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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Cumberland Presbyterian One Of Early Churches

Dallas Bogan on 7 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Located on the corner of East and Main Street in Lebanon, now the home of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, it was for many years the home of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
The latter takes its name from the Cumberland Presbytery, which was a part of the Synod of Kentucky. Its beginning was in 1802, at which time it was split off from Transylvania.
Cumberland Presbytery was notably divided during the great Kentucky Revival, which was going full force during this period. Due to this situation, it was found that a shortage of preachers and religious teachers was being experienced in the Presbytery.
Rev. David Rice, then the oldest Presbyterian minister in Kentucky, advised that a number of men be licensed to preach who did not possess a proper education.
A protest was entered by those not in sympathy with the Revival.
The Synod of 1804 cited all members of the church to appear at its next meeting. The recommendation was ignored on the grounds of want of authority.
As a direct result of the violation of the action, a new Presbytery was proclaimed and met on March 20, 1810.
This organization accepted the Confession of Faith, and excluded the idea of "Fatality." It in turn favored the licensing of probationers without a proper education.
In 1813, a new Synod was formed with a brief doctrinal statement adopted.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Lebanon was the first conference in the Miami country to be organized under the new doctrine. Rev. Jacob Lindley, a member of the Pennsylvania Synod, conceived it in 1835. No record of why he chose to come to Lebanon is available.
Rev. Matthew Houston Bone is credited with the most valuable work in regards to its organization. He, along with Rev. John W. Ogden, was appointed representative for Cumberland College, they being assigned to the territory of the United States.
Their first travels and labors took them to Western Pennsylvania, and on to Ohio in 1829 and 1830, soliciting funds for the college.
Rev. Bone visited the town of Lebanon about 1831 and preached, encountering a very interesting and successful meeting. The citizens asked him to remain and organize a church, but his interests were directed otherwise at that time.
Lebanon residents, in 1835, invited him to return. By this time the townspeople had learned much more of the doctrines and teachings of the Cumberland Presbyterians.
Rev. Bone returned and was again asked to remain and start a church. He yielded to their requests and agreed to stay one year.
The first eighteen months of the assemblage saw services held in the Town Hall.
Rev. Bone started proceedings for the erection of a church, but for reasons unknown, returned to the South.
Prior to his southern journey, Rev. Bone asked Rev. Felix G. Black to assume the duties of the church. The latter had a reputation as a very successful pastor. (Possibly about this time, Rev. Lindley came into the picture.)
Rev. Black's new congregation consisted of 11 members; within three years the membership had grown to 138.
The original charter members were: Amos Smith, Micajah Reeder, Mary H. Smith, Lydia Cowan, Ruth Parshall, Abraham VanDoren, Julia Lawson, Elizabeth VanNote, M. Eliza Lawson, Maurice VanDoren and Ann Lawson. From this number Amos Smith and Micajah Reeder were elected and ordained elders.
The first congregational church building was erected on Mechanic Street and dedicated in 1837, with Rev. Black preaching the dedicatory sermon.
A report in 1838 displayed commendable progress in all departments. The membership contributed liberally to the church, paying all outstanding bills and the pastor's salary. The report expressed that the church was alive and active.
The Reverend was later asked to take charge of a new mission in Cincinnati, but he would first seek the congregation's blessing into this new venture. The membership was unwilling to let their pastor go.
Rev. Bone was called in by the board, which sought his advice concerning this affair. After much discussion, Rev. Black left the church and traveled to Cincinnati.
Known throughout the congregation as a church with a fine reputation, the General Assembly met here twice, once in 1847, and again in 1864.
The present church building, located on the corner of East and Main, was erected in 1894 during the tenure of Rev. Frank Silveus. The property at that time was valued at $10,000.
In 1902, the congregation terminated an indebtedness of $2,650, which had been on the property since the dedication.
For about 40 years the Cumberland congregation held services in this church. In 1931, the two Presbyterian churches reunited to form the United Presbyterian Church.
The church sold the building to the Church of God of Anderson, Indiana, in 1937. This church still retained the property when St. Patrick's Episcopal Church was first organized in 1962, it being an extension of St. Mary's in Waynesville.
A church building is incomplete without a bell. Because of its history, the present church bell is an element of interest.
The bell was cast at Malaga, Spain, in 1632, some 364 years ago at this printing. It was first used in a convent, and was seized, along with all other convent properties, during the political troubles in Spain from 1835 to 1837.
It was shipped to New York, along with 99 other convent bells, and sold at auction. A merchant of Lebanon, Robert Knox, purchased the bell with money raised by subscription. The date of the auctioneer's bill and receipt is February 27, 1838. (Knox
paid $140.47 for the bell and another $60 to transport it.)
It was shipped from New York by canal to Philadelphia, and thence by canal and wagon to Pittsburgh, where the yoke and clapper were made. The bell itself weighs 322 pounds. Inscribed on the bell in Spanish are the words: "Holy Mother, the Shepherdess, pray for us." At the bottom, in smaller letters, it reads, "For a guide I trust in thee, the guardian angel, queen of the order, brethren of the fathers." Another inscription reads, "Made by Michael, at Malaga, in the year 1632."
History states this was the first church bell ever rung in Lebanon. Possibly so. It still rings in all its glory every Sunday, and has served as a symbol for all who have a strong moral conviction to serve Him.

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This page created 7 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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