To First Congregational Church, Oberlin

4 September 1871


[MS in First Congregational Church Records, Oberlin College Archives, RG 31/4/1]


First Congregational Church of Oberlin, Ohio.

Dearly Beloved in the Lord.

As but few of your present members

understand the facts, I call your attention

to the date & circumstances of my settlement

as your Pastor. I was at the time Professor of

theology in Oberlin College. In June 1836 the

Church invited me to supply their pulpit, I did

so until May 1837, when they called me

to the Pastoral office. I accepted upon con

dition that I should still perform my

College duties, & further, that I should

labor abroad as an Evangelist from time

to time, in accordance with my sense of duty.

In much infirmity of body & mind, I have


labored to perform these multiplied ^ labors

to the acceptance of Christ & the church.

Yet I have always had the painful

consciousness that I came far short of

meeting the necessities of the church.

This has been a source of much grief

to me, & I doubt not to you. I have never

been able to look after your children or my

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own as I most earnestly wished to do.

Of late years I have been obliged to abstain

from attending to the burial of your dead

because of its severe trial of my brain.


The excitement, & sorrow, & ^ air of crowded

rooms, are too much for my worn nerves.

Seeing so much to be done for you, & feeling

less & less able to meet your wants from year

to year, has been a heavy burden on my heart

by day & by night, for a long time, & this

sorrow is increasing. I am now in the

8th year of my age, & of course can not

hope to be able to meet your wants in

the future even as feebly as in the past.

After much prayer & consideration, & after

helping you unitedly through the cases

of discipline that have recently afflicted

you, I have reached the conclusion that

I may now resign my pastoral relation

to you, which I hereby do, & I pray you to

consider that as final on my part, &

to cordially unite in accepting it, &

in cho[o]sing the man that you need

"to go in & out before you, & to break to you

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the bread of life." In taking leave of

you as Pastor, I trust I need not

assure you of my undying love of

you, & interest in your welfare. I beseech

you to remember that a housed divided

can not stand, therefore Dearly Beloved,

"Study those things that make for peace."

"Be of one mind & one judgment," Be

considerate, be forbearing, love as brethren.

"Mark any that cause divisions amongst

you & avoid them" "& the God of peace

shall be with you". God bless you all

ever more. C. G. Finney

Oberlin, 4th Sept. 1871.


P.S. It was my sincere desire that you

should accept my resignation that I

tendered several months ago. But

you did not understand me,

& as the matter took the turn that

I did, I thought it unwise to agitate

the subject further at that time.

But now I must insist on my resignation

being accepted, since I am unable to hold

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out under such responsibilities as are


resting upon me. You can ^ ask a man

of 80 years to meet your wants. Because

of my love for you it is a grief to me to


resign, but ^ were still a deeper grief

to continue to witness your wants

& be utterly unable to supply them.

Again God bless you dear souls

C. G. Finney


The minutes of the meetings of the First Church have an entry under the date September 6:

The Church met, by call of Pres. Finney on the previous Sabbath, to consider his resignation which he had tendered to the Church.

The meeting was called to order by Bro H. Halburd, and Bro T. J. Keep appointed to the chair, meeting opened by prayer by Bro. Jas. Dascomb. The resignation of Pres. Finney as Pastor of the church was then read. moved and seconded that the resignation be accepted. After a considerable discussion it was moved and seconded that we at once proceed to vote by ballot. Motion lost. After further discussion motion was again made and seconded and carried with the following result

For accepting resignation Fifty eight,

Against " " Ninety.


The following resolution offered by Bro Allaber was then passed

Whereas, we the members of the first Church of Oberlin have refused by vote to accept our Pastor's resignation, through no desire to thwart his wishes or to impose upon him burdens which he is unable to bear, but from an earnest desire to still enjoy his ministrations, We do now affectionately request him to re-consider his resignation, and to consult with the church with a view of maturing some plan by which such additional pastoral labors may be secured as may be needed

Meeting Adjourned


Under the date October 20, 1871:


Adjourned Meeting.

Dr. Dascomb in the chair. Prayer by Rev. R. T. Cross. Minutes read and approved. The Committee to confer with the Pastor presented a written report of which the following is a copy.

"To the 1st Congregational Church of Oberlin,

"Your Committee to whom was assigned the duty of calling on the Pastor to ascertain his wishes with reference to assistance in the pastoral work for the coming year, finding that there was a slight misunderstanding in their minds with regard to his views, as expressed at a former interview, determined to recommit the subject to him, and now beg leave to report.

"That according to arrangement, they called on the Pastor on the 10th of October, and after presenting the subject were answered by him in substance as follows.

"That in consideration of the religious interest at present existing in the Church, and particularly with the young people, and the importance that the attention of the Church should not be diverted from the work of saving souls he thought it better that there should be no immediate change.

"He farther expressed the wish that Prof. Morgan should continue to be his assistant for the present.

"At some future time he may wish to communicate farther with the Church on this subject but at present has no change to recommend."

"George Kinney"

"Geo. Clark"

"J. W. Merrill"

Report was accepted and adopted.



Finney meant to write 80th here.

Finney's addition of a d here, was probably in view of the next word.

Romans 16: 17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have received; and avoid them."

Finney had written Aug. here and changed it.

Finney may have meant to write it here.

First Congregational Church Record Book 1857-1891, in Oberlin College Archives, 31/4. Minutes recorded by W. O. Hart, Clerk.