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Heritage Facts (in recent sermons)

October 21, 2013

bulletin drawing

Founded in 1714, the White Plains Presbyterian Church has been nurturing faith in our city for almost 300 years. Heritage Facts, or snippets of  history, appear in our Sunday bulletin every week. Here are a few bits of our story that have been told in recent sermons.

In Lydia Starts a Church, we learn how on May 27, 1714 Mr. John Frost of Rye gave a gift of land to The Rev. Christopher Bridges of White Plains. This is the date from which we mark the founding of our congregation.

Spring Heritage Day 2012 reviewed the great confessional heritage which we share as Reformed Christians.

On Fall Heritage Day 2012, the Great Cloud of Witnesses in our cemetery, the oldest in White Plains, were given voice to speak of their faith in The Hope of Heaven.

In my Trinity Sunday Sermon, Wonder of Wonders, I tell the story of Edward Erskine Porter, in whose memory and to the Glory of God our baptismal font is dedicated. Edward was killed in the famous Malbone Street Wreck on the evening of November 1, 1918.

On Spring Heritage Day 2013 we honored the Presbyterian Church of the Savior in a sermon called Pentecost: The Immigrant Spirit. The Church of the Savior grew out of decades of mission commitment by our congregation to immigrant Italians between 1905 and 1930.

In honor of Juneteenth, I explore how our congregation wrestled with the issue of slavery on the eve of the Civil War in Proclaim Liberty. In particular I tell the story of The Rev. David Teese (1853-1869) and Edmund Sutherland, a prominent pro-slavery church member who was a politician and newspaper publisher. I also lift up the history of Stony Hill, New York’s first free black community, which was less than a mile from our church.

Though not a local story, In Notes on World Communion Sunday I share the origins of this international feast, first imagined by The Rev. Dr. Hugh Kerr in 1933 after having served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church. This observance is a Presbyterian gift to the broader church.

And in Stewardship is an Act of Worship, I explain how The Rev. Dr. Henry Ulrich introduced Stewardship Sunday to the congregation in 1942 through a service known as “The Chest of Joash.” The congregation expressed gratitude for the opportunity to make financial giving, in the words of one member, “part of my devotional life.”

The legacy of our Presbyterian and Reformed commitment to education is described in A Heritage of Learning. In particular, Calvin’s creation of public education, the origins of our local church school, and our common calling to live out our baptism.


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