LackawannaLackawanna County



One-Half Century of Work
History of the Providence Welsh Congregational Church
of Scranton, Pennsylvania

Published by the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor
Press of Eaton & Mains
150 Fifth Avenue
New York, 1904

Editorial

Providence Welsh Congregational Church. Click to enlargeNo institution of fifty years standing has a history devoid of interest to the public; it is for that reason we issue this record of our work. We, the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, do it , also, because we deem it due those whose labors have produced the results of which we are so proud, for we think it but meet that their names should be known to the children and the strangers within our gates. They labored only for the reward that is promised those who strive to uplift their fellow men; but they are known to us as men so endowed with love and zeal for work as to be held in reverence by all who knew them. And those who knew them best loved them most. And, as we are entering on the second half of a century’s existence, our prayer is that the seed sown in the frist half will yield still more abundantly and make the work of our founders still greater; and that this brief record of their lives will encourage all who read to greater zeal in the work begun by them.

The purpose of this Church has been the evangelization of the world, but especially this place; and to this end all its energies have been bent. We give first account of the work in this State; this introduces many who fostered and helped the Church of which we are so proud; it also shows the manner of men to whom Congregationalism in Pennsylvania is indebted. But limited space forbids mention worthy of their deeds, for thy possessed to the utmost the spirit of the Pilgrims and all other pioneers in the Church of Christ.

Davey Edgar Jones, Editor in Chief
I. Elvet Jones
Hannah M. Williams
Evan J. Lewis, B. A.
Associate Editors
Congregationalism in Pennsylvania During the Early Years of the Nineteenth Century

Ed.--This paper was read by Rev. R. S. Jones, D. D., June 23, 1897, at the centennial meetings of the Church at Ebensburg, which were held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the State Association. As soon as he had finished reading, a resolution was unanimously passed asking Rev. Dr. Jones to publish the paper.

We are to-day celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of this Church, which our record shows to be the oldest Congregational Church in this State. Yet it seems a beautiful, refreshing, and perennial wellspring at the top of this mountain, and is the source of many rivulets and streams of Congregationalism in this State, and especially in the western district. The more it has distributed itself in different sections of this Country, the stronger it has grown. This is always the case with serving the Master--the more we distribute ourselves, the stronger and better we grow.

This is the only Congregational Church in the State that was established in the eighteenth century, having been organized April 29, 1797, with twenty-four members; and though she has passed through many vicissitudes, she has not only held her own, but to-day seems to be one of the most vigorous in the State. There is not a single wrinkle on her open face; her form has not begun to stoop; nor are gray hairs to be found on her head. Her youth has been renewed like the eagle’s, for God satisfieth her mouth with good things. May her age be as great as the stars’ and her continued brightness as the noonday sun’s. May the blessings of the Most High God rest now and forever upon this Church and her able pastor.

We say that this is the oldest Congregational Church in the Sate, but it ought not to be, for Congregationalism was strong in Pennsylvania even in the seventeenth century. Before the Revolutionary War, Congregational Churches were numerous and flourishing in the Middle Colonies, but they were scattered and closely allied with the Presbyterians. In fact, many of the pastors were Presbyterian ministers. Feeling the need of fellowship and having no general plan of organization, they joined the Presbyteries. Presbyterianism had its plan and its organization, and year by year that plan developed itself and the Congregational Churches found themselves a part of it. For the most part they accepted it without reluctance; but some rebelled and formed Congregational bodies, which, however, they called Presbyteries. The majority of those who formed the Presbytery in Philadelphia in 1706 were of this class.

The tide of emigration that , after the Revolutionary War, poured into New York and Pennsylvania was followed b the evangelizing efforts of New England missionaries. Congregational Churches were planted everywhere; and in some instances were gathered into local societies. But these Associations sustained friendly relations with the neighboring Presbyteries and interchanged delegates under a system of fellowship that gave the delegates standing as honorary members of the body visited. Closer relations were gradually established until the Associations were converted into Presbyteries. The issue between these denominations seems to have been decided on the principle of the survival of the strongest. In the New England States, where Congregationalism was thoroughly organized and was working out a definite plan of its own, it grew stronger and stronger; but where it was in a formative and dependent state, it yielded to the most positive ecclesiastical force in its neighborhood.

In the Wyoming Valley, and many other parts of the State, Puritan settlements abounded, and Puritan institutions, including a large number of Congregational Churches, were to be found. The old charter of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre seems to be a Congregational charter seems to be a Congregational charter, as do those of many other Churches that we could mention. To the early Congregationalists, evangelization was everything; the propagation of polity was nothing. With the Presbyterians, evangelization was to be done, but propagation of polity was not to be left undone. The Presbyterian took care of his polity; the Congregationalist let his polity take care of itself. Hence, under the plan of union, it became the privilege of Congregational ministers to build up Presbyterianism. So that in Pennsylvania, outside of Welsh Churches, in the early part of the nineteenth century, Congregationalism was hardly known or recognized. Besides Ebensburg, we find that a Church was organized at Harford, Susquehanna County, in 1800, and one in LeRaysville, Bradford County, in 1803. But neither of these has done anything toward establishing Churches of its own polity, but has been satisfied to hold its own.

Beginning at Ebensburg, let us go westward to Johnstown. Prominent among the early settlers at Ebensburg were Rev. George Roberts and a few friends from Llanbrynmair, North Wales. Coming into this mountainous region, they located at Beulah, but soon removed to this place and founded the city they called Ebensburg. This Rev. George Roberts was a brother of the late Rev. John Roberts, of Llanbrynmair, and an uncle of the eminent brothers J. R. and S. R., as they are familiarly known, and was their equal for piety and religious zeal. Soon after settling here, he commenced to wade his way through the great forest between here and Johnstown, in order to preach the Gospel to the few English-speaking people who had settled there. In 1820, he succeeded in organizing an English Congregational Church which remained such as long as he had it in charge. But when he had to confine his labors to this Church, the Johnstown Church, like many others, fell into the hands of the Presbyterians.

No other attempt to start a Congregational Church there was made until some Welshmen began to work in the iron mills. In May, 1854, Rev. R. R. Edwards, an agent for the American Bible Society, visited the place and gathered the few Welsh people together in the home of David Reese, a very pious man and a member of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. At the close of his sermon, he suggested that a Congregational Church be formed; nine consented. The school directors, understanding that their doctrine was purely evangelical, permitted them to worship in the brick Schoolhouse (the one, I understand, that withstood the Flood and was the means of saving so many lives, probably because in its early days it had been used as a Congregational Church to save many souls for Christ), where, September 9 and 10, they formed a Church of twenty-one members. The following evening, Rev. J. Morgan Thomas, of Pittsburg, and Rev. Ll. R. Powell, of Ebensburg, addressed a temperance meeting at which sixteen signed the total abstinence pledge. They extended a unanimous call , signed by thirty-three members, to Rev. Mr. Edwards to become their pastor. He accepted, and the first year received a salary of $147.72. But in two years, they purchased a lot for $275 and erected a building worth $1,300, and continued to grow until May 31, 1889, when the Flood swept away the church, pastor, his family, and all that pertained to them. But Phoenixlike, though from its mud and debris and not from its ashes, it rose again and to-day is in a flourishing condition and in charge of an able young man.

The cause at Pittsburg, also, was started by Rev. George Roberts who organized the first Church in 1824. A lot was purchased in the section then known as Pipetown, and a building erected, which in four years was too small. While they were contemplating the erection of a new home the Presbyterians offered them money, which a majority accepted and joined that denomination. The minority refused, however, and closed the church; but they kept the deed and charter. In 1836, Rev. Thomas Edwards, though he never joined that denomination, took charge of this Presbyterian Church, and soon after was given the deed and charter of the church at Pipetown by a trustee, who was about to move West. He immediately opened the church as a public school. But one Sunday morning, when things were not running smoothly in the Presbyterian Church, he gave this address: "I love you as a Church and I love the women of this Church very much indeed; but you will pardon me for telling you that I love Mary, my wife, far better than any of you. And so it is with my denomination. I love you Presbyterians very much indeed, but I love my own denomination, the Congregational, far better. So I am going to leave you and start a Congregational Church in that little church at Pipetown." He then left, taking with him one hundred and twenty members of that Church. The Congregational Church of Pittsburg was organized July 4, 1844, so that ever since, every Fourth of July, this Church is able to celebrate its birthday--the anniversary of its organization, or the declaration of its own independence. It has moved its quarters several times since then, and each move has made it better and stronger, and has greatly increased its strength and influence. It has also started branches in many places. The South Side branch was organized in 1868 and the preaching station at Lawrenceville in 1886. The branch at Wood’s Run holds union meetings with the Baptists and Calvinistic Methodists; while its grandchild is that flourishing English Church on the South Side that is in charge of our good brother Rev. Dr. Edwards.

Here we can state that the immediate and direct object of the Welsh Churches of this country is to take care of the Welsh nation; so that it is in full accordance with the command of the Master, the Jews first; i.e., your own nation, and in this the Welsh Churches have done their part well.

The first Association (or Gymanfa) was held in Pittsburg in 1838, the Welsh Baptists and Welsh Congregationalists uniting to hold it. The second Gymanfa was held in Ebensburg in 1839. It was then decided that thereafter each denomination would hold a Gymanfa of its own. The next year the Gymanfa was held at Pottsville, Minersville, etc.; and the following year, it was again held conjointly in Ebensburg and Pittsburg, closing in the latter city. To return home from this one, Rev. E. B. Evans of Pottsville, walked through the vast unbroken forests, a distance of about three hundred and fifty miles. Leaving Pittsburg Monday morning he reached his home in Pottsville supper time Friday. He was an immense walker, however, for he frequently walked fifteen and twenty miles on Sunday to preach to three, four, and five congregations. Once he borrowed a horse, so that he could attend the ordination of Rev. Roderick R. Williams at Beaver Meadows, thinking that he could thus travel more quickly than by foot, for otherwise there was no need of riding. But long before he reached his destination, the horse fell under him and died. Seeing that the horse was dead, he said, "Thank God, I have my feet yet." The Churches under his care paid for the horse, for he was unable to do so. There are chapters in the life of this man, as in that of most of the other Welsh pioneer ministers, that you could modestly place beside the life of the Great Apostle, when he relates his traveling adventures: "In jouneyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."

The old Gymanfas were different from our modern Associations. Their great object was to seek the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the saving of souls (which object, I am afraid, we have entirely lost sight of in our modern Associations), and therefore were annual gatherings for preaching rather than for business. I have never heard of any great enduement of the Holy Spirit nor any religious revival starting from a business association, be the business carried on ever so religiously. There is something in business that, in spite of us, secularizes our spirit more or less. Very little business was transacted in those annual gatherings, but for three or more days three and even four sessions would be held with two or three preachers preaching at each session, especially on Sunday. Those who attended the Gymanfa in Pottsville, Minersville, Beaver Meados, etc., in 1840, when scores were added to the Churches, never forgot it and often spoke of the glorious times they had. The Gymanfa held in Johnstown in 1859, gave birth to a great revival, as did many others.

We shall now go eastward to the city of Carbondale, at that time in the northeastern part of Luzerne County, where a few Welsh settled in 1831. Invariably, when some Welsh would gather in any place, the first thing that would suggest itself would be the starting of a Sunday School; and if there were enough professors of religion, they would also start a prayer meeting. Invariably, the Baptists, Calvinistic Methodists and Congregationalists would unite to hold these services. In every case, as a rule, the starting point would be the Sunday School; then would come the prayer meeting; and then the preaching. They would invite preachers to pay them visits or they would have one of their number server them. They would start the Sunday School in a house; and when that would prove too small, they would seek permission to hold services in the schoolhouse, and let it be said, to the honor of the School Directors of those days , that they seldom, if ever, withheld this permission, so that Congregationalism in Pennsylvania to-day is under great obligations to many School Boards.

But in Carbondale, the case was different. When the house became too small, they hired a room in town; and when this was crowded, they built a church, the Delaware & Hudson Coal Company selling them a desirable lot for one dollar. Two years after the church was built, the Baptists formed a Church of their own; and soon afterwards the Calvinistic Methodists left also. In 1833, the Independents, as the Welsh Congregationalists were then called, had Rev. Thomas Edwards help them form a Church. Rev. Mr. Edwards was then residing in New York State, having just left Neath, Glamorganshire, South Wales, but afterwards settled in Pittsburg.) Assisted by the Presbyterian minister, he at this time also ordained one of their number, Lewis Williams, as a minister and placed him in charge of the Church.

Mr. Williams was one of the most noble and genial men that ever lived and was shown the greatest respect by all who knew him. He possessed a powerful, yet musical voice; and I have been told that they easily could hear him preach three miles away. Under his ministry, the Church became one of the strongest in the State, having over two hundred members; and at one time had five local preachers, one of whom, Rev. Daniel Daniels, later rendered most efficient service at Dundaff. But industrial conditions and the unsettled condition of the country soon affected this Church so that fifteen years ago not a score of members remained. It was then made and English Church, with Rev. D. L. Davis pastor, and became so successful as to build a parsonage. But when he left, affairs took another turn and I am afraid that they are now beyond recovery.

The early part of the decade beginning with 1830 were favorable years for planting Congregational Churches in Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1832, a few Welsh people immigrated to Minersville, Schuylkill County and began to hold meetings in the carpenter shop of a man named McPherson. Very suggestive, indeed, was this; as the Master whom they worshiped also began His life in a carpenter’s shop. As usual, the Baptists, Calvinistic Methodists, and Independents were together. Soon after they commenced to hold meetings, they invited Rev. E. B. Evans of Pottsville, to take them in charge. Rev. Mr. Evans belonged to the cherub class of ministers: ardent, restless, fiery, enthusiastic, and with such go-ahead at a tremendous speed that he would often transport himself, as it were, and take hsi congregation on a flight until they would feel themselves drawing near to the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. In the vision of Ezekiel by the river Chebar, among the fou faces that he saw was one that "had a face of an eagle." Rev. Mr. Evans was of that class and used himself thoroughly in the cause of Christ.

As usual, the Calvinistic Methodists and Baptists withdrew as soon as they saw that they could form Churches of their own. But this Church prospered and soon astonished all by selecting a plot and erecting a building. Though it measured but twelve by fourteen feet (imagine Rev. Mr. Williams, of Carbondale, speaking in it with all the force he could command) some of the greatest Welsh preachers of that time preached in it with great effect. Rev. R. R. Williams ministered there for eighteen years with great success, but since then it has had many ups and downs. However, it is again flourishing under the practical and efficient ministry of Rev. W. C. Davis.

Let us go next to a farming settlement. In 1833, seven or eight families settled in that portion of Covington Township that is now Spring Brook, Lackawanna County. It is, on a bee line, about ten miles east of Scranton, and was six miles from Daleville, then the nearest settled village. One American had preceded them into that vast forest; but when could any one ever get ahead of the Yankee? Morgan Daniels, the father of Rev. Daniel Daniels, of Dundaff, felled the first tree, but only because he arose a little before the others.

As soon as they had provided shelter for themselves, like Abraham of old, they built an alter to their God; and it was just as rustic, rough, and unartistic as any that was built in Canaan, but with the difference that this was made of unhewn logs and not stone. The floor was the earth; the seats and walls of logs. But it was like the houses in which they lived. These had one room, one door, and one window; but the crevices between the logs afforded ample ventilation. They were not cultured, but each had received a little education and was familiar with the Bible and well versed in the old, old story. All professed religion and took an active part in the public services’ but not one of them was an expert singer. They knew parts of old hymns, the rest they would improvise. The parts they knew, they would sing with all the force they could command. Placing a foot on the log they used as a seat (and what a foot it was!) and putting one hand over an ear ( for undoubtedly the ear needed protection), they would shut their eyes and sing with all their might. When they got the hwyl, they would repeat the song over and over. It was a true specimen of what, in Wales, was known as the cann siglo.

If there was not much art there, the spirit was there true and simple. In the course of a few years, a singer of some note became their school-teacher and was appointed a leader of the Church singing. On his first Sunday, he started a familiar hymn. As each farmer recognized the tune, up went his foot, his ear was covered, and his eyes closed, as if by magic, and each sang as loud as he could. The leader stopped and tried to stop them also. He motioned, stamped the dirt floor, shouted, but to no avail; when each finished his song, he stopped. He then told them that was not singing and later succeeded in improving the older ones while the children became good singers.

We speak of the roughness, uncouthness, etc., of these settlers; but it was largely due to necessity. They depended solely on their energy and adaptation of plans and schemes, and had to economize to the extreme. On Sunday, they would make a bee line through the woods to the church, frequently carrying their shoes and stockings under their arms until they were in sight of their tabernacle, when they would put them on, in order to appear in the house of God clad in their best. They had no conveyance but the lumber wagons drawn by oxen; and the cattle needed the day of rest. The men carried guns for protection from wild cats, bears, and panthers; yet nothing could prevent their attending their place of worship. Other settlements may have prospered more in other matters; but this one has been blessed with real, good, solid people--men and women.

The worst religious feature of this settlement was its intense denominational spirit. The Calvinistic Methodists and the Congregationalists have each a building of their own. The Baptists also have a Church, but the one member meets with the Congregationalists. Some years ago, a Baptist minister would occasionally visit the place and administer communion to those of his denomination. The members of the other Churches would attend the service and completely fill the Congregational Church; yet when the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was being celebrated, but four, including the minister could partake though from sixty to seventy other Church members would be present. This is the ridiculousness of denominationalism.

The settlements at Neath, Bradford County, Clifford, near Dundaff, Susquehanna County, and others, commenced about the same time; their history is like that of Spring Brook.

Lackawanna Valley was first settled in 1769, but for sixty-five years not one church appeared in it. In 1837, one was raised, shingled and partly enclosed in the Second Ward of Scranton, but it was blown down by the great gale of that year. On seeing it, Ferdinand von Storch, the owner of the land, said: "If God Almighty is of a mind to blow down His church, let it lie." It did like and the fallen timbers were used in the erection of a barn nearby.

I do not know to what denomination it belonged, if it belonged to any; but the religious standard of Lackawanna County at that time was not high, else the people would never have allowed so long to elapse before attempting to erect a church. At funerals, which were rare, the people gathered in schoolhouses, in barns, or as Abraham of old, under the friendly shade of trees. Evidently the Valley was not peopled by and of the Welsh nation, nor by the Puritan element of the New England States.

Considering the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys as one, it is the center of Congregationalism in the State; and I should like to have you see a few of the large congregations that gather in some of those churches. I can assure you that having to preach to them is an inspiration; but time will not permit. Rather, let us take a glance at the beginning of the English Congregational Churches in that region. The first English Church was at Lansford, Carbon County; but for years it was neither dead nor alive. It was a good specimen of a bruised reed and smoking flax. The Mother Church tried her very best to keep life in it, but it would not live; and yet how hardsoever it was to keep life in it, it was still harder for it to die. But at last it actually died. Like the young man of Nain, it was, as if it were with them being carried away to be buried, when to their great surprise, it revived before it reached the grave and now, not only lives somehow, but it lives successfully.

The first Church organized in our Valley was the Plymouth Congregational Church, of Scranton. It came from the old Welsh Church, of Hyde Park. On the whole, it has succeeded well since its commencement.

After this, a strong feeling and great commotion seized most of the Welsh Churches throughout the Valley. To use the metaphor of our Lord Jesus--and I am sure we are justified in using it--"It came upon them like the sorrow of a woman in travail." Some, possibly, might mention the names of those connected with the movement; and probably to some it appeared as if certain persons were brought there by special order of Providence to carry on the fight, and who, since the fight is over, have taken their flight. But explain it as we may, it was only an instance of the tragic method of bringing a good thing into being. It was of the same element as the tragedy of the Cross, and is the condition of things since God said to Eve: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow, though shalt bring forth children." Some of you may look on this Book as a myth, but there is no book more true to nature. It is the book of the beginning of all things; and the beginning of everything in every age and generation is the same. This is the special condition of bringing into existence any movement that is for the benefit of humanity. Christ understood it and knew well that a movement for the salvation of men could not be brought about without it. There must be pangs, agony, and grief, great strife, revolutions, and fierce battles in order to bring any new movement into existence. This is the reason for the fierce fightings in our Valley some years ago and those fine English Churches are the results.

By all accounts, the eighteenth century commenced with many Congregational Churches in Pennsylvania. Probably there were more Congregational Churches in this State that we have seen since; but that century closed without one in the entire State, except this one at Ebensburg, which was then but three years old. According to the Congregational year Book of this year (1897) in this State there are 110 Churches (more than one Church for each year in the century) with a total membership of 11,877. The Sunday Schools have 14,878 members; and the 65 Christian Endeavor Societies, 3353. Surely, we have done good work this century. But others have labored and we have entered into their labor. We expect that they who have labored have received their wages and gather fruit unto life eternal, that both they that sow and they that reap may rejoice together. If others have planted and we have watered, it is God that hath given increase.

The Providence Welsh Congregational Church

ED.--A Church is dependent on its sister Churches for its true success as well as on the Holy Spirit. Therefore the history of the Providence Welsh Congregational Church must begin before the settlement of Providence and must include the history of some who were active in its work. But to name all who have influenced its life or the many deeds it has done--its successes and its failures--would require a book so large as to be unwieldy. We have combined its history with that of its pastors because these histories to a great extent are but one.

Congregationalism in Scranton

Though the early settlers of Lackawanna Valley permitted sixty-five years to pass before they attempted to erect a house for God, the Welsh , who, in 1851 and 1852 found employment at the iron mines four miles east of Scranton were scarcely settled before they organized a Church. Like the Church at Antioch, it was formed without the help of a minister, but it flourished from the start. Rev. Lewis Williams, of Carbondale, administered to it the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper once each month; and in the interim Henry Christmas, one of their number, often preached. Like many other Welsh Churches of that day, this Church was interdenominational. The Congregationalists chose for their deacon, Evan Williams; and the Calvinistic Methodists, Evan Richards. The abandonment of the iron mines, though, caused the dispersal of the members, prominent among whom were John Edwards, William Davis, Thomas Thomas, William Brooks, Thomas Brooks, George Brooks, Evan Richards, and Evan Williams. These afterwards joined the Churches at Scranton, Providence, and Hyde Park and took a most active part in the religious growth of the city.

The First Congregational Church of Scranton was formed in 1853, when some of that denomination gathered in a small schoolhouse near the old blast furnace. Rev. David W. Jones of Palmyra, Ohio, was secured as pastor, and the Church grew rapidly. Desirous of owning their home, they purchased a lot on Mifflin Avenue and erected a commodious brick building. Such was the enthusiasm that the building committee (which consisted of Thomas Phillips, father of George W. Phillips, the present superintendent of the Scranton Public Schools; Thomas Eynon and William Eynon, with the treasurer, Samuel Sherwood) was able to complete the building with but a debt of $400; and this was soon paid. The church was dedicated in the Spring of 1855, the following ministers taking part in the services: Rev. David Williams, of Neath; Rev. Lewis Williams, of Carbondale; Rev. E. B. Evans , of Pittston; Rev. R. R. Williams of Minersville; and Rev. Evan Griffiths, of New York. As his wife died soon after this, Rev. Mr. Jones decided to go to Australia. His children were accordingly placed in the care of relatives in Palmyra, Ohio, except the baby, who was cared for by Henry Williams and wife until her marriage; she still resides in this city. His departure marked the zenith of this Church. In 1858, a call was given to Rev. Charles W. Edwards, of Pottsville, who accepted but remained only a little while. In the interim, Rev. Lewis Williams gave to them the sacrament of the Lords Supper once each month and tried to keep them intact. Bickerings and jealousies, however, caused the abandonment of this Church and the dispersal of its members.

In 1853, a number of Welsh moved to Providence to work in the coal mines then being opened in the Notch. They immediately began to hold prayer services in their homes and frequently listened to sermons by Henry Christmas. In 1855, they formally organized the Providence Welsh Congregational Church.

In the Spring of 1857, those members of the Scranton and Providence Churches (numbering thirty-nine) who dwelt in Hyde Park, formed a Church of their own. Rev. E. B. Evans of Pittston, Rev. Lewis Williams, of Carbondale, and Rev. Daniel Daniels, of Dundaff, aided so efficiently in this organization that when the services were ended the membership had increased to fifty. The old Universalist church, in which the services were held, was purchased in October, and was dedicated in March, 1858. In September, 1857, Rev. E. B. Evans took charge and rapidly developed it into the strong factor it soon became in that section. A Welsh and an English branch have sprung from it.

Henry Christmas

The first Welsh sermon in the Providence section was preached in his own home by Henry Christmas, who was born April 1, 1809. Leaving his home in Bryn Mawr, South Wales, in 1848, he settled in Pottsville, but soon removed to Scranton and started a shoemaking establishment near the ore mine. Ten men found steady employment with him there. Soon afterwards, he moved to "Shanty Hill" ( now known as the South Side), where he erected a home on the site now occupied by No. 2 Schoolhouse. The ore mines being abandoned soon afterwards, he sought a more profitable field, and in 1855 moved to Providence, where he had charge of the machinery in Clark’s breaker until 1862, when he once more took up his trade, at which he remained until his health forbade. He died in 1890. As a lay preacher he did much to advance the cause of Congregationalism throughout this region.

Rev. E. B. Evans

Frequent mention has been made of Rev. E. B. Evans, who may be called the "Father of Congregationalism" in this region, for he freely helped all Churches within many miles of him and assisted in the organization of many. Born in Wales, December 14, 1810, he came to Pennsylvania, via Quebec, in 1832. He had charge of the Pottsville Church until 1850, when he removed to Pittston. But he took as his parish all the region within a radius of many miles. In 1857, he moved to Hyde Park and had charge of the Hyde Park and Providence Churches for eight years, when he relinquished control of Providence and devoted the next fourteen years entirely to the one field. During the last decade of his life he had no one charge, but assisted several Churches that were without pastors. His nature and ambition can well be seen by a study of the following sermon:

TEXT--"The Lord grant that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." 2 Tim. I.18.

How often this devout wish is expressed:

1. By the parent over an erring child. The father has toiled to bring him to God, but notwithstanding the early teaching, the earnest prayer, the family alter, the good example, he displeases God and the father sees that there is before him the perilous path of life, the terrible hour of death, the solemn scenes of the judgment, and a vast, endless eternity, and says, "The Lord grant that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day."

2. Of the husband over the unbelieving wife, and the wife over the unbelieving husband. How close are these ties! So when there is evidence given on either side of enmity to God, and consequently danger of an eternal separation from each other and from God, there comes the wish, "The Lord grant," etc.

3. Of the teacher over the wayward child. After years of earnest effort, when no fruits appear, he says, "The Lord grant," etc.

4. Of the minister over his hearers and kind friends. There are so many dangers in life’s path, so many potent enemies; and we have hearts so treacherous and are so liable to make shipwreck of faith, that the minister has often to exclaim, "The Lord grant," etc. Onesiphorus had shown great kindness to Paul, and when Paul recounted those acts of kindness he exclaimed: "The Lord grant that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day."

These words shadow forth to us some momentous truths: (1) Before us, there is a momentous day. (2) On that day, we shall need mercy. (3) In order to possess mercy on that day, we must seek it now. (4) Mercy on that day will be counted a priceless boon. (5) In view of the Judgment, we should use every effort to induce others to secure the blessing of mercy.

1. Before us there is a momentous day.--The period is yet future and is distinguished from all other days--every other period of time--by being called "that day," "the day of God," "the day of the Lord," "the last day," "the day of judgment," "the great day of His wrath," etc. It is a day of unparalleled grandeur, a day connected with mighty changes and momentous consequences. The promises and prophecies will be accomplished. Time, with all its concerns, will stop. The heavens will pass away; the Judge descend; the dead rise; the great white throne unfold itself; and the books, those mighty records of human transactions, be opened. And the light which revelation flings over the dim fathomless futurity enables us to say that the entire race will then meet without one exception (indeed if one were wanting, the Judgment would stop until that one arrived), that a great separation will then take place, followed by retribution and rewards. But what I want to impress on you is, that life will then undergo a thorough revision, a searching investigation; That man will be revealed to himself and to the universe. This will be the business of that great day, and it will be on the disclosures then made that the tremendous results will follow. "Come, ye blessed, or depart, ye cursed" What words are these/ One class will rise and enter a scene of endless felicity, and the other will sink to abodes of despair, where unknown horrors will reign without intermission and without end. Here is the grand design, the grand result of that day; it is to assemble, it is to separate, it is to scrutinize, it is to decide, it is to impart the happiness of heaven, it is to inflict the woes of hell.

But let me ask you three questions: (1) Can you refuse to attend? (2) Can you conceal your history? (3) Can you reverse the decision of the Judge and appeal from his decision? "The Lord grant that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day."

2. On that day , we shall need mercy.--Mercy has relation to misery, and misery to sin. Angels do not need mercy because they have never offended. Man needs mercy:

a. Because he is a sinner. God has claims and we have not recognized them; He has given laws and we have not obeyed. We have forgotten the fountain of living waters and have hewn out cisterns that cannot hold water. And from every creature on earth the cry must ascend to God, "Unclean! unclean!" Universal experience has confirmed the truth of the Bible that all the world has become guilty before God.

b. Because sin has exposed us to punishment. It is one of the unalterable and primeval laws of the universe that rebellion against right authority deserves to be punished; and God, as the governor of the universe, is pledged to visit the guilty with punishment according to their merit, hence the statement of the Scriptures. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."

But that you need mercy will be evident if we appeal to three witnesses:

a. To your reason.--You admit that you are a sinner, that for your sins you cannot atone, that in your present guilty condition you could not be admitted into a holy heaven. Then nothing can be clearer than that, in order to pass the ordeal of the Judgment and be admitted into the kingdom of God, you must obtain mercy. There must be mercy to remove the guilt; there must be mercy to blot sin out of the book of divine remembrance; there must be mercy to quench the fire of justice and to hush into silence the threatening voice of an insulted God. There must be mercy, free, boundless and sovereign, or on the great day of wrath you will not be able to stand.

b. I appeal to your conscience.--You have sat in pensive thought and indulged in a reverie. You have said, I am a sinner, and death will come and I am unprepared. Though I shall start back from that dread unknown world, and after a long, long dreamless slumber in the grave, I shall hear the startling Judgment trumpet with feelings of unutterable woe. I shall stand in trembling silence on the left hand of the Judge. I am slowly, surely, but steadily, moving on to the retribution of hell, and all the sanctions of the law, all the arrangements of the Gospel show me that I need mercy. "God be merciful to me a sinner." I need it.

c. I appeal to the Scriptures.--The law, the Gospel, the threatenings, the invitations, the promises, the parables, and the prayers show that we need mercy.

3. In order to possess mercy on that day, we must seek it now.--When the Judge shall sit on that awful throne, no covenant rainbow will encircle it; no penitent will successfully sue for mercy; no pardon will be issued from it. It is clear, if we are to obtain mercy on that day, we must seek it in this world--seek it now!

a. Arrangements are made in connection with the economy of redemption to show mercy to the guilty. Christ has died in the stead of sinners; or as the Scriptures express it, "He who knew no sin was made sin for us." And now God, as the great governor of the universe, can show mercy. Hear the great proclamation: "The Lord! The Lord God! merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy." Again: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him." And everyone that receives Christ enjoys absolute, full, and free pardon for past sins--is justified before God. In that day, that great day, the terrible, mercy will dawn on him in all its glorious splendor.

The development of redemption, the death of Christ, the promises of God, the history of the past, and the experience of the present are pledges that mercy may be obtained.

b. That in order to obtain mercy on that day, it must be sought, and sought now. In the future allotment of eternity either heaven or hell remains your portion, and what can save you from the deep envenomed curse of perdition? Can wealth, or talent, or eloquence, or genius, or fame, or honor, or power, or royalty? No; nothing but mercy obtained here. I appeal to you and ask is there not a world to come, and is it not important above all things that you should not stand amidst the realities of eternity unprepared? that your spirit should not go down to the place of torment?

O, it surely is important that you should participate in the pure enjoyment of the beatific vision. I ask again, dare you put time in comparison with eternity; earth in comparison with heaven; the trifles of an hour with the immortal worth of God? Dare you trifle with the impending ruin of your spirit? O, believe it, that to be sheltered under the mercy of God must be considered the first blessing to be desired.

Desire it now! Seek it now!! Pray for it now, without delay of another moment, lest death should place you in a world where mercy is unknown forever. Oh, I would to God that at this very moment from the whole of this congregation there might arise the cry for mercy. Have mercy upon us, O God, have mercy upon us; and for Thy name’s sake blot out our iniquities. God be merciful to us sinners.

4. On that day , mercy will be valued as an inestimable boon.--The value of mercy will appear from the following considerations. If on that day you have obtained mercy:

a. You will have the Judge your friend.
b. You will have a part in the first resurrection.
c. You will obtain a body radiant with beauty, mighty in power, and like the glorious body of the Son of God.
d. You will be publicly acquitted, recognized, and honored by God.
e. You will be admitted into heaven and crowned with everlasting life.

5. In view of the Judgment, we should use every means and exert every effort to induce others to secure the blessing of mercy.--"The Lord give unto the house of Onesiphorus;" "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy in that day." Here is the beautiful spirit that we as possessors and heirs of mercy should cultivate toward others.

a. Your family has a special claim on you. Your children need educating for Heaven as well as for time. Suppose that your can bestow on them wealth, learning, honors: what are all these compared with meetness for heaven? Think of the immortal germs within them and remember that these undying spirits must be beautified in heaven or distorted by the agonies of hell. And as you gaze on them say, "The Lord grant that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day."

I will suppose that you will go on to neglect the salvation of your relatives--the husband, the wife; the wife, the husband; the parent, the child, etc. At length you will stand by their dying beds; you mark their despair; you hear those startling groans arising from the beginning of the horrors of hell; you see the distorted body quivering into the stillness of death, and what are your feelings? A world, worlds, you would give if you could recall them and have another opportunity to point them to Christ; but you carry about with you the burning, agonizing, maddening thought, I have a husband in hell; I have a wife in hell; I have a child in hell. How will you meet them? How will you face them at the bar of God?

b. The community around you and the world of which you are an inhabitant have claims upon you. Have you ever examined the state of the men around you: their habits, their God-dishonoring conduct, their dangers, their immortality, the frailty of life, the shortness of time, the power of evil in and around them, the efforts of devils to damn them? Do you not see him on hell’s angry edge, and will you do nothing to pull them back? Will you not speak to them, will you not cry to God for them and say, "The Lord grant they may find mercy of the Lord on that day?"

In closing, I will make another effort to arouse you who have not received Christ. Unconverted sinners, can you be calm? Can you be still? If every unconverted sinner at this moment were to start from this place and burst into one wild cry of agony and terror in prospect of what is set before them, it would be but a faint symbol of anything like our adequate emotions demand from unsaved men with the Judgment Day before them. You have no mercy, sinner, if you forget the whole of the statements made tonight; remember that it describes your character. Go home in the solitude of your heart and remember that it is written upon your brow, it is written in your footsteps, it is written in your dwelling, it is written in your town, it is written in the engagements of your business, it is written upon the tablets of your heart, "I have not mercy!" Yet you are calm, you can reason, can think of that day while you are in the hands of the destroyer. You can think of standing on the left hand of the tribunal. You can think of the burning fire, of the striking of the thunderbolt, of the gnawing worm, of the smoke of torment that ascends forever and ever. You can think of it all and not a sound be heard from your lips and not an emotion stirred within your breast. Away, then, from the sanctuary of God, where you have heard of mercy, and slumber, if you will, and never awake until the voice sounds, "Depart, depart into everlasting fire."

I close now with the words of a venerable preacher, "If you will perish, you shall not say that you had no minister who told you of it; that you had no light to warn you of it, but that you possess them both. If you will slumber, draw the curtain around yourself and think not to awaken until you stand at the bar of God." But before I close--here is mercy still--behold the dove coming from the ark of God and bearing the olive branch in its mouth! See the sign of the cross exhibited in the heavens, and behold the words imprinted there by Him who hung upon it. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."

EARLY HISTORY OF THE PROVIDENCE CHURCH

About the beginning of 1855 Judson Clarke, Esq. of Carbondale, began to open coal mines in the Notch, and sent for Mr. Rhys Price, of Beaver Meadows, to take charge of the work. Among the families whom Mr. Price soon gathered around him was that of Henry Christmas, who lived near the iron mines in the valley in which Lake Scranton now is.

Soon after their arrival, these people began to hold religious services in their homes, going from house to house. At these, Mr. Christmas frequently preached, and he enjoys the distinction of having preached, in his own home the first Welsh sermon preached in this vicinity.

As a result of these meetings, a Church of twenty members was soon formed, prominent among them being Rhys Price and Annie, his wife; Henry Christmas and Jane, his wife; John Daniels and Rebekah, his wife; John W. Morgan and Hannah, his wife; Thomas L. Davis and wife; William Hughes and Jane, his wife; Mrs. Anna Williams; Daniel L. Jones, father of D. D. Jones of the firm of D. D. Jones & Son, undertakers; and Watkin Powell and his brother, J. Howell Powell, of Dunmore.

The organization was effected August 19, 1855, in the Presbyterian church, at the corner of Church Avenue and Oak Street. Rev. E. B. Evans, of Pittston, officiated. Thomas L. Davis was elected deacon: Rhys Price, secretary: and William Hughes, leader of the singing. At first, they worshiped in the Presbyterian church, holding their services Sunday afternoon and evening; but about eight months later, they secured permission to gather in the Notch schoolhouse, where they worshiped for about five years. The School Board, however, was not always willing, so that sometimes the doors were locked when the people arrived. At other times, the people living near by stoned them and tried to break up the meetings with acts of rowdyism.

In 1859, they bought a lot two hundred feet by sixty feet on Market Street, just above the corner of Brick Avenue, for $200, the deed being made out by Thomas Williams, and Anne, his wife, to Thomas Hopkins, Thomas L. Davis, John L. Rees, Joshua D. Evans, Thomas Lloyd, Morgan Powell, and David Nicholas. On account of some difficulty, however, this lot was sold by the sheriff of Luzerne County, and again purchased, June 12, 1860, by these persons in trust for the Welsh Congregational Church. Soon afterwards, a contract was made with David James, of Danville, Pennsylvania, to erect a building thirty-two by fort-eight feet, which was dedicated on Christmas of that year. Rev. E. B. Evans, who had moved to Hyde Park, Rev. J. B. Cook, of Danville, and Rev. Lewis Williams, of Carbondale, took part in the services.

Rev. E. B. Evans then took charge of the Church and remained its pastor until 1866, when he resigned, so as to confine his labors entirely to Hyde Park. In 1867, a call was extended to Rev. David Parry, who had recently reached this country from Adulam Tredegar, South Wales. He served them faithfully, as minister until his death, September 8, 1870. Early in the spring of 1872 a call was extended to Rev. R. S. Jones, of Treos, Glamorganshire, South Wales, who, too, had but recently arrived in this country, to become their pastor.

Rev. David Parry

Rev. David Parry (Dewi Moelwyn), born in Festiniog, North Wales, in 1835, attended the common schools until he was fourteen years of age, when he took up farming. Being seized with rheumatic fever, from which he got asthma, he studied cabinetmaking. But he was a born poet, making his first appearance in 1852, in the eisteddfod at Port Madog, where he came out third best; but two years later he won two prizes at Festiniog. Though he joined the Church first at Festiniog, he began to preach at Carnarvon in the Church of which Rev. D. Roberts was pastor. Entering Bala College in 1861, three years later he was asked to become the pastor of the Congregational Church at Tredegar, of which he was ordained pastor on Christmas of 1863. Being in poor health, he decided to go to America, where he arrived March 11, 1867. After a short stay in New York, he accepted the call of the Providence Welsh Congregational Church, of which he remained pastor until his death, September 8, 1870. On September 15, 1868, he married Miss Kate Williams, of Bradford; so at his death he was buried in Neath, Bradford County

Patorate of Rev. R. S. Jones, D. D.

Born near Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, Rees Saron Jones graduated from Brecon Memorial College in 1868, and soon afterwards become pastor of the Congregational Church at Treos, South Wales. During this period, he married Miss Elvira Jenkins, a member of this Church. Emigrating to America in 1871, the history of his life and that of the Providence Welsh Congregational Church became one. Becoming the pastor of this Church April 1, 1872, he remained in charge of it until his death, August 22, 1904.

In 1873, a contract was made with Aaron Williams, of Plymouth, to make the building nearly twice its length, at a cost of $4,450; this gave it a seating capacity of 450. This building was dedicated February 15, 1874. Ten years later, it was again necessary to enlarge the building, so a lecture room, twenty-six by forty feet was built in the rear by John Nelson, of Scranton, at a cost of $1440. This room was dedicated February 10, 1884.

On January 31, 1889, an English branch, known as the Puritan Congregational Church, was organized in Rockwell’s hall, with thirty-six members, most of whom took their letters from the mother Church, while all belonged to its Sunday School and congregation. The parent Church furnished all the necessary equipment and placed it in better circumstances than any Church that had been founded by and Welsh Church in America. It soon erected a home of its own and in 1904 placed a lecture room in the rear.

On October 22, 1893, a Sunday School was organized in Alexander’s hall, Dutch Gap, with fifty-two members. This School is still doing effectual work in that place.

August 1, 1898, the house and lot of Alexander Simpson, on the corner of Wayne Avenue and William Street, and the adjacent lot on Wayne Avenue, belonging to David Christmas, were purchased, the former for $3,750 and the latter for $1,000. From these a lot thirty by one hundred feet, facing William Street was sold to W. W. Williams for $900 cash, making the cost of the new site $3,850, the payment of which was completed in 1903. The house on the corner was moved to the other side of the lot on Wayne Avenue, and at a cost of $900 has been made to accommodate two families, making the entire sum spent on the lot nearly $5,000.

Early in 1904, the board of trustees was reorganized with Thomas J. Evans, president; Esau Price, vice-president; Davy Edgar Jones, secretary; and Henry Hitchings, treasurer; the other members were Thomas R. Williams, Daniel Price, Thomas Thomas, Robert R. Williams, David J. Williams, Luther Edwards, and John Hobbs. In September, William Bevan was added to the board. The plans and specifications drawn by John H. Davey were accepted and the contract for the new church was given to Thomas I Wheeler on June 1. These plans called for a frame structure seating six hundred people. The main auditorium contains, opposite the rostrum, a gallery, beneath which are the entrance and a committee room; this room is formed by the means of flexifold doors. Above the gallery is another small committee room. This floor is finished in chestnut and furnished with oak. It has leaded windows, one of which is in the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Christmas, one in memory of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Williams, and one by the Ladies’ Aid and one by the Church and Mission Sunday Schools. An extra large window (which is one of the architectural features of the building) was placed in memory of Rev. R. S. Jones, D. D., by the members of the congregation. At one side of the rostrum is pplace for a pipe organ; by it is a stairway to the basement. This stairway enters the primary room, which is shute off from the main Sunday School room by flexifold doors. The main room has 250 folding chairs, but can seat many more. By the primary room (but entirely shut off from it) is the coal room; then come to the boiler room, kitchen, and ladies’ parlor, the last being beneath the committee room. On the opposite side of the entrance is a book closet; two lavatories, also, are on this floor. Above the door tothe ladies parlor is a colored window that was in the old church on Market Street. This building and its furnishings, but exclusive of the land, had cost over $16,000. [Transcriber's note: What cost $16000 in 1904 would cost $295691.91 in 2000. Source is The Inflation Calculator http://www.westegg.com/inflation/]

When the contract was let, it was understood that wok would begin immediately and that the entire building would be completed November 1. But subcontractors caused delays that made it impossible to lay the cornerstone until August 17. This day marked an epoch in the lives of the members. The old building had just been sold to Mrs. Thomas Regan for $2,300, with permission for the Church to worship therein until January 1. So on this evening, a great throng assembled at the corner of Wayne Avenue and William Street, where the services were conducted by the pastor. Rev. Henry R. Hughes, of Plymouth, opened them by reading from a Welsh Bible, which was then placed in the cornerstone. Rev. David Jones, of Hyde Park, followed with a fervent prayer in the Welsh language; addresses were then given by Rev. Dr. Jones, Rev. Theophilus Davis of Miner’s Mills, and Rev. R. J. Reese. Thomas R. Williams, who for more than three decades has been an officer of the Church, then presented a silver trowel to Miss Elizabeth Ogwen Jones, daughter of the pastor, who laid the cornerstone saying, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

This stone, which weighs over fourteen hundred pounds, bears the inscription, on the William Street side, "Organized 1855," and on the Wayne Avenue side, "Erected 1904." It contains a Welsh Bible, 1903 Congregational year book, copy of the Congregationalist, Drych for that week, last Tyst received from Wales, Republican almanac, Scranton Tribune, Truth, Times Republican; papers containing the names of church members, pastor, deacons, trustees, deaconesses, Sunday School superintendent, officers of the Ladies’ Aid Society, Junior and Senior Christian Endeavor Societies, chorister and organist, some copper coins, contributed by J. U. Hopewell, a picture of old church and pastor, and a patchwork by Ladies’ Aid.

After the stone was laid, an address was given by Rev. A. L. Rowe, now of Nanticoke.

On Friday, August 19, the members of the Church were stunned by the news that their pastor was lying unconscious in the State Hospital. He had taken the copper box from the cornerstone and had left it with the tinsmith for sealing. Then he had gone tot he post office. While advising a stranger as to how to procure a money order, he was seized with stomach hemorrhages. The physicians summoned stopped them sufficiently to permit his removal to the hospital. The next day he was taken to his home on Edna Avenue. The following Sunday was but the second Sunday he had failed to fill some pulpit throughout his career as a minister. Monday noon, he died. All work on the new building was immediately stopped, and the corner stone and the old building on Market Street were draped in mourning. Wednesday evening, all the officers of the Church and of its various societies and all teachers in its Sunday Schools, gathered at a short time at his home and then went to the Church, where an impressive prayer service was held. The next morning, they again assembled at his home and accompanied the body to the church, where the funeral services were held in the afternoon. These were in charge of Rev. David Jones, of Hyde Park, and were addressed by Rev. Theophilus Davis, Miner’s Mills; Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D. , of Kingston; Rev. Teilo Evans, of Lansford; Rev. Henry R. Hughes of Plymouth; and Rev. D. M. George of Waterville, New York, a college mate of the deceased. The pallbearers were Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D., Rev. Theophilus Davis, Rev. Teilo Evans, Rev. David Jones, and Messrs. Henry Hitchings, Thomas J. Evans, Luther Edwards, and David Williams, deacons of the Church. The flower-bearers were Henry Jenkins, Daniel Price, Thomas R. Williams, John Grier, William Simms, Richard Jones, Mrs. William J. Davis, and Misses Florence Jones, Margaret Lewis, and Elizabeth J. Williams. Interment was made at Forest Hill Cemetery.

The cornerstone was then unsealed and a biography of Rev. Dr. Jones, together with papers containing an account of his death and burial, were place therein. The Church then went into mourning for thirty days. During that time, no one entered the pulpit, which was enclosed with ribbon. On September 25, memorial services were held. Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D., preached in the morning, giving the communion to the people. In the evening, Rev. David Jones preached in English. The members remained in this building until January 1, though during November and December, it was with discomfort, for the furnace had been taken out when the alterations were begun by the new owner. Until March 1, they were given free supplies by the various ministers (the Churches consenting), and the money usually paid the pastor was given to his family.

But during this time, all were eager to finish the new church. Work went on steadily. Services were held in the basement until June 9, when the building wasformally opened with the following program:

At 7 o’clock in Basement of the Church

Singing--No. 494, "Yn Dy waith y mae fy mywyd."
Scripture Reading, Rev. William E. Davis
Prayer, Rev. Thomas R. Watkins
Singing--No. 561, "O Frynian Caersalem ceir gweled."
Presentation of Keys Daniel Price for Thomas I. Wheeler, Contractor
Receiving of Keys Thomas J. Evans, President of the Trustees
Singing--"Onward, Christian Soldiers."

[While singing , the congregation, led by the trustees, deacons and supervisors of the Church and the ministers present, forming a procession, marched to the front of the church, and then, after the doors had been opened by Mr. Thomas J. Evans, marched into the main auditorium.]

In the Main Auditorium

Invocation, Rev. David Jones
Singing--"The Doxology"
Scripture Reading Rev. Theophilus Davis, Miner’s Mills
Dedicatory Prayer Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D., Kingston
Short Season of Prayer
Address W. A. Duncan, Ph.D., Boston
Singing--
Short Addresses by Various Ministers.
On Saturday evening, Rev. George E. Guild, D. D., and Rev. J. Vincent Stevens, of Pittston, preached. On Sunday, the following order of services prevailed:
9:30 O'clock--Short Prayer Service

10:30 O'clock

Singing--
Devotional Service Rev. J. Vaughn Davies
Solo, Mrs. Arthur Hobbs
Welsh Sermon Rev. David Jones
English Sermon Rev. C. C. Creegan, D. D., New York
Singing--

Sunday Afternoon, 2 O'clock

Singing--
Devotional Service Rev. W. F. Davies
Singing
Report of Trustees D. Edgar Jones, Secretary
Rev. Charles A. Jones, Philadelphia
Short Addresses { Rev. Charles H. Richards, D. D., New York
                           {Rev. C. C. Creegan, D. D., New York
Solo Mrs. David D. Lewis
Soliciting of Pledges Rev. David Jones
Singing--

Sunday Evening, 6 O'clock

Singing--
Devotional Service, Rev. R. J. Reese
Cornet Duet Messrs. Robert Bauer and David U. Reese
Welsh Sermon, Rev. Henry Hughes, Plymouth
Anthem--"Fe welir Seion fel y wawr."
English Sermon, Rev. Charles H. Richards, D. D., New York

During the following week, the services were as follows:

Monday
June 12, 7:30 O’Clock

English Sermon Rev. R. W. Clymer
Welsh Sermon Rev. W. J. Richards, D. D., Wilkes Barre

Tuesday

English Sermon Rev. W. Ceredig Davis, Olyphant
Welsh Sermon Rev. W. F. Davies

Wednesday

Welsh Sermon Rev. Roderick Davis, Glen Lyon
English Sermon Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D., Kingston

Thursday

English Sermon Rev. R. J. Reese
Welsh Sermon Rev. Theophilus Davis, Miner’s Mills

Friday

English Sermon Rev. J. Vaughn Davies
Welsh Sermon Rev. A. L. Rowe, Nanticoke

Saturday

English Sermon Rev. C. H. Hayes, D. D.
Welsh Sermon Rev. D. Ffynab Davies, Taylor

These services were also commemorative of the fiftieth anniversary of the Church and were in charge of Rev. David Jones, of Hyde Park. Rev. Dr. Hayes was unable to preach because of illness.

In the secretary’s report, it was announced that the pulpit suite had been given to the Church by the Christian Endeavor Society; the Bibles, by the young men’s Bible class; a Welsh Bible, by Mrs. Thomas Meredith, of South Gibson; a bread plate, by the children of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Brundage, in memory of their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Hughes, in whose memory were also given the collection plates by Mr. and Mrs. George Powell; a table for the committee room, by Thomas J. Williams; and a quilt by "Granny" Davis ( a woman past fourscore, who, not a member of the Church, sewed the face and pinned to it a dollar with which to purchase the backing). Besides these, were the gifts of the windows already mentioned.

At this time the following officers were in charge of the affairs of the Church:

Deacons: Thomas R. Williams, Daniel Price, Henry Jenkins, Thomas J. Evans, John Lloyd, John Grier, Richard E. Jones, Luther Edwards, Henry Hitchings, David D. Williams.

Supervisors: Mrs. Evan Gabriel, Mrs. Thomas R. James, Mrs. R. S. Jones, Mrs. Catherine J. Jones, Mrs. Henry Harris, Mrs. Henry P. Williams, Mrs. Richard Thomas, Mrs. Daniel Price, Mrs. William Richards, Mrs. John E. Lewis.

In August, Richard E. Jones died after a week’s illness. On October 29, Davy Edgar Jones was chosen deacon in his place.

About the middle of October, a call was given to Rev. James Williams, of Slatington, to become its fourth pastor; he will begin his duties as such January 1, 1906.

During his life in Scranton, Rev. Dr. Jones was honored by the many Associations of the Congregational Churches of the State. In the summer of 1890, while visiting his parents and relatives in Wales, he was given the degree of doctor of divinity by Marietta College. He represented the State at the International Council held in Boston, in 1899; and was a delegate to the National Council held in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1904. He at various times held offices in the Association to which his Church most directly belonged, and at his death the following eulogy was given by Rev. T. C. Edwards, D. D., at the meeting of the Welsh Association of Congregational Churches of Eastern Pennsylvania, held in Plymouth, September 10, 1904.

Memorial of the Just

The Rev. R. S. Jones, D. D., pastor of the Providence Welsh Congregational Church, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was a just man, acceptable with the family of heaven and with the best of earth. For more than thirty-two years he and I were near neighbors, peaceable co laborers, and sincere friends. We were so close together for so long a time that it is difficult for me today to realize that we are not now in the same world.

It is very difficult for me to speak of him as one who has been here and has gone away from us forever. But we must acknowledge the fact. He died Monday morning, August 22, 1904, after three days only of illness, in the sixty-third year of his age. He was not permitted to tarry long in the valley of the shadow of death; he was allowed to cross over where the stream was narrow and not very deep. He left a vacancy in our religious association that is not easily filled, and were it not for our faith in our Omniscient and Merciful Guide we would despair of having any one to fill the place of our dear brother. To notice, briefly, some of his chief characteristics will be joy to his many old friends, and may be an inspiration to some of the younger ministers and Christian laymen.

I. He was a live man. There were three prominent features in his life which proved this; viz., his desire and effort for knowledge, his continual exertion and application to his life work; his growth in culture, honor, and experience.

1. During his student course at Brecon College, he was considered an honest scholar and a steady learner. Though not so quick as some, he was more thorough and sure than the majority. He continued his studies after his graduation and ordination to the ministry. During the first few years of his ministry, he made use of his classical studies, but ere long he inclined more toward philosophy and theology. He spent the last twenty-five years of his life in these studies with increasing interest from year to year. He delighted in reading miscellaneous literature. He was very fond of good poetry, especially on religious subjects, and he possessed a wide range of musical knowledge. But his chief delight was in the Law of the Lord. He felt at home in his Bible. To properly understand and interpret the Holy Scriptures was the desire and prayer of his soul. He was conversant with the various views of the different schools of expositors. He read the latest books of Biblical criticism; but he continued to be a firm believer in the old and reliable interpretation called "Orthodoxy."

2. In his practical work outside of his study, he proved himself to be a diligent and devoted man. He never failed to fill any promise he made to the Association, or to the Quarterly Meeting, or to the Minister’s monthly meeting, whatever sacrifice such labor would call for. He served on committees, he prepared papers, delivered addresses, and preached sermons, frequently on short notice. He would work in the rear as faithfully as in the front. He loved to work. We feel today that his place is empty in the ranks of the working force. He worked energetically until the very close of his busy life. Some of his friends tried to persuade him to avoid the labor and care and anxiety connected with the building of a new church and let the burden fall on younger shoulders; but "he being not weak in faith, he considered not his won body," which was past threescore years of age; but took courage as one seeing the Unseen and resolved to work while it was day. Ah! while in the midst of his busy toil his sun set.

3. The foregoing characteristics resulted in producing fruits that were seen by his nearest friends in his increased culture, his depth of experience, and an enlarged circle of respect. Doctor Jones was a fair example of the true Christian gentleman. He could be safely trusted anywhere as a representative of our nation and our religion, without a degree of anxiety. His calmness and self-possession, his unostentatious religiousness, and his general intelligence were assurance that he would neither say nor do what would cause his friends and admirers to blush. And he seemed to be growing in these excellencies from year to year. It was also easy to observe that his personal experience was deepening in spirituality. Those who hear him in his pulpit ministry could see this to a certain degree, but to his intimate friends was chiefly given the pleasure of feeling the strength and warmth of his holy experience.

As the apple on the tree gradually growing in ripeness, until suddenly it drops from the limb, so did we behold our beloved brother becoming more heavenly in his already sweet disposition; growing more and more like Jesus, until suddenly let go his hold on the material, and "he was not, for God took him."

The natural result of such a life as this was to win the respect of all persons. The world, outside the Church, will readily concede the worthiness of a holy and useful Christian life. The respect of Doctor Jones widened coextensively with the circle of his acquaintance. The unanimous judgment of our Association is that he should be ranked among the most honorable of our honored list. In all these various phases, he was a really live man.

II. The second express characteristic of his life related to him as a gospel minister. It may be properly said of him, not only that he was a minister, but that a minister was he. For the ministry was he prepared by his collegiate education and by the grace of heaven. Making himself a fit minister of the New Testament was his chief aim throughout his whole life. He bought books, read them carefully, counseled with other ministers, and studied continually how to perfect himself as a minister. He had his own opinions regarding the office of the gospel ministry, and the proper station of the minister; and he was faithful to his convictions on these matters. Perhaps the Providence Church may not again find a man of exactly the same opinions as Doctor Jones, and they will need much love and patience so as to move on in harmony and prosperity. May they find the grace to help in time of need that they may rightly honor the sacred memory of him who served them so faithfully for a full generation.

His ministry was noted for its purity of doctrine in the pulpit, a fatherly care in pastoral work, and a clean and proper walk in his daily life. No one could reasonably expect more than this in a minister. He delighted much in the doctrines of the Gospel, he found pleasure and profit in the history of he Old Testament , and he felt a burning zeal for the honor and integrity of the pulpit. He was in love with his pulpit. He loved to preach. He believed in preaching. He eagerly desired to be a real preacher of the Word.

In connection with his preaching, he had a great care for the spiritual interests of all his congregation. He believed in the pastorate. He practiced a careful oversight of the flock of the King. He was desirous of making himself everything to everybody that he may in some wise keep some. He had the tact to handle the "one-horned sheep" as well as to enjoy the society and cooperation of the meek and lowly. He found frequent opportunities to prove his patience, and to exhibit his wisdom in the office of a shepherd, and always ended "properly and in order." He had a deep affection for his Church, sincere love for the officers, constant anxiety for the salvation of his hearers, and an intense desire for the conversion of the children. He took Paul’s words to the Corinthians as his motto: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."

The crown of his life was the purity of his living among his people. If a preacher spoke with the tongue of men and angels and if he gave his body to be burned, and if he fed the poor and healed the sick; but having no clear record of a good moral daily life, his name will rot, and his memory will die, but the memory of the good shepherd will remain in honor, and increase in glory. Our brother gave himself entirely to Christ, and he gave a complete Christ to the world in his ministry. His life centered in his ministry, and his ministry centered in Christ. AS his sermons were expositions of Christ, so his life exemplified his preaching. His congregation may forget his sermons, but they can never forget the consistency of his daily religious life.

May he rest in peace, and may the mantle of his influence fall upon his successors to the glory of Him who took him to Himself.

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During the last year of his life, Rev. Dr. Jones was moderator of the State Association. On retiring from office at the sessions held in Pittsburg during May, 1904, he preached the following sermon. It well shows the trend of his though and character of his sermons. The subject is "The Man of God," and is based on the seventeenth verse of the third chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy:

Do we know such a person as "The man of God?" Could we recognize him if he were in our midst? Are we ourselves such persons? Among the many glorious things spoken in the Bible of a certain class of people, Peter says: "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession!" These are the men of God. If there is no dignity and honor and glory connected with these, I do not know where we can find these excellencies. If we are of this class why will we not realize this dignity above everything else that we can reach in this world?

This man of God is a perfect man. We find mention of him as a perfect man in several other places in the New Testament. Jesus Christ speaks of him in His Sermon on the Mount: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5.48; Matt.19.21; Heb. 6.1). The word "perfect" denotes those who have attained the full development of their innate powers; it is a state of maturity, in contrast to those who are still in their undeveloped state, such as publicans and heathens; or adults in contrast to children, or that of our heavenly Father in contrast to those who are evil as well as good.

This state of maturity is spoken of in our text. It is maturity in two respects: (1) Maturity in our inward growth and development according to God’s idea; (2) maturity in our outward actions toward others. It is a state of perfection in our inward and outward growth according tot he condition in which we live. It gives the idea of a complete life. These words, then, are synonymous. This man of God is one who has reached maturity, completeness, or perfection according to God’s idea of human development in this world. God has given him the Holy Scriptures in order that he may reach this perfection.

It does not mean a state of perfection from sin, although there is nothing unreasonable in the conception of reaching such a state in this world. There is no sin that it is absolutely necessary to commit. There is no duty that it is indispensably necessary for us to acquire the help of sin in order to accomplish. Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life in this world; and yet we do not find a single other person who has reached that state. The Pelagians, the old Socinians and Catholics, who hold in their creed the possibility of reaching such a sinless state in this world, have never confessed that they themselves individually have reached it. AS long as death is in this world, sin must be here. Paul says, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin" (Rom.8.10). However we may hold certain ideas concerning the original sin in our creed. Paul says, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," on account of sin. Sin is here with us, whether we acknowledge its presence or not, and as long as sin is here, imperfection must be here also. This does not mean that this man of God has reached a state of sinless perfection. It does mean that he has taken his stand on the side of God against sin, and he uses the Holy Scriptures to that very end.

The Inward Perfection--The characteristic of these inward virtues is that they are mostly passive; and these passive virtues are the hardest of all to develop. In the hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light," there is a strange line something to this effect: "O’er moor and fen o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone." To be led over moor and fen through the night is one of the hardest experiences of life. To bear evil and wrong, to forgive, to suffer no resentment under injury, to restrain envy, to bear defeat and losses and petty injuries: these are the hardest of all conquests to win. To be active in life is easy compared to these. Men are active without any though of religion. The inventor, discoverers, lawgivers, teachers, statesmen, warriors, have risked their lives willingly. They draw their strength from ambition, or from passion, or from the applause of the multitude. But these passive virtues derive no strength whatever from ambition, passion, or applause. Strength in these can be derived only from the inward consciousness of being good and of filial trust in God. And it is chiefly by this endurance of evil, the power of these passive virtues, that Christ as a Redeemer prevails against the sin of the human heart and subdues its enmity; and by the power of the passive virtues we can conquer the evil of our own heart. In this chapter Paul gives a very strong description of grievous times coming--times when apostasy reigns. These times always lead to suffering. Under such times, the passive virtues thrive, develop, and grow them. The sufferings of life are essentially necessary for the development of our passive virtues.

We are to be perfect, also, in our external conduct and actions. The question with us is, "How can we best meet the needs of our times?" We talk of our various business men as men who are up-to-date in their line of business? We talk, with reverence, of the different reformers of the ages, and pride ourselves on being the followers of John Calvin or John Wesley or Martin Luther or on holding up to the apostolic succession, etc. To be the true followers of any of these does not mean that we preach the same doctrine they preached, but that we understand our age as thoroughly as they understood theirs and met their demands in the fear of God, whatever their nature may be. Jesus Christ calls the Pharisees and the Sadducees of his time. "O ye hypocrites, " because they were more familiar with the signs of the weather than with the signs of the times. He cursed the fig tree on His way from Bethany to Jerusalem one morning because it did not meet the wants of the time. It is a terrible prospect to meet a disappointed Christ; but that curse will fall on us unless we meet aright the demands of the times in which we live.

We must take good care of the rising generation. They say that of all the discoveries of the last century, the greatest was the discovery of the boy. The discovery of the boy was one of the most noted discoveries of Jesus Christ. More than once we find Him finding the boy and placing him in the midst of His disciples and telling them: "Except ye be converted and become as little children, y shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18.3). From the time of Jesus Christ, the boy was lost until the commencement of last century, when he was found by a printer in Gloucester, England; and the establishment of the Sunday School was the result of it. About the middle of the century, a young man found him spending his leisure hours to no profit; and the organization of the Young Men’s Christian Association was the result. In the early part of the last quarter of the century, a minister in the New England States found him again; and the organization of the Christian Endeavor Society was the result. Are all the boys found by this time? In round numbers, sixteen million children, every day, attend the public schools of the United States and about two million more attend the private schools and colleges, making a total of eighteen million young people under tuition every day. Nearly twelve million, each Sunday, attend the Sunday Schools of all denominations in the United States; and of this number a great many are grown up. The Sunday School is not so confined to the young people as is the public school, so that we do not find twelve million young people there. There are six million, then, of whom there is no record as to how they spend their Sundays. Are not these six million young people worth our utmost attention? How many of these six million are within the confines of Pennsylvania? Who is to find these boys and girls unless it is the man of God? These six million make a strong appeal to the man of God wherever he may be found.

In the Outlook, a few months ago, I read an article describing one thing found in America that Europe knows nothing about. It is the college girl. The college girl is one of the things of which we are very proud. She is intelligent, smart, and well educated, and our government has considered her fully qualified to have almost the entire charge of the sixteen million who attend our public schools, and she does her work well in every sphere of her life. But there is one thing in connection with her that seems to me very ridiculous. With all her education, refinement, and excellency of character and entire worthiness to her charge wheresoever she is placed, the dullest, most thick-headed of the boys, when he reaches his twenty-first birthday, can go to the polls and cast his ballot, turning his back to his intelligent learned, and educated teacher, and audaciously say to her, "Stay away; you are too dangerous a creature to be trusted with a vote for even the lowest official in our municipal government." Our government sees fit to trust this college girl with the education of the young American; is casting a vote for an official of our government more important than the education of the officials themselves? God sees fit to trust the mother with the raising of the boy; is casting a vote for the President more important than the nursing of that President himself? The most ignorant classes of Europe and Asia come to our shores and in a few years are deemed capable of sharing in the government of our country; but our teachers and mothers are deemed incapable. This you may call politics; and politics it is. If this is to be set aright, the man of God must take to it and have it adjusted.

We need better cooperation among ourselves. In the Twentieth Century, Dr. Josiah Strong says that the method of working has entirely charged. A century ago, competition was the life and force of business; but now combination and cooperation. Competition, he says, develops the individual, but combination develops society. Competition converts the individual, but combination converts society. The twentieth century calls for the combination and cooperation of the Churches in order to reach society. When we look back into the age of the Apostles, we see it was, through and through, the age of competition. In that age, we find false teachers, who enter the field of labor that belongs to another ministry and steal, if possible, the sheep and lambs that belong to another fold, or entice away in order to swell their own number and increase their own force at the expense of their brother’s field. They are those of whom Jesus Christ speaks, who "compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matt. 23.15).

Competition and rivalism develop hatred, jealousy, and persecution. Socialism, combination, trusts, etc. are the order of the day. Socialism has become a branch of the higher education in most of our higher institutions of learning. The Church is a society and the mother of all societies. Our various Associations are combinations of Churches. All societies independent of the Church are orphans trying to find their own feet, but they will never be nursed society, the Church. This man of God, in the Church and through the Church, takes other societies in hand, if it is given to save itself. The salvation of every society is out of Zion.

The help provided for this man of God to reach perfection is the Holy Scriptures. For this purpose, they are inspired by God; and this inspiration makes them the basis of education for the entire human race. They are as well adapted to the child Timothy as to Paul the Apostle and the mother and grandmother at home. Some time ago, I read an article, in the Chicago Advance, concerning the states that have decided against having the Bible read in their public schools. It stated that by this time they are afraid that they have been educating brutes rather than men. Man cannot be educated as a man independent of his moral qualities; and the moral qualities cannot be developed as they should without the aid of the Holy Scriptures. Take this old Bible out of our public school and you have taken away the very foundation of morality and you have nothing left but an intelligent brute.

This inspiration does not depend on the finding of our scholars. A few years ago, we thought that the finding of our scholars would revolutionize the whole book, but since then the stones came from their graves to protest against it. By this time, we find the inscription on the frontispiece of Beza’s Bible just as true now as in the time of Beza himself: "Hammer away, ye hostile hands: your hammers break, God’s anvil stands."

Jesus alone, we find, is able to sit in judgment upon this old book and declare, "But I say unto you," and what he says is of some account to us. Others may say it, but it is of no account, after all. It is by means of inspiration that we are able to understand inspiration. Get the help of all the education you can find, but education by itself does not qualify any one to understand inspiration. Education will understand education, but inspiration is the only thing that can understand inspiration. These Holy Scriptures are the channel of inspiration. If we want to be inspired use it as Timothy’s mother and grandmother used it in teaching him; and as Paul used it, and even as Jesus Christ used it.

The moral culture of humanity depends on the Holy Scriptures. Drummond tells us, in one of his addresses, that everything is governed by cause and effect; and the only way to reach happiness and joy is along that line. He says that it is the easiest thing in the world to reach. Just plant the seed of joy and take good care of it as it grows and you will find it abundant. It was to this effect that Jesus spoke in that beautiful little parable of the vine: "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15.11). That joy comes in the ordinary way that grapes grow upon the vine. The object here with Paul is how to be the man of God. The Holy Scriptures are given to us for this very end. How it emphasizes cultivation! They are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. All these are phases of cultivation. Man is a creature that needs cultivation, and the Holy Scriptures are given for that purpose. And yet cultivation is not enough by itself. "Salvation comes through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Some time ago I heard a person lecturing on various passages of the Bible. Before the end of the lecture he said: "I stand before you a perfect, clean man, entirely sinless; not that I do not sin or commit sins every day. But I read here a sentence like this: ‘And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin’ (John 1.7). You will notice, " he said, "That the verse does not say that you have been cleansed, nor that you will be cleansed some time in the future, but that the words are in the present tense. The idea is that Jesus Christ is carrying on a process of continually cleansing us." He suggested to me, although he did not say so, the method by which the mother keeps the child clean. She has to wash his hands and face and clothes continually. We commit sin continually, either in deed or word or thought, but no sooner is the sin committed than Jesus Christ begins to wash away its effects. Through faith in Jesus Christ is this man of God made perfect.


Transcribed and provided by Gayle Thorpe Baar, 2001
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