Rhode Island. Central Congregational Church Providence.

Historical manual of the Central Congregational Church, Providence, R.I. 1852-1902 online

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Online LibraryRhode Island. Central Congregational Church ProvidenceHistorical manual of the Central Congregational Church, Providence, R.I. 1852-1902 → online text (page 1 of 13)
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Central Congregational Church


======== 1852 - 1902 ■ ■' - = ^ r -


Central Congreffl tional Church


1852- I 902



1: 011

Table of Contents.

Calendar j_2

Order of Worship ^

Officers ,

Committees . .

Fiftietli Anniversary Exercises 6_g

Historical Addresses: OfH^ OO*^'?!^^

Moses E. Torrey .^V V.^. * ^V. ,0-21

George Harris 22-26

Charles W. Huntington 26-31

Edward C. INIoore 3 1-69

Articles of Faith, with Amendments 70-71

Covenant, 1852 72

Covenant, 1S73 73

Form of Admission 74-75

By-Laws, 1S52 76-77

Rules, iSgS 7'^-79

Ministers 80

Assistant Ministers 80

Stated Supplies 80

Ordinations Si

Deacons 81

Clerks 82

Treasurers 82

Superintendents of Sunday School 82

Additional Members of Standing Committee 82

The Sunday School 83-84

Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor 84

Woman's Home Missionary Association 85-86

Central Church Auxiliary 87-88

Women's Foreign Missionary Society 88-89

Girls' Mission Circle lyj


.Mmisicnnji Cliildrcn s Ltaj^iiL- 90

I'ortiijfuese Mission ' 9^

Society ( )iyanization;

Officers and Committees 92

Presidents '■ 93

Vice-Presidents 93

Secretaries 93

Treasurers 93

Members of Standing Committee 93

Charter, with Amendments 94-96

By-Laws 97-100

Alphabetical List of Members 102-170

Statistical Table 171-172

Calendar, 1902.


Morning Worship at 10:45 o'clock.

Afternoon Worship at 4: 15 o'clock. October ist to June i.st.

Communion of the Lord's Supper — The first Sundaj- of Jan-
uary, March, May, July, September, and November, at
4:15 P. M.

Sunday School at 12:15 P- ^^•

Young Peoples' Society Christian Endeavor at 5:15 P. M.
(With consecration service last Sunday in the month).


Church Prayer Meeting, Thursday evenings at 7 : 45 o'clock.
(With Preparatory Service Thursday evening preceding
the Communion.) The Standing Committee meet candi-
dates for admission to the church Thursday evenings one
week preceding Preparatory Service.

Women's Foreign Missionary Society, Wednesday mornings
at 10 : 30 o'clock.

Central Church Auxiliary, R. 1. Branch (W. B. M.), second
Wednesday- afternoon in each month, at 4 o'clock.

Ladies' Prayer Meeting, third Wednesday afternoon in each
month at 4 o'clock.

Woman's Home Missionary Association, Friday mornings at
10 o'clock.

Girls' Mission Circle, second Friday afternoon in each month
at 4 o'clock.


Ministering Children's League, first Saturday afternoon in

each month at 3 o'clock.
Annual Church Meeting, second Monday in November.



Sunday School at 3 P. M.

Evening Service, preaching at 7 : 30, with Communion the first
Sunday of February, April, June, October, and December.


Men's Bible Class, Mondays at i P. M.
Industrial School, Tuesdays at 2 : 30 P. M.
School at Link Street, Thursdays at 3 P. M.
Evening Service, Fridays at 8 P. M.
Children's Class, Saturdays at 3 P. M.

Order of Worship.


Organ Prelude.

Salutation — Invocation — Fol-
lowed by the Lord's Prayer.


Old Testament Lesson.


New Testament Lesson.


Responsive Reading — Followed
by Doxology.



Offertory Anthem.

Offertory Prayer.







Organ Postlude.


Organ Prelude.

Salutation — Invocation — Fol-
lowed by the Lord's Prayer.

Responsive Reading — Followed
by the Gloria.

Scripture Lesson.








Organ Postlude.


Organ Prelude.
Salutation — Invocation — Fol-
lowed by the Lord's Prayer.

Nunc Dimittis.
Admission of Members.


Words of Institution and

Silent Prayer — The Lord's


Organ Postlude.

officers, 1902.

yI//;//.s7<v— Edward C. Moore.

A ss/s^a?//— Gregory D. Walcott.

Deafons— Moses E. Torrey, Edwin Barrows, Thomas B. Stock-
well, John \V. Danielson, Frederic H. Fuller, Arthur W.
Fairchild, Frederick H. Jackson, James C. Kimball.

C/erl: — James C. Kimball.

7>rrt'^?/r^r— Fletcher S. Mason.

S////. Sunday School— Gregory D. Walcott.

Standing Committee {in addition to above officers) — Walter S.
Hogg, Charles H. Philbrick, Arthur W. Claflin.

Auditor — Edwin Barrows.


Benevolence — Moses E. Torrey, Thomas B. Stockw^ell, Edwin
Barrows ; Secretary, George L,. Barnes, in care of weekly

Auxiliary to Benevoletice Committee — Miss Ruth A. Haskell,
Mrs. Thomas B. Stockwell, Miss Emma G. Weeden,
Mrs. Walter S. Hogg, Miss Sarah L. Humphreys.

/V7>///«^— Thomas B. Stockwell, Edwin Barrows, Moses E.
Torrey, James C. Kimball.

Social — Chairman, Mrs. Thomas B. Stockwell ; Secretary and
Treasurer, Mrs. Charles A. Catlin.

Young Men's Christian Association— KxWwxr^ . Claflin, Fletcher
S. Mason, Seeber Edwards.


Care of Interior of Church — Mrs. Jane E. Brown, Mrs. Addi-
son Q. Fisher, Mrs. Wendell P. Hale.

Advisory Committee on Music — Mrs. Francis W. Carpenter,
Mrs. Robert W. Burbank, Mrs. Edward S. Allen, Fred-
erick H. Jackson, R. Clinton Fuller.

Nominating — Thomas B. Stockwell, John \V. Danielson, Fred-
eric H. Fuller, Walter S. Hogg, Charles R. Makepeace,
Charles W. Bubier, Miss Ruth A. Haskell.

Fiftieth Anniversary Exercises.

The Central Congregational Church, on March i6, 17, and
18, 1902, observed the fiftieth anniversary of its founding
in 1852.

An invitation was sent to all absent and former members
whose address could be ascertained, and also to all who had
been associated in the life and work of the congregation.

Sunday, March 16, morning worship was held at the usual
hour, the minister of the church, Edward C. Moore, preaching
a sermon appropriate to the occasion.

At the Sunday afternoon service, 4:15, the communion of
the Lord's Supper was celebrated, to which service were
invited the members of all the neighboring Congregational

Mondaj-, March 17, from 4 to 6, a social meeting of past
and present members was held in the chapel, tea being served
b}' the Social Committee of the church.

Monday evening at 7:45, in Memorial chapel, a large con-
gregation assembled to hear addresses according to the pro-
gramme which had been prepared. Of the 82 original mem-
bers only eight are known to be living, five of whom were
present. The meeting was opened with devotional exercises
conducted by the pastor, the choir assisting in the music.

The first paper read was b}- Deacon Moses E. Torrey, on
the earlier period of the history of the church, particularly the
pastorate of Dr. Leonard Swain. President George Harris, of
Amherst College, a former pastor, succeeding Dr. Swain, gave
the next address, on the period of his own ministry. The


Rev. James G. \'ose, pastor emeritus of Beneficent Church,
concluded the evening addresses, bringing greetings from him-
self and the churches of the denomination in the city and
vicinit}'. He expressed his pleasure in participating in the
exercises. He complimented the church on the young men
it had selected for its ministers. While the Central Church
in its formation had drawn many strong members from the
other churches, they still had plenty left. The Central Church
has always stood for things which were high, noble, and up-
lifting. Its beneficence has been large to every worthy cause
at home and abroad. It has done a great deal it was pleasant
to think of, and has encouraged the other churches. The
church has had a great influence upon the community. It
has been pleasanth' associated with the university and inter-
ested in education, many of the professors of the University
being connected with it, among whom was Profes.sor Robin-
son P. Dunn, one of the best, he felt, that the university had
ever had. His own relations with all the pastors had been pleas-
ant. Dr. Swain he knew, some time before he became pa.stor
of this church, as a student at Andover. He well remembered
his manly bearing and his consistent Christ-like life. The
Central Church had been an inspiration and help to all the
neighborhood, and he felt that a still larger and fruitful future
was before it.

Tuesday, March i8, from 6:30 to 7:30, supper was served,
by the Social Committee of the church, to some four hundred
members and guests.

At 7:45 exercises were held in the church. After devo-
tional services the first paper of the evening was by Rev.
Charles W. Huntington, third pastor of the church, succeed-
ing Mr. Harris, and now pastor of High Street Congregational
Church, Lowell, Mass., the subject of his paper being the
period of his own ministry.


The Rev. Edward C. Moore, present pastor, read a paper
reviewing the life of the church during the thirteen years of

liis ministry.

Prof. George F. Moore, formerly of Andover Seminary, now
of Harvard University, was introduced by the pastor as one
who had rendered important services to this church.

Prof. Moore said : It gives me great pleasure to take part
in the celebration of this jubilee, to utter my word of con-
gratulation on these fifty years of growth and usefulness, and
to join with all my heart in your thanksgiving to God for all
his goodness to you in them. As I have been listening to the
addresses there has come over me the strange feeling we .some-
times have when we are made to realize how long our memorj^
'is ; for my acquaintance with this church goes back over more
than a third of its life. I have many memories of services in
the old stable and the Blackstone Park chapel. I count it a
privilege to have had thus some small share in the work of
the church which we are commemorating' and to have been asso-
ciated in it with men and women, some now translated to the
triumphant church, many .still full of the Master's business
here, who have carried it on. In my knowledge of it this
church has always seemed to me to realize in a very high degree
the ideal of a societ}' in which the gospel of the Kingdom was
not only preached with power but lived with sincerity'. This
is the best test b}- which the world judges religion, the one
convincing evidence of Christianity. In particular, the inner
life of the church has impressed me by the unity of spirit
and purpose in which brethren of strong character and
diverse minds have differed and agreed and labored together
as brethren should. We cannot review any past without hav-
ing our thought to the future, what it shall be. The only
light that ca.sts its rays down the path before us is that which
is shed by the past. In these fifty years of life this church


has formed a character, distinct and fixed, which is the best
assurance of a future of richer life and larger usefulness, and,
as in the courage of that faith you go forward, I bid you God

The Rev. William T. Holmes, assistant minister of this
church from 1897 to 1901, and now pastor of the Congrega-
tional church in Watertown, Conn., spoke briefly of his pleas-
ure at being present. He felt greatly indebted to this church
for the privilege of service in it, and to the pa.stor for the
inspiration and help he had been to him. Mo.st young men
on leaving the seminary expected to go out into the wilder-
ness, at least for a season, some for all their lives, but he had
been so fortunate as to come here, and he felt it a great privi-
lege to have been .sent out to his first field from the Central

After the singing of a hymn, and the benediction, the
exercises came to a close.

Historical Addresses.


Founding of the Church, and Pastorate of Leonard

Swain — 1852 to 1869.

THE conception of this church, which lies in the mind of
those who know it only as it is at present, necessarily
differs from that of persons who can recall its entire history.
The difference may be expressed by saying that the former
class see the church as an organizatio7i presenting certain
interesting characteristics as they exist now. The latter class
see it more as an orgariism, including its inception, growth,
and history, and the progressive evolution of its character,
step by step. To them the past is not a blank, but its life
still flows with living current intermingling with the ever
moving tide of present events.

The position which the church occupies to-daj- cannot be
the result of a sudden bound, nor of any revolution, but is
the outcome of principles and virtues which have been active
through all its history, and which under the blessing of God
have shaped its growth to such degree of symmetry as it pos-
sesses. Those principles have been a strong, unwavering evan-
gelical faith, a firm conscientiousness, unbroken harmony of
action, con.spicuous liberality, and an active missionary spirit —
all directed and rendered operative by a high degree of edu-

Leonard Swaix.


cation and intelligence. A process of evolution has proceeded
continuously from the beginning, which never could have
been effected without the foundations which were laid in the
intelligence, devotion, self-denial, and far-sightedness of the
admirable men who guided the church in its early years, and
to whom it will ever owe a debt of profound gratitude. This
may be said without detracting at all from the merits of those
who have figured in later periods of the church's history.
Those first were not so far removed from us but that they
belong in part to this generation. Their places, in many
cases, have become vacant only in recent years, and the mem-
ory of all of them is still held in affectionate remembrance.

A complete history of the Central Church will not be ex-
pected on this occasion. An attempt will be made only to
present a few such sketches as it may be practicable to do,
recalling some of the circumstances accompanying the initia-
tion of the church, and the characters who were prominent
during its early years.

Previous to the year 1852 there were four Congregational
churches in Providence on the west side of the river: the
Beneficent, the Richmond Street, the High Street, and the
Free Church. While on the east side there was none, except
a small and short-lived church in the northern part of the
city, called the Fifth Congregational Church, which soon be-
came extinct. \'ery considerable numbers of the attendants
at these churches resided on the east side, and were subject
to the inconvenience of the distance. At different times the
project of a church on this side had been discussed. It was
considered desirable, not only for the followers of our faith,
but as a centre of influence and power in the community.
But the time did not seem propitious for action. As early as
the year 1836 a charter for the " Benefit Street Congregational
Society " was obtained from the General Assembly, and a sub-


scriptiiMi was commenced with the purpose of building. But
when the purchase of a lot of land was attempted, the pro-
posal was met by a decided refusal to sell for that purpose,
much to the astonishment of the committee, who made no
railiuK' accusation, but left it on record that " they found it
diflicuh not to infer that there was an attempt to hinder the
work.' The financial troubles of the year 1837 soon follow-
in>j. the enterprise was abandoned.

Ten vcars later, in 1846, the project was revived, the .sum
of 514,000 was subscril)ed ; but again similar obstacles were
encountered, and the enterprise was dropped a .second time.
A new charter was, however, obtained in the year 1850, incor-
porating •' The Benefit Street Congregational Society in the
City of Providence," for the purpose " of erecting and main-
taining a Meeting House for the public worship of Almighty
God, in the City of Providence, and for the purpose of sup-
porting and promulgating the Christian Religion according
to the rites and usages of the Trinitarian Congregational
Churches in the United States."

The society was organized under this charter September 30th,
1850, and a subscription paper was immediately circulated
contemplating the raising of forty thousand dollars, which
amount was in the .sequel found insufficient.

February 17th, 1851, the name was changed to the Central
Congregational Society.

March ist, 1851, the land afterwards occupied by the church
was deeded to the society, and building operations were very
soon commenced.

In vSeptember, 1851, overtures were made by the society to
Rev. Leonard Swain, of Nashua, propo.sing a settlement, and
he consented to accept a call when made by the church, which
as yet had no existence, provided that the society should be
free from indebtedness.


The church was completed and the sale of pews was held
September 30th, 1852. The cost of its erection was $58,991.88.
That it was built and finished without incurring a debt is
certainly creditable to a church numbering 109 members, at a
time when money was much less abundant and fortunes far
less in magnitude than now. While the church edifice was
in process of erection, on the 8th day of March, 1852, "Agree-
ably to a notice read in the several orthodox Congregational
churches in this city, on the Sabbath of March jth, a meeting
of such persons as propose to form the Central Congregational
Church was held at the house of f)eacon William J. King."
The names of those persons who intended to unite in the
formation of said church were then taken, and the Articles of
Faith, previously prepared by Rev. ^ir. Swain, were read and
ordered to be printed and distributed. They were approved
at an adjourned meeting held March 12th.

A committee was appointed to make arrangements for the
organization of the church, and a council of churches was
convened for that purpose on the i8th of March, 1852, in the
Beneficent Church, the pastor of that church. Rev. J. P. Cleve-
land, D. D., preaching the sermon, and the other Congrega-
tional mini.sters of Providence and Pawtucket participating in
the exercises. " Letters testimonial were read from several
churches certifying to the full and regular standing of"
eighty-two persons, and these persons constituted the original
membership of the church. Eight of them are now known to
survive. The number was increased during the year to one
hundred and nine.

The first meeting of the newly-formed church was held two
days later, March 20th, in the hospitable and spacious parlors
of Deacon William J. King. At that meeting it was voted to
extend a call to Rev. Leonard Swain to be the pastor. His
acceptance was dated April 3d. " Divine services were held


for ihc first time in the lecture room of the church on the
Sabbath of April -Mth. The Rev. Mr. Swain, pastor-elect,
preached- from the text •' Except the Lord build the house,
they labor in vain that build it." Every hearer was convinced
„f the rare ability of the speaker, and his text might well be
taken as the motto of all his subsequent labors.

The church was dedicated September 28th, 1852.

Mr. Swain was installed September 29th, 1852, the sermon
being preached by Rev. Edwards A. Park, D. D.

The new enterprise was now fairly on its feet. Although
the cost of the building hati exceeded expectations, it had all
been provided for by the liberality of the original contribu-
tors. It was evident to all that the pulpit was destined to be
a great power in the city, and the church at once took a high
position and won the respect and favorable regard of the com-

In renewing these events too much honor cannot be ac-
corded to one man who, it is but just to say, was more influ-
ential than any other person in bringing the enterprise to
a successful accomplishment. Mr. John Kingsbury was
indefatigable in his exertions to bring this about ; and his
judgment carried great weight with all those, both pastor and
people, who aided in the plans for establishing the church. All
looked to him for counsel and leadership. The portraiture of
Judge Samuel Phillips, the founder of Phillips Academy,
would, with little modification, apply to him. " He was in-
ten.sely methodical and careful, and of remarkable industr}'.
He was an enthusiast for virtue ; he had an intensely ethical
vein, combining with it an impressive sedateness, and cher-
ished a special fondness for the young. His Christian sym-
metry was completed by his rare estimate of the uses of wealth
as the handmaid of learning and religion." His conservative
and wi.se leader.ship was of great value for many years, until


Church ox Benefit Street, 1S52-1893.


his death in December, 1874. One who was eminently quali-
fied to judge said that Providence then lost its most eminent
la}' citizen. For twenty years his Bible class for men was a
notable feature of the church. The resolutions recorded by
the church express the conviction that " without his agenqy
the church would not have commenced its career when it did,
and that the edifice in which we worship is itself a monument
of his zealous and persistent effort."

Another prominent promoter of the church was Deacon
William J. King, who bestowed freely both time and money
for its interests. He was chosen as the first superintendent
of the Sunday-school, and was pre-eminently fitted for that
service by his extraordinary' ability as a speaker, and his rare
power of interesting the young.

Mr. George L. Claflin made an honorable record as the
teacher of the infant department, which came to number over
eighty members, all of w^hose loving hearts he won by his
fatherly and sympathetic interest.

Deacon William J. Cross was for many years one of the
most constant supporters of the prayer meetings, the Sunday-
school, and all good works. His aged widow, highly esteemed,
has but very recently left us.

The City Mission of Miss Nancy Marsh cannot be omitted
w^hile enumerating .some of the devoted laborers who contrib-
uted much to the useful character of the church. There were
no more earnest prayers and self-denying labors than hers.

The growth of the church under the earnest and able admin-
istration of Dr. Swain was rapid and constant. In the first
three years it received seventy-six members. In 1855 .sixty-
one members. In 1858 eighty-two members, and in fifteen
years about four hundred and sixty members.

Dr. Sw-ain frequently and urgently pressed the command of
our Saviour, " Go, ivork to-day in my vineyard ; " and mission-



arv work l.ccaine a prominent interest in the church. In the
year 1S56 tw<. of the younger members of the church, one of
who.n xva> Mr. Iknjamin H. Gladding, whose name is still
borne by a large commercial house, spent a Sunday afternoon
in exploring the northern part of the city for the purpose of
ascertaining at what point a mission school was most needed.
It was decided to establish one in the vicinity of the Corliss
I-:ngine Works. Permission having been obtained to occupy
the public schoolhouse, notice was circulated, and on the
vSunday appointed a goodly number of teachers and pupils
assembled. Hut they found the house closed against them,
and the custodian of the keys (who did not sympathize with
the movement") refused to open the doors. A delay of several
months was the consequence. During that time a building
was erected for the use of the mission by the liberality of Miss
Eliza Angell, on land owned by herself. The school was
opened September 7th, 1856, Mr. Gladding being the superin-
tendent. The first preaching service was held two weeks later,
since which time there have been only brief interruptions of
the continuity of the services. In six years it became neces-
sary to double the capacity of the chapel, which was soon
followed by a second enlargement. The mission bore the


name of the Branch School, and the Central Church supplied

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