Sunday, June 11, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Trials of Soul and Flesh in 1860's Revealed by Pastors

Richmond Times Dispatch
27 October 1937

Trials of the Soul and Flesh in 1860's Revealed by Pastors

Walking 10 miles to preach a sermon, falling into a creek, watching the flames of war ravage, a church -- all this seemed to be just part of the day's routine for hardy ministers of the Gospel in the 1860's.

Those, at least, are some of the experiences mentioned by preachers in a packet of unpublished letters recently deposited in Spence Library, Union Theological Seminary. The correspondence, most of which dealt with the Sustenation Fund for Impoverished Ministers, was written to the Rev. J. D. Mitchell of Lynchburg during 1866.

The Rev. Matthew W. Jackson of Rough Creek described some of his troubles: "I sometimes walk 10 miles to preach and then home again on the same day; and on the third sabbath in January I fell into a creek about two feet deep and walked several miles home with my clothes wet and freezing..."

Couldn't Raise a Dollar

"As religion seems almost extinct in Eastern Virginia, we must awake in earnest," was his solemn warning.

From Prince William County the Rev. A. M. Hershy of Nokesville wrote:  "The church building, which was nearly new, was burned to the ground, it is said, by Unioin soldier,s near the end of the war ... The congregation was scattered..."

Light on the financial difficulties is given by the Rev. R. L. Dabney, noted theologian; the Rev. Moses D. Hoge, founder of Union Seminary, and Dr. James Woodrow, uncle of President Woodrow Wilson.

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