George B. (George Black) Stewart.

Centennial memorial, English Presbyterian congregation, Harrisburg, Pa online

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grace which nourished Christian lives and added the saved
to the communion of believers, was the marvelous develop-
ment of Christian activity and power among the women of
the Church. Their names are conspicuous in the earliest
records of the congregation. The history of their labors
and sacrifices from the last century to this hour, and espec-
ially for the last twenty-five years, needs volumes for its
record and many hours for a fitting eulogy. It is with
grief, mingled with most delightful memories, that only
this passing allusion can be made to the quiet, but heroic,
lives of the Christian women of this Church.

In 1884 another change took place in the pastorate of the
church. Its pastor received a call from the Western
Theological Seminary at Allegheny, from which he had
graduated thirty years before, to the Re-Union Professorship
of Sacred Rhetoric, Church Government and Pastoral
Theology. After a prayerful consideration of the matter
for several months, he came to the conclusion that it was
his duty to accept the call, and so announced to the Church.
At a meeting of the Presbytery of Carlisle, held on April
9, 1884, the pastoral relationship between him and this
Church was dissolved, and Dr. Robinson was appointed to
declare the pulpit vacant on the first Sabbath in June.
This Church was represented at that meeting of the
Presbytery by Messrs. S. J. M. McCarrell, Charles L.
Bailey, M. W. McAlarney and William S. Shaffer, who
presented a strong protest from the congregation against

268 Centennial Memorial.

the severance of the bonds between it and the pastor. He
continued 'to supply the pulpit until the last Sabbath in
June, the thirtieth anniversary of his first sermon to the
congregation in 1854.

At a meeting of the congregation held October 6, 1884,
the Rev. George Black Stewart of Auburn, N. Y., was unan-
imously elected to fill the vacant pastorate. Mr. Stewart is
a graduate of Princeton College and pursued his theological
studies at both McCormick and Auburn Theological
Seminaries and for five years was pastor of the Calvary
Presbyterian Church of Auburn, N. Y. The call was
accepted by him and on January 2, 1885, he was installed
by the Presbytery of Carlisle as the fifth in the line of
pastors, during a hundred years in the history of this
Church. Nine years have now passed since this relationship
was established. They have been years of unexampled
activity and growth, surpassing all former years. All
departments of .church work have been invigorated, and
new agencies have been created. The spirit of consecrated
love and work has fallen upon the Church. Though this
Church has reached the maturity of an hundred years its
"eye is not dim nor is its natural force abated." There are
no wrinkles of age upon it nor any signals of weariness.
Its courts are thronged upon the Sabbath with worshipers,
and its schools are filled with the students of divine things.
Its places of weekly prayer are the resort of Christ's dis-
ciples. There is no going backward, but onward rather to
meet the greater light and the larger responsibilities of the
twentieth century. There is no defection in its teachings.
Its pulpit is true to the word of God and to the immemorial

George Black Stewart.


Historical Sermon of Rev. Thomas H. Robinson. 269

faith of Christ's Church. It utters no uncertain and doubtful
sound. Its tireless, broad-minded and consecrated occupant
may be trusted to lead into no path that is not illumined
by the light that falls from the Holy Scriptures and
marked b} r the footprints of good men, and of the great
Captain of our salvation. The Ruling Elders who are
associated with him in the spiritual guidance of the Church,
have been wisely selected and have approved themselves as
worthy successors of the noble men who preceded them.
During the present pastorate the Church has most wisely
renewed the office of the Deacon vacant in the Church
since the death of a good old man of the earlier days,
Ebenezer Ward in 1864. He died at an advanced age and
for many years had laid aside the duties of the office. May
the Deacons of this Church serve well and so "gain to them-
selves a good standing and great boldness in the faith
which is in Christ Jesus."

By reason of the enlarged labors of the pastorate of the
Church and the growth of its mission enterprise in the lower
part of the city the employment of an assistant to the pastor
became a necessity. During the summer months of 1889
Mr. David M. Skilling, a member of the Senior class of
Western Theological Seminary, entered upon these duties
and so securely won the regard of the Church that upon his
graduation in May, 1890, he was recalled to the work and
has remained until this day. He has been fully ordained
to the ministry. The mission has grown under his fostering
care in numbers and spiritual power. The congregation
and the Sunday-school are already the strong foundation
for an active and successful Church. Through the large

270 Centennial Memorial.

generosity of members of this Church the mission has been
provided with a stone chapel of elegant architecture and
all the needed furniture of a house of worship. Mr. Skil-
ling has brought to his field the scholarship and training
of many years of college and seminary study and the con-
secration of a heart and life wholly devoted to the service
of Christ.

I have left unsaid many of the things I most greatly de-
sired to say. There are names unspoken in the heart that
I wished to utter with words of veneration and praise.
What a record of noble and saintly lives might be gathered
from this century of years. What toils and strong purposes
and love have gone into the uplifting of this Church of
God here. What a history of prayers, of teaching and
preaching, of glad sacrifices for God and for man, of souls
born into the life that is everlasting, of Christian graces
growing into splendid maturity, of a Christian faith that
amid the decays of nature and in the chamber of death
was radiant with the certainties of that world that is im-
mortal. We have seen them as they reached the brink of
the " deep river," and from their faces have caught what
seemed like a "reflection of the sunbeams upon the city
that is pure gold."

One hundred years ! They take us back to a time that
Bushnell has called " the Age of Homespun." The fathers
and mothers who laid the foundations here were simply
worthy men and women. They were sensible, wise-headed,
upright men and women of plain and godly virtues. They
never thought of being famous or historic. But from the
rare simplicit} r and the homely virtues of that age we draw

David Miller Shilling.


Historical Sermon of Rev. Thomas H. Robinson. 271

our royal lineage. Our inheritance has come from their
sturdiness in well-doing and their reverent love of the
things that are true and good. The greatest thoughts that
brewed in their minds were thoughts of religion and of
God. Little deemed they that the hundred years through
which their successors and heirs have lived would form the
most remarkable century in human history.

The " Grand Old Man," of England, who is about to lay
down the work of his wonderful life, has said, that if he
had been given his choice in what period of the world to
live, he would have chosen the Nineteenth Century. It
has been the age of invention and of discovery, the age of
political change, of advancing science and art, of human
liberty and of religious progress. What we possess to-day
of privilege and power, of blessing and of hope, is but an
heirloom. We have entered into the labors of our fathers.
This Century Plant did not spring up in a night. The past
was at. its planting and many years have waited on its
growth. The best spirits of three generations have been
our benefactors. By the patience and courage, by the self-
denials and the prayers of the hundreds of men and women
who here loved their fellow-men, and served their God, this
Church now stands on its height of attainment. Let us
honor those who made us what we are. Let us bow our
heads in gratefulness to the fathers and mothers who left
us, not hoarded saving of perishing gold, but the memory
and the power of their Christian lives. Some of them like
the divinely-gifted James W. Weir stand forth with a bril-
liance all their own and unrivalled, but love weaves its gar-
land's for hundreds of others who lived for us and left us

272 Centennial Memorial.

their precious inheritance. Into the sympathy and goodly
fellowship of these men and women who walked with the
Son of God let us hasten to enter and there abide. By the
goodness of our lives and by the fulness of our devotion to
truth and to Christ, let us see to it, that by the close of the
twentieth century, freedom and religion are high advanced
towards the millenium.

At the conclusion of Dr. Robinson's address, Dr. Stewart
announced Luther's Battle Hymn of the Reformation.

Our God stands firm, a rock and tow'r,

A shield when danger presses ;
A ready help in ev'ry hour

When doubt or pain distresses ;
For our malignant foe

Unswerving aims his blow ;
His fearful arms the while,

Dark pow'r and darker guile ;
His hidden craft is matchless.

Our strength is weakness in the fight,

Our courage soon defection;
But comes a Warrior clad in might,

A Prince of God's election ;
Who is this wondrous Chief

That brings this glad relief ?
The field of battle boasts,

Christ Jesus, Lord of hosts.
Still conq'ring and to conquer.

Then, Lord ! arise ; lift up thine arm,

With mighty succor stay us ;
Oh, turn aside the deadly harm

When Satan would betray us,

Historical Evening. 273

That rescued by thy hand,

In triumph we may stand,
And round thy footstool crowd

In joy to sing aloud
High praise to our Redeemer.

As the audience joined heartily with the choir in singing
the stately measures of Ein. feste Burg, it seemed a most
fitting culmination of the praise to the great Head of the
Church for his kind providence and infinite grace toward
this people. Rev. David M. Skilling led the congregation
in repeating the Lord's Prayer. The Benediction was ju*o-
nounced by the Rev. Dr. Robinson, and the service con-
cluded with the Chorus in E Flat composed by Guilmant.


February the 16th, 1894, at 7.30 o'clock.

Social Reception.
Amiel in his Journal Intime makes some philosophical
observations concerning social amenities. He looks upon
social gatherings as occasions when "intellect and taste hold
festival, and the associations of reality are exchanged for
the associations of the imagination," and he adds : "Paradox
or no, I believe that these fugitive attempts to reconstruct
a dream whose only end is beauty, represent confused rem-
iniscences of an age of gold haunting the human heart,
or rather aspirations towards a harmony of things which
everyday reality denies to us, and of which art alone gives
us a glimpse." It must have been unconscious obedience
to some such law as this which led the committee to plan
the closing feature of Centennial Week. It was certainly a
most happy thought which devised the social reception of
Friday night. And it was a happy thought most admirably
executed. The Reception Committee had a difficult task to
perform. The problems confronting it were complex and
full of unknown factors. Necessarily many of their arrange-
ments were dependent upon the probable number of guests
they would have to provide for, yet these arrangements had
to be completed before this could possibly be known. It
is no small praise when we say that their arrangements
were perfect and admirably adapted to the circumstances,
that they secured to those present a most enjoyable evening,

276 Centennial Memorial.

and concluded the Centennial observances with a brilliant
success. This committee with Mrs. Gilbert M. McGauley as
chairman arranged the Sunda}'-school rooms in a tasteful and
attractive manner, and provided ample refreshments for the
twelve hundred to fifteen hundred guests. The Committee
of Ushers with Mr. Peter K. Sprenkel as chairman ably as-
sisted the Reception Committee in contributing to the com-
fort of the large company. This committee provided a cloak-
room for the checking of hats and outer garments, which
proved to be a great convenience. In addition to these two
committees valuable help was rendered by the young people
in distributing refreshments and in other ways. Among
those who thus assisted were Misses Martha Worden McAlar-
ney, Louisa A. Hickok, Anna Orth, Caroline Moffitt, Roberta
Orth, Mary Hamilton, Nannie Orr, Caroline Bigler, Mary
Fleming, Helen Boyd, Eva Vandling, Margaret Hamilton,
Marion Weiss ; Messrs. Ira Bishop, George Ridgway, Horace
Segelbaum, John P. Kelker, George Martin, Charles Hickok;
Masters Harris Stewart, John Hart McAlarney, George

The night was clear and cold with bright stars above and
the creaking snow beneath. The people early began to
gather and evidently came prepared for a happy time, and
they had it. The receiving party stood in the Intermediate
Sunday-school room, and consisted of Dr. and Mrs. Stewart,
Dr. and Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Skilling, and the Invitation
Committee, consisting of Charles L. Bailey, David Fleming,
Jr., Mrs. Julia A. Briggs, Mrs. David Fleming, Alexander
Roberts, John H. Weiss, Dr. Jacob A. Miller, Mrs. Sarah
Doll, Mrs. Jacob S. Haldeman, Miss Sibyl M. Weir, Samuel

Social Reception. 277

D. Ingram, George W. Boyd, Lyman D. Gilbert. The hun-
dreds of guests as they arrived were cordially received and
made to feel at home. There was no lack of good fellow-
ship. Because of the large number present the committees
early began to serve the refreshments, and were kept busy
throughout the whole evening.

About eight o'clock the impromptu musical programme
began in the lecture-room. Messrs. Henry A. Kelker, Jr.,
J. F. Hutchinson, H. L. Vance, Charles F. Etter and Frank
S. Morrow, members of the Harrisburg Banjo Club, played
with spirit and precision two numbers. Mrs. Frank R.
Schell and Mrs. David Fleming, Jr., gave as a piano duet,
the overture to " Rienzi," by Wagner, in which their fine
musical taste and skill were made evident. The voices of
Messrs. George R. Fleming, Edward Z. Gross, William G.
Underwood, and Lucius S. Bigelow, the Mendelssohn Quar-
tette, blended perfectly in the ballads, so dear to the people's
heart, " The Miller of Dee," " Ben Bolt," " Annie Laurie,"
" Blue Bells of Scotland." The surging throng which
filled the social rooms made it difficult for hearing this
excellent music.

At the same time, in the auditorium, a large company
gathered to listen to the addresses given by some of the
guests of the evening.

After Miss Reba Bunton and Mr. George R. Fleming had
delighted the audience with the duet, " They Shall Hunger
No More," in Gaul's cantata, "The Holy City," and Mr.
Fleming had increased the delight by a solo, Coenen's
" Come Unto Me," Mr. Stewart, the Minister of the Church,
said : This is a flexible audience, and so is everything else

278 Centennial Memorial.

to-night. There is nothing stiff or formal about this occa-
sion. This is an evening of freedom and spontaneous good
fellowship. It gives me very great pleasure to introduce
the presiding officer of the evening, the Honorable John
B. McPherson of Harrisburg, late of Lebanon.

The President. Ladies and Gentlemen : Two or three
of us were talking this afternoon as we were coming down
the Bank and were wondering why it was that when
Americans get together — and I suppose it is equally true
of all English speaking-people — they always want two
things; one is speech-making, and singularly enough the
other is brevity in the speeches. The two do not always
go together; but the effort this evening is to have them
both; you will have several speeches, and I think you
will have them short.

I will not refer to the reasons which make it most gratify-
ing for me to be here on this occasion, but there is one
suggestion which perhaps may touch others in the audience
as well as myself. It is certainly most inspiriting to one
who has anything to do with a small church, with a church
that is struggling to live and is in the beginning of things,
to come and see what is the result here of all these years
of effort, and to reflect that after all somebody must go
through the early stages of despondency, and that it may
as well fall to your lot or to mine as to the lot of others. I
am sure for such a person it will be easy this evening to
get some inspiration and encouragement.

It is probably quite clear by this time of the week that
the English Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg is cele-
brating its Centennial, but I hasten to add— and I believe

Remarks by Dr. William C. Cattell. 279

I am expressing your sentiments as well as my own — that
it has never seemed to me as if our brethren of the Pine
Street Church were really a separate Church. They shared
our common worship for sixty-five years: there have been,
and there are, so many ties between us, and those ties have
been so intimate and so continuous during the last thirty-
five years, that it never has seemed as if the churches were
separate, but rather as if they were parts of the same con-
gregation worshiping in different buildings. In that spirit
I would like to present to you a gentleman whose name
and face are not only familiar to you all, but are known
and honored wherever the Presbyterian faith is honored
throughout the land ; I would like to call upon him as one
who was formerly an associate pastor of the Presbyterian
Church of Harrisburg — Dr. Cattell.

Remarks by Dr. William C. Cattell.

I have taken a couple of days out of a very busy life, and
have traveled many miles that I might be present at this
Presbyterian reunion. For here in Harrisburg the happiest
years of my life were spent. I have indeed happy memor-
ies of other places where I have lived, especially of Easton,
where, among a refined and cultured people, I spent nearly
thirty years, engaged in a work that awakened my highest
enthusiasm, and that brought me into intimate relations
with beloved colleagues in the Faculty and with the young
and joyous life of college boys. Yet, I say frankly to you
here, as I say everywhere, that my heart is in Harrisburg
It was only four brief years that I lived here, but those were
years in which I occupied a position which I believe to be

280 Centennial Memorial.

the most blessed and delightful that can fall to the lot of
man. I was the Pastor of a kind, loving, united people. So
long as I live shall I cherish in my heart of hearts the
memory of their love and loyalty which made my sacred
work among them a supreme joy. I can say now, after the
lapse of thirty years, what I said in my last words to them
from the pulpit as I turned away from my happy home
here to resume my college work at Easton: "I thank my
God upon every remembrance of you." That was the text, as
some of you may recall, from which I preached my
farewell sermon.

But the memories which have so endeared Harrisburg to
me are not exclusively those connected with the people of
my old pastoral charge. I had not lived here long without
finding that in this "mother church," at whose invitation
we are here to-night, were some of the most lovable people
that ever lived.

Let me remind you that Harrisburg, in 1860, was only a
large town, containing not much over fifteen thousand
inhabitants. What were then open fields are now streets
of closely-built houses. The palatial residences, everywhere
to be seen now, were then unknown. The life here, a gen-
eration ago, was plainer and simpler than it can be in the
great and busy city to which Harrisburg has now grown.
People got to know each other easily. Neighbor was
another name for friend, and the " neighborhood " was
widely extended. It was, therefore, not long before the
young Pastor of the Pine Street Church found that there
were other good people here besides those of his own fold,
although they, first and last and always, were the nearest to

Remarks by Dr. William C. Cattell. 2S1

his heart. Naturally, he found these good people, first of all,
and the most blessed of them all, in the old "mother
church," and the friendships formed among them I have
sacredly cherished all these years.

And so I rejoice to be here to-night. Many, indeed, of
those I loved in this Church, and in my old pastoral charge
have gone to the better land. Yet many remain. And it
has been a great joy to me, as I passed through these
crowded rooms, to take one and another by the hand — the
two congregations so intermingled that those from one could
hardly be distinguished from those of the other. Their
kind greeting will be a precious memory to me for the rest
of my life.

Yonder is my dear and honored brother, Dr. Robinson,
who, as Pastor of this Church, so cordially welcomed me to
Harrisburg nearly thirty-five years ago. We were both
young men then. In his presence I should hardly dare to
say about him all that is in my heart. But this I dare say
While he has been called to a high position as a professor
in one of our oldest theological seminaries, and the whole
Presbyterian Church holds him in deserved honor, his old
people here, and all of us who knew him, claim him to be
in a special sense " our Doctor Robinson." Our respect for
him and our personal love strengthen as the years go by.

And what shall I say of Dr. DeWitt, the venerable senior
Pastor of this Church when I came to Harrisburg? I looked
up to him with a reverence I have felt for few men. Of all
those articles of historic interest collected in the adjoining
room well worthy of days of careful study, nothing has so
attracted me as the portrait of this venerable man. I stood

•282 Centennial Memorial.

long before it to-day, gazing upon those benign and well-
remembered features, and recalling his rare and beautiful
old age as he went in and out among the people whom he
had so lovingly and so faithfully and so ably served for
nearly half a century. Even in the declining years of his
life he was a preacher of rare power. I recall a sermon I
heard him preach shortly after I came to Harrisburg. A
large tent was pitched upon the Capitol grounds in which
meetings were held after the manner of the evangelistic
services now so common. The patriarch took for his text,
" Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as
.snow ; though they be red like crimson they shall be as
wool." Never shall I forget the deep impression made upon
the great assembly as the silver-haired man, with a voice
trembling with emotion, and in language of classic purity
characteristic of all his sermons, pleaded with his hearers to
accept God's mercy so fully and freely offered in the gospel.
All around me were men in tears !

There comes to me a pleasant memory connecting Dr.
DeWitt with our own services in the new church dedicated
in 1860. Dr. Gurley, of Washington City, preached in the
morning, and Dr. Burt, of Baltimore, in the evening, when
this church was closed and both congregations met together
and sent their prayers and sacred songs heavenward from
the same altar. The next day I called upon Dr. DeWitt
and invited him to preach on the following Sunday morn-
ing. He at once, and with his usual courtesy, accepted the
invitation. But I saw he was under the impression that I
had invited him as " a supply " in view of my absence from

Remarks by Dr. William C. Cattett. 283

home that day, and I said to him : " No, Dr. DeWitt, I
could not be away from my people when the very first
sermon is preached to them in the regular ministration of
the gospel after the exceptional exercises of the dedication.
I shall be in the pulpit with you. But it is more fitting
that this first sermon shall be preached by you than by the
Pastor of the Church. You are the honored father of us all."
And I shall never forget the pleased look with which the
patriarch recognized that the invitation to him was intended,
not to fill a vacancy occasioned by my absence, but to em-
phasize the high appreciation in which he was held by
the community in which his whole ministerial life had
been spent.

I should like to recall other pleasant memories I have of
Dr. DeWitt and of the members of this Church whom I
knew and loved in those far off days, especially among the
elders ; and I should not hesitate to name first of all that
eminent man of God, Mr. James W. Weir. But there are
other speakers to follow, and the reminiscences that crowd

Online LibraryGeorge B. (George Black) StewartCentennial memorial, English Presbyterian congregation, Harrisburg, Pa → online text (page 18 of 30)