Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Kum Ba Yah My Lord"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 16:6 – The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance. (NKJV)
One Saturday afternoon back in 2003, I received a call from a leading member of our congregation, a good friend of mine, who asked me if he could come and see me, "Right now!" Needless to say, I wondered what the emergency was. Ten minutes later, he pulled up in front of our house. He motioned for me to come to his car. Beside him on the front seat was a big cardboard box full of papers. They were old church records, some of them from many, many years ago. He then reminded me that the following year, 2004, was the 150th anniversary of Presbyterians in our town of Meaford. As I had done a lot of writing, including a book about my family, he thought that I would be the right person to write a book about the Presbyterians in Meaford from 1854 to 2004. I tried to convince him that there must be someone more qualified than me, but he disagreed, and after some discussion, I agreed.
During the next months, I went through those old papers. I found it hard to find information on certain periods during those 150 years. (I would encourage those who have the authority to do so to make sure that good records of our faith journey are kept for future generations.) I did a considerable amount of further research and managed to get pictures of all but three of the ministers who had served during those 150 years. I also had access to pictures of the four church buildings which were used during that time. I learned and wrote about the local history and the struggles of the early Presbyterians during times of hardship, especially during the settlement years in the 1800s, and the wars and depression years in the 1900s. There were many references to the fellowship within the church community, how they depended on each other, and how, through all those years, they kept the faith and told His story.
Hebrews 11 is called "The Faith Chapter", and it starts out as follows:
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (NKJV)
It then continues with the history of the Hebrew people: the hardships they endured, the problems they had, the difficulties they encountered, their journeys through the ages, and through it all, how they kept the faith from generation to generation.
Hebrews 11:13 – These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (NKJV)
Likewise, the early Presbyterians in Meaford were not able to see the fruits of their labours, but they, too, kept the faith. They kept on working and believing.
We need to do the same!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for our predecessors who told the story of Jesus, who kept the faith, and who worked hard for Your church. May we do the same for Your sake, and for those who will yet come to faith. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Forward this devotional Share this devotional on Facebook Like PresbyCan on Facebook
Well done. Faith is the key.
Blessings Joel. I’m sure this was a rewarding journey.
Amen! Let’s not drop the ball now in faithfulness in prayer and worship, fellowship and service!
Very thought provoking Joel.
And indeed, you were the right person for the task.
To Joel Jongkind,
Thank you for your devotional today.
What a project!
Is the work you produced now complete?
Did you write that “thought for the day”? Was that being sarcastic? Your idea of a joke? I don’t think so!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Thought for the Day was, “I hate intolerant people”. The point of it was neither sarcastic nor a joke, nor was it written by the devotional author. It comes out of a serious fact that in today’s society, many people preach tolerance, but they are totally intolerant of anyone, like Christians, who don’t agree with their views on such things as moral standards. It is totally inconsistent, and that is what today’s Thought for Today is pointing out.
Thank you for your reminder, of the hardship the people went through in that time and what God’s people are going through today. We really are going through even in the United States. Not so much in our area. We are considered the Bible gate area. So far OK as far as our schools are.
Thank you for your article today about history and our need to preserve the data from the past. Sadly, it seems too many are caught up with the moment, and forget the need of future believers to hear the stories of their past. Hope you can write the story of your Church’s past. I am working to ensure my church’s stories are not forgotten.
Dear brother in Christ,
Your Devotional told us about the 150th anniversary of your church in your home town in 2004. By the way we in Brazil celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in 2009. The first missionary arrived in Rio de Janeiro on August, 12th 1859. His name was Ashbel Green Simonton from Philadelphia. He planted the Presbyterian Church here and died 8 years later of yellow fever. Now our church is one of the strongest protestants church in our country. Thanks God.
Thanks for your May 20th devotional. It can be a source of encouragement to know the faith journey of those who came before us so I’m sure the Presbyterians in Meaford appreciate your efforts to record theirs. Many congregations know nothing of their history. What we discovered in our church was almost worse: decades after a brief written history had been created, most members didn’t know we had one, and those that did, didn’t know where it was. The stapled half-dozen pages were buried in the office filing cabinet.
So, when I was appointed congregational historian a few years ago, I embarked on a project similar to yours. The resulting modest book documents our roots and the journey of faith of Presbyterians in the area between 1875-2015 and is accompanied by an on-going series of scrapbooks that will continue to record the future life and work of our congregation.
This time copies were placed in the church library as well as an official copy along with a CD of files in the church office, so revised updated versions can easily be made. We’re determined that future generations will always be aware of their history!
Blessings to you.
Hi Joel, I enjoyed your devotion. A couple of years ago we closed our church and as I went through all the old records I was struck by their faith. It was two women who walked each and every Sunday that had petitioned for a church in the first place. They wanted a place to worship in this area. I also came across letters written by soldiers in the war expressing thanks and deep gratitude for the kits sent overseas for them.
I thought by not knowing or looking at these records we had not shared the faith that had sustained this congregation over the years. In our denomination it is not in our DNA to share what Jesus means to us and to share about our faith, our struggles and our journey as believers. When you see histories of churches it seems to be all about the building but it is God’s word that is preached, spoken and shared that is the sustainer. Even though our churches closed my faith had grown in that church and seeds were planted in others as well.
Thank you for writing the history of that church and may its future be one of service and sacrifice to build God’s kingdom today. May that church be and all of the churches be filled with people on fire for our Lord and not the social clubs some of us have become.
Thank you for your devotions. This devotion is one of the first things I read each day and so often the message is just what I need. God’s blessing is on you.