Some history of Men of the Presbyterian Church at Woodbury
Men of the Church – The Early years
During the 18th and 19th centuries, church leadership was almost exclusively available only to men. Thankfully, Church leadership has evolved to include women in all phases of church leadership roles. The examples listed below represent a small sample of how men in our congregation have participated in a wide variety of roles during the 300 years of this congregation.
On August 20, 1721, John Tatem deeded the land to The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury upon which a log building was erected. During these first years, this building was called a “Meeting House” just as the Quakers did. Here our forefathers, together with a group of fellow Presbyterians from Timber Creek, now Blackwood, convened for Divine Worship. This exact site lies within our cemetery on North Broad Street.
The first known Elders of our Church were Elijah Clark and John Sparks. Both of these men were prominent members of the Provincial Congress of 1776. Both of these men are buried in our cemetery.
Men of the Church – Christian Education
During the first three decades of our Church’s life, Christian Education was done in the homes of our congregants. Our second Pastor, the Reverend Andrew Hunter, had a burning desire to see education taking place daily. In 1791 the leaders of the Church established the Academy located directly across from the sanctuary. This was the germination of our congregations’ strong belief in the values and benefits of Christian Education. General Franklin Davenport (nephew of Benjamin Franklin) was the founder and Trustee of the Academy School. He also procured the famous “Bell” which he personally brought to Woodbury. In more recent years, men such as Dick Skinner, a former Mayor of Woodbury, and retired Judge David Morgan, and retired educators Charlie Miller and David Platt have served as Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders for long periods of time.
Men of the Church – Mission
Our congregation has a long history of supporting Mission work both abroad and in our community. Many International Mission trips to Honduras have been led by Dr. Robert Harris in the past 15 years. These trips have been more than just “work” trips. Closer to home, many men have participated in Summer Youth Mission trips. All mission trips allow for spiritual journey experiences to be shared with brothers and sisters in Christ with different backgrounds. Relationships are strengthened and bonds of trust developed. Locally and more recently, our monthly Community Dinner has been a tremendous success in bringing attention and relief of the food insecurity issue in our community. Men have assisted in this ministry through their participation as cooks, servers and greeters.
Men of the Church – Music Ministry
Our church has a rich history of Music Ministry. Some of our Senior members still recall the beautiful sounds of past choirs led by our past Minister of Music, Harold R. Henderson. Our Music Ministry continues to enrich our worship service experiences under the leadership of our current Minister of Music, Jack Hill. Many of his cherub and chancel choir students later went on to sing as adults in our adult choir.
Men of the Church – Evangelism
During the 1980’s and 1990’s the Evangelism Task Force existed to recruit and provide orientation to prospective and new members. Two of the significant leaders of this effort were both WW II veterans. Bill Miller and Bill Martin returned from the war, married and raised families in the Woodbury community. Their wartime experiences created a passion within them to invite others to find Jesus Christ and make this church their church home. Like these two “Bills”, the men of this “greatest generation” returned from their military service years and continued dedicating their lives to causes that were for the greater good. They recognized the importance for everyone to have a spiritual journey and share it with others.
Men of the Church – Stewardship
The visionaries of the 20th century faced many of the same challenges as the founders faced in the 18th century. Membership and financial stewardship are endless struggles for every church. Thanks to the vision of Rev. Richard E. Craven, D.D., a Memorial Fund was established to provide financial resources to continue the good works of this church. The vision of Rev. Craven, and the guidance of long time Church Treasurer, Doug Stevens, has sustained our congregation during a period of time when many churches have had to close their doors.
Men of the Church – Moving ahead
We will soon graduate to year “301” in the life of this church. The next chapter of this book has commenced to be written. The men of this church have each contributed in the many successes of these past 300 years. Now let us dedicate ourselves to ensuring future generations will be able to celebrate the successful ministries of The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury.
Prepared by David Schad
Sources: Newsletters and Worship Folders from years dating back to 1961