Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Story of a Pioneer
Shepherd of a divided flock

On my return from Europe, as I have said, I took up immediately and most buoyantly the work of my new parish.  My previous occupation of various pulpits, whether long or short, had always been in the role of a substitute.  Now, for the first time, I had a church of my own, and was to stand or fall by the record made in it.  The ink was barely dry on my diploma from the Boston Theological School, and, as it happened, the little church to which I was called was in the hands of two warring factions, whose battles furnished the most fervid interest of the Cape Cod community.  But my inexperience disturbed me not at all, and I was blissfully ignorant of the division in the congregation. So I entered my new field as trustfully as a child enters a garden; and though I was in trouble from the beginning, and resigned three times in startling succession, I ended by remaining seven years.

My appointment did not cause even a lull in the warfare among my parishioners.  Before I had crossed the threshold of my church I was made to realize that I was shepherd of a divided flock. Exactly what had caused the original breach I never learned; but it had widened with time, until it seemed that no peacemaker could build a bridge large enough to span it.  As soon as I arrived in East Dennis each faction tried to pour into my ears its bitter criticisms of the other, but I made and consistently followed the safe rule of refusing to listen to either side, I announced publicly that I would hear no verbal charges whatever, but that if my two flocks would state their troubles in writing I would call a board meeting to discuss and pass upon them.  This they both resolutely refused to do (it was apparently the first time they had ever agreed on any point); and as I steadily declined to listen to complaints, they devised an original method of putting them before me.

During the regular Thursday-night prayer-meeting, held about two weeks after my arrival, and at which, of course, I presided, they voiced their difficulties in public prayer, loudly and urgently calling upon the Lord to pardon such and such a liar, mentioning the gentleman by name, and such and such a slanderer, whose name was also submitted.  By the time the prayers were ended there were few untarnished reputations in the congregation, and I knew, perforce, what both sides had to say.

The following Thursday night they did the same thing, filling their prayers with intimate and surprising details of one another's history, and I endured the situation solely because I did not know how to meet it.  I was still young, and my theological course had set no guide-posts on roads as new as these.  To interfere with souls in their communion with God seemed impossible; to let them continue to utter personal attacks in church, under cover of prayer, was equally impossible.  Any course I could follow seemed to lead away from my new parish, yet both duty and pride made prompt action necessary.  By the time we gathered for the third prayer-meeting I had decided what to do, and before the services began I rose and addressed my erring children.  I explained that the character of the prayers at our recent meetings was making us the laughing-stock of the community, that unbelievers were ridiculing our religion, and that the discipline of the church was being wrecked; and I ended with these words, each of which I had carefully weighed: ``Now one of two things must happen.  Either you will stop this kind of praying, or you will remain away from our meetings.  We will hold prayer-meetings on another night, and I shall refuse ad- mission to any among you who bring personal criticisms into your public prayers.''

As I had expected it to do, the announcement created an immediate uproar.  Both factions sprang to their feet, trying to talk at once.  The storm raged until I dismissed the congregation, telling the members that their conduct was an insult to the Lord, and that I would not listen to either their protests or their prayers.  They went unwillingly, but they went; and the excitement the next day raised the sick from their beds to talk of it, and swept the length and breadth of Cape Cod. 

The following Sunday the little church held the largest attendance in its history.  Seemingly, every man and woman in town had come to hear what more I would say about the trouble, but I ignored the whole matter.  I preached the sermon I had prepared, the subject of which was as remote from church quarrels as our atmosphere was remote from peace, and my congregation dispersed with expressions of such artless disappointment that it was all I could do to preserve a dignified gravity.

That night, however, the war was brought into my camp.  At the evening meeting the leader of one of the factions rose to his feet with the obvious purpose of starting trouble.  He was a retired sea-captain, of the ruthless type that knocks a man down with a belaying-pin, and he made his attack on me in a characteristically ``straight from the shoulder'' fashion.  He began with the proposition that my morning sermon had been ``entirely contrary to the Scriptures,'' and for ten minutes he quoted and misquoted me, hammering in his points.  I let him goon without interruption.  Then he added: ``And this gal comes to this church and under-takes to tell us how we shall pray.  That's a highhanded measure, and I, for one, ain't goin' to stand it.  I want to say right here that I shall pray as I like, when I like, and where I like.  I have prayed in this heavenly way for fifty years before that gal was born, and she can't dictate to me now!'' By this time the whole congregation was aroused, and cries of ``Sit down!''  ``Sit down!'' came from every side of the church.  It was a hard moment, but I was able to rise with some show of dignity. I was hurt through and through, but my fighting blood was stirring.

``No,'' I said, ``Captain Sears has the floor.  Let him say now all he wishes to say, for it is the last time he will ever speak at one of our meetings.''

Captain Sears, whose exertions had already made him apoplectic, turned a darker purple.  ``What's that?'' he shouted.  ``What d'ye mean?''

``I mean,'' I replied, ``that I do not intend to allow you or anybody else to interfere with my meetings.  You are a sea-captain.  What would you do to me if I came on board your ship and started a mutiny in your crew, or tried to give you orders?''

Captain Sears did not reply.  He stood still, with his legs far apart and braced, as he always stood when talking, but his eyes shifted a little.  I answered my own question.

"You would put me ashore or in irons,'' I reminded him.  ``Now, Captain Sears, I intend to put you ashore.  I am the master of this ship.  I have set my course, and I mean to follow it.  If you rebel, either you will get out or I will.  But until the board asks for my resignation, I am in command.''

As it happened, I had put my ultimatum in the one form the old man could understand.  He sat down without a word and stared at me.  We sang the Doxology, and I dismissed the meeting.  Again we had omitted prayers.  The next day Captain Sears sent me a letter recalling his subscription toward the support of the church; and for weeks he remained away from our services, returning under conditions I will mention later.  Even at the time, however, his attack helped rather than hurt me. At the regular meeting the following Thursday night no personal criticisms were included in the prayers, and eventually we had peace.  But many battles were lost and won before that happy day arrived.

Captain Sears's vacant place among us was promptly taken by another captain in East Dennis, whose name was also Sears.  A few days after my encounter with the first captain I met the second on the street.  He had never come to church, and I stopped and invited him to do so.  He replied with simple candor.

"I ain't comin','' he told me.  "There ain't no gal that can teach me nothin'.''

"Perhaps you are wrong, Captain Sears,'' I replied.  "I might teach you something.''

"What?'' demanded the captain, with chilling distrust.

"Oh,'' I said, cheerfully, "let us say tolerance, for one thing.''

"Humph!'' muttered the old man.  "The Lord don't want none of your tolerance, and neither do I.''

I laughed.  "He doesn't object to tolerance,'' I said.  "Come to church.  You can talk, too; and the Lord will listen to us both.''

To my surprise, the captain came the following Sunday, and during the seven years I remained in the church he was one of my strongest supporters and friends.  I needed friends, for my second battle was not slow in following my first.  There was, indeed, barely time between in which to care for the wounded.

We had in East Dennis what was known as the "Free Religious Group,'' and when some of the members of my congregation were not wrangling among themselves, they were usually locking horns with this group.  For years, I was told, one of the prime diversions of the "Free Religious'' faction was to have a dance in our town hall on the night when we were using it for our annual church fair. The rules of the church positively prohibited dancing, so the worldly group took peculiar pleasure in attending the fair, and during the evening in getting up a dance and whirling about among us, to the horror of our members.  Then they spent the remainder of the year boasting of the achievement. It came to my ears that they had decided to follow this pleasing programme at our Christmas church celebration, so I called the church trustees together and put the situation to them.

"We must either enforce our discipline,'' I said, "or give it up.  Personally I do not object to dancing, but, as the church has ruled against it, I intend to uphold the church.  To allow these people to make us ridiculous year after year is impossible. Let us either tell them that they may dance or that they may not dance; but whatever we tell them, let us make them obey our ruling.''

The trustees were shocked at the mere suggestion of letting them dance.

"Very well,'' I ended.  "Then they shall not dance.  That is understood.''

Captain Crowell, the father of my dead friend Mrs. Addy, and himself my best man friend, was a strong supporter of the Free Religious Group. When its members raced to him with the news that I had said they could not dance at the church's Christmas party, Captain Crowell laughed good-humoredly and told them to dance as much as they pleased, cheerfully adding that he would get them out of any trouble they got into.  Knowing my friendship for him, and that I even owed my church appointment to him, the Free Religious people were certain that I would never take issue with him on dancing or on any other point.  They made all their preparations for the dance, therefore, with entire confidence, and boasted that the affair would be the gayest they had ever arranged.  My people began to look at me with sympathy, and for a time I felt very sorry for myself.  It seemed sufficiently clear that ``the gal'' was to have more trouble.

On the night of the party things went badly from the first.  There was an evident intention among the worst of the Free Religious Group to embarrass us at every turn.  We opened the exercises with the Lord's Prayer, which this element loudly applauded. A live kitten was hung high on the Christmas tree, where it squalled mournfully beyond reach of rescue, and the young men of the outside group threw cake at one another across the hall.  Finally tiring of these innocent diversions, they began to prepare for their dance, and I protested.  The spokesman of the group waved me to one side. "Captain Crowell said we could,'' he remarked, airily.

"Captain Crowell,'' I replied, "has no authority whatever in this matter.  The church trustees have decided that you cannot dance here, and I intend to enforce their ruling.''

It was interesting to observe how rapidly the men of my congregation disappeared from that hall. Like shadows they crept along the walls and vanished through the doors.  But the preparations for the dance went merrily on.  I walked to the middle of the room and raised my voice.  I was always listened to, for my hearers always had the hope, usually realized, that I was about to get into more trouble. ``You are determined to dance,'' I began.  "I cannot keep you from doing so.  But I can and will make you regret that you have done so.  The law of the State of Massachusetts is very definite in regard to religious meetings and religious gatherings. This hall was engaged and paid for by the Wesleyan Methodist Church, of which I am pastor, and we have full control of it to-night.  Every man and woman who interrupts our exercises by attempting to dance, or by creating a disturbance of any kind, will be arrested to-morrow morning.''

Surprise at first, then consternation, swept through the ranks of the Free Religious Group.  They denied the existence of such a law as I had mentioned, and I promptly read it aloud to them.  The leaders went off into a corner and consulted.  By this time not one man in my parish was left in the hall.  As a result of the consultation in the corner, a committee of the would-be dancers came to me and suggested a compromise.

"Will you agree to arrest the men only?'' they wanted to know.

"No,'' I declared.  "On the contrary, I shall have the women arrested first!  For the women ought to be standing with me now in the support of law and order, instead of siding with the hoodlum element you represent.''

That settled it.  No girl or woman dared to go on the dancing-floor, and no man cared to revolve merrily by himself.  A whisper went round, however, that the dance would begin when I had left. When the clock struck twelve, at which hour, according to the town rule, the hall had to be closed, I was the last person to leave it.  Then I locked the door myself, and carried the key away with me.

There had been no Free Religious dance that night. On the following Sunday morning the attendance at my church broke all previous records.  Every seat was occupied and every aisle was filled.  Men and women came from surrounding towns, and strange horses were tied to all the fences in East Dennis.  Every person in that church was looking for excitement, and this time my congregation got what it expected.  Before I began my sermon I read my resignation, to take effect at the discretion of the trustees.  Then, as it was presumably my last chance to tell the people and the place what I thought of them, I spent an hour and a half in fervidly doing so.  In my study of English I had acquired a fairly large vocabulary.  I think I used it all that morning--certainly I tried to.  If ever an erring congregation and community saw themselves as they really were, mine did on that occasion.  I was heartsick, discouraged, and full of resentment and indignation, which until then had been pent up.  Under the arraignment my people writhed and squirmed.  I ended:

"What I am saying hurts you, but in your hearts you know you deserve every word of it.  It is high time you saw yourselves as you are--a disgrace to the religion you profess and to the community you live in.''

I was not sure the congregation would let me finish, but it did.  My hearers seemed torn by conflicting sentiments, in which anger and curiosity led opposing sides.  Many of them left the church in a white fury, but others--more than I had expected--remained to speak to me and assure me of their sympathy.  Once on the streets, different groups formed and mingled, and all day the little town rocked with arguments for and against ``the gal.''

Night brought another surprisingly large attendance.  I expected more trouble, and I faced it with difficulty, for I was very tired.  Just as I took my place in the pulpit, Captain Sears entered the church and walked down the aisle--the Captain Sears who had left us at my invitation some weeks before and had not since attended a church service.  I was sure he was there to make another attack on me while I was down, and, expecting the worst, I wearily gave him his opportunity.  The big old fellow stood up, braced himself on legs far apart, as if he were standing on a slippery deck during a high sea, and gave the congregation its biggest surprise of the year.

He said he had come to make a confession.  He had been angry with ``the gal'' in the past, as they all knew.  But he had heard about the sermon she had preached that morning, and this time she was right.  It was high time quarreling and backbiting were stopped.  They had been going on too long, and no good could come of them.  Moreover, in all the years he had been a member of that congregation he had never until now seen the pulpit occupied by a minister with enough backbone to uphold the discipline of the church. 

"I've come here to say I'm with the gal,'' he ended.  "Put me down for my original subscription and ten dollars extra!''

So we had the old man back again.  He was a tower of strength, and he stood by me faithfully until he died.  The trustees would not accept my resignation (indeed, they refused to consider it at all), and the congregation, when it had thought things over, apparently decided that there might be worse things in the pulpit than ``the gal.''  It was even known to brag of what it called my "spunk,'' and perhaps it was this quality, rather than any other, which I most needed in that particular parish at that time.  As for me, when the fight was over I dropped it from my mind, and it had not entered my thoughts for years, until I began to summon these memories.

At the end of my first six months in East Dennis I was asked to take on, also, the temporary charge of the Congregational Church at Dennis, two miles and a half away.  I agreed to do this until a permanent pastor could be found, on condition that I should preach at Dennis on Sunday afternoons, using the same sermon I preached in my own pulpit in the morning.  The arrangement worked so well that it lasted for six and a half years--until I resigned from my East Dennis church.  During that period, more-over, I not only carried the two churches on my shoulders, holding three meetings each Sunday, but I entered upon and completed a course in the Boston Medical School, winning my M.D. in 1885, and I also lectured several times a month during the winter seasons.  These were, therefore, among the most strenuous as well as the most interesting years of my existence, and I mention the strain of them only to prove my life-long contention, that congenial work, no matter how much there is of it, has never yet killed any one!

After my battle with the Free Religious Group things moved much more smoothly in the parish. Captain Crowell, instead of resenting my defiance of his ruling, helped to reconcile the divided factions in the church; and though, as I have said, twice afterward I submitted my resignation, in each case the fight I was making was for a cause which I firmly believed in and eventually won. 

My second resignation was brought about by the unwillingness of the church to have me exchange pulpits with the one minister on Cape Cod broad-minded enough to invite me to preach in his pulpit.  I had done so, and had then sent him a return invitation.  He was a gentleman and a scholar, but he was also a Unitarian; and though my people were willing to let me preach in his church, they were loath to let him preach in mine.  After a surprising amount of discussion my resignation put a different aspect on the matter; it also led to the satisfactory ruling that I could exchange pulpits not only with this minister, but with any other in good standing in his own church.

My third resignation went before the trustees in consequence of my protest from the pulpit against a small drinking and gambling saloon in East Dennis; which was rapidly demoralizing our boys. Theoretically, only "soft drinks'' were sold, but the gambling was open, and the resort was constantly filled with boys of all ages.  There were influences back of this place which tried to protect it, and its owner was very popular in the town.  After my first sermon I was waited upon by a committee, that warmly advised me to "let East Dennis alone'' and confine my criticisms "to saloons in Boston and other big towns.''  As I had nothing to do with Boston, and much to do with East Dennis, I preached on that place three Sundays in succession, and feeling became so intense that I handed in my resignation and prepared to depart.  Then my friends rallied and the resort was suppressed.

That was my last big struggle.  During the remaining five years of my pastorate on Cape Cod the relations between my people and myself were wholly harmonious and beautiful.  If I have seemed to dwell too much on these small victories, it must be remembered that I find in them such comfort as I can.  I have not yet won the great and vital fight of my life, to which I have given myself, heart and soul, for the past thirty years--the campaign for woman suffrage.  I have seen victories here and there, and shall see more.  But when the ultimate triumph comes--when American women in every state cast their ballots as naturally as their husbands do--I may not be in this world to rejoice over it.

It is interesting to remember that during the strenuous period of the first few months in East Dennis, and notwithstanding the division in the congregation, we women of the church got together and repainted and refurnished the building, raising all the money and doing much of the work ourselves, as the expense of having it done was prohibitive.  We painted the church, and even cut down and modernized the pulpit.  The total cost of material and furniture was not half so great as the original estimate had indicated, and we had learned a valuable lesson.  After this we spent very little money for labor, but did our own cleaning, carpet-laying, and the like; and our little church, if I may be allowed to say so, was a model of neatness and good taste.

I have said that at the end of two years from the time of my appointment the long-continued warfare in the church was ended.  I was not immediately allowed, however, to bask in an atmosphere of harmony, for in October, 1880, the celebrated contest over my ordination took place at the Methodist Protestant Conference in Tarrytown, New York; and for three days I was a storm-center around which a large number of truly good and wholly sincere men fought the fight of their religious lives.  Many of them strongly believed that women were out of place in the ministry.  I did not blame them for this conviction.  But I was in the ministry, and I was greatly handicapped by the fact that, although I was a licensed preacher and a graduate of the Boston Theological School, I could not, until I had been regularly ordained, meet all the functions of my office.  I could perform the marriage service, but I could not baptize.  I could bury the dead, but I could not take members into my church.  That had to be done by the presiding elder or by some other minister.  I could not administer the sacraments.

So at the New England Spring Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Boston in 1880, I formally applied for ordination.  At the same time application was made by another woman-- Miss Anna Oliver--and as a preliminary step we were both examined by the Conference board, and were formally reported by that board as fitted for ordination.  Our names were therefore presented at the Conference, over which Bishop Andrews presided, and he immediately refused to accept them. Miss Oliver and I were sitting together in the gallery of the church when the bishop announced his decision, and, while it staggered us, it did not really surprise us.  We had been warned of this gentleman's deep-seated prejudice against women in the ministry.

After the services were over Miss Oliver and I called on him and asked him what we should do. He told us calmly that there was nothing for us to do but to get out of the Church.  We reminded him of our years of study and probation, and that I had been for two years in charge of two churches.  He set his thin lips and replied that there was no place for women in the ministry, and, as he then evidently considered the interview ended, we left him with heavy hearts.  While we were walking slowly away, Miss Oliver confided to me that she did not intend to leave the Church.  Instead, she told me, she would stay in and fight the matter of her ordination to a finish.  I, however, felt differently.  I had done considerable fighting during the past two years, and my heart and soul were weary.  I said:  "I shall get out, I am no better and no stronger than a man, and it is all a man can do to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, without fighting his Church as well.  I do not intend to fight my Church.  But I am called to preach the gospel; and if I cannot preach it in my own Church, I will certainly preach it in some other Church!''

As if in response to this outburst, a young minister named Mark Trafton soon called to see me. He had been present at our Conference, he had seen my Church refuse to ordain me, and he had come to suggest that I apply for ordination in his Church--the Methodist Protestant.  To leave my Church, even though urged to do so by its appointed spokesman, seemed a radical step.  Before taking this I appealed from the decision of the Conference to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which held its session that year in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Miss Oliver also appealed, and again we were both refused ordination, the General Conference voting to sustain Bishop Andrews in his decision.  Not content with this achievement, the Conference even took a backward step.  It deprived us of the right to be licensed as local preachers. After this blow I recalled with gratitude the Reverend Mark Trafton's excellent advice, and I immediately applied for ordination in the Methodist Protestant Church.  My name was presented at the Conference held in Tarrytown in October, 1880, and the fight was on.

During these Conferences it is customary for each candidate to retire while the discussion of his individual fitness for ordination is in progress.  When my name came up I was asked, as my predecessors had been, to leave the room for a few moments.  I went into an anteroom and waited--a half-hour, an hour, all afternoon, all evening, and still the battle raged.  I varied the monotony of sitting in the ante-room by strolls around Tarrytown, and I think I learned to know its every stone and turn.

The next day passed in the same way.  At last, late on Saturday night, it was suddenly announced by my opponents that I was not even a member of the Church in which I had applied for ordination.  The statement created consternation among my friends.  None of us had thought of that!  The bomb, timed to explode at the very end of the session, threatened to destroy all my hopes.  Of course, my opponents had reasoned, it would be too late for me to do anything, and my name would be dropped.

But it was not too late.  Dr. Lyman Davis, the pastor of the Methodist Protestant Church in Tarrytown, was very friendly toward me and my ordination, and he proved his friendship in a singularly prompt and efficient fashion.  Late as it was, he immediately called together the trustees of his church, and they responded.  To them I made my application for church membership, which they accepted within five minutes.  I was now a member of the Church, but it was too late to obtain any further action from the Conference.  The next day, Sunday, all the men who had applied for ordination were ordained, and I was left out.

On Monday morning, however, when the Conference met in its final business session, my case was reopened, and I was eventually called before the members to answer questions.  Some of these were extremely interesting, and several of the episodes that occurred were very amusing.  One old gentleman I can see as I write.  He was greatly excited, and he led the opposition by racing up and down the aisles, quoting from the Scriptures to prove his case against women ministers.  As he ran about he had a trick of putting his arms under the back of his coat, making his coat-tails stand out like wings and incidentally revealing two long white tapestrings belonging to a flannel undergarment.  Even in the painful stress of those hours I observed with interest how beautifully those tape-strings were ironed!

I was there to answer any questions that were asked of me, and the questions came like hail-stones in a sudden summer storm."Paul said, 'Wives, obey your husbands,' '' shouted my old man of the coat-tails.  ``Suppose your husband should refuse to allow you to preach?  What then?''

"In the first place,'' I answered, "Paul did not say so, according to the Scriptures.  But even if he did, it would not concern me, for I am a spinster.''

The old man looked me over.  "You might marry some day,'' he predicted, cautiously.

"Possibly,'' I admitted.  "Wiser women than I am have married.  But it is equally possible that I might marry a man who would command me to preach; and in that case I want to be all ready to obey him.''

At this another man, a bachelor, also began to draw from the Scriptures.  "An elder,'' he quoted, "shall be the husband of one wife.''  And he demanded, triumphantly, "How is it possible for you to be the husband of a wife?''

In response to that I quoted a bit myself.  "Paul said, `Anathema unto him who addeth to or taketh from the Scriptures,' '' I reminded this gentleman; and added that a twisted interpretation of the Scriptures was as bad as adding to or taking from them, and that no one doubted that Paul was warning the elders against polygamy.  Then I went a bit further, for by this time the absurd character of the questions was getting on my nerves.

"Even if my good brother's interpretation is correct,'' I said, "he has overlooked two important points. Though he is an elder, he is also a bachelor; so I am as much of a husband as he is!'' A good deal of that sort of thing went on.  The most satisfactory episode of the session, to me, was the downfall of three pert young men who in turn tried to make it appear that as the duty of the Conference was to provide churches for all its pastors, I might become a burden to the Church if it proved impossible to provide a pastorate for me.  At that, one of my friends in the council rose to his feet.

"I have had official occasion to examine into the matter of Miss Shaw's parish and salary,'' he said, "and I know what salaries the last three speakers are drawing.  It may interest the Conference to know that Miss Shaw's present salary equals the combined salaries of the three young men who are so afraid she will be a burden to the Church.  If, before being ordained, she can earn three times as much as they now earn after being ordained, it seems fairly clear that they will never have to support her. We can only hope that she will never have to support them.''

The three young ministers subsided into their seats with painful abruptness, and from that time my opponents were more careful in their remarks.  

Still, many unpleasant things were said, and too much warmth was shown by both sides.  We gained ground through the day, however, and at the end of the session the Conference, by a large majority, voted to ordain me.

The ordination service was fixed for the following evening, and even the gentlemen who had most vigorously opposed me were not averse to making the occasion a profitable one.  The contention had already enormously advertised the Conference, and the members now helped the good work along by sending forth widespread announcements of the result.  They also decided that, as the attendance at the service would be very large, they would take up a collection for the support of superannuated ministers.  The three young men who had feared I would become a burden were especially active in the matter of this collection; and, as they had no sense of humor, it did not seem incongruous to them to use my ordination as a means of raising money for men who had already become burdens to the Church.

When the great night came (on October 12, 1880), the expected crowd came also.  And to the credit of my opponents I must add that, having lost their fight, they took their defeat in good part and gracefully assisted in the services.  Sitting in one of the front pews was Mrs. Stiles, the wife of Dr. Stiles, who was superintendent of the Conference.  She was a dear little old lady of seventy, with a big, maternal heart; and when she saw me rise to walk up the aisle alone, she immediately rose, too, came to my side, offered me her arm, and led me to the altar.

The ordination service was very impressive and beautiful.  Its peace and dignity, following the battle that had raged for days, moved me so deeply that I was nearly overcome.  Indeed, I was on the verge of a breakdown when I was mercifully saved by the clause in the discipline calling for the pledge all ministers had to make--that I would not indulge in the use of tobacco.  When this vow fell from my lips a perceptible ripple ran over the congregation.

I was homesick for my Cape Cod parish, and I returned to East Dennis immediately after my ordination, arriving there on Saturday night.  I knew by the suppressed excitement of my friends that some surprise awaited me, but I did not learn what it was until I entered my dear little church the following morning.  There I found the communion-table set forth with a beautiful new communion-service.  This had been purchased during my absence, that I might dedicate it that day and for the first time administer the sacrament to my people.

Return to Contents Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus