Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: January 1996 Volume 34 Number 1, Pages 29–40

Historical Sketch of the Baptist Church at Great Valley

William M. Whitehead

Page 29


Introductory Note

This historical sketch of the Baptist Church at Great Valley was written by the Rev. William M. Whitehead and published in 1872 on the occasion of the renovation of the meetinq house. It is presented here in its entirety as a "source document". (It was used by Futhey and Cope in their history of Chester County, and by Bob Warner in his article on the church that was in the Quarterly in February 1953 [Vol. VII, No. 4])

Rev. Whitehead was the seventeenth pastor of the church, serving it for three years on the eve of the Civil War, from 1858 to 1861. On the title page he also acknowledged the "valuable aid" rendered by Horatio Gates Jones, Esq., the son of the renowned Rev. David Jones, the third pastor of the church and several times chaplain in the [Revolutionary] army.

Written by a clergyman, the sketch contains a number of scriptural allusions that might not be found in a history written by a layman. The author also emphasized the Welsh beginnings of the Great Valley church; its con- tinuous missionary spirit, not only on the frontier but also here at home; the cultivation of the ministerial gifts within the membership of the church; the simplicity, earnestness, and "quaintness" of the fathers of the church; the care and sympathy ever manifested toward the poor; and its profound interest in the advancement of civil as well as religious truth.

(The "Welsh Tract" in Delaware, to which reference is made early in the sketch, incidentally, should not be confused with the "Welsh Tract", or "Welsh Barony", of our area.)

Page 30

Page 31



In opening the historical sketch of a body so venerable as the Great Valley Baptist Church, it is almost a necessity to refer to the character of its founders, and the circumstances by which they were surrounded.

The country, more or less closely surrounding the city of Philadelphia, was mainly, if not entirely, settled by immigrants from Wales; hence the frequency of such Welsh names given to townships, as Gwynned, Penllyn, Caernarvon, Tredyffrin, Radnor, &c. A very large portion of this emigration were Baptists, and brought with them all that stern and uncompromising firmness in both political and religious convictions, which has characterized them (Welsh) as a nation. As a people they never have been conquered. Their incorporation into the British Empire was not one of subjugation, but one of agreement; the seal of which remains today, as distinct as ever, in the title borne by the royal heir, Prince of Wales. Reared in a land remarkable for its magnificent mountains and beautiful vales; her orators have been equally noted for the grandeur and pathos of their eloquence. Hence the earlier preachers in this country, in our denomination, were Welsh and men of power. The Morgans, the Edwardses, the Joneses, the Thomases and Davises laid broad and deep the foundations of our Baptist Zion.

In some cases the emigration came in the form of an organized church; as was the case with the settlement at the Welsh Tract, in New Castle County, Delaware. This body of earnest Christians came to America with Thomas Griffiths as their pastor, in the year 1701, landing at Philadelphia on the 8th day of September. They first settled at Pennepeck, but, for some cause, not liking the place, they purchased land in the state above named, and called it Welsh Tract, removing there in the spring of 1703. This removal brings them somewhat in relationship with the Baptist cause in this region; for having taken with them some of the members of the Pennepeck, or Lower Dublin Church, as it is now called, a very serious question arose among them as to the scripturalness of the practice of laying on hands upon the convert after baptism. The church of Lower Dublin seems to have allowed the ceremony to fall into both disuse and discredit. So strong was the feeling upon this question (especially, perhaps, upon the part of the brethren at Welsh Tract), that neither party could commune with each other.

To come to a better understanding in the matter, both churches appointed brethren to the number of twenty-four, who met at the house of Richard Miles, in Radnor, then Chester County, now Delaware, June 22nd, 1706. The result of the meeting was an agreement to transiently commune with each other without entering into membership, and to mutually exercise Christian earnestness and forbearance in discussing the subject. The result of this eminently wise and brotherly decision was, that in about three years, some ministers and fifty-five private persons were convinced and submitted to the rite.

This matter seems to have given our earlier churches, in this country, much disturbance; so much so, that the Association was frequently called upon to consider the subject.

Page 32

They always came to the above decision. Finally the question seems to have deeply impressed the earnest and thoughtful mind of Dr. Samuel Jones, who gave to the churches, in the shape of an extra page, ttached to the minutes of 1804, the results of his investigation, in this paper he tells us that the practice prevailed only in one church, meeting in the Glass House, in London; which church had discontinued it before the year 1700. Previously, however, to their discontinuance, the subject having excited considerable attention in a church in Wales, a couple of messengers were sent to the London church to enquire concerning it. These brethren in the beginning were prejudiced in favor of the practice. They were readily convinced, receiving the imposition of hands from their English brethren, and returning imparted it to their own membership; from this it spread all over Wales, and the Welsh brethren brought it to this country. As we have before remarked, that the earlier brethren, and especially preachers of our church, were Welsh, it was a matter of almost necessity that their views should have a large acceptance among us. While this practice is now very generally abandoned, I do not know that it is entirely, even at the present.

It was remarked that the removal of the Welsh Church to the district now known as Welsh Tract, touched somewhat upon the history of our brethren here; in this wise: The first ecclesiastical council, of which we have any record, was held, as we have seen, at the house of Richard Miles, in Radnor. This brother was, doubtless, one of those who, in the years 1701-02, settled in this neighborhood, and was largely instrumental in establishing and maintaining Christian worship among the settlers. It was at his house mainly, but sometimes at the house of James David, in Tredyffrin, that their meetings were held. The ministry at Welsh Tract supplied them with the preaching of the word. Indeed, until their organization as a distinct church, they were esteemed a branch of Welsh Tract. We might stop here a moment to notice the scriptural simplicity and efficiency of these early churches in the matter of a Christian ministry. Whenever they discovered ministerial gifts in any of their members, they at once recognized them. They did not hastily call them to ordination, but only after due trial. In this way, the several churches frequently had two or more ordained preachers in their communion, at the same time; and they were esteemed as ornamental to the church record either as appearing at home or in associational minutes; but they were esteemed and held, in the fullest acceptation of the term, as ministers of the word. Hence, we find them going forth preaching just as the Master directed, and by them the gospel, as we perceive it, was proclaimed from New York to Georgia.

In the year 1710, a minister, by the name of Hugh David, recently from Wales, settled in the neighborhood, in connection with a few others. Thus strengthened and encouraged, they determined to associate themselves together in distinct church order. This was done, with the approbation of the brethern at the Tract, their pastor, Elisha Thomas, presiding over the services, on the 22nd day of April, 1711. Their number was sixteen. Hugh David was chosen pastor, and Alexander Owen and Wm. Rees, were made ruling elders; while Alexander Owen also served as deacon, until a certain Griffith John, ordained a deacon in Wales, came among them, February, 1712, whom they received as such.

Page 33

The meetings of the church were still held, mostly at the house of Richard Miles, until the year 1722, when the first meeting house was built, upon a half acre of ground, bought of David Jones. A gift of adjoining land, nearly one and a half acres, from William George, is also recorded. The house was built of logs, was twenty-eight feet square; had galleries upon the west and southern sides, with the pulpit upon the north. The entrance was by two doorways, one beneath each gallery; and the gallery was gained by a stairway in the south-east corner of the house. It is recorded also as a noticeable thing, that there was a stove in it! This house stood in what is now the northern part of the graveyard, and after the erection of the present house, the material in it was sold for $55, and used in building the west end of the house at the head of this road on the pike.

In the year 1726, a difference of opinion relative to the sanctification of the seventh day as a day of worship, led to the withdrawal of a few families from the church, who eventually formed themselves into a Seventh-day Baptist Church, at French Creek, East Nantmeal Township. Philip Davis and Lewis Williams, two of their number, became their preachers. In 1762, they built a meeting house, twenty-two by thirty, upon an acre of ground, the gift of David Rodgers.

Previous to the year 1737, some of the members of the church had removed to the neighborhood of Yellow Springs, but still worshipped with their brethren at the Great Valley. In this year a minister by the name of William Davis came from Wales and settled among them. This encouraged the church to build a meeting house for this new settlement, which was accordingly done, and thereafter stated services were held by the aforesaid minister and pastor, John Davis. Eleven years afterwards, the church granted to the brethren here the privilege of independent action as far as was necessary to the observance of the ordinances and discipline of their own number. Owen Thomas, an able minister from the Welsh Tract, was now living in their midst. Thus they continued until the year 1775, when they were constituted into a church, on the 12th day of October. They were still largely dependent, however, upon the pastorate of Great Valley for the supply of their pulpit.

Until the year 1760, the pulpit seems to have been destitute of a large Bible, or it may be of an English Bible; for the minutes record that, on the 8th day of November in that year, the heirs of Mary James presented to the church, in accordance with her verbal will, made with the desire "to promote the benefit of religion", and on account of the dimness of the pastors' sight, a folio copy of the English scriptures. This Mary James was a member of the church; but the heirs, who were her step-children, with their deceased father, were members of the Society of Friends. The prompt and cheerful manner with which the wish of their step-mother was executed, speaks most unquestionably of their enlarged fraternal and Christian spirit.

We now reach the days of the Revolution in the history of the church. During sixty-seven years it has had but two pastors; each serving with uninterrupted acceptance, until age in the first case, and death in the other, made it impossible for longer service.

Page 34

The name of John Davis, as pastor, appears for the last time in the Association minutes, in 1774, though he remained pastor until his death, in 1778. In the following year, 1775, Rev. David Jones moved into the neighborhood and became associated with the pastor in the oversight of the church. He seems to have been a man of more than ordinary ability and patriotism; and, at once, upon the taking up of arms by the heroes of the Republic, he ranged himself by their side with all his force and enthusiasm. So distinguished did he become by the power of his eloquence in animating the hearts of the troops, that he became a "marked man" with the enemy as well as with the patriots, and they were very desirous of capturing him that they might punish him for his temerity in so warmly and efficiently proclaiming what they styled treason. On one occasion, as a body of British troops were searching for him, they were directed to a preacher, Miller, who, personally, somewhat answered the description of Chaplain Jones, and who was living in the Valley. He was duly arrested and led off to Head Quarters, but luckily for him he was able to prove his innocence of either corporeal or political identity, and was promptly discharged.

The patriotism which animated Chaplain Jones was the universal sentiment of the Baptist Church. The membership and clergy were yet largely Welsh, and, as we have previously remarked, were as stern and ruqqed and fixed as the mountains of their fathers' land; the pure air of which had caused their sires' hearts to bound with the most magnanimous impulses for the right in both church and state. The thrill of these impulses was not lost in their children. And when the oppression of royalty became too burdensome for the colonists, and they arose in their manhood and might, to cast themselves upon the protection of a just God and their own true hearts and arms, the Baptist people, led by their love of both civil and religious liberty, sprang into ranks. And this, too, notwithstanding they were even then being persecuted as a people in many of the colonies. Their preachers were being imprisoned, and fined and whipped; and their farms, in some cases, and even, as in Ashfield, Massachusetts, their burial ground, were sold to pay the expenses of settling a minister, and building a meeting house for another, the ruling denomination. This occurred in 1770, only four years prior to the Revolution. So severe were these oppressions that our Association, in the endeavor to secure relief, was moved to appoint a delegation to wait on some of the members of the Continental Congress at its first meeting in Philadelphia. This application met with no sympathetic response; yet, when afterward the government appealed for pecuniary help, we find this same association investing all their funds in continental bonds or script. The Declaration of Independence had then been proclaimed; and our fathers saw that the principles there asserted were those of truth. That was enough to enlist all their sympathies and energy. It was, doubtless, the prominence given to the Valley church by the patriotism of its pastor and people that caused the British army, under General Howe, to rob it of everything movable. They, at the same time, robbed the home of the pastor of more than $400 worth. By an Act of Assembly, passed September 21st, 1782, the Commissioners of every county of the state that had been invaded by the British, were directed to call on the Assessors to procure and return accounts and estimates of the damages that had been done by the enemy since the 18th day of April, 1775. These returns can be seen in the Commissioner's office, at West Chester.

Page 35

The following refers to the Valley church:

"An account of a sacrilege in the Baptist Meeting House in Tredyffrin, in the county of Chester, in the state of Pennsylvania, by some of the British army, under General Howe, in their march from the Head of Elk to Philadelphia, the 18th, 19th or 20th days of September, when said Meeting House was broke open and was stole from thence the sacramental dishes! viz.:

2 pewter dishes, --- 0 15 0
2 " pints, ---0 8 0
1 diaper table cloth, --- 0 12 0
1 Bible of the English language - 0 15 0
A change of raiment for the administration of bapism, viz.:
2 linen shirts, --- 0 16 0
1 pair linen drawers, --- 0 10 0
The lock of the chest the goods were in, 0 5 0
The sexton's tools for burials, viz.:
1 grubbing hoe, 8s, 1 spade, 7s 6d, - 0 15 6
They destroyed and burnt on the parsonage farm,
135 pannel of fence, equal to 810 rails, at 4s
per hundred, --- 1 12 4
6 8 10
Attested by JAMES DAVIS, Elder."

On account of the absence of the pastor in the discharge of the duties of his chaplaincv, the church was compelled to seek other ministerial service. In 1792, Dr. Jones, as he was called on account of his medical skill, which was especially serviceable while in the army, was again settled over the church, in the pastorate of which he continued until his death, February 5th, 1820, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. The ages of the three first pastors, each of which died in the pastorate, were as follows:

Hugh David, aged 88 years, pastor from 1711 to 1753, 42 yrs.
John Davis, " 74 " " " 1732 " 1778, 46 "
David Jones, " 84 " " " 1775-76 and 1792 to 1820, 29 yrs.

A period of one hundred and seventeen years was thus filled by these three first pastors, an average of thirty-nine years.

In the year 1820, we find upon the minutes the following: "Whereas it has not been customary, heretofore, for the women to have a vote in the transactions of the church; Resolved, therefore, that in the future the women shall be entitled to a vote on all questions that may arise in the church."

In 1805, the new meeting house, and in 1816 and 1823 the parsonage house and barn were respectively built.

Page 36

In reading the history of this church, as recorded in the minutes or elsewhere, there are a few characteristics which cannot but arrest our attention. And first, its continuous missionary spirit. Its pastors were accustomed to itinerate through somewhat distant neighborhoods to gather together God's people, and preach to them and others the word. Rev. David Jones frequently went for this and other purposes even as far as into the state of Ohio, and the Rev. Thomas Brown (while pastor) was sent by the church on a missionary tour into the centre of the state. At the church meeting, in August, 1821, the pastor, Rev. Thomas Roberts, Isaac Cleaver, John Farrier, Elizabeth Roberts, Elizabeth Jones, and Rachel Cleaver, were dismissed to form a mission to the Cherokee Indians, in the south-east part of Tennessee. The next day (Sabbath) brother Roberts baptized Evan Jones, who also went with the mission, and was spared for many years to be a most efficient laborer among them. His son, Rev. John B. Jones (born on the mission field), after having fitted himself for the work by a course of study at Maddison University, Hamilton, New York, became a most valued help as a reviser and translator of the Scriptures into the Cherokee language. In this connection we must mention a most interesting incident connected with this mission, which was destined to exert a vast influence over the entire work. The missionaries had been for a long time engaged in reducing the language to an alphabetical expression, that they might print as well as preach the word. Simultaneously with them, while they were engaged with their slates and pencils, papers and inks, and all other helps in this laborious work, an illiterate Indian, unknown to them, by the name of Geo. Guess, with nothing but a shingle and the coals which he drew from his forest fire, was devising a syllabic system of symbols by which he reduced the language to such a complete expression, that the authorities at once abandoned their alphabetical arrangement and adopted his, notwithstanding they had already printed a spelling book. The government very honorably acknowledged his service, and justly rewarded him.

When the spirit of modern foreign missions came down upon the churches of America in the earlier parts of this century, this church was among the first to hail its coming, and to enter upon its work. The sisters of the church formed themselves into a society for mission purposes, and were thus able to contribute about $130 yearly to the cause. This contribution entitled them to a representation in the Triennial Convention, as it was familiarly known; and their pastor, Rev. Thomas Roberts, was made a member of the Executive Board.

The planting of churches around them is another evidence of their missionary character; and we should here give a list of these.

1st. The Seventh Day Baptist Church, at French Creek, -1726
2d. Vincent Baptist Church, Chester County, -1771
3d. Phoenixville Baptist Church, Chester County,
4th. Norristown Baptist Church, Montgomery County, -1832
5th. West Chester Baptist Church, Chester County, -1834
6th. Willistown Baptist Church, " -1833
7th. Radnor Baptist Church, Delaware County, -1841

Page 37

Another noticeable characteristic of this church has been the cultivation of the ministerial gifts, which they observed in their membership. The proverb that "a prophet hath honor save in his own country" seems not to have affected them. Their second pastor, Rev. John Davis, was converted, made a Ruling Elder, ordained as their pastor, and died in their midst. Until about twenty-five years since, they seem to have had, with scarcely an interval, some, and sometimes many, of their brethren engaged in this work. The Baptist Zion, today, is indebted to this church for some of the most efficient laborers. The apostolical requirements of piety and aptness to teach, were the only demands which the church made of its candidates for the sacred office. Would that all our churches took, now, the same scriptural view of the matter. We need not fear that this would give a weak or, in any way, inferior ministry. A man of piety and aptness to communicate his thoughts, will always profitably command the respectful attention of his hearers and associates. He will not, as one of more ability would, dazzle you when in the pulpit and disgust you when out of it; nor on the other hand, as mere piety would, weary you as a teacher, even when he claimed your sympathy as a Christian. The world acts wisely in selecting its leaders. It does not require that each shall present himself with a diploma in hand; but it does demand that each one shall prove his ability. No matter where the discipline be obtained, in college hall, or counting room, or workshop, or farm; it is the thing which is wanted, not the manner of its getting. So Paul and Luke and Apollos came from the educated class, when called by the spirit of God; and with an equal call and an equally honorable usefulness came John and Peter and Mark from the uneducated, as the world esteems it. Kindred to this scriptural simplicity in the employment of ministerial gifts, is an impressive incident in the life of Rev. Hugh David, the first pastor. I quote from Morgan Edwards1 "Materials". His authority was the Rev. John Davis, one of the Elders, who officiated at the ceremony. "Some years before Mr. David's death he had a severe pain in his arm, which gradually wasted the limb and made life a burden. After trying many remedies he sent for the Elders of the church to anoint him with oil, according to James V, 14-17. The effect was a perfect cure, so far, that the pain has never returned." A similar record is made by Rev. Owen Thomas, for sometime pastor at Welsh Tract and afterwards at Vincent, where he died and is buried. He says, "I have been called upon three times to anoint the sick with oil for recovery. The effect was surprising in every case; but in none more so than in that of our brother Rynallt Howell. He was so sore with the bruises of the wagon, when he was anointed, that he could not bear to be turned in bed, otherwise than with the sheet: the next day he was so well that he went to meeting." To this, Morgan Edwards adds, "I have often wondered that this rite is so much neglected, as the precept is so plain, and the effects have been so salutary."

The simplicity, earnestness and quaintness of the fathers of this church may be seen by the following documents, which it has been my pleasure to find. The first is a receipt to the second pastor:--

"Rec'd of the Rev. John Davis sixteen shillings, on account of Griffith John, being in full of all demands due to me from the beginning of ye world to ye date hereof.
Jo. Parker
May 5th, 1738."

Page 38

The next is a letter of dismission, written after the form used in those days by the Welsh Churches. It is from the church in Wales whence many of the members in the Valley had migrated, and is signed by their old pastor, Rev. John Jenkins.

"These are to certify those whom it may concern, that the bearer hereof, Thomas Lloyd, is a man of religious conversation, and in fellowship and communion with ye Church of Christ, at Ridwillim, which owneth believers baptism and laying on hands, according to the Scriptures, as witnesseth our hands whose names are under written. Subscribed the 5th day of August, 1727.
John Jenkins, Thomas Mathias," and others.

The following marriage certificate shows how earnestly they looked upon this phase of life:--

"These are to certify to all persons to whom it may concern, that Evan James, of Radnor, yeoman, and Margaret Jones, spinster, of Tredyffrin, both in the county of Chester and province of Pennsylvania, after due publication of their intentions, or bands of marriage on three Lord's days successively, immediately after the ending of public worship at the meeting house belonging to the congregation baptized upon confession of faith, meeting at the Great Valley, in the said county of Chester, as aforesaid, and no cause or impediment appearing against them; Now this eighth day of June, Anno Domini, 1739, being the day appointed by the said parties, they, the said Evan James and Margaret Jones, by and with the consent of parents and other relations, and with the consent of the congregation whereof the said parties are members, and at the meeting house, belonging to the above said congregation, have in the presence of God and the congregation then there for that purpose assembled, entered into a solemn matrimonial covenant with one another in manner and form following, or to the effect:-

'Before the Lord and this congregation I, Evan James, do take thee, Margaret Jones, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, through all conditions whatsoever, in health or sickness, rich or poor, and I do promise, through God's assistance, to be unto thee a faithful husband; t love and cherish thee, and to perform all manner of duties towards thee as becometh a husband towards his wife, according to the rule of God's word; and to keep myself only unto thee and to live with thee until God shall separate us by death.

Before the Lord and this congregation I, Margaret Jones, do give myself unto thee, Evan James, to be thy wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward through all conditions whatsoever, in health or sickness, rich or poor, and I do promise, through God's assistance, to be unto thee a faithful and obedient wife; to love and cherish thee, and to perform all manner of duty towards thee as becomes a wife towards her husband, according to the rule of God's word; and to keep myself only unto thee, and to live with thee until God shall separate us by death.

Page 39

In testimony that the said Evan James and Margaret Jones did enter into the above covenant with each other, and were accordingly declared husband and wife, according to God's holy ordinance, therefore, the said Margaret Jones, by virtue of the above covenant, shall hereafter be called after her husband's name, viz., Margaret James; and these presents were signed by the said parties, we have hereunto set our hands the day and year above written.
Evan James,
Margaret James,
John Davis, Minister.'"

And twenty-four others.

Another feature prominent in the church has been the care and sympathy which they have ever manifested toward the poor. In many cases, even when these humble ones were removing from their midst, did they liberally extend the helping hand. It has been esteemed a legacy of blessing, and not of burden, which the Lord left when he said, "The poor ye have always with you."

The first election of trustees, under the Charter, took place in January, 1800. The following were chosen:-- Daniel Cornog, Isaac Abraham, Jas. Abraham, Jonathan Phillips, David George, David Phillips, and Horatio G. Jones.

This church has always shown a profound interest in the advancement of civil as well as religious truth. We have already seen how promptly they enrolled themselves among the patriots of the Revolution. Again, when the fearful tocsin of war was sounded in 1812, did their venerable pastor, Chaplain Jones, gird on the regimentals of his country, and go forth with our sires to hurl back the invading foe. So when the last fierce struggle came upon us in 1861, do we see this church sending forth her pastor with most of her young men, both of the church and congregation, that they might do valliantly once more for their country and for truth. The 97th Regiment, Col. Guss commanding, while exposed to the perils of that terrible conflict, filled a very sacred place in the heart of patriotism at home. Fathers and mothers yearning with parental affection, wives, bound by the divine unity of Eden, and sisters loving with angelic purity, went with throbbing solicitude to the throne of Him who is the God of battles, and who only can shelter with the pinions of his care. Those prayers were heard. When the fury of the war cloud had passed, and peace, with a tearful eye, looked down upon our country, purified by the fiery ordeal, each of those loved ones, without a single exception, was returned to the embraces of home. True, some came with the scars of the fight, some enfeebled by the wasting of disease, and one or two to die; yet these were blessed, even in death! Their last look was not upon strangers; their lives did not go out amid the sorrowful scenes of the hopital; much less did they fall, crushed amid the fury of the fight; but they went gently to sleep in the arms of affection, and rest in the graves of their fathers.

Page 40

We cannot close this sketch without particularly noting, with profound gratitude to the Head of the church, the abundant outpouring of His spirit during the pastorate of Rev. Leonard Fletcher. The church was without a pastor, yet their desire for the salvation of souls led them to appoint a four days meeting. Ministering brethren came, among them the one whose pastorate was in succeeding years so graciously blessed. The opening sermon was preached by one of the church's own sons, Rev. H. G. Jones. From the first it was felt that He who had promised to be with His people was present. As in the days of Pentecost, the spirit was poured out, and sinners, as then, anxiously asked what they should do. Day after day tne house was thronged with rejoicing worshippers and weeping penitents. Hundreds were brought to Christ in that revival; for we may say that it continued with but little cessation during Brother Fletcher's entire stay. Many of you here today remember with tenderest emotion these precious days and the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. During the eight years of his labors here, he baptized more than four hundred into the membership of the church. The missionary spirit again filled the church. Norristown had no Baptist church. The pastor, deacons, and brethren went there to preach the gospel, as their hearts earnestly received it. And, although at first they were denied a place in which to meet, yet were they not discouraged, but made the Court house steps their pulpit, and God's unfettered firmament their canopy. This was the origin of the Norristown Baptist Church. Then West Chester called for their prayers and efforts. Again the little band went forth, and as Paul stood in the Areopagus on Mars Hill to proclaim Christ and the resurrection, so did the pastor of the Valley stand in the Court house, freely offered, with the same message. Hence the West Chester Church. At length his work seemed done; with a weary heart he went to tread a pilgrimage of twenty years. He labored amid the sunny' fruitfulness of the south, yet as year after year passed slowly away, his heart was ever returning to the people here, whom he loved so well. And, as God heard the prayer of Jacob and brought him back to his father's house in peace, so He brought Brother Fletcher back in the evening of his life, that his flesh might repose in the midst of those he had led to Jesus, awaiting with them the resurrection of the just.

Thus, brethren, we have sketched for you the progress of your Zion. we have seen it planted in the wilderness, striking deeply and boldly its roots and growing until it has become a mother of churches. Yet it bears fruit in its old age. Let us then, while we stand here in this beautifully renovated sanctuary, turn adoringly to the Giver of all good and beseech Him that the glory of this latter house, like that of the second temple, may be exceeding excellent, on account of the coming of Shiloh within its walls.


Page last updated: 2013-11-29 at 13:59 EST
Copyright © 2006-2013 Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Permissio is given to make copies for personal use only.
All other uses require written permission of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society.