Editor’s Note: The following letter, transcribed by Amy Feldner Lawlor, was published in the Sept. 27, 1916 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.
At Warwick, NY Written by the Rev. James Bristow
In the fall of 1865 Rev. G.F. Love, at the suggestion of neighboring Baptist brethren in North New Jersey, visited Warwick, and on December 3 commenced preaching services which continued with increasing interest. Rev. David Silver, of Hamburg, NJ, assisted Brother Love in several of these services, finally resulting in the formation of the Calvary Baptist Church, which was constituted January 4, 1866, the following persons being charter members: Rev. G.F. Love, Deckertown, N.J.; Ezra Sanford, Glenwood, N.J.; Martha C. Fancher (now Mrs. G.F. Love, making her home with her daughter, Mrs. Cramer, of Manchester, N.H.; Adeline Harrison and Mrs. Anna Peck Branch, who with Mrs. Love make the only two surviving charter members living today. The first deacons were Ezra Sanford, Gabriel Wisner, and Grace Newton Baldwin.
Recognition services were held May 8, 1866, at which time $2,200 were pledged toward a meeting house. November 24, 1866, on motion of Deacon, I.N. Baldwin, it was resolved that “we rise and build a meeting house.” A building lot was secured with dimensions three ft. by 65 ft., the corner stone being laid June 25, 1867. The first service was held in the basement Feb. 20, 1868, the sermon being preached by Rev. C.A. Fox, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Middletown, NY.
Rev. G.F. Love closed his labors with the church April 1, 1868. The membership at that time being 48. The earnest efforts of Pastor Love and his devoted wife made possible the beginning and establishment of the work that has proved to be so strong and permanent in its character.
Rev. Dwight Spencer followed Mr. Love as stated supply, and during his ministry the church was dedicated. The cost of the building, $15,200, was met on the morning of dedication with the exception of $6,000. Before the day closed the whole deficit was raised and the proceedings closed with the singing of the doxology by a happy and generous people.
Rev. C.E. Cordo began his pastorate in April 1869. During his ministry the parsonage was erected at a cost of $3,110. Rev. D.C. Litchfield became pastor and served for six years. During this period an indebtedness amounting to $3,000 was paid. Brother Litchfield was instrumental in organizing the monthly union meetings of the village churches which have continued ever since.
Rev. Frank Spencer, Rev. E.B. Cornell and Rev. David G. Post followed. It was during the latter’s ministry, which continued from 1886 to 1891, that the late Ezra T. Sanford was licensed to preach by the church, which was followed by his preparation for the ministry and a worthy and acceptable career in that capacity.
Rev. W.E. Foote was pastor from April, 1892, to May, 1989. His ministry was noted for its evangelistic spirit and a large accession to the membership of the church. Through the instrumentality of Mrs. W.G. Foote, the Fortnightly Literary Society owes its inception.
Mr. Foote was succeeded by his brother, Rev. A.E. Foote, who continued for about two years a ministry marked by efficient and earnest leadership, resulting in a large increase in membership. During this pastorate Nathaniel R. Yeagles was licensed to preach by the church and has since been active in the work of the ministry.
Rev. D.W. Sheppard became pastor January 27, 1901. During his ministry, which continued until April 1, 1907, the new Bible school building was erected and the old building renovated at a cost of $9,000. Services of dedication were held June 17-19, 1903, the sermon being preached by Rev. C.E. Condo. The pipe organ presented to the church by Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Crissey was used for the first time on this occasion.
Rev. E.B. Hughes served the church for one year, being followed by Rev. J.D. Brehaut, whose ministry of three years was of a strong, constructive character.
Rev. James Bristow began his pastorate October 1, 1913. The church has responded to his leadership in a marked degree as evidenced by the changed appearance of the church and the increased membership of the church, 230, being considerably larger than at any other period of the church’s history.
The Bible school of this church was organized December, 1865. Its superintendents have been Rev. G.F. Love, Rev. D. Spencer, Rev. C.E. Cordo, C.A. Crissey, who served 12 years; G.A. Miller, Hiram Tate, 22 years; C.V. Sanford, and Luther J. Buchanan.
Special interest is attached to the observance of the fifty years’ history of this church, which is to be celebrated next Sunday. A former pastor, Rev. W.E. Foote, of Princeton, N.J., will be the preacher for the day. And next week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Hudson River Central Baptist Association, comprising territory from Nyack to Port Jervis, and representing in its constituency more than forty churches, will hold its annual convention in Warwick.