AUGUST 2016: 200 YEARS OF UNION PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Last month I discussed some of our early pastors. The last one I mentioned, Calvin Stewart, oversaw the construction of the first floor of this building. This month I will start with Reverend Robert Kirk. He served Union beginning in 1891, only one month out of Princeton Seminary. He served here until 1905 and was our first pastor to be paid more often than quarterly. He was paid monthly.
Under his leadership, the session took a very personal interest in the spiritual welfare of the congregation. If you were an adulterer or even a drinker or spreader of gossip, you were ordered to appear before the session. If you did not publicly repent you were excluded from communion. Fortunately, gossiping no longer denies one from communion, or our lines might be much shorter!
Under his guidance, the Sanctuary we now worship in was constructed right on top of the existing church, our current first floor! Rev. Kirk was an excellent carpenter and the oak staircases and carved posts leading upstairs today were made by him. One of Rev. Kirk’s pastorates after he left Union was in southwestern Pennsylvania, very near where our previous minister, Dr. Clark, and also Rev. Richard Yates, a previous pastor who had the privilege of marrying me, retired to.
Rev. Kirk’s successor, Reverend Frederick Evans, was ordained a new minister and installed at Union on the same day, June 20, 1905. Rev. Evans was well liked at Union, but couldn't adjust to country life and resigned after only 10 months. Of all of Unions pastors, he would become the most widely known, as he would eventually become the Head Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA.
His replacement, Rev. Robert Hunter, died at Union at age 33, shortly after resigning for health reasons. He is probably the only Union minister to have his picture on a post card, a very popular new thing around 1900. Next month I will finish the pastor stories.