History of Holyoke's Churches
First Presbyterian Church
Rev. F.D. Smith, Pastor
Following a visit made to this city in May, 1886, Rev. J.W. Sanderson, field secretary for New England, of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, secured for the summer the services of William Gardner, a licentiate from the Hartford Theological Seminary, and intrusted to him the task of canvassing the field, gathering a congregation and ministering to the flock which he should gather. The first Sunday worship was held in a room on Suffolk street, then occupied by the Y.M.C.A. The next Sunday service was held in the old Grace chapel on Main street, where the prayer meetings were held for some time. Cradles kept changing. For a time the infant church gathered in the Woman's Union Temperance building on High street, and then for a longer time in the Foresters' new hall at 437 High street.
First Presbyterian Church
A "pro re nata" meeting of the Boston Presbytery was held at Worcester, August 3. A petition, signed by 148 persons of whom 95 signified their desire to become members, was presented, asking for the organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Holyoke. The petition was granted; the church was organized August 26, and the young church began its life with 77 members.
Barak Wilson and George P. Bell, M.D., were installed as ruling elders. William Scott and Alexander Paul were installed as deacons.
With the growth of the work a lot was secured on the northwest corner of Cabot and Chestnut streets, where a granite church, with brown stone trimming, was built, and the date of its dedication was March 5, 1889, though the building had already been in use for some months. At the dedication service the sermon was preached by Rev. John Hall, D.D., the famous Presbyterian preacher of New York City. In time the debt incurred by the erection of this costly building was paid. This happy issue came to pass during the pastorate of Rev. A.R. Pennell, and during his term of office the church was cheered by the gift of a new pipe organ, the joint gift of Mrs. Eliza Smith of the Second Congregational Church and of Andrew Carnegie.
The roll of pastors follows: Rev. J.M. Craig, October 1886-July, 1890; Rev. L.H. Angier, July 1890-January 1892; Rev. G.A. Wilson, January 1892-January 1899; Rev. William Carruthers supplied the pulpit through the greater part of 1899; Rev. A.R. Pennell, November, 1899-June, 1908.
Rev. Frank D. Smith took charge of this work January 1, 1909, and is now the leader of this church of 700 members. Mr. Smith studies at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Ill., received his theological training at Allegheny, Pa., and spent a year at Andover Theological Seminary. He is a trained musician and choir leader, and a forceful, dynamic preacher. He has recently purchased the property at 222 Pine street.
In October the Presbyterian Church will observe its twenty-fifth anniversary, where an effort will be made to cancel the present debt of about $2,000.
The members of the sessions are as follows: William Morrison, Robert Inglis, C.S. Roberts, W.C. McLeod, James Cobb, John A. Hood, Alexander McGregor, Edward Heibel, Frank Knight, George Forbes and George Burnett, clerk.
Church clerk, James Halket; treasurer, George Barnett, Jr., collector, Edward Heibel; sexton, Simeon Farr.
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