The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To The First Congregational Church
27 March 1872
[Copy in First Congregational Church Record Book, 1857-1891, under the date, 2 May 1872, Oberlin College Archives]
The minutes of the meetings of the First Church have the following entry under the date May 2, 1872 :
Special meeting. Meeting called to order by Dea. Hulburd. Rev T. J. Keep was chosen chairman. Prayer was offered by Prof. Rider. The following letter from the Pastor was read.
Oberlin March 27th 1872.
To the 1st Cong. Ch. Oberlin,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You declined to
receive the resignation of my pastoral relation
to you, which I sent you last Sept, and wished me
to unite with you in the selection of such pastoral
help as was needed. I felt unwilling to press the
subject further at the time, and continued to labor
with and for you, until, as was to be expected, my
strength suddenly gave way, and I have been now
about ten weeks confined to my bed, beingable
to sit up long enoughto have the necessary work
done in my bedroom.
I make very little progress in recovering my
strength and am not likely to be able to preach
any more. I must request you therefore to relieve
me from all further pastoral responsibility and
care, as the burden even in thought, is too much
for my prostrate nerves.
I leave you therefore to exercise your own dis-
cretion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the
selection of such a pastor as you need. And may
the God of peace be with you.
I understand there is considerable religious
interest in the church at this time, and am re-
joiced to hear it. I can not judge as to the best
time for you to take action upon this question.
I therefore commit this communication to the Dea-
cons and Leaders, to communicate to the Church
when in their judgment it shall be most for the
interests of the Church. I hereby authorize them, when
they think best, to call a meeting of the Church, in
the name of the pastor, to take action on this
C. G. Finney.
Prof. Churchill moved to accept the resignation implied in this letter. After considerable discussion a motion prevailed that, when the vote on this question was taken, it be done by ballot. Farther discussion was had and the vote resulted as follows,
For accepting the resignation 103
Against " " " 47
Voted that a committee of three be appointed by the chair to draw up suitable resolutions expressing the sympathy of the Church with Bro. Finney and their high appreciation of his services as their pastor.
Brethren Dascomb, Churchill, and Kinney were the Committee,
Adjourned to tomorrow at 3.P.M.
Under the date May 3rd 1872, the following was minuted:
The Committee - not being fully prepared to report the time was extended one week.
Under the date May 10, 1872, the following was minuted :
At the hour appointed the meeting was called to order, Mr Keep being chairman. In behalf of the committee above mentioned, Prof. Churchill reported resolutions expressing grateful recognition of Pres. Finney's labors. The report was unanimously accepted and adopted. The report was as follows:
There followed a copy of the resolutions.
It was voted that the committee who drafted the above resolutions be requested to present a copy of them to Rev. C. G. Finney. Meeting adjourned.
The copy received by Finney is in the Finney Papers:
Oberlin O. May 10th 1872
To Rev. Charles G. Finney from the First Cong-
regational Church of Oberlin,
Dearly Beloved Pastor,
At your repeated and
urgent request to be relieved of the pastoral care of
this church, on account of your advanced age and
feebleness of body, we have finally agreed to accept
In sundering this connexion of more than
thirty-five years standing, our hearts are filled
with emotions of deep gratitude and love in view
of the spiritual blessings we have received under your
ministry, and it is with sadness that we yield to
the necessity of calling another pastor.
We cannot therefore forbear expressing to you our
sense of the priceless service which without any
adequate reward or even support from us you have
freely rendered to the church,
1st. In your consistent and blameless Christian
life, a delightful and ever-shining example of
the grace of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
2d. In your tender sympathy with every individ-
ual member of the church, especially with the
sick and the afflicted - and your intense interest
in the spiritual welfare of us all.
3d. In your ceaseless, zealous and effective
efforts for the salvation of sinners, your wise conver-
sation with enquirers after Christ and your
thorough organization of the church for the
prosecution of this work.
4th. In your fervid and pungent sermons, wrought
out through much believing prayer, and faithful
intelligent study of God's word - and most truly
accepted of God - as the marvellous accompanying power
of His Spirit so frequently witnessed by us clearly proves.
5th. In your labors and prayers for the church
universal, your revival efforts abroad, your published
letters and books, all breathing the same spirit of love
and power which has characterized your Christian
activity at home.
It is our most earnest desire that you
will spend the remnant of your days in loving Chris-
tian fellowship among us, and that, as God gives
you strength, we may often see your face and hear
your voice in the pulpit, in the prayer meetings and in
friendly social greeting.
And may the blessing of Israel's God be upon
you, that your last days may be unclouded and
happy, that your soul may rest in the infinite
peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - until
an entrance shall be administered to you
abundantly into His everlasting Kingdom.
Oberlin May 10th 1872.
I hereby certify that the accompanying letter
was unanimously adopted by the members of the First
Cong. Church at a regular business meeting this day
and that a copy of the same is placed on file
among the Church records.
C. H. Churchill
Chairman of the Committee.
The following notice appeared in The Lorain County News (4 July 1872), p. 3:
A CALL.&emdash;The First church has voted to call the Rev. H. C. Hayden to its pastorate. As this was done at the first meeting at which the subject of a successor to Mr. Finney was considered, and as the church is so harmonious in calling Mr. Hayden, we can not but hope that he may accept.
Hayden had resigned from the Painseville Congregational Church in November 1871, due to poor eyesight, and had plans to go to St. Louis to organize a church.
A further notice was published in The Lorain County News (11 July 1872), p. 3:
THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.&emdash;A special meeting was held Tuesday afternoon to hear and, if thought best, to act upon a letter from the Rev. H. C. Hayden in response to the call recently extended to him to become the pastor of this church. Mr. Hayden's letter to the committee which communicated with him was read, and also a letter from him to President Finney. He declined the call, and in the letter to President Finney he intimated that he could not seriously entertain it at all in consequence of certain statements which had been made to him in a letter not sent by the committee. The letter, which was from a member of the church not authorised to write, was read to the church and was found to contain the statement that probably about one-third of the church were not fully satisfied that it was best to call him. A vote upon an amendment was inadvertently referred to in that letter as a vote upon the main question.
The truth was that a few of the church members felt some doubt what was best to do; they desired a better acquaintance with the Rev. Mr. Hayden before taking decisive action. So there were sixteen in all who voted in the negative. As there was no motion to make the vote unanimous the minority had no farther opportunity to express its concurrence with the judgment of the majority.
Since the erroneous impression had manifestly been made by this letter to Mr. Hayden, it was again moved to renew the call to Mr. Hayden and the vote was unanimously carried.
A further notice appeared the next week in the News
ACCOMPANYING the unanimous call which the First Church sent Rev. H. C. Hayden, was an urgent request that he accept the same, signed by about six hundred persons. This paper was circulated among the members of the First Church and some of the young people but a few hours previous to mailing it. If there had been time to get them it would have had a much larger list of signatures.
Mr. Hayden did not, in fact, accept the invitation. Instead, he became pastor of the prestigious Old Stone Church in Cleveland, and became foremost in Presbyterian activities in Cleveland and northern Ohio. He was president of Western Reserve University, from 1887-1890. (See "History of First Church Congregational, Painesville, Ohio, 1810-1891", pp. 126 and 128, typescript in Morley Library, Painesville.)
An invitation was later sent to Rev. Joseph. A. Leech, of New Hampshire, who also declined (Lorain County News [21 November 1872], p. 3; and [28 November 1872], p. 3). Eventually, Rev. James Brand, of South Danvers, Mass. was called to the pastorate and accepted (Lorain County News [22 October 1873], p. 3).
First Congregational Church of Oberlin Record Book, 1857-1891, minutes recorded by the Clerk, W. O. Hart.
The minutes were recorded by J. B. Blakely, "Secretary pro tem"
The copy in the minutes has earnest here.
The copy in the minutes has pecuniary here.
Churchill is probably referring to the various series of letters that were published in The Oberlin Evangelist.
The Lorain County News (18 July 1872), p. 3.