the Trustees shall direct, of which notice shall be given after Divine service on a Sabbath day, at least one week previous to the election.
Section 7. That the Trustees, immediately after their election in each and every year, shall choose from their own body a Treasurer, who shall continue in office one year, unless sooner removed by the said Trustees; they shall also choose from among themselves or from among the male members of the said church, a fit and proper person to act as Secretary, who shall continue in office one year, unless sooner removed by the said trustees.
The duty of the President shall be to preside at all meeting of the Trustees, and on all questions on which they shall be divided, he shall have the casting vote; in his absence a President pro tem. Shall be appointed for that meeting from among the Trustees, who shall perform the same duties.
The duty of the Treasurer shall be to pay all orders drawn on him, signed by the Secretary, by order of the Trustees; to take care of the money and movable property of corporation. He shall, before he enters upon the duties of his office, make and execute his bond to the said corporation, with such surety and in such penalty as the said Trustees shall direct, conditioned for the faithful discharge of his duty, and that he will deliver up and pay over to his successor in office, or to such person or persons as the said Trustees may direct, all or any property, money, books, papers or other article or articles in his possession belonging to the said corporation, when he shall be required so to do by the said Trustees, or a majority of them.
The duty of the Secretary shall be to attend all meeting of the Trustees, to take and preserve fair minute of their proceedings, to sing all orders for money drawn on the Treasurer, by order of the Trustees, and to enter the same on the minutes.
Section 1. The stated meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held on the last Tuesday evening in each and every month.
Section 2. The President, or any three of the Trustees, shall have power and authority to call a meeting of the said Trustees, when they shall conceive it necessary. Two-third of the said Trustees, with the President for the time being, or in case of his absence President pro tem., to be chosen from the said majority, shall be sufficient to transact business.
The said Trustees shall have power and authority to make and ordain such By-Laws, Rules, and Regulations as they may think necessary, and the same to alter or amend or repeal as often as they shall think proper; Provided, such By- Laws, Rules, and Regulations so made and ordained shall not be repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or this Constitution.
Section 1. All the estate of the said Church, whether real, personal, or mixed, shall immediately be vested in the said Trustees and their successors forever. Nor shall the clear annual income thereof exceed $500.
Section 2. The said Trustees shall not at any time sell or dispose of any of the real estate already belonging to the said corporation or which may hereafter be acquired, or in any manner or way charge or incumber the same without the consent and approbation of two-third of the male members of the church who are entitled to vote at the election for Trustees.
The Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America as established by the General Conference of the said Church is declared to be the Discipline of this church so far as it respects the admission and expulsion of members, and in all other things relative to the spiritual concerns of the said church not repugnant to this Constitution.
There shall be no alteration or amendment made to this Constitution without the consent of two-thirds of the male members of the said church entitled to vote for Trustees.
Names of the present Board of Trustees, January 24th, 1844:
George J. Hamilton Secretary
Henry B. Stov Treasurer
Samuel Adams Burial-Ground Agent
Those persons named in the 3d section of the 2d article composed the Board at the time the charter was first obtained in 1817.
I certify that I have perused and examined the above Constitution, and am of the opinion that the objects, articles, and conditions therein set forth and contained are lawful.
Witness my hand this twenty-fourth day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand and eight hundred and forty-four.
Ovias F. Johnson, Attorney-General.
Memories and Anecdotes of Pastors between 1927 and 2004
The following memories of our pastors are written by Mildred Christian. Unfortunately, she was born in 1942, and thus does not know too much about those who served before. Any information regarding the pastors and events in the church between 1904 and the present is most welcome. Such information will be added to our records and history. Please send it to her attention (Dr. Mildred S. Christian, Historian, Kensington U.M. Old Brick Church, P.O. Box 56, Mechanicsville, Pa 18934; e-mail: email@example.com).
In 1927, George M. Brodhead was our pastor. In addition to his many services to the church and weddings performed, he was also famous as the uncle of Jeanette MacDonald.
In 1943, T. W. Smith, and his wife served us. His son, Wesley, is well remembered for handling all of our real estate transactions for many years, as well as bringing his wife Elizabeth, a nurse at Episcopal Hospital to our membership. Rev. Smith suffered a stroke while pastor and died not long thereafter. His wife, Mrs. Smith, continued as an active member and Sunday School teacher until shortly before her death. She, Lizzie and Wesley, and their family of six, lived together on 6th Street until her death.
1944 brought W. Bradford Williamson and a splitting of the church over whether to join the Methodist Conference. The vote was half for and half against, and it is told that a person was brought in from outside the membership to cast the last vote for. There are no records of this meeting. Clarence Wicker, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, did not include this information in the minutes, and the charter was never altered. However, approximately half of the members left at that time in protest to the change.
1945 – H. N. McMurray
1946 – Rev. Harold C. Koch was fondly known as “Kochie” and was a beloved pastor.
In 1947, C. Dendy Garrett, our very first student minister, and his wife, Wendy joined us. How blessed we are to have them with us on this 200th Anniversary. Dendy will always be remembered for his enthusiasm. He will also be remembered for the famous Sunday School picnic baseball game, which the Usher’s played in women’s dresses. Wendy and Dendy had their first child while living in the Old Brick parsonage. They also gave Ruthie Boyer a home in the parsonage before she married her Tom. How fortunate we are to also have so many of the young people that were so closely led by Dendy and Wendy attend this anniversary and share memories of service and good times. How Dendy grew in the service of the Lord, becoming a famous speaker and writer.
1950 – H. Henry Heavner
1953 – J. D. Shaffer
Edward W. Dodson, a student minister, and his wife came to us in 1954. We all remember his wife as the first to wear a sundress at a Sunday School picnic, and Dodson, to be a wonderful roller-skater when he took the youth group out. Unfortunately, none of us have other memories of his ministry, since essentially everyone who was then active has since passed on.
In 1955, Lester B. Brubaker and his wife Fannie came to us. He is fondly remembered as the pastor who gave Marie and Mildred their training for membership. His wife loved to save things, and whenever anyone needed a box or paper, you could always go to Fannie. He was a happy minister, also enjoying fellowship with the families and bringing Christ to our homes. It was during his ministry that the railing drapery was made and the chairs recovered. Many nights were spent by the Ushers and Young Women working away at restoration of the sanctuary. The painting at that time cost $5000!
1958 gave us Frank L. Filar, Jr.. Rev. Filar was in foxhole in Germany during WW II when he heard the call to become a minister. Although a mature student, he and his wife fit in well with the members of our church and we had many times of fellowship together. Rev. Filar also served as the Chaplain of the Patriotic Order Sons of America until his death. An interesting anecdote is that his wife, Lavinia, wanted to have him buried with his Officer’s pin, which had been misplaced, so Harvey gave him his President’s pin. We were always amused by the thought that perhaps the two would be mixed up when they reached heaven. (The following to be added in where and if you see fit – you can change to suit.) Rev. & Mrs. Filar opened up their home to the young girls of “Old Brick” where they were taught crafts and enjoyed yummy snacks. They were always met at the door when they arrived by the Filar’s giant black dog named Lucky, who always greeted them with a sloppy kiss. Rev. Filar also held Bible Study Classes for the Youth of the Church one afternoon a week right after school.
1962 brought Rev. Henry L. Hickethier, a retired pastor. Rev. Hickethier was pastor during the time when our evening dinners and entertainments were given to raise funds, which included a Hawaiian night. The 50’s to the 70’s were great times of Christian fellowship and family closeness within Old Brick.
Albert M. Witwer, Jr., a retired Army Chaplin, came in 1964 with his wonderful wife. They both served us well. Rev. Witwer had many stories of his experiences to share. Their daughter, Joan, was married to George W. H. Blundall in our sanctuary, with the service performed by her father on April 1, 1967. Our ladies gave her the reception in the downstairs Sunday School room.
In 1967, Daniel E. Unrath, a student pastor, and his wife, Ceil, joined us. Ceil was an elementary school teacher and very much in love. We enjoyed having them with us and watching them grow together. The young married couples, Marie, Lou, Mildred and Jim, will never forget their evening of playing “Dictionary” with them at the parsonage. Dan and Ceil have kept in touch with us over the years and we have seen their family grow and their ministry develop.
Rev. Maurice F. Montgomery and his wife served us in 1969 to 1972. Rev. Montgomery was a retired minister, and his wife was originally a Mennonite. They were quiet people and the last to live in the Old Brick parsonage, which was sold after their ministry. Who can forget Rev. Montgomery’s story of the rocking bathtub? How Henry Merritt and Harvey Stoehr laughed at that, and how hard all of us worked to clean the parsonage to make it ready for sale. That was truly the end of an era, since so many of the Old Brick marriages had occurred in that Manse.
Between 1972 and 1983, we were served by Allen C. Budd, a retired Navy Chaplin, and his lovely wife Mary. Rev. Budd had been among the first to enter Japan after Hiroshima, an experience he was never to forget. The Budds were from both from Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to their pastoral duties, Allen was an avid golfer, and Mary was a true gentlewoman. The Ushers truly enjoyed their golf days with Allen. The “young women” always enjoyed working with Mary on Easter luncheon, for which she would provide a Virginia ham. We also enjoyed the wonderful annual picnic they would have for all of us every summer in their lovely home on the Philadelphia Main Line. Allen served his country and Old Brick well until his retirement. Mrs. Budd was given a Special Service Award at our 195th Anniversary. Unfortunately, both are now deceased.
In 1983, David W. Brown, a student pastor, was appointed to serve. David always enjoyed music, and was quite expert at playing the guitar. He was the Pastor who performed the Wedding Ceremony of Nancy and John Kernaghan in 1985. During the service, he played the guitar and sang “The Rose” which touched many in attendance. We were so pleased when he attended the organ concert given by Don Dillard in 2002.
In 1986, we had a particular surprise, our first woman pastor, Coleen G. Brandt. Not only was she a woman, she was also a pregnant woman. Although most of her pastorate was spent on maternity leave, we have fond memories of her time with us.
1987 brought us an energetic young student pastor, Randy E. Brubaker, who was the first to serve jointly Old Brick and Siloam. Randy lived in the Siloam parsonage and used to jog through the neighborhood (once, he was hit on the head with a brick). Randy soon married his love, Cindy, who also studied for the ministry. We were pleased to have this young couple with us for almost six years and to see their young family and themselves grow in the service of the Lord.
1992 to 1996 was also a period when we were blessed with a young pastor and his family. Michael A. Shaub and his new wife, Beth, were a particularly loved couple. Beth started a children’s Sunday School and together, with the help of Toots, Nancy, Joyce and others, ran a summer Bible School. During their time with us their daughter Hannah was born and dedicated to God in our sanctuary. Hannah will forever be our Old Brick Baby. What fond memories we have of them all; of Mike playing his trumpet, and of Hannah toddling along carrying the case. During this time, Dr. Diener joined Old Brick and was Mike’s first member. How wonderful it was when their entire family joined us on our 195th Anniversary, with Mike giving the sermon, and Beth and the three children in attendance.
In 1996, another woman student pastor, Mariam B. Ephraim, served us and Siloam for a brief three months before requesting that she be relieved of her charge. Mariam was living and studying in New Jersey and also fell down the stairs and broke her leg. She felt unable to continue with the necessary commuting.
After Mariam’s resignation, William T. Mann was appointed as pastor for Old Brick and Siloam. Rev. Mann was a retired pastor and suited us well in many ways. He was very experienced and had come from a local family, his father being a Kensington realtor and lay speaker, and himself being raised in St. Phillip’s UM Church on Allegheny Avenue. A widower, he and his son, Rev. Stephen Mann, occupied the Siloam parsonage. Rev. Mann loved music and memories of his church and family, whom we came to know well through his sermons. He had an unswerving faith in the renewal of our community, and at 87, purchased a van as an act of faith, so that he would be able to bring new members and those who could not drive with him. Rev. Mann unfortunately developed a melanoma, which was operated on in October, 1997, but which had already spread to his brain, and he died in December, 1997. His many gifts to our church and remarkable faith and energy were inspiring to all of us who knew him. We will never forget his own humbleness when he spoke from our pulpit – he would always tell us of how small he felt when following in the footsteps of so many fine pastors in such an historic church, and ask God to inspire him to speak meaningfully.
The years that followed, 1997 to 2001, were a particularly difficult time for us because of the deaths of two pastors and several of our most active members. In December, 1997, our beloved Pastor Mann died. One of his last wishes was that Siloam UM Church be joined with us. However, Siloam and the then District Superintendent, Rev. Bach, decided it was more optimal for Siloam to merge with one of Old Brick’s other daughter churches, and together they became Summerfield-Siloam UM Church.
After Pastor Mann’s death, in 1998-2000, we were served by an able student pastor, Kipp Gilmore-Clough. Kipp was a quiet person but an eloquent speaker. He experienced some difficult times for so young a pastor and served us well with his sermons, services and sympathy. In April, 2000, Financial Secretary, Charles P. Zisette, and our Lay Leader, Harvey E. Stoehr died within days of one another, and Kipp will always be remembered for his perceptive words at their memorial services, which were held at Old Brick. Harvey had also been President of the Official Board, Historian, Treasurer, Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent, and Lay Pastor. We were very fortunate that his daughter, Mildred Christian, was able to assume some of his activities, and that Marie DiFrancesco, was able to take over his position as Treasurer. After these men served so well and so long, keeping all of the church records, it took some time for the “young women” to figure out what they needed to do and how to do it, but, with the help and support of the congregation, they grew into their positions.
In June, 2000, a new pastor, Donald Thompson, was appointed to serve us and also serve as the Director of the Kensington Area Ministry. To meet his needs, we refurbished the donated Stoehr residence for use as a parsonage. However, he did not fit in well with our congregation and was removed by the District Superintendent, The Rev. Dr. Staton, in December 2000, after which we did not have an appointed pastor until June 2001.
The Old Brick Historic Preservation Society was formed in 2000 for the purpose of restoring and renovating the building. Everyone is welcome to join and aid in these efforts which resulted in our historic and sacred building being restored to the point where it is again beautiful to behold. Even more important than this restoration of the physical building is the fact that for 200 years, Old Brick has been dedicated to holding services to restore our souls and renew our faith. In this time of special concern for our Nation, we hope that you will join with us in prayer and support of our Country, our neighbors and all those who suffer from the absence of the joy and peace that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
Despite the absence of an appointed pastor, and the recent history of problems, God gave us special blessings during this time. Our members worked together and our congregation grew, each individual accepting as a personal mission that this Old Brick Church would continue to serve the members and the Fishtown Community. Through remarkable efforts, we held services every Sunday, led by our lay congregation or invited pastors. In recognition of the remarkable services given freely for so many years, the Trustees identified the Robert Schmidgall family as caretakers of the parsonage, for use during their lifetimes.
In July of 2001, the UMC Conference appointed the Rev. Evelyn Fitzgerald to serve Old Brick and also chair KAM. Evelyn was remarkable in many ways. After many years of working with the Philadelphia UM Conference, she decided to begin study for the ministry at the age of 72. She had a high energy level and great hopes for bringing about our mutual vision of renovation and revival. None of us will forget her proudly “processing” down the aisle on Easter Sunday or her wish to attend Donald Dillard’s organ concert in May, which she so desired to have as an annual event. Unfortunately, her illness kept her from attending. It was a sad time for all of us because Evelyn so rapidly developed stomach cancer and left us for her Heavenly Home in June, 2002. However, during Evelyn’s ministry, we received another blessing – Lumturi Baxho, from Albania, began to attend and has since then brought many new people from Albania to Old Brick, including her husband Sotir, their cousins and friends. Evelyn was so proud to be able to bring Lumturi into our church membership. We now have four members from Albania and three additional families who regularly attend our services.
We then were blessed with another student pastor and his family, Pastor Ryan Khan, born in Pakistan and a naturalized U.S. Citizen. We were all overjoyed with him, his lovely wife, Ishva, and their darling son, Silas. The young family provided us with many happy hours, and he was especially appreciated by Auntie Ree Heimindinger, who said “He was exactly what we needed”, and Jimmy Schmidgall, who so loved playing with Silas. This young family’s presence revived us after our sad times. Silas was the first child christened at Old Brick in the new Millennium, and his mother, Ishva, was our first Pakistani member. We were very sad to have them transfer to another church after only one year with us and appreciate the continued contact they have had with us and their support of our historic preservation activities.
Beginning in June of 2003, Pastor Tracy L. Bass, Esq. and his wife Tracy Y. and their two sons Braelin and Tauren joined us. Pastor Bass left a successful law practice to join the ministry and is currently completing his education to become an ordained Elder of the U.M. Church. We welcome them and enjoy their presence with us each Sunday. Pastor Bass is our first black pastor, and we enjoy the enlivening sermons he provides. We also greatly appreciate Mrs. Bass’ frequent participation in the services as speaker. Just a few weeks ago, we were pleased to have a surprise visit of the Group of 12 from Germantown UM Church, the Bass’ former church join us in the morning services and present Pastor Bass with a special gift. It was a special blessing to us to have them with us on a day when we happened to have many unable to attend the service because of illness. We also appreciate the Basses frequently inviting their family members to be with us.
Tour of Old Brick
Why the name?
Each of the three buildings was built of brick. Each was larger than the last, and each incorporated bricks from the previous building into the new building. Thus, the name, Old Brick.
In 1801, approximately 60 individuals and 4 ministers left St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church at 4th and Arch and formed the Kensington Methodist Society as a Sunday School. The group met under the Treaty Elm or in buildings that were used for storage of shipbuilding materials. The probable reason for choice of this place for meeting was the tradition regarding the Treaty Elm (two people who became associated with Old Brick were Captains in the Revolutionary Army; one, Hewson, was a leader of the class in 1800; the other, Simco, had had his men surround the Treaty Tree to protect it from the British during their occupation of Philadelphia in 1776). The Treaty Tree stood on the ground owned by Palmer, a merchant shipper and land owner who was not only Governor of Penn’s Providence but also left part of his land for use of the area as a cemetery for those in need. Interestingly, Harry Hoisier, (“black Harry”), the black Methodist preacher for whom our district was named until reorganization of the North Eastern Conference in June, 2004, was among the individuals associated with Palmer, who came from the English islands, as also did Harry, and Harry is buried in Palmer Cemetery. The use of the shipbuilding huts was probably because of their ownership by some of the members, and the commingling with Harry Hoisier’s congregation at Zoar, rather than attending St. George’s in terrible weather, could have been former friendships of Hoisier and Palmer and/or simply distance.
Although the specific reasons for the split with Old Saint George’s remain unidentified, it is suspected that the differences were based on the relative freedom of the various members to be ordained and practice as pastors, to administer communion, and their relative position on the Revolutionary War and the Jay Treaty. It is known that the Kensington area (as the area originally owned by Palmer and extending from Aramingo Avenue to the river was known), was highly patriotic, that much of the area had been flooded and surrounded with dirt redoubts along the river, to protect against British invasion, and that Hewson and Simco had raised regiments from their own employees in their factories and shipyards. It is also known that John Wesley was a friend of King George III, and had requested all ordained Methodist ministers to return to England until the outcome of the “Rebellion” was determined. Essentially all did so, with the exception of the first American Bishop, Frances Asbury, who had written in his diary regarding the “terrible problems” at St, George’s. It is possible that these problems included: 1) the Tory position of members; 2) the absence of ordained pastors; 3) the refusal of the group to submit to the instructions of Wesley; 4) the ousting of the Black community from communion (both Hoisier and Allen were originally preached at St. George’s; however, with the latter exclusion of the black members, Hoisier formed a black Methodist church, Zoar, while Allen returned to the Episcopal church).
Original Building – Dedicated in 1804
The original building was built facing Marlborough (then Queen) Street. The burial lot was on the side towards the river, with a total of 60 feet of footage on Queen Street and the balance on Richmond Street. Building was initiated before the actual deeding of the land from two major donors was completed (i.e., in 1803), and completed in 1804. Its proximity to the river was made evident when in excavation of the basement to put in new heating, sand was found in the flooring. The internal plastering, paint and other decoration were not completed for several years, and, as the result of a general depression of the Fishtown area following both annual yellow fever epidemics and the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, the congregation was not only poor, but also small. The church building was unheated, local ruffians broke the windows, and the members did not have sufficient funds to purchase candles for lighting.
As to whether Delaware Indians were buried in the church yard can not be confirmed, but it is highly likely because the name Sigafose appears as a member in the records, and a George Sigafose is also buried in a prominent place in Palmer Cemetery. Harry Hoisier, Palmer himself, and Hewson are all buried in Palmer Cemetery.
Second Building – Dedicated in 1833
The second building was larger and faced Marlborough Street.
Third Building – Dedicated in 1854
This building faced Marlborough Street, with the back of the lot covering what was formerly the burial ground. The interred remains were moved to what is now a playground on Thompson Street. At the time the land was purchased from the church, the interred remains were moved to Forest Hills Cemetery, and a single tombstone raised. In payment for the ground, the church received a total of 74 gravesites, some of which it continues to make available to its members.
The new building was built of brick, surrounded by a cast iron picket fence. The river side of the building remained open land at the time. The parsonage was the house next door, now owned by the Schusler family.
As you know, the church is a corporation, as well as a United Methodist Church. Here on the wall you can see a copy of the original charter. Notice the signatures and seals. Please also see the ancient electrical connections that remain in place. These are typical of the type that were installed throughout this entire area, but are one of the few remaining functional. Each of us felt very proud when we were finally old enough to be trusted with turning of the lights by throwing a switch.
The open area of the basement remains over the original burial grounds. As the church was heated by coal for many years (gas heat was installed only in the 1960’s), there were various stages of improvement in energy efficiency and coal use. The two openings on the side of the building were where the coal was run into the building and two large coal bins, one for pea coal and the other for regular coal. The custodian was responsible for coming in about 4:00 AM each day to begin to heat the building by throwing coal into the furnace. Radiators are installed in the upper rooms, and it requires heating water in a boiler to produce sufficient steam to run through the radiators. We have maintained the radiator systems, but replaced augmented the coal feeding arrangement first with a “stocker”, a machine that would be filled and then feed the coal to the furnace, which meant the custodian could come a little later, and then finally with a new gas heater. It costs approximately $300 to heat the church each week during the cold season, so you can see why we meet downstairs and charge when we rent the building for other meetings.
The floor of the basement is dirt, as is true in many of the surrounding buildings in this area. Some of the early buildings were simply constructed over caves or cellars, and, during the Revolutionary War, when the marshy area closer to Aramingo Ave. was flooded, it was common to use boats for access. The dirt floor has been covered in part by cement, but is also covered with ashes from the furnace, because once coal burns, it makes ashes, which had to be removed, and many times it seemed to be easier to strew the ashes in the basement than to carry them upstairs for removal. Much of the ashes have been removed, because these remains can gradually work away on the old walls and also supply areas where termite damage can occur. If you have purchased a house in this area and are in the process of restoration, remember this – remove any ashes that may be present and check the wood.
Many of our men who were in our basket ball league served in WWII. After they returned home, they wanted a special place to meet, and there is a small room in the basement that was built by these men, so that they had a private place to play table tennis and talk. This little room is still there, but it hasn’t been used for many many years, and since the basement is rather hazardous, it is not open to public access.
Main Sunday School Room
The building was quite modern for its time, being built in the Brick Georgian style, with wide doors, halls, and doors. There were four doors used for entrance, an inner area that was used to remove coats and keep protected from the cold, and gas light throughout. For economy, the glass windows from the second building were kept, and red, white and blue windows were placed in the large common room, or Sunday School room.
In 1873, the Sunday-School room was reseated, frescoed, and inside blinds placed at the windows, at a cost $2,000. The repainting of the same rooms cost approximately $12,000 in 2003.
In 1886 the Sunday-School room was again frescoed, re-carpeted, and stained glass windows substituted for plain glass. The Sunday-School was also reorganized and thus more room secured for additional classes.
Each of the ancillary rooms had sliding sides, so that they could be enlarged or joined to the common area. The pews were designed to be used as class areas or, with realignment, to face forward.
The room to the right back was the library, where a minimum of four librarians maintained control over the several hundred Bibles that were distributed weekly. Membership was strictly regulated, and it was necessary to rise through several classes before full membership was permitted. The library of the time was extensive, and the librarians were instructed to not hold lengthy discussions with the teachers or students.
At the side of this room, one can see the little organ, which is about to be refurbished. Because music was and remains such an important part of Methodism, each class usually had its own piano or organ.
In later years, this large room also served as the Women’s Sunday School Room, and since appointment of the most recent pastor, has served as his office.
Unlike many organizations, Old Brick is a corporation, which means that the “Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church”, as you may have noted is carved in stone above the entrance, was incorporated, ultimately in the State of Pennsylvania, and that the building and all property are the property of this corporate body. The Trustees are elected, and they and their descendents are those responsible for the property and the acceptance of the rules placed upon them by the central church. This room originally was that in which the Trustees met monthly, by bylaw, just as occurs for any other corporation, and in which originally the money and records were kept. Only Trustees had access to this room, and the combination to the safe was known only to the President, Treasurer, Secretary and Recording Secretary. Two individuals had to be present to open the safe. As the result of a burglary several years ago, the safe is no longer functional, and our historic records are now archived. However, the room remains the central office for the Board and was the one in which messengers were generated and all meetings were held until restoration of the downstairs was initiated in 1998.
Men’s Bible Class
The room to the left of the large Sunday School was the Men’s Bible Class. After a common opening service, in which everyone participated, the various groups were to their separate areas, which included the major rooms described, and the small class areas within the large Sunday School Class as well, in which new attendees were taught the principles of worship, as well as instructed in the Bible.
Near the 100th Anniversary of the church, the Men’s Groups became so large that it was considered appropriate for them to separate from the main Sunday School. These groups raised funds and paid for erection of what was called the Young Men’s Building. You will note that it is joined to the building by a hallway, but, is slightly lower than the church building.
This annexed building also served as one of the first YMCA’s and, had rules of its own. It was also the meeting site of the Christian Endeavor meetings, a large young people’s organization that flourished at Old Brick between 1925 and 1955. This was an ecumenical group that went across protestant congregations and seemed to be more successful than the current practice of limiting young people to their particular sect (i.e., Luther League, Methodist Youth Fellowship, etc.), because it allowed friends from different churches to meet together in large community activities.
The area to the left served as the Primary Room, and was for children from 6 to 8 years of age. Note the raised platform on which the teachers sat, the slanting floor, and the different size chairs. At the back of the room was an ingenious storage area, in which tables and screw in iron legs remain stored. It is now occupied as the office of the Kensington Area Ministry (KAM).
Up the steps is the Beginner’s Room, in which infants to 6 year old children were taught. This room had only small chairs, a piano, and you will see, coat rack. It also serves as the kitchen storage area. The plates in the cabinets are “white ware” typical of that used throughout the early 1850’s, and were used until 1950 for church dinners.
The room also served in the 1950’s as the “workshop” area for the groups of children that came to learn handiwork one night a week, so ably run by Mr. and Mrs. Merritt.
The kitchen has been renovated with heat and repainted, but one can still see the original slant to a cement floor. A specialty of the church was Cod Fish Cakes and Snapper Soup, and many dinners were prepared, passed through the window to the servers and sent to diners over the years. There was also a hierarchy of cooks, and the “old women” ruled the kitchen and resulted in a schism in which a “Young Women’s Society” was formed. One of my favorite stories is that of my mother (Alice Stoehr) and aunt (Violet Zisette) walking a sea turtle up Delaware Avenue to the church, where the men prepared the animal for soup (preparation required three days of boiling and skimming of the turtle meat), and the women made the dough balls and diced eggs that were desired accoutrements. Slices of butter were carefully measured, after preparation by the slicer.
Note the wideness of the stairs and entrance way. The double doors were made to be sufficiently wide to allow the women to enter with their full plumed hats, as did my grandmother, Pearl Zisette, who was only 5’ tall, but had feathers on one of her hats that required both doors to be held open.
The beautiful stained glass windows were an addition made in 1880, replacing a high door in the front, and the painted glass windows of the original church. Two chandeliers were placed in 1892.
The oak pews were made locally for the church and are beautifully maintained. The original building had a side balcony as well and was made to seat 1000 people. It is simple in organization and, as the parent church of several other churches in the local neighborhood, similar not only to the Wesley’s Methodist Chapel in London, but also the model for Siloam and Summerfield, two daughter churches that are now joined. The beautiful organ in the front was added in 1898 and is a tractor action pipe organ. Originally run by turning of a water wheel, a function fulfilled by some of the young boys, it was electrified in the early 1920’s. At the time of installation, only the Wanamaker organ (which has since been replaced and enlarged) exceeded it in size. The organ was built for the church, and the longest sound waves are exactly one half the length of the room. You will notice that the acoustics are quite good, recognizing the fact that there were no amplification systems at the time the church was built. Completion of re-carpeting and restoration of the stained glass windows are the only remaining items from our project. We hope to have the carpeting completed by Easter.
Please note how the runners were laid beneath the pews, with each being a narrow strip, the way carpeting was then made. Because there were many textile and rug manufacturers in the area at the time, it is likely that this carpeting, laid in the 1885, was obtained from the Axminster factory, which until the late 1960s was on Frankford Avenue. Subscriptions secured to the amount of $9,034.47. New seats, windows, and carpets were put in the audience-room and the interior repainted and frescoed at a cost $8,956.31. (The cost of the current repainting and plastering was $55,000).
The brass railings in the front also served as gas conduits, and at one time the entire church was lighted by gas. For the 50th Anniversary, the name Jesus was lit by gas burners hung on the side walls. Can you think of us having open gas jets burning now?
To the right is the Junior Choir loft, which was added after removal of the side balconies. In the center is the kneeling rail surrounding the inner area, in which there is a marble baptismal font and the communion table. The handmade needlepoint pillows are in the process of being completed by the Schmidgall family, who has given them as a gift to the church.
Above this area is the raised pulpit, raised to ensure both that the pastor would be seen and heard. On the pulpit are two chairs for the pastors and a central podium, holding a large Bible. To each side are large metal lamps, or torches, originally gas jetted, each of which have beautiful workmanship. In particular, notice the goat feet on the lamps, the torches, and the flame-like bulbs. These bulbs were originally orange, to more closely simulate a fire, but only white bulbs can currently be obtained in these sizes.
Above the pulpit is the choir loft and organ. Please notice that the ceiling is exactly 40 feet high. This means that a lot of scaffolding is need when painting occurs. The organ has ………..pipes, which were once painted in true Victorian fashion. The church, originally plain, went through a more ornate period in which each of the windows was filigreed-bordered. Each stained glass window contains a story from the Bible and a Christian symbol above the center area. At one time, they could be opened with ropes, which had to be replaced at 5-year intervals. They are now kept closed because of the need to cover them with Plexiglas to prevent further breakage. Those of you who have worked with stained glass know how it is held together with lead strips. Even the best lead lasts only about 100 years before oxidizing, and the reason for some of the buckling of the windows is that the heavy glass and lead have moved over the years. When we asked about restoring the windows, the answer was that it would cost approximately $150,000 to replace them with simple reticulated glass, but that the glass themselves could not be restored, both because of the age of the glass, the dirt that was ground into them, and the need to replace all of the oxidized lead. As this was unacceptable, we have contacted a restoration group in England and hope to be able to have them assist us with the restoration process. As you will note at the bottom of the window, each was given by a family or group. The reason for much of the loss of the windows was that children had access to stones, in particular during the building of I-95, and during the last 30 years considerable damage to the building occurred, including graffiti, immediate breaking of light bulbs, burglary, which even included stealing of the Bible off the pulpit. For this reason, we are no longer able to allow the doors to remain open. However, since we suffered similar problems in 1804, I guess we should be used to it by now.
It should be noted that in 1872, Old Brick was the largest pastorate in Philadelphia. As stated by the then pastor, “No one can estimate these (arduous duties) who has not tried to meet all the requirements of the Old Brick charge, with an average of from four to six funerals a week, a sum total of 305 baptisms. Beside the multiplied duties of so large a pastorate.”
To the back of the church passing through the separating area with the step steps is the original Young Men’s Room, which became the junior room. The hall was dedicated in 1873. This was the room where 12 to 15 year old young people were taught in Sunday School. Note the raised platform in the front, where the opening and closing services were held. A series of tables with chairs were present behind the rows of chairs in the front of the room, and the children would progress through the tables as they achieved various levels.
As we move to the front, please notice the curved window frames. These were recently replaced, and so that you could be certain that they needed it, one of the old frames, with many makeshift repairs, stands here. Notice that the windows are those from the original church. Everything was saved and reused. Although the front windows were all been broken and replaced with Plexiglas, the side ones remain the originals.
This room also served as an area used by young people for recreation. At the time of the 135th anniversary, my father Harvey Stoehr, and his brother, George Stoehr, covered the entire ceiling with blue crepe paper and stars. The young people built a miniature golf setup for the children to enjoy. More recently, Camp 488 of the Patriotic Order Sons of America, or P.O.S. of A., the oldest patriotic order in the United States, used this room for its meetings. Most of its members were also members of Old Brick, a fact that carries on the continued patriotic relationship of Old Brick and the U.S.
Within this rooms are some interesting items that have been used during services and other activities. Please note the wooden communion service, the metal spouted cup that was used to fill the communion cups, the glass communion cups, all of which were boiled after each use (one was specifically maintained for a member with mouth cancer, who wore a medical mask covering her mouth). It is interesting to note that it was not until 1874 that communion wine was discontinued from use and replaced by unfermented wine (grape juice – which made Welch’s Company a great success). The little plate that was used for children’s collections, the bust of George Washington, who was affiliated with the founders of the church, as well as Benjamin Franklin, who convinced Hewson to bring his calico business here, and copies of the Bibles that were given to each child as they graduated from the Primary Class to the Junior Class. There is also a very modern slide machine that was used to show glass slides with Bible stories.
Thank you for joining us on this historic occasion. We hope that you have enjoyed your tour and will feel welcome in our ancient and sacred building, visit us frequently as neighbors and friends and consider becoming members. Should you desire to become a member of our historic preservation society, forms are available downstairs. Should you have any questions regarding the building or its activities, please feel free to ask our Pastor, Rev. Tracey L. Bass, or our Trustees (the people with green ribbons).
Kensington M.E. Old Brick Burial Grounds
1804 – Churchyard
1826 – Purchased burial ground at Hanover St. (now Columbia Avenue) N of Thompson. This are is now a playground.
1922 – 94 lots were purchased from Forest Hills Cemetery, August 9, 1922. 14 lots (two interments per lot) remain available for use.
Findings indicate that an unidentified number of gravesites were moved from Hanover Cemetery to Forest Hills Cemetery in 1933. Of the 94 lots with two interments per grave, there remain 14 lots (28 possible interments) that could be used by the church for its members, according to the deed of August 9, 1922.
BLESS THIS HOUSE
"A happy heart is like good medicine." Proverbs 17: 22
Bless this house
As we come and go,
Bless our home
As the children grow,
Bless our family
And friends who gather,
Bless this house
Dear loving Father.
Robert A. Schmidgall, Jr.
Old Brick’s 195th Anniversary Poem
195 years in the past
Our forbearers founded a church to last
Until the present day and time
To send a message in song and rhyme
That Jesus’ life for us was given
To open the pathway into Heaven
Miss Marie Heimerdinger, November, 1999
(our “Auntie Ree”, who passed to her reward January 29, 2003)