As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Faith of our Fathers (and Mothers)

When I was a child we went to the Hornerstown Baptist Church, every Mother's Day they presented four potted geraniums, one for the oldest mother, newest mother, the mother with the most children (and sadly I can't remember what the last one was for) and they always sang the hymn Faith of Our Fathers with mothers instead. My sisters and I would attend church with our mother, grandmother (my Dad's mother), and great-grandmother when I was very small. We would often sit with F and Hay, my father's great aunt Ethel and her daughter Helen, who was the postmistress at Cream Ridge; she would give us a quarter (25 cents) to stay after Sunday school for church. It was the church where I was baptized at the age of twelve by dear old Marshall "Pop" Sewell, who had come out of retirement to lead the church for a few years.

Last Sunday I took one of the baskets of flowers from my mother's funeral there for the service, after we heard that father's original choice, the Imlaystown Baptist where they were married, and she had sang in the church choir as a teenager, is apparently closed. The pastor and most of the congregation I knew from my last visit to Hornerstown a few years ago have either moved into the heavenly choir, or a different church, due to some new directions the church has moved in. However, the sanctuary looks much the same, with the exception of the red and gold drapery behind the cross has been replaced with the cloud canvas, and the powerpoint screen mounted above it. The drapery had covered extensive damage to the wall when the church was hit by lightning in the 1960's, right after they had finished renovations, which caused some soul searching about what God thought of the changes.

This Sunday my father and I decided to go to the annual service at the Old Yellow Meetinghouse which was built in 1732, some of my mother's ancestors are buried in the churchyard. He had gone there with mother a few times early in their marriage, and I remember going there as a child with her and her mother. It has been held on the last Sunday in July at 11 am for as long as my father can remember, but there were no cars when we arrived at 10:30. The sign had been changed in the last week since my aunt and I had driven past while trying to find someone in Imlaystown to read 2 pm. On the way home, Father and I drove past Emley's Hill Methodist Church and stopped at the graveyard to check how the flower baskets were holding up on Mother's Grave. We took a few faded-looking ones off and put them in the dumpster. My sisters were coming around noon to get the firehall fundraising dinner in another nearby town, so after we ate takeout BBQ chicken with all the fixings, I headed back to the church.
Old Yellow Meeting House

inside the church

John Polhemus- near the church building

The Old Yellow Meeting House was organized in 1723, the current building was built in 1732 after a fire. It is the oldest Baptist church building still in use in New Jersey and the third oldest in America. This the was the 99th annual service, and it featured hymns written by Issac Watts, one of which was sang at the church's dedication. After the service I walked through the cemetery and took photos of Polhemus gravestones. My mother was a Polhemus before she married, and my sisters and I remember our grandmother Jennie walking us carefully through the lines of graves to find the ones of Tobias and Job Polhemus. The oldest one I found was for John Polhemus in 1795.
The oldest grave in the cemetery  -1723

I need to figure what an Emley (my father's family)
was doing buried with the Polhemus (mother's) family

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