The Sunday School Convention at Concord Chapel
June 8, 1877
At 9 o'clock Tuesday morning, June 5th, the huge bell that so often summons the people together at Concord Chapel sent forth its peals upon a clear atmosphere, to announce the time of the Champaign County semi-annual Sabbath School Convention. The rain on Monday night had laid the dust and all out of doors had become as pleasant as could be desired Your correspondent wended his way to the church, with pencil and paper, and entering the huge door we see that the committee to which had been assigned the duty of decorating the house had faithfully performed their duty In neatly wrought evergreen letters, on the inner wall of the vestibule, was the word "Welcome" the work of our young friend Ham McFarland Entering the main audience room we find it arrayed in evergreens, flowers and mottoes, which, in connection with the recent improvements, made it attractive beyond expectation Suspended high above the pulpit, in plain view of the audience, were the words "We welcome all", neatly worked on canvas, by Miss Mollie Heath Still lower, in a half-circle, were the words "God is our refuge", also the work of Harry McFarland These were also worked on canvas and plainly shows the skill of the workman. The pulpit was tastefully entwined with evergreens and the entire wall was hung with nicely wrought wreaths Numerous bouquet graced the pulpit and organs, the handiwork of Miss Kate Kizer and others In the space immediately in front of the pulpit were three organs, which together with a violin in the hands of Prof Phipps. constituted the instrumental part of the music.
At an early hour the house was filled to its utmost, the greater part of the congregation coming from other portions of the county. It soon became apparent that Concord's hospitality would now have its greatest opportunity for expansion Long before noon not only every seat but even foot of space in the aisles and vestibule was crowded full The exercises were under the direction of the President. Rev A N Spahr and the morning devotions were conducted by Rev H. P. Clark, of Kingston We noticed also in the pulpit the Rev F M Clemans of Mutual The opening address was made by Rev John Pearson of St. Paris, and was full of interest showing a very great depth of thought The only error in the address was the down on the speaker Representatives were present from every township except Adams and Jackson. The address of welcome was delivered by Rev. T E. Fidler and me response by Rev G. G Harriman Prior to adjournment for dinner the Committee on Entertainment reported Hundreds of visitors wended their way to their various places of assignment.
In the afternoon an able address on the Sabbath School in a Missionary point of view was delivered by Dr J A P McGaw. of Urbana Reports from the Vice Presidents of the townships were now called for, and that of Mr Stewart of Wayne township, was by far the best
During the afternoon the rain continued to fall in torrents, and when the hour of adjournment arrived it looked as though none would be able to leave the house, but the lateness of the hour and the continued rising of the water, admonished those living at some distance from the church that they must go then or remain at the church over night.
During the night the waters had subsided and the day promised everything the friends of the Sabbath School could wish At an early hour the house was filled to its utmost and the devotional exercises were conducted by Rev. F. M Clemans, followed by Rev. H. P. Clark, on the duties of a Superintendent, followed by Rev. Monsieur Jones, F. M. McAdams, Calvin Smith, D. S. Perry, Joseph Townsend, W. E Fuson, Mrs Yeazel, Mrs Vertner, Anson P. Gard and N.D. McReynolds, Esq.
On motion of Mr Lafferty, of Mutual, the fall meeting was given to Cable, at the earnest request of the citizens of Wayne township, who openly avowed that they could furnish as much roast beef and "yaller" legged chicken as any township in the county.
After dinner came the question drawer During the time of preparing questions, the Committee on Resolutions, consisting of N. D. McReynolds, F M McAdams and Samuel Cowgill. made their report Reporters for the press had a cordial invitation to come to the front and occupy the tables, and we find the Urbana Daily News, Union-Democrat, Springfield Gazette, Central Ohio News and the Citizen and Gazette represented.
Among the numerous questions propounded, the one eliciting the warmest discussion was the following "Can a man be consistent temperance advocate and at the same time use tobacco?" The request of the party furnishing the question was that W. E. Fuson of Cable, should answer Mr F took a firm stand that a man could not, which was followed by a dozen others, all of one opinion. Following the discussion on tobacco came the temperance question in general, when, by motion half an hour was allotted to the women, which was responded to by Mrs. McCarty. Mrs. Houk, Mrs McCellan. Mrs Loudenback. Mrs Earsom, Mrs Coulter. Mrs McFarland. Mrs Smith, Mrs Fidler, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs Osbom, Mrs. Clark, Mrs Vertner, and others in two minute speeches Then came the opposite, and brief addresses were made by Messrs. Townsend. Penningston. Herr. McLaughlin, Fuson, Haller. Smith. McReynolds. Brown and McCellan The closing address was by the President, Rev. Spahr. and showed plainly his ability to handle the subject. The music was under the direction of Prof Phipps, assisted by Messrs Happersett, Runyon, Hunter and a hundred other good singers, together with the organs and violin, made just such music as the writer never heard in a congregation. A resolution of thanks to the numerous ladies who had so arduously worked in the temperance cause was offered by Rev Wm Haller and unanimously adopted At 4:14 o'clock the Convention sung 'The home of the soul", amidst a feeling that is seldom witnessed in any audience.
The crowd was the largest ever assembled on a similar occasion in the county, for there was not much less, if any, than a thousand persons present on the afternoon of the last day. Both the upper and lower rooms were full, the yard full, and many came that never left their buggies, for want of standing room in the vicinity of the church After singing the doxology the benediction was pronounced by Rev M Jones, and thus ended the most successful convention ever held in the county.
Urbana Citizen and Gazette, 14 June 1877
(reprinted in "The Champaign County Genealogical Society Newsletter" Oct/Nov/Dec 1997)
Submitted by Peggy Thompson, transcribed by Barb Z.
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