Talk by Dr. Edgar K. DeJean
“Mariner Program Honoring Those Who Kept the Church for Us.”
We want to honor first that small group of loyal attending members who came to worship service consistently when their attendance averaged eight or nine persons each Sunday, and many times you had to include the minister and his wife to get this average. We have become so accustomed to the beautiful music which flows from the church organ that we cannot imagine the time when there was no singing at the worship service. During these critical years, the worship music consisted of records placed on a phonograph by the minister’s wife.
It is our conviction that God has inspired these few to maintain this particular church for some very special reason and we pledge ourselves to do those things which are possible when we are the tools through which God works his will. Whatever impact this church may have, whatever things may be accomplished in the future, nothing could be, had the church been allowed to die. Therefore, we can only say in humble gratitude---THIS was their finest hour!
Rose Barnett Mary Telle
Reed Boggs Roger Voyles
Minnie Campbell Roscoe Welcher
Arthur McClintock Zella White
Kathleen McClintock Frankie Winslow
Carrie Persise Adelaide Spencer
Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say---This was their finest hour!
While Britain and the free world was engaged in a struggle to survive this June 1940, when Winston Churchill spoke those famous words, there was a struggle for survival going on in our community. About this time the Presbyterian Church not only here, but across the world, was bracing itself for that one last effort which gave birth to the New Life Movement. Population shifts and sociological factors had humbled this denomination across our land. Salem was no exception. A gradual but constant decline in membership and finances which advanced relentlessly through the 1930’s, finally brought this church to its crisis in the early 1940’s.
It is these few critical years upon which we would focus your attention, because here was a handful of loyal Presbyterians engaged in a fight for the very life of their local church. During these early 1940’s, this Salem church found itself facing the decision from week to week whether it would or could continue. The declared purpose of this service is an expression of gratitude from those of us who came later to these few who brought this our Presbyterian church safely through those trying years. No attempt has been made to evaluate the part any individual members played nor has any “grading system” been applied. This survival was a group project. Should any error appear or anyone be forgotten, it is an unintentional mistake.
The efforts of these members, whose attendance kept the church doors open would have gone for naught without the sustaining support of many others whose interest in, and love for the church, were just as vital.
Laura Alexander Charles McClintock
Mary Bundy Howard Pickleheimer
Charity Dennis Mable Reid
Mrs. Edgar Hardin Helen Roberson
Mary Houston Blanche Smith
Charles Justi Clara Voyles
Howard and Clella Ann Lopp Louise Telle Martin
We are not intent upon elevating any select group but we cannot fail to give credit to the four elders who served as the rallying point through which survival was possible. Those men are Reed Boggs, Arthur McClintock, Roger Voyles, and Roscoe Welcher. And, we must honor the only church organization which maintained its service through all these years----The Presbyterians Women’s Association.
Nor can we fail to recognize the fact that not all of those who shared in winning this glorious test are still with us tonight. We all revere the memories of those who gave so much before going on ahead.
We cannot and must not forget that help came not only from within the local church but from Presbyterians everywhere through the Seminary and the Boards of the Church. Nor was the victory strictly a Presbyterian affair. Some Christians of other churches in the community kept faith with these loyal members and through their generosity joined in the battle to preserve a church which had survived more than 125 years as an organized unit.
Again I repeat---if through error any person has been forgotten, it is not intentional. We have tried to focus our appreciation upon those critical years when so much was accomplished by so few. Great things had been done before those years, life saving events came during those years and we humbly pray that the future will see great accomplishments also.