Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Mortgage-Burning Ceremony of the Congregational Church of North Pelham in 1906

There once stood in Pelhamville a beautiful little church known officially as the "Church of the Covenant, Congregational."  The Church evolved out of "The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville" (also known as "The Union Sunday School") founded in 1875.  The church itself was organized in 1888.  Informally, the Church of the Covenant, Congregational was known as both the Church of the Covenant and the Congregational Church.  

By 1910, the tiny little church was in need of repair and was no longer large enough to serve the congregation. In connection with a "reorganization" of the church and its affiliated societies, on October 26, 1910 a new pastor, Rev. C. Conal Mackay, was called to the pastorate. Three weeks later, on November 16, 1910, the congregation authorized the construction of a new church building at a new location: Lot 34 on the corner of Maple Avenue and Central Avenue in Chester Park, Village of North Pelham.  The congregation built and used the new Chester Park church for only a few years before the church folded.  The church building later was converted to a home that still stands at 45 Maple.

I have written extensively about the little Church of the Covenant, Congregational.  Seee.g.:

Thu., Jul. 23, 2015:  The Home at 45 Maple in Chester Park Built to Serve as a Church.

Tue., Jan. 20, 2015:  The Precise Location of the Congregational Church as Shown on a Map Published in 1908.

Wed., Nov. 19, 2014:  Rare Early Image of the Congregational Church of North Pelham in the Early 20th Century.

Tue., May 6, 2014:  More on the History of the Congregational Church of North Pelham.

Fri., Apr. 18, 2014:  The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville.

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.

Mon., Sep. 21, 2009:  January 1882 Account of the 1881 Christmas Festival Held at the Union Sabbath School in Pelhamville

Mon., Aug. 24, 2009:  1878 Advertisement for Services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville.

Tue., Mar. 7, 2006:  The Church of the Covenant of Pelhamville Organized in 1888.

In 1906, the congregation of the Church of the Covenant, Congregational achieved an important milestone in the life of the church.  It paid off its mortgage.  

On the evening of July 1, 1906, members of the congregation gathered in the tiny Congregational Church sanctuary to hold a mortgage-burning celebration.  The pastor of the church, Rev. Wayland Spaulding, hosted the celebration.  

It was a joyous celebration during which Rev. Spaulding expressed the importance of paying debts.  At the appropriate time, the Clerk of the Church, George Glover, placed the mortgage in a tin platter, lit a match, and ignited it.  As flames devoured the paper, the congregation sang the Doxology. It was, indeed, a happy time in the life of the little church that, sadly, lasted only a few more years.

Obverse of Undated Real Photo Post Card (RPP) Showing
Source: eBay Auction Listing for the Post Card.

*          *          *           *           *

Interesting Ceremonies Held at Congregational Edifice Last Night

North Pelham, July 2. -- A good sized audience witnesses an important ceremony in the Congregational church of North Pelham, last evening when the mortgage on the church building was burned.  The match was applied to this important piece of paper by George Glover, clerk of the church, and as the flames ignited and devoured it, the congregation sang the Doxology.  Just after the audience had finished singing this well known hymn in a most enthusiastic manner, the flames had done their work and all that was left in the little tin platter, were the ashes of the document.

Before the burning of the mortgage, the pastor, the Rev. Wayland Spaulding, preached an interesting sermon appropriate to the occasion.  He said among other things that it is a very necessary thing for a man to pay his bills.  A firm before it sells a man a bill of goods on credit, generally finds out if he is good for the money.  No Christian can afford to have a bad reputation of not paying his bills.  The church should be like the Christian, beyond the shadow of suspicion.

Mr. Spaulding spoke of Pliny's famous letter to the Roman emperor in which he described the new sect 'Christianol' as harmless and composed of people who pay their debts.  He said, 'It is a beautiful thing to see a church get out of any obligation that it has incurred.'

'Here is a church that is open to us all; free for the worship of the Father.  It would seem that this church could not have been built without carrying a mortgage.'  He spoke of the financial condition of some churches and in that connection said, 'it does no good to sue a church.  You might as well sue a jelly fish.'  He said that the people in North Pelham had stood by their church until they now see it free from all obligations.

He stated that he had known of churches which were way behind in the minister's salary.  In order to pay this off they would give the pastor a cord of wood, put the high price of good on it and then apply it on his salary.  In other instances, he has known of churches where they would get up donation parties for the pastor and then all the people would swarm in and eat everything up.

He believed that it was often necessary to mortgage the future.  Then it is right for the man, carrying such a mortgage to pay it off, year by year.  He thought that the Almighty had led the church of Pelham in this way and that the members had by the ceremony, etc., the proof of that which they owed as paid."

Source:  MORTGAGE IS BURNED BY THE PELHAM CHURCH -- Interesting Ceremonies Held at Congregational Edifice Last Night -- SOCIETY FREE FROM HEAVY OBLIGATIONS, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 2, 1906, Whole No. 4357, p. 1, col. 4.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home