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Heritage Facts Bundle #3

June 18, 2013

pulpit drawing

For 300 years the White Plains Presbyterian Church has been nurturing faith in our city. Heritage Facts, or snippets of  history, appear in our Sunday bulletin every week. Check the index for other posts.

January – February 2013

HERITAGE FACT: Did you know that when the construction of the Church House was completed in 1926, it included a locker room and shower facility? The new building was designed to join together the existing sanctuary and chapel, creating a space for social events and meals. The Lower Fellowship Hall not only housed the kitchen, but was used by young men to play basketball. Thus the showers!

WHITE PLAINS HERITAGE FACT: Ten years before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a man with a gun, a woman tried to stab him to death in Harlem, and nearly succeeded. The knife came so close to his heart that Rev. King recalls that “if I had sneezed, I would have died.” In his final, most apocalyptic sermon, delivered on the eve of his assassination, Dr. King recalls a letter written by a young girl, a student from White Plains High School. Of all the letters he had received during his recovery, this is the only one he said he remembered.

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She wrote simply “Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School. While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.” [The full text of the sermon in linked here ]

HERITAGE FACT: The bell in our church tower was cast in 1856 by the Jones and Hitchcock Foundry in Troy, NY. It measures 30 inches by 38 inches. The pealing rope is still wrapped around the original wooden wheel, 66 inches in diameter and includes a tolling clapper which can be used for funerals.

HERITAGE FACT: Sunday morning church school is an outgrowth of the Sunday School movement, which started in England in 1783. These English schools were planned to teach the 3 R’s as well as “religion and morality through the Scriptures” to children forced to work 6 days a week in factories in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Today, while our Church School children are introduced to the narrative of scripture with wonder and curiosity, our congregation speaks out about the problems of forced child labor, child soldiering and violence against women and children, while advocating for living wages and labor rights.

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