At the annual meeting of the Congregational church of Homer, N. Y., held December 20, 1900, Deacon DeWitt C. Carpenter, on behalf of the Standing committee, recommended that arrangements be made for the proper observance of the One Hundredth anniversary of the organization of the church. This recommendation was accepted and October 6-8, 1901, named as the time when the Centennial should be observed. All the details for the observance of the centennial and the publishing of a Manual of the church containing also a report of the Centennial services, were left with the Standing committee or such committees as the Pastor might deem it wise to appoint.
The Standing committee met several times to complete arrangements and to revise the Church Manual of 1897.
The following committees were appointed:
RECEPTION COMMITTEE---Mrs. Coleman Hitchcock, Mrs. George D. Daniels, Mrs. DeWitt C. Carpenter, Mrs. E. S. Pomeroy, Mrs. A. H. Bennett.
DECORATION COMMITTEE---Mrs. Florence Maxson, Mrs. O. B. Andrews, Mrs. J. J. Arnold, Miss Caroline Hitchcock, Mr. E. H. Knapp, Mr. J. Delos Heberd.
BANQUET COMMITTEE---Mrs. C. A. Watson, Mrs. E. G. Ranney, Mrs. F. E. Williams, Miss Harriet E. Green, Mrs. J. H. Starin.
The Banquet committee appointed the following: To preside at the Coffee Urns - Mrs. Wm. F. Kettle, Mrs. Coleman Hitchcock, Mrs. Charles Fairbanks, Mrs. DeWitt C. Carpenter. To assist at the Tables - Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Merrill, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Hammond, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Knapp, Mrs. J. H. Starin, Miss Harriet E. Green, Miss Carlie Fredricks, Mrs. F. V. Bennett, Miss Maud Whitney, Miss Alice Rice, Miss Fannie Clark, Messrs. Hiram Andrews, A. L. Smith, Harry Blackman, Ralph Bennett, Louis Samson, Fred Crampton, Hugh Allen.
Everything connected with the Anniversary service was a success and greatly enjoyed by those in attendance.
The purpose of this book is to record facts that may be of interest to on-coming generations.
Wm. F. KETTLE, Pastor.
SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 6, 1901.
ORGAN PRELUDE---" Romance," - - - - Coerne Mrs. W. H. Foster, Organist. DOXOLOGY---All standing until after the Lord's Prayer. INVOCATION---Pastor. LORD'S PRAYER---Chanted by the Choir. ANTHEM---Te Deum, - - - - - Buck QUARTETTE: Miss Caroline Arnold, Soprano. Mrs. W. E. Burdick, Alto. Mr. R. J. McElheny, Tenor. Mr. H. W. Carver, Bass. RESPONSIVE READING---Psalm 145. ANTHEM---"Life's Even Song," - - - - Frey QUARTETTE: SCRIPTURE LESSON---Duet. 32:1-12. "Remembering the Days of Old". Rev. F. A. S. STORER, Syracuse, N. Y. GLORIA PATRI. SOLO---"They Will be Done." Mr. F. EUGENE STONE, Skaneateles, N. Y. PRAYER. REV. W. A. ROBINSON, D. D., Middletown, N. Y. RESPONSE---"Oh Thou Who Can'st Not Slumber," - - Gounod QUARTETTE. NOTICES AND OFFERING. OFFERTORY---Offertoire Religieuse, - - - Huss HYMN NO. 693---"I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord." HISTORICAL SERMON. REV. THEODORE T. MUNGER, D. D., New Haven, Conn. HYMN NO. 774---"From All Thy Saints in Warfare." BENEDICTION. REV. ETHAN CURTIS, Syracuse, N. Y. POSTLUDE---Grand Chorus. - - - - Dubois MRS. W. H. FOSTER.
TEXT.---St. John IV: 38.---"Other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors."
In speaking to you to-day upon the history of this church, I feel like one gleaning in a field many times gone over by others. All I can expect to do is to find here and there an overlooked ear, but certainly not enough to make a full sheaf. Failing in that, I may be permitted to wander a little from the field and gather such fruits and flowers as grow outside, yet near at hand, and add to them reminiscences of my own personal experiences and impressions, and perhaps a lesson or two promoted by the occasion.
I had thought I could rehearse the early history of the church and find some hearers to whom it is unfamiliar; but as I looked over the documents spread before me, I saw that it would be a more than twice-told tale.
First, there is Mr. Goodwin's History of Cortland County, a book more full of eloquence than history, but still a work of clear value. Then, there is the "Historical Sketch" in the Church Manual printed in 1856; a brief but compact rehearsal of the chief events up to that date. In 1876 when the seventy-fifth anniversary was observed, Rev. Dr. Robinson, then pastor, preached a "Historical Sermon" which contained the fullest and most satisfactory history of the church I have been able to find.
The manual of 1885 contains two pages of "Historical Memoranda," probably prepared by Dr. Robinson. Two years ago, Dea. Coleman Hitchcock read at the one hundredth anniversary of the Society, an interesting sketch of both Society and Church, with happy characterization of each of the twelve pastors. To complete the discomfiture of one who would write a historical sermon, the Church Manual of 1897, contains "Historical Data" that state every important event up to that time.
These histories are substantially alike, and give only the bare facts of the changes and more important events that took place as the years went on. Indeed, not much of the great and wide importance ever happened in Homer; it has been a quiet history, but a great deal has been thought and felt here worthier of records than much that makes up history.
The first important event was the naming of the town---by whom I do not know. Who scattered Lempriere's classical dictionary over the "Military Tract," - - a good part of central New York---is a mystery as great as the history of the places in the ancient world from which they were drawn. Mr. Talmadge Hall told me in my boyhood that the region was surveyed by a lover of the classics, who, at night, read his favorite authors before a camp fire and affixed to the towns laid out during the day the names he came across in his book. If this is true, he must have carried a large library---especially of Latin authors. The latest explanation us that the names were assigned to unnamed townships, as the charts were brought in, by a clerk in the Land Office in Albany, who happened to be the owner of the above named dictionary. Thus does romance fade into dull fact under the scrutiny of history. It exculpates, however, Gen. DeWitt, at whose door the assignment of names has been laid. Out town was favored with the greatest name of antiquity. It is a burden rather heavy to bear, and people who live in villes and corners and other places with compounded names, smile rather needlessly over that of ours. It is, however, a brief, compact, easily remembered name, and by no means does it imply a knowledge of the siege of Troy on the part of the first settlers; they had a more important war on hand, even the subduing of the wilderness. Long since I ceased to connect it with the Grecian bard, and now I only think of it as stand for home.
A hundred years ago the valley did not look as it does to-day. The contour of the hills and perhaps the haze of Indian summer would offer the only likeness that could be detected. From the summit of the hills to the banks of the Tioughnioga---then a dark and rather sluggish stream---a heavy forest covered every foot of ground; its density prevented its earlier settlement. Had one forced his way through it, he would have seen only trees and the sky above. Often, he would have been driven by swamps to take to the hillside. Then there were too many trees; so doubtless the first settlers thought; to-day there are too few. Homer is not for beauty what it was sixty years ago, when the forests crept half way down the hills, and send on the brooks that sprang out of their shady depths, making green the pastures and meadows below. Now there are no forest but only springless wood-lots where even a squirrel can not hide, nor a wood-chopper quench his thirst. As to the utility and gain, those who have wrought the changes must settle the question with themselves and with posterity---but as for the beauty that is lost, we who come back can only deplore the change, and pray for forestry laws.
A sharp turn in the river to the eastward just above the village---piling up the gravel and so redeeming a spot of earth from the swamps above---led Joseph Beebe to build a hut there in 1791. He and Amos Todd, his brother-in-law, came from New Haven, where their family names are still heard. Instead of going to Yale College they went west, and became the first settlers of Homer, and so achieved a local immortality. So far as I can learn there was not another inhabitant in what is now Cortland county. Their settlement here, thirty miles away from neighbors, was probably due to the fact that they had secured land from agents of the "Military Tract"---a region embracing nearly off of Central New York---that had been given to soldiers of the Revolution in lieu of wages. These pioneers came up from Broome county, having doubtless worked their way from Kingston into the Susquehanna Valley, and so down to Binghamton. Homer has furnished its proper quota of strong and heroic characters, but the most heroic figure in them all is a woman. In the first winter Mr. Todd and Mr. Beebe returned to Broome county, where they had sojourned for a brief time, for their household goods, leaving Mrs. Todd alone in a rude cabin without a human being in the limits of the county. So runs the legend - true in part not wholly. But the resolute energy of her husband and brother in pushing their way into the almost sunless forest---farther and farther until the river would no longer float their canoes---also commands admiration. They were not of the Leatherstocking order - preferring the woods to human beings, hunters and adventurers---but men who loved civilization and achieved it alone. There is one debt the American people have not yet fully recognized---namely, the gratitude it owes to those first settlers who cut down the primeval forests and let in the sunlight upon the soil. No later work equals it in patient toil and perseverance. To exterminate the forests and denude the hills is not to fulfill their work. Some of us can remember a few old men who shared in that heroic battle with the wilderness. It requires but little imagination to hear, on still nights, the ring of the axes, every stroke of which meant civilization and a new order. This was their Iliad and their Conquest. Homer's share of this task was specially heavy, on account of the density of the forest and the large proportion of hard woods.
But these brave men were not long left to themselves. Soon after, Esquire Miller made some explorations in the East River district, and next year (1792) he brought in five families. They encamped at the junction of the two streams---now in Cortland---marked by an oak that was standing fifty years ago. It is a tradition that Mr. Miller or his son introduced into the county the willow---having brought it as a riding whip from New Jersey. I can bear personal witness to the tradition by saying that sixty years ago a large spreading willow covered the house of his son, which stood and perhaps still stands at the foot of the hill as you cross into the East River district. With equal clearness do I remember the son himself with his white head and his slight figure, entering the old church and taking his seat in a side pew near the door. There was an indefinable air of the superiority about him that made a deep impression upon my young mind. His father and himself are, so far as the records show, the only early settlers from New Jersey; the rest came from New England or Easter New York.
But we cannot linger over these beginnings---interesting as they are; the Church itself is our theme to-day.
It is a significant and prophetic fact that as soon as there were five or six families, and that was in 1793, religious worship was established. It is claimed that only on one or two Sabbaths has it been omitted. And it can be safely asserted that up to the middle of the century almost the entire population habitually attended church. This was due to the fact that the town was chiefly settled by families from New England, and that they were of its most typical stock as to character and habits. Homer, as I knew it in my boyhood, was a piece of New England set down in this valley. Never in New England, where I have spent most of my life, have I ever seen a community more firmly fixed in its ways, customs and spirit than was this. Indeed, in the forties and fifties, it was stricter in its customs and habits of thought than New England itself. I never a family there who "kept Saturday night;" but Talmage Hall did, and refrained from calling at our house as on other evening. People in New England did not hesitate to go to the post-office on Sunday noon; but here it was contrary to rule of the church to do so, and the rule was generally observed. Cards and dancing were not only prohibited by the church but were kept below the point of respectability long after they were tolerated in New England.
The first worship was held in private houses---which were log cabins, but a log school house was built in 1795 which was also used as a church.
The first sermon was preached in 1796 by Rev. Asa Hillyer, D. D.---a Presbyterian missionary, who was on a tour of investigation. As he crossed the hill from East River, he came upon a company of men erecting a building. Finding a minister among them, they stopped work and demanded a sermon. It was preached near the foot of the hill under a wide spreading oak. Is there not in Homer a poet or painter who will reproduce and fix the event? What better local subject could have either? The forest just broken into here and there, a log hut or two in the foreground, the river winding through dark woods, the half raised building, the spreading oak, the preacher with a stump for a pulpit, the men with up-rolled sleeves---strong, rough but with a strange look of reverence in their eyes, or eyes filled perhaps with tears as they thought of other worship in far off, early homes---who will paint his scene---the most notable and the most beautiful in the annals of the town---and place it in the Academy or the Public Library that is to be---to remind the generations that it was founded in the fear and love of God?
Then came the immigration from New England. Too much cannot be made of this early page of the town's history. The character of New England was determined, in all respects, by its settlers, in the first twenty or thirty years. So Homer became what is was for, at least, seventy-five years, through the coming of few families from Western Massachusetts and Connecticut in the first five or six years of its history. What lead to their coming I do not know unless it was due to exceptional opportunities to secure lands of "The Phelps and Gorham Purchase," a part of "the Military Tract." But come they did in rapid order---Todd and Beebe from Connecticut, Darius Kenney, the Ballards, the Hubbards, Moses Hopkins; the Bishops, Joshua Atwater, Libeus Andrews, the Keeps, the Alfords, Asa White who built a mill on the site of the present one, the Hitchcocks, the Hobarts---three of them---then know under the name of Hoar and the best blood in Massachusetts; Sam Hotchkiss, Zenas Lilly, Timothy Treat, Enos Stimson, William Lucas, Asahel Miner, Ephraim Summer, Noah Carpenter whose son Asaph was born on the journey hither; the Stones---three in number; the Phillipses, Thomas Chollar, the Kendalls, Jacob Sanders, Moses Butterfield, Justin Pierce, Eli Sherman, Abel Kinney, Capt. Crandall, Capt. Hicks, and I know not how many more came before 1805 from New England, and the majority of them from Brimfield, Mass. Homer may be said to be a colony of Brimfield. They brought New England with them; its institutions, its church, its schools, its habits, it conscience, its civil instincts, its respectability, its industry, its resistless energy and no little of intelligence and culture.
The point I wish to make here is this,---these first settlers formed a homogeneous community. With so few exceptions that I cannot detect them they were alike in character and condition. As a whole, they were intelligent, high-minded and religious to such a degree that it was a saying in "The Military Tract:" "If you wish to settle among religionists, go to Homer." This homogeneity did not die out, but continued for at least seventy-five years; or until the time when the descendants of the first settlers gave up their farms, to people of other nationalities. Then all things began to change. Heretofore the farmers and the farming interest had dominated the town. Now, the village with some slight manufacturing interests began to come to the front. It is not for me to say whether the change was for good or ill; I only say that Homer underwent a change---the same process is going on in all New England.
The reason for this sustained likeness is to be found in the church and the academy,---each doing its part in holding the people true to their traditions and their principles.
Happy is the people whose life and institutions are so grounded in religion and education. It means virtue, intelligence, industry and prosperity.
The town early began to indicate its pre-eminently religious character.
The State of Connecticut---mindful of her children who were emigrating to the far west, as Central New York was then called, had not long before established a Home Missionary Society, and was sending out pastors of her own churches to minister for a few months, or a year, perhaps, to these scattered sheep of her flocks in the wilderness. The right man was sent to Homer. Rev. Seth Williston is a name forever to be cherished by this church. It was he who first unified and brought into shape the religious elements already in the town. He began to preach in 1798---remaining for a few weeks only---and fifteen converts were the result. Probably the entire population could be regarded as distinctly religious. Then came the matter of a church, bringing out the vexatious question---what church it should be---Congregational or Presbyterian---for there could be no other choice. The great majority were Congregationalists having come from New England. It argues, I think, a good degree of Christian charity that this majority did not, at once, for forward and form a church of its own basis. But Congregationalism has always been free from the sectarian spirit, and has given itself over and over again to the gain of other denominations---especially to the Presbyterian---and loss to itself. The wisest possible thing was done in forming a society first and waiting for possible agreement as to a church. But agreement did not come. Men held their religious opinions stiffly in those days. There were good men on each side. Esquire Miller and his son (who afterward became deacon) having come from New Jersey, were Presbyterians, and were not pliant in their convictions as the willow that shaded their home. Things were not going well. Religion began to suffer. The situation was dangerous. It was then that the patron saint of this church appeared in the form of a woman. After all, it takes a woman to do the supremely wise and brave thing. Men strive to unite the gordian knot by delay and compromise; a woman cuts it and it is done. After a night spent in prayer and thought, Mrs. Dorothy Hoar awoke in the morning and proposed to her husband to secure the signatures of those who would sign a creed and covenant for a Congregational church.. This was done and the church was formed. The time for waiting was over; the hour for action had come. Indeed, it would seem that action was what all were waiting for. Its success was immediate and complete. The alternative would have been longer waiting and the formation of two churches---an unspeakable calamity had it happened. There has not been and never will be room on this six acres for a Congregational and Presbyterian church.
Twenty-six years later a Presbyterian church was formed in Cortland, and the few who still favored that order were dismissed to it. The Millers, though nearer to Cortland, remained here.
The church, 1804, became a member of "The Middle Association of the Military Tract and Vicinity," which embraced all the Congregational churches in Central New York. As there were then practically no roads in the entire region, pastor and delegate must have gone by trail to far off and infrequent meetings; but I have no doubt they went.
In 1811 this Congregational Association merged itself in "The Presbytery of Cayuga and Onondaga."
This was the most important event in the Ecclesiastical history of the church except it separation from Presbytery in 1868 under the pastorate of Dr. Holbrook. It came about under or rather was a part of, the "Plan of Union," as it was termed. I cannot enter at length into an account of this agreement. Stated briefly it was this: Central and Western New York was settled by Congregationalists from New England, and by Presbyterians from other parts of the county. In order to prevent the formation of two churches by people who were in substantial agreement, which if done would have ensured a wretched existence of weakness and rivalry, a plan was formed by which a Congregational church could become a member of Presbytery so far as to report to that body and be governed by it in the matter of settling and dismissing its pastors. Otherwise it remained Congregational in its methods.
As a whole thing is now ended, having served its day, it is needless to remark upon it.
While it was an astute and well-meant arrangement, all the advantages of it came to the Presbyterian side; for ultimately nearly all of the churches thus associated, gravitated to the body to which they were already bound,---the associations having died out under a plan that deprived it of its main functions. When a mere boy, I overheard Deacon Ives and my father talking on the subject, and the latter's saying: "The Plan of Union was wise, as it saved the churches of Western New York;"---meaning that they were saved from mutual destruction through weakness and rivalry. It is due to Dr. Holbrook---a man of irresistable energy---that this church is to-day wholly and purely Congregational. He too cut the gordian knot, and a relation that was outworn and anomalous was brought to an end.
Dr. Robinson will treat this subject more fully in a paper to be read to-morrow evening; but I cannot forbear saying that the church owes an unspeakable debt of gratitude to Dr. Holbrook for his action in this matter. He has been criticized as having broken virtual promises not to disturb the relation of the church to Presbytery. But when the general assembly passed a vote that if the churches under the plan of union did not within a given time "perfect their relation to Presbytery" they should be cut off, all promises were dissolved; the threat changed everything. Congregationalism knows no law but only advice. It is a free system, and recognizes no power outside of itself. Had this church not sundered its relation to the Presbytery, it would have been false not only to its own history of 75 years, but to the history of 300 years; false also to its own nature.
I will not dwell long upon the early pastors. Mr. Darrow---the first ordained Congregational pastor in "The Military Tract" was settled by a truly catholic Council---being composed of Congregational, Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian ministers; a catholicity that was due however to the fact that the Council was held before the formation of "The Middle Association."
One longs to know the means of travel at that time, for the service was held in February, and it was less than ten years since the County was settled. Each of the seven members came from twenty to forty miles, and doubtless by trail, and on the snow. The list comprised Manlius, Geneva, Owasco, Lisle, Pompey, Clinton and Cazenovia. The notable even was described in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine by vote of the Council which directed Mr. Higgins the preacher thus to record it. During the pastorate of Mr. Darrow ninety-three persons became members of the church, so that nearly the entire adult population must have been enrolled in it.
It seems to have emphasized the music, for we read that the choir had two choristers and a bass viol---an instrument that was perpetuated either in itself or by a representative as late as 1840 when it was played by a venerable man who also sang tenor. How clearly can I still see Mr. Clark's white head in the choir of the old church---playing and singing with rapt devotion. Far more than the sermon did he engage my attention, and far better is he remembered. I wonder in what heavenly choir he now makes melody.
Mr. Walker came in 1808 and remained until his death. Of the twelve pastors he is the only one who died here. His monument stood in the old cemetery where the inscription was read by the children on Sunday while they strolled thought the grounds between services, with a kind of awe and reverence because he had been a minister. Why should the minister die---they thought.
We pass over the little trouble and disaffection that prevailed for a time and was healed by Dr. Lansing of Auburn. Mr. Talmadge Hall told me that after the Council had set things right and reconciliation had been affected, Dr. Lansing went forward and said: " Now, brethren, we must have our hearts warmed up before we separate;" and then followed in a strain of powerful eloquence until all were melted and brought to tears. The meeting continued for two days and was followed by a succession of revivals in one of which 188 were added to the church. He died at forty, but in his ministry of twelve years 558 person were brought into the church,---again sweeping almost the entire population into the Christian fold. Where better could they have been? Where else should a Christian man be but in a Christian church?
Mr. Darrow was a man of "good natural talent but without intensive culture, austere, full of energy and faithful in the discharge of his duties." Mr. Walker was a graduate of Brown university, a man of good breeding and culture, tall and erect in carriage, easy and graceful in manners, and on his first coming to Homer he dressed in continental style. He seemed to have filled the ideal of a Christian pastor,---pacific in disposition, prudent, patient and faithful, "pointing to heaven and lead himself the way;" not a great preacher but an excellent pastor.
In Mr. Keep, who followed him, we come upon a man of totally different mould and character,---a man whom I do not hesitate to pronounce not only the greatest of your pastors, but the most effective citizen the town has known; a man who left here an impress deeper and in more ways than anyone who has dwelt long among you. He is not to be estimated by his native qualities of energy, zeal and fidelity, but by his ability to measure the questions that were coming to the from in both church and state, his clear insight into their meaning and their drift, and his courage and wisdom in maintaining them alone and under an opposition which lead to ostracism.
Where Mr. Keep was born and educated, and what was his age, I have no means of ascertaining. He was settled in 1821, one of the conditions being that Mrs. Keep should not be expected to do pastoral work in visiting except as she chose. Whether this provision was due to Mr. Keep's great love for his wife (I hope it was) or to her love of herself (I trust it was not) or to a forecast of the day when woman should have rights of her own and in no way be mixed up in her husband's affairs, I do not know. But, as Mr. Keep was a born radical, I suspect it may have been due to the latter reason. I find, however, that in the revival under Dr. Burchard, Mrs. Keep aided Mrs. Burchard in instructing the children. I infer, therefore, that the condition was simply a flag of independence hoisted by the husband in defence of his wife. The condition is often acted on, but I know of no other case in which it was made a stipulation of settlement.
We have a hint of the progressive spirit of the man in the fact that stoves were introduced into the church the nest year. Mr. Keep was a radical, but he was not an ascetic. He seemed to have entered at once upon a work which might be termed as evangelizing the entire community. His method was that of taking the gospel into every part of the town, and thus bringing it within arm's reach, so to speak, of every man, woman, and child in the neighborhood.
It was he, I think, who began the custom of holding regular preaching services in all the school districts. A weekly service was not enough for him. Often, I have been told, he preached three evenings in the week---in East River, in Little York, and on the Scott Road and so on. I think the custom was continued through the ministry of Dr. Robinson. I still remember hearing Mr. Fessenden give notice that on Wednesday evening at early candle-light, he would preach in the school house of a certain district. Mr. Keep maintained the custom for twelve years. He was a preacher of great force---direct, sensible, practical---demanding direct action in his hearers, and expecting immediate results. He hardly knew how to wait---even on God.
It is due in considerable part to these meetings in school houses---thus carried on by Mr. Keep and his successors---that Homer became the town it is. He carried religion to the door of every house, until almost every family was drawn into the church. He kept the people alive to its claims, and made an atmosphere for it. Hence it was that even within my own memory, a processton of carriages came on Sunday to the village along every street leading from it. I venture the opinion that in these days one never sees in the village at any one time so many vehicles as were seen every Sunday sixty years ago. It was almost universal custom. Well do I remember one good man who came four miles in a lumber wagon from the hills---missing never a Sunday, and as regularly slept through the sermon. But what of that? He had come to God's house and he worshipped all the way down and back. If he slept, it was because he subduing the forest, and was resting both body and soul.
I dwell on this custom because it is so eminently beautiful and fit. It was then that Homer reached its high-water mark of Christian civilization. In almost every household, family worship was maintained. If there was an exception, it was more apt to be in the village than in the country. The school house preaching service, by getting close to the people, was more effective than the larger congregation. How well do I remember it!---the flickering candle-light, the heavy shadows, the familiar hymn---pathetic and solemn, lead by a woman's voice, the plain direct sermon with its eternal appeal to accept the Saviour now; delay is dangerous; now is the accepted time; a simple prayer invoking the influence of the Holy Spirit; the request for any to rise who wished to express a new-found hope or to ask the prayers of others; the quiet breaking up; the walk home---silent, because too full of feeling for speech---it was through such influences in such services that many a life and many a household was regenerated in more ways than they knew. It was from families, so inspired and lifted up in their whole life and all their faculties, that young people flocked to the academy where they encountered such men as Abel Kinney---a saint whose flame of devotion burned too intensely for his feeble body and passed away leaving a memory so holy that for years his name was breathed rather than spoken; Henry Nelson, whose clear voice to the students at their weekly prayer-meetings I can yet hear; Mr. Woolworth, a great teacher and a good man, who stood at the beginning of many a career of high-minded service in church and state;---such were the influences that flowed out of the labors of Father Keep---and well was he called Father, for he put that stamp of thorough-going earnestness into religion that lasted more than one generation. I have always been greatly touched by the story told of his dividing the attic of his house,---the one next above Dr. Bradford's---into small rooms so that the students lodging in it could each have a place for his private devotions. A simple fact, but it reveals a man who knew what he was about and took means to accomplish his end. What a splendid sense of reality and genuine faith, and what force in execution! It illustrated his career on a broader field and in many directions.
Father Keep came to Homer when great revivals were sweeping through the country. Dr. Finney and Dr. Burchard were the chide leaders in this State. The latter held a series of meetings here and was sustained by Father Keep in the "measures"---as they were called---that were employed by him. What these "measures" were I do not fully know. They were not such as prevailed at that time among the Methodists (which embraced bodily convulsions) but pertained rather to methods of dealing with those under conviction, and generally to an over-tense pressure in urging immediate action. Perhaps it might be said they were fast, whereas they had been slow. However it be, the questions of "measures" brought about separation which divides men as conservative or radical, which has always divided society and will continue to divide it. Men become more tolerant as time goes on, but this distinction will not die out; it is as inevitable and as essential as centripetal and centrifugal. The churches in central and Western New York took sides over Dr. Burchard's "measures." Though coming considerably later, I was not too late to hear lingering echoes of the conflict. "The burnt over regions" where Dr. Burchard labored were still spoken of in evidence of his unwise measures. Whether the phrase was a just one or not, I am unable to form an opinion; nor do I know whether Dr. Burchard upon the whole, did harm or good. I was brought up in the conservative atmosphere, bur I have not always breathed it, and I suspect some of the ancient verdicts I used to uphold.
Father Keep sustained Dr. Burchard, and---considering his temperament---with moderation and charity but with no uncertainty; in that quality he had no share. He was a thorough-going radical, a stout fighter, a close reasoner, of boundless enthusiasm and tireless industry. But especially he was a humanitarian of a type that had just appeared, yet had won no recognition save at Oberlin, and here and there at the East where it was undergoing persecution. As I look back upon him, I think he was at least half a century ahead of his day. His piety was not the piety of the time and the region. The saint of that day was one who prayed much, and meditated, and fed his soul on the divine sovereignty and waited for the Holy Spirit to come and more fully bless him. May the type never die out: still there is a higher type that needs also the other. Father Keep had caught sight of this new type---let me call it the humanitarian type---the type of action rather than of meditation---and set it at work almost before its time. I can not find out if he had many adherents here. Homer was exceedingly conservative. If one had set about devising a plan to secure a community of the most thorough-going conservatism, he could have found no better way than by bringing a company of settlers from Massachusetts and Connecticut into the wilderness of Central New York and shutting them up for thirty years by themselves. Why and how should they change? Father Keep came into such a community. So far as I can learn, he left but two representatives of himself in the church---Simeon S. Bradford and Orin Cravath. The former sympathized with his Anti-Slavery views; the latter with both his political and theological views. For Mr. Bradford I cherish a reverence as for a hero of the first order, on the strength of a single act. I can remember that he was always spoken of with respect, but with a subdued qualifications; singular, I think he would have been called. During Mr. Platt's ministry, an Abolitionist was not to be respected or tolerated; but everybody respected Simeon Bradford. Notices of Anti-Slavery meetings were not given in church during Mr. Platt's ministry; had he given such notices, his pulpit would soon have been vacant. At the close of a service on a Sunday morning, after the benediction had been pronounced. Simeon Bradford rose in his pew (it was the first pew on the right as one entered by the north door---and faced the congregation) and in a clear, ringing voice---I can hear it yet though it was more than sixty years ago---gave notice that "an Anti-Slavery meeting will be held in the school house near Factory Hill on Monday evening at early candle-light; all are invited to attend." Mr. Platt reddened in the face but wisely said nothing. The people looked at one another in mild surprise; some faintly smiled, but all respected Simeon Bradford. I suspect, however, that he furnished all of the candles that were burned at that meeting. My impression of him is that he was one of the clearest-headed and most intelligent men of the town, as he certainly was the bravest. He had been under the ministry of Father Keep for eleven years and had imbibed his spirit and his opinions as to slavery. Later on (1842) yet when the Anti-Slavery question was at white heat, he was chosen Deacon; it was a triumph of character over prejudice. I have recently learned that in Wisconsin where he removed in 1849, he was called to fill high positions of honor and usefulness in the State.
The other---Mr. Orin Cravath---was a picturesque figure---tall, gaunt, heavy-featured, a kind of John-the Baptist in his appearance---the only man in his day who had the courage or rather the independence to enter the church in his shirt sleeves on a hot Sunday and therefore was the only man who was comfortable---as those will confess who remember how the sun beat in through the uncurtained windows of the old church. He was a born radical, and at last he shook off the dust from his feet and went to Oberlin where all things suited him. Time justified him, for there he educated his son, who became the President of Fisk University, and won a national reputation as a man of great ability and highest character. Homer should never forget him, for she gave him birth and nourished him in his early years. As I recall these two men---Mr. Bradford and Mr. Cravath---I am inclined to the opinion that they were nearer right than was the church.
I can not leave the ministry of Father Keep without referring to a sermon which I do not hesitate to say is the most noteworthy utterance ever made in this town. I do not refer to it eloquence, though it is packed full of vehement and telling speech, nor to what is usually termed profundity, for it does not directly touch questions of theology. I mean that it marked a transition in habits of religious thought and action. This was brought out in a comparison between old measures and new measures. These terms stood (as I have said) for methods of conducting revivals, but behind them lay the distinction in theology known as old and new school. It was the controversy over the will---then raging in New England---brought into this secluded town in Central New York. Stated roughly, one side waited on God for the revival---rather deprecating any action except prayer, while the other side insisted on action. Father Keep threw himself will all his resistless energy, upon the latter side. The sermon is remarkable for the fairness with which he treated the old school side while he urged the latter. Though nominally a Calvinist, he leaned heavily to the Arminian side. But he was more than Calvinist or Arminian; he was broader than either. He early caught the spirit of the age that was coming on,---the age of action and of humanity. It appears from the sermon that he had been criticized for bringing into the church young people at an earlier age that had been usual in the church. But he contended, that "the church is a mother;" that "the design of the church is to form a nursery for spiritual children." His defense is a masterpiece of cogent reasoning and common sense.
It is an interesting fact that Father Keep, in this far-off region, in 1833, anticipated by fourteen years Dr. Bushnell's book on "Christian Nurture"---the most important and effective book of the century on theology in New England. It also appears from this sermon that there was a wide difference between himself and the theological Seminaries. He used no names, but he probably referred to the one nearest. The vigor with which he addressed himself to these abodes of respectability and conservatism is as refreshing as it was necessary. He contended for what has always been---with exceptions---the fact, that the churches are ahead of the Seminaries, and that the people are ahead of the ministers. He was not a narrow man; his humanity kept him broad and charitable. He was intense and on-rushing, but it was the intensity and movement of a soul dominated by profound conviction lighted by clear vision. What he was to the church he was to the academy---then in it's infancy; and what a helpful force he must have been to it---in those early days! With such a pastor over the church, and such a principal as Mr. Woolworth in the academy, it is not strange that Homer came to be regarded as a home of learning and piety, and that students flocked here from all the region within a radius of fifty miles. If ever a tablet should be placed upon these walls to any one of your pastors, let it be in memory of John Keep,---great alike as a pastor and civilian. His contentions have been justified by history.
He was followed by Rev. Dennis Platt, an able man and a good preacher, conservative but intelligent. His ministry of eight years was fruitful and the church in no way fell behind.
Of the next pastor, Mr. Fessenden, I can speak only with tender respect and warm affection. He was a man of good breeding, a gentleman through and through, incapable of giving or taking offense, forgiving to the last degree, incessant in his activity, intelligent, practical and with a passion for doing good, especially in the form of healing disputes and restoring the fallen and going after the lost. He was an ideal pastor, but unfortunately he was an indifferent preacher. Aster leaving Homer he spent the remainder of his long life in Connecticut, where he was everywhere known and loved for his good works in connection with reformatory institutions---one of which was created by himself. His lack of impressing force in the pulpit was, I believe, associated with the suspicion fastened on him, of hold lax views in theology. My impression is that Mr. Fessenden was an orthodox man of the new school type, and that he did not trouble himself much with theological distinctions. His sermons, however, could not fail of being regarded as vague. Vague indeed were his sermons, but his life was as clear and beautiful as St. John's. The church did itself no credit, nor did it better its theology by sending him away. Dr. Lounsbury filled his place for a year, delighting the hearts of those who loved the old ways and sound theology, soundly and ably preached. He was a man of vigorous intellect and thorough education, a Puritan of Puritans, and a man who it was a pleasure to know and to remember. I was at that time a student in theology, and happened to be at home one vacation when he made a pastoral call at the house, and, as was his custom, questioned the assembled family as to their spiritual condition. I do not remember what account I gave of myself; but as he had the good sense to avoid theology and I followed his lead, we had a sweet and peaceful interview. I can truly say that I remember it with deep and tender satisfaction. What was it but the Confessional---redeemed from its abuses and set to use once more in rational ways?
I will say but a word or two of Mr. Priest and Mr. Bigelow; of Dr. Holbrook I have already spoken.
Mr. Priest was a man of thorough education, a vigorous preacher, a genial companion, and---as I now recall him---of a child-like disposition, sensitive to criticism as well as to our climate, the rigor of which he could not endure. He was a Presbyterian in his affiliations, but was open-minded and the farthest from anything like partisanship.
As to Mr. Bigelow, I will venture to say that Homer never quite understood him. Having known him in college, I think I can speak from more data than are to be found here. Mr. Bigelow was a poet and a musician. While by no means sentimental, he dealt largely in sentiment, as every man of the first order does. He was imbued with the modern habit of thought, though he was not thoroughly versed in it. His sermons were filled with this thought but it was not set in order, and therefore failed of strong and definite impression. He took too little for writing them. He was always in haste. My recollection of him at Yale---and it extended over two or three years---was as always hurrying across the college campus,---never otherwise. He was full of business and did more work that any three men in college. He was versatile, brilliant, successful, except that he spread himself over too wide a variety of work. A theological course of study had not overcome his ingrained habits, or concentrated his energies into one line of action. He loved his violin, and he paid the penalty---like many a man---of failing through excess of brilliant talents. I would not imply that his ministry was a failure. On the contrary he stimulated a certain class of minds to fresh though and delicate feeling, and broadened the channels of hum interests in a community that required such an influence in order to keep abreast of the age.
Those of us who knew and understood him, remember him with peculiar affection, and think of him with a touch pathos---a man of rather too fine a nature for the rough and tumble of every day life.
Of Dr. Robinson's ministry, I cannot speak as I would, for, if he is not here to-day, some echo of my words may reach him on the headwaters of the Delaware.
What is more admirable than for a man to live in a community twenty years; put himself at the head of it by virtue of all-round ability and weight of character; guide it in wise ways by his counsels; support and strengthen its institutions---church and school, and in almost equal measure; inspire it by his teachings and his saintly life; a friend of all and a helper in every good work; without whims, cherishing lofty ideals and yet living close to the people and their needs, and keeping up to this level of character and conduct for a score of years with high cheerfulness and a stout heart;---what is so admirable! Such was Dr. Robinson, as I have learned to think of him; and so I leave him.
Of the Church and its pastors during the past ten years I know so little and you so much that I will not speak of the history which they represent.
Before I close this long, and yet too short history to justify the name, I will take a few moments to mention what see to me to be the grounds of the life and character of the church and the town. I couple them because for more than half a century they were as one.
It has been usual to attribute the high character of the church and the community to the revivals of religion that so frequently---almost regularly---were experienced here.
It was a period of frequent and great revivals. The churches had almost no other end in view than to bring about a state of feeling and to induce and experience which should make the church include the town, as, at certain periods was almost the case. It was a high church era with the enthusiasm of the apostolic age.
This is not the time or place to analyze or criticize or praise the revival system. The historian sets down what he finds. It is enough to say that it kept the people alive to religion. Every home and school house was a sanctuary of religion. It dominated everything,---determined habits and customs and speech; it made sin exceedingly sinful and righteousness stern and commanding. No discerning man will speak of revivals otherwise than with respect; they are the foundation out of which have flowed unspeakable blessings to us who were reared here.
The earlier revivals, including those of Father Keep's day, were marked by intense feeling. What is there in this American world that is real which is not also intense? And what is religion but intensity of conviction that breeds intensity of life? One such movement was within my own remembrance. There was no excitement that was heard; only frequent meetings and a quietness that could almost be felt. If there is a Holy Spirit that can pervade a community and hush it into stillness so that the soul can find its way to God, it was so then. I speak sincerely when I say that it was very like the Lenten season of the prelatical churches when it is truly observed---a season set apart for humiliation and frequent prayer and close access to God. If Lent and the Revival would each learn of the other it would be ideal.
While revivals are the key to the history of the church and town, there are other things that also contributed to make them what the came to be.
First---The soil and the climate are good. As soon as the sun was let in upon the earth, it yielded rich harvests. There is hardly and untillable acre in the town; certainly not an unproductive one. Hence, the people were quickly well housed and well fed. Poverty is no help to religion and intelligence; prosperity is.
But of far greater moment is the fact that the great majority of the first settlers were of good New England stock. When a man left Massachusetts and Connecticut a century ago and pushed his way through a hundred and fifty miles of dense forest, he was good for something; he was at least a man. But these early settlers were more; they were intelligent, of good English blood, alive with the instincts of the highest civilization in the world, profoundly religious, and thoroughly grounded in the traditions and habits that led to industry, virtue and civil order. Hence, sixty years ago, there was no real poverty, almost no degradation, but little drunkenness or vice or gambling. The few offenders were notorious, and were held in contempt and used as examples to warn the young. There was no condoning the conduct of evil doers; even the man who took usury had a bad name. The standards were rigid and the verdicts of condemnation were severe, but the air was pure, and sweet to breathe. Let us who were reared in it thank God, and keep back every critical word, or flippant comparison.
The next most important factor in the making of Homer was the Academy. It was named for the County, and so was called Cortland Academy; but it was built in and by Homer. It should be said, however, that Homer embraced what is now Cortland, which it reared and watched over for thirty years and then set off to care for itself in 1829.
I connect the Academy with the church because the history of neither can be told without that of the other. They were as one to the people.
The unbroken tradition of New England to this day is that the church and the school go together. First a college, in order that the church might have a learned as well as a Godly ministry. Homer could not have a college, but it would come as near it as possible and so,---twenty years after the church was organized,---secured a charter for an Academy. It was New England over again and in its highest form.
The church and the Academy played into each other; then together they held the people to what was best in each. It was undenominational, and the Baptist and Episcopal churches were represented on the board of trustees and in the teaching faculty. It thus bred a catholic spirit, and, as I remember the town, it was remarkably free from the sectarian temper, notwithstanding that doctrinal and ecclesiastical distinctions were rigorously held. More than all, it diffused a high and noble spirit throughout the community. The teachers gave the tone to society. In a very real sense and degree learning was honored, and was counted as essential to respectability. Every parent, and every bright boy and girl felt the inspiration of the Academy. As I recur to my childhood I remember two chief topics of conversation in the household---the Church and the Academy; and I can not recall which was named oftener. Multitudes of young men began their education here who are now filling high positions of honor and usefulness in church and state. In 1859 its students had numbered more than 8,000. The hope of the nation and of the world, and the hope of every man lies in education and religion. Never were they more truly blended than in this Academy.
A sermon, as long even as this, is too short to cover the history of a hundred years. I have but touched it here and there; but I hope with sufficient distinctness to make you, of the later generation, feel that you are the inheritors of a history nor only full of deepest interest, but marked by the highest qualities that belong to humanity---a profound sense of religion as a dominant factor of character and conduct; a civic instinct that insists on good government; s deep sense of the value of knowledge as a necessary part of true living; a sense of righteousness that keeps life pure and earnest; that wastes no time in idle pleasures but makes duty in high and noble ways---the law and the end of life.
It was said of the Pilgrim Fathers that they journeyed to Heaven and took New England on the way. It may be said also that generation---children of the Pilgrims---who brought their faith and their spirit into this wilderness and wrought them into institutions and traditions that still perpetuate them.
They sleep in the sacred enclosure which their hands redeemed from the wild forest. May their faith, their principles, their spirit never cease to live in those who have entered into their labors.
SUNDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 6, 1901.
SOPRANOS. ALTOS. Mrs. Charles Oliver, Miss Fannie Clark, Mrs. Fred Davis, Mrs. W. E. Burdick, Miss Carolyn Arnold, Mrs. C. H. Stevens, Miss Alice Van Iderstine, Mrs. E. H. Knapp, Miss Sarah S. Pomeroy, Miss Maud Whitney, Miss S. Grace Person, Miss Sadie Larabee, Mrs. Merton Whiting. TENORS. BASSES. R. J. McElheny, H. W. Carver, Merton Whiting, F. V. Bennett, E.L. Stone, W. H. Foster, Charles H. Arnold. F. Eugene Stone. Mrs. W. H. Foster, Organist. ORGAN PRELUDE---Festspiel, - - - Volckmar MRS. W. H. FOSTER. HYMN No. 776---"The Church's One Foundation." PRAYER. REV. F. A. S. STORER, Syracuse, N. Y. RESPONSE---Chorus, - - - Emerson CHORUS---"King All Glorious," - - Emerson SCRIPTURE LESSON---Isaiah 61. REV. ETHAN CURTIS, Syracuse, N. Y. SOLO---From "Holy City" "Eye Hath Not Seen," - Gaul MISS ARLA HUBBARD. WORDS OF GREETING. REV. B. W. HAMILTON, D. D., Homer, N. Y. REV. C. W. NEGUS, Homer, N. Y. HYMN No. 770---"Blest Be the Tie That Binds." WORDS OF GREETING. REV. F. G. WEBSTER, Summer Hill, N. Y. REV. ROBERT YOST, Cortland, N. Y. CHORUS---"Ashamed of Jesus," - - Nelson ADDRESS---"Voices of the Past." REV. F. A. STORER, Syracuse, N. Y. HYMN No. 695---"O, Where are Kings and Empires Now." BENEDICTION. REV. W. A. ROBINSON, D. D., Middletown, N. Y. POSTLUDE---Processional, - - Batiste MRS. W. H. FOSTER.
Rev. B. W. Hamilton, D. D.
An address was to have been delivered by Rev. B. W. Hamilton, D. D., pastor of the M. E. Church at Homer, in voicing the greeting of that church, but Dr. Hamilton was attending the M. E. conference in Syracuse, and sent the following which was read by Mr. Kettle:
Syracuse, N. Y., Oct. 4, 1901.Rev. W. F. KETTLE:
DEAR BROTHER---I regret exceedingly that I cannot be present at your fraternal gathering next Sunday evening, and participate in its proceedings. The Congregational Church as a great and prosperous denomination, has a warm place in my heart, and the local church over which you are the Lord's under shepherd, has endeared itself to me in many ways. We have labored side by side for three years, and each successive year has increased our fraternal regard. A hundred years of existence for any organization, carries a weight of influence with its history. The Congregational Church of Homer, has had a long and honorable life, which, was it were, is only just begun. That it's food work may go on gloriously, increasing ever in spiritual influence and power, and that you and your people may ever be "the blessed of the Lord," is the sincere wish of your fellow laborer in the Master's vineyard.
Yours Most Fraternally, B. W. HAMILTON,
Pastor Methodist Episcopal Church, Homer, N. Y.
The first speaker was Rev. C. W. Negus, pastor of the Baptist Church at Homer. He congratulated the church on the past, on the faithful men and women who had formed its membership, and also on the Godly men and women who formed its present membership, and who in a later generation will be looked back upon as we of the age now look on those who have gone before. He congratulated the church on its material prosperity and on its pastor and his wife. He congratulated the church on its future of promise that opens before it. He then spoke of the responsibilities that rest upon it as the oldest church in Homer, saying, it is your work to mould life and to shape the life that shall be here at the close of the next century. Shall we not be faithful to the memory of the past and to the charge the men of former days have left to us? My prayer is that you may fulfill the possibilities that may be yours. How better can I close than in those words of Oliver Wendell Homes in the Nautilus:
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
Rev. F. G. Webster, of Summer Hill, was the second speaker. He extended the greetings of a country church, as he said, which poured forth of its vitality to strengthen the larger churches, the one in Homer among them. He spoke of those who had come from Summer Hill to Homer and dwelt upon the influence of one hundred years of Christian leadership, and upon the effect of Christian work in the state, in the homes, and in the church.
Mr. Kettle took up on the cue from Mr. Webster's remarks, and said it was from Summer Hill that Deacon E. G. Ranney had come; he had made his confession of faith in Christ in that church on the hill, and had come down to Homer to be a power in that church. He regretted his absence from Home at the time of this anniversary.
Rev. Robert Yost, pastor of the Congregational church in Cortland, was next on the program. Mrs. Yost said that the human mind can he hardly contented with the present. We are either plodding over parts of the past or reaching out to the future. Only the mind of the brute is content with present. We are best in the hour that turns our minds back into some channel where our lives were lighted. We are indissolubly linked with the past. One hundred years have put their impress upon the life and soul of every member of this church. The speaker said he brought greeting from a blushing maiden of 20 summers. His church felt quite young in a place like this. Just now it was suffering from pride and vanity over a new dress, but he expected it to recover soon and be itself. Mr. Yost congratulated the church on the plans that it had carried out during hundred years, and also on the fact that some of their plans were not carried out, for the wisdom of man sometimes foolishness. He congratulated the church on what it stands for; on the food it has done unconsciously. Said the speaker: "When I come into a place like this I feel, would God that I could roll back the tide that is gone out, and that we could see the record. How many there are whom you have helped and you never knew it. In the last day I believe the list of these will be greater than of those you had planned to help. You have a great heritage coming down into your life through this century gone. You ought to do more than the church I represent. When Wendell Phillips was asked where he got the eloquence which he put in the delivery of his lecture of the "Lost Arts," he said: "I have gained it by putting 100 nights of delivering it back of me." One hundred years behind you is a great thing. It means 100 years of preparation to do something better than you have planned. I have been a neighbor to you but a year and a half, but that is long enough to learn that you value your sacred trust, and I have a safe confidence that you will carry it out to the good."
Rev. F. A. S. Storer, for several years pastor of the church and the predecessor of the present pastor, was the last speaker. He said the past is a fat whether it is pleasing or not. What is the value of such services as these? What is the value of going over the history of the state, of men, of deeds? Why do we not talk of the present and the future? Some say what is the use of the study of the Old Testament? What do we care about Jacob? What is the value of any history of any nation? What is the value of the biographies of its great men and women? What is the value of the history of a church? Because it is a storehouse of instruction and encouragement. Voices from history encourage, teach, warn, inspire. We have been instructed and inspired by Dr. Munger's address. It deals with facts, with things done, with people who have lived met obstacles and overcome them, people who have made this church what it is and largely what it shall be. It is a noble heritage the people of the present receive. It is something to be devoutly thankful to God for, something to inspire and encourage.
What are some of its teachings? What does it tell of the Past? Of deep, strong substantial foundations in its men. The strength of a superstructure depends not less on its foundation than on its side walls. The building will go to pieces if the foundations are not strong. This church was founded by New England men. The same is true of strong churches in the West, their founders were mostly from the East, substantial, slow, thoughtful, honest, true stock. Those men founded this church. It is for you to make the walls as strong as the foundations. You know more about the gospel than they and you have had visions that they never saw. The voices of the past tell of a magnificent conquest for Christ in the multitude of souls won for His kingdom. We are a goodly company gathered together her to-night in the Church of Homer Militant. The Church of Homer Triumphant is a mighty company and it is a mighty power. Let the Church Militant greet the Church Triumphant to-night.
This church has always believed in expansion. Another voice from the past tells me of world-wide interest in Christ's kingdom. This church has never known what it was to live for itself alone. Its sky line is not about Homer only. Its heart has always gone out to those who needed Christ. The eternal death knell is sounded for the church which says it will work only at home. The Homer church never did this.
You have a reputation to sustain as a Home and Foreign Missionary church. You have a duty here and throughout all the land, an obligation to the world. The men of the last hundred years helped others. Better work, better opportunities come to you than came to the men of former days. The great message of the past to us of this present day is abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
There were 3056 visitors to our previous host from 10 Apr 2005 to 28 Aug 2011.