Thursday, September 23, 2010

"And I believe in Ramparts."

I am not definite in my mind as to precisely where the heavenly ramparts are located, or of what gorgeous and wonderful materials they are constructed; but they are somewhere very high above us, in an inconceivably beautiful and peaceful place. They are for the convenience of those loving spirits, whose interest it is to lean upon them, to look down in compassion and anxiety on the world which they have left. Now, it seems to me that these same released spirits are not going to have a truly joyful time on these same ramparts, or anywhere else on the broad plains of heaven, if the people they have left behind them, the people they have loved and in whom they have believed and trusted, are going to fail them in carrying to successful completion the work they were forced to leave unfinished.

The thoughts of all these spirits, as they watch us from on high should be an inspiration to us to treat their works, their ideas, and their ambitions with a vast respect. We can do no nobler work than to carry on reverently, sincerely, and faithfully.

--Gene Stratton-Porter

Likely published in McCall's, Vol, 53, Aug. 1926, as “Gene Stratton-Porter’s Page: Ramparts.” Clipping from the collection of Rev Jesse Halsey.

"highest quality of brotherly behavior that eschews hatreds and prejudices"

August 20, 1939

To turn from history to the contemporary present; these very days there has been and is being organized a weel articulated movement of sinister mean and considerable proportion and with a disarming name—the so-called “Christian” Front, with its subsidiary the “Christian Mobilizers.” All the improved techniques of the Nazi group are employed in this propaganda. They boldly speak of “the poppycock of Democracy” and advocate a “corporate state.” In action they are rabidly anti-Semitic, and stabbings have taken place on the streets of New York. Hoodlum tactics, disregard of the rights of others, violent utterance, an incitement to riot—such things do not fit the American scene and must not become part of the American life.

The use of the most sacred noun and adjective of our vocabulary to characterize this sort of procedure is sheer impudence and profanation. No catalog of high-sounding principles can redeem hate-inciting vociferations and active persecution of a minority. “Christian” certainly ought to take its quality from the Christ. He it was who said “By their fruits ye shall know them.” There is no substitute for action; words speak loudly but actions louder.” What you are and do speak so loud I can’t hear what you say.” And our Lord, Himself, gave the final test of allegiance to himself in these words—“Why call me Lord Lord and do not the things that I say.”

Let the so-called “Christian” Front get a name that fits its character; no brand of Christianity of which I have any knowledge would care to have “Front” behavior called “Christian.”

In 1855, Thomas F Marshall speaking to a Kentucky audience (largely in sympathy with the intolerant doctrines of the Know Nothings, clearly and bravely stated the situation—

“If the persecuting temper of the 16th century is to be renewed here, if American Protestantism so far forgets its mission as to aid in rekindling the religious wars . . . religion will suffer most. True Christianity will veil her face. Men will be divided between a sullen and sordid fanaticism on the one side and a scoffing infidelity on the other. Our national characteristics will be lost. American civilization will have changed its character, our Federal union will have sacrificed its distinctive traits and we shall have exhibited a failure in the principles with which our government commenced its career, at which Hell itself might exult in triumph.”

Those same words are cogent today. The performance of the so-called Christian Front makes one ashamed—and makes one afraid. Except as one is led to believe in the common sense appraisal heretofore made by the American public of similar un-American, anti-social movements.

The most heartening thing that has come to my attention lately is this incident, illustrative of the very best American tradition. It transpired a few days ago in the Tombs Police court in NY City. Nothing more typical of the best American spirit and our high tradition of fair play can or needs to be quoted.

Magistrate Michael A. Ford was sentencing Miss Florence Nash, a 42-year-old saleswoman of [Coughlin’s] Social Justice. She had made her denunciation, which has been characteristic of Coughlinites, as she held out a copy of the paper. Judge Ford, having sentenced her to thirty days in the workhouse, and having suspended execution of the sentence, contingent on future good behavior, declared:

“I think you are one of the most contemptible individuals ever brought into my court. There is no place in this free country for any person who entertains the narrow, bigoted, intolerant ideas you have in your head. You remind me of a witch burner. You belong to the Middle Ages. You don’t belong to this modern, civilized day of ours. I’m ashamed of you. I take it you belong to the Roman Catholic Church. I’m a Roman Catholic myself, I’m ashamed of you because of the idea you have expressed.”

The magistrate then asked Miss Nash: “Where did your parents come from?”

“From Ireland,” she replied, and added with sobs, “both are dead.”

“They undoubtedly came to this country, as my parents did, to escape the persecution of the English Government,” said the magistrate. “The persecution you have perpetrated could be perpetrated also against your own race. He who instills such ideas in your head, be he a priest or anyone else, does not belong in this country.”

Magistrate Ford’s scathing lecture to this peddler of ill-will, incorporating his respects to Father Coughlin, who inspires the peddling, must have been as refreshing to decent Roman Catholic citizens of New York as it has been to citizens of other churches and none. It offered a striking contrast to the action of many other magistrates who have been handling cases of arrests brought about in the past few months as a result of the tactics of Coughlin’s “storm troopers.” Furthermore, his words constitute an excellent lesson in democratic conduct. It should be studied by those citizens, including churchmen, who have so far forgotten the primary obligations imposed by the democratic idea as to indulge in anti-Semitism.

This is the reaction of every true American.

Eternal vigilance is the price of our liberty. I believe if we tell the facts fearlessly the American public will respond in the spirit of the Constitution and of the Bill of Rights. I also believe with all my heart that “Christian” can mean and does mean the highest quality of brotherly behavior that eschews hatreds and prejudices of all sort. I sing the Te Deum and exalt the Christ* “Thou art the King of Glory O Christ” but with the Te Deum I go on to add “we believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.” No one can honor Christ who hates his brother nor claim the name of Christian who foments confusion strife and every work.

4 pages from an untitled sermon by Rev. Jesse Halsey typed on the back of the Seventh Presbyterian Church stationery.

[Ed note from weel [wiːl] — adv , — adj , — interj , — sentence connector a Scot word for well.]

Magistrate Michael A. Ford

Time Magazine
HEROES: Citizen Turns
Monday, Jan. 22, 1940
Famed capacity of French boxcars in World War I was 40 men and eight horses. Capacity of New York City subway cars averages 61 (sitting) plus 91 (standing), equals 152, plus as many more human herrings as subway guards can slam inside as the doors slide shut.
Famed also is the capacity of New Yorkers to endure the twice-daily pants-and-collar bum's rush from the guards—so much so that most of last week's New York City subway news roused no more impassioned attention than an advertising car card.

1) Seven people were injured when an I. R. T.* local hit an open switch, plowed into an idle train on a Bronx siding. 2) E. J. Rigney, onetime Independent employe, went on trial, charged with scooping and pocketing from turnstile boxes 500,000 nickels ($25,000) in four years. Mr. Rigney was one of 36 subway employes accused of niching 30,000,000 nickels ($1,500,000). 3) City budgetmen tried to find out why the Transportation Board had awarded an $888,000 signal-system contract to the higher of two bidders.

Fourth item was somewhat less usual. Magistrate Michael A. Ford took up the case of a trio of respectable citizens accused of biting & scratching each other in a subway fight, ruled: biting & scratching is legal in subways, does not constitute disorderly conduct, because "herding of people like cattle" is enough to make anyone mad.

Fifth item made real news. Mr. Brooks, 38, a banker, ordinarily as meek as a citizen, had been commuting from Greens Farms, Conn, for four years. Twice a day he had been shoved around in Grand Central Station, trampled like a grape in a vintage year; then, as he neared the train, given the old heave-o into the car by bawling subway guards. One muggy morning last week, Subway Guard Matthew Walsh spied Commuter Brooks on the crowd fringe, got behind him, shoved him mightily between the closing doors of a subway car. It was all suddenly too much for Commuter Brooks. Wheeling, he smacked Guard Walsh a lusty bust smack on the nose. Arrested, given a suspended sentence, he said: ". . . I'd do it again. . . . But even so small a crime . . . does not pay," hurried off to catch a downtown subway train.

*New York City has three subway systems: I. R. T. (Interborough Rapid Transit), B. M. T. (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) and Independent (city-owned).

Scallop Pond (Near Southampton, Long Island)

Unidentified Newspaper Clipping

  He goes again in Summer heat,
  To birthplace, old home, home of his Fathers for three hundred years;
  He resumes old habits, and drives to the ancient Pond for clams.
  As he had gone with his father, and that father with his father, and that one with his own, back and back through the generations;
  There on the shore of the Pond, at low tide, he digs in the mud for the clams, in the way the native Shinnecock Indians had taught his ancestors;
  And while he tolls and fills his sack, lo, yonder away on the flats are three Shinnecocks at the same labor--
  Indians in straight descent from those who showed the trick of such captures to his forefathers,
  Their own forerunners, undisturbed by white newcomers, having been there before Columbus found the New World, and for untold ages before him; 
  The bivalves themselves are still more primeval, having their lineage of the same genus, in the same waters, before Man appeared upon our planet.
  These Shinnecocks, having made their catch, shoulder their bags and lope off in their tireless way to their shacks or to the near-by markets in the town;
  While the white man throws his sack into his car and speeds to his back lawn, where he follows teh method of roasting the clams that the Shinnecocks had taught his ancestors;
  He sets up a circle of small stone on the grass, places the bivalves on the edge in the circle, that their juices may not be lost, takes old shingles from his wood-shed, shingles from a mill that after more than two centuries' use had been torn down, splits the shingles into pieces, lays them on top the clams, applies a match to paper, as Indians had struck sparks from flint to fall on dry, dead leaves;
  On platters, his boys carry the roasted clams to the house, and a feast is on.

  Now Shinnecocks and white man and clams have met again, on the shores of the same Pond, under the same Sun, at the same low tide, as three centuries ago. 
  Time, swift-racer, who plunges us all onward, ever onward, at speed, now and then checks his rapid feet and is still, and Past and Present for a while are one.

--Calvin Dill Wilson 

The column's author, Calvin Dill Wilson, also wrote, among other books for young readers, a The Child's Don Quixote: Being the Adventures of Don Quixote Retold for Young People, T.Y. Crowell, New York, c1901, which was dedicated to his eight-year-old boy, Maurice Webster Wilson, who was born in 1892.

Camp: A Three Bedroom Unheated Home

Upon returning from Labrador, Jesse built a camp at North Sea, which the family no longer used by the time Abbie was born in 1922.

Just before or just after the hurricane of 1938, Bill Bishop and Jesse began the camp at Shinnecock. Prior to that, picnics had been at the Herrick's camp at Whalebone. Bill Bishop built the Tower at Shinnecock with multiple levels so he could see the sea morning, noon, and night.

Jesse built the camp at Shinnecock in the summer of 1946 using huge doors and windows from the renovated church in Cincinnati that had been stored in the barn behind 49 N Main. The windows originally had been in the Sunday school rooms, looking down upon the basketball courts in the gym. Seventh Presbyterian Church was a real community center, housing Boy Scouts, with women sewing clothes for the poor, as well as sports and games for youth. Jesse bought the pieces, had them shipped to Southampton, and used them to build the camp. Charles Sr. and Jr. both helped in erecting the camp.

[Ed note: From an interview conducted with AFHVA, December 2005, Iowa City, IA.]

Helen Augusta Halsey Haroutunian

Helen Augusta Halsey Haroutunian, 1914-2003

On November 16, 2003, Helen Augusta Halsey Haroutunian, resident of Milbridge, Maine, and former resident of Cincinnati, Chicago, and Iowa City, died peacefully at the age of 89. Helen was born to Jesse Halsey and Helen Isham Halsey (Quass) in Cincinnati in February 1914.

In 1942, she married Joseph Haroutunian, a well-known theologian who taught at McCormick Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago. Joining the McCormick faculty in 1940, Dr. Hartoutunian taught Systematic Theology and for the next 20 years was among North America’s leading theologians. He died almost 35 years to the day before Helen on November 15, 1968.

Helen Haroutunian was an artist, writer, and teacher who enjoyed the benefits of a fine education. She was a 1932 graduate of Miss Doherty’s School in Cincinnati.

The third child and first daughter of Jesse and Helen Halsey, she was named for her mother and for the Great Aunt who raised her father. Helen earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Western College for Women (Miami University), Oxford, Ohio, in 1936, where she performed in The Peabody Players' “Gammer Gurton's Needle,” January 27, 28, among other productions. [Program Letter to Miss Helen Halsey from Rosamond Gilder, March 15, 1939 & April 11, 1939. The New York Times noted that Rosamond Gilder, as founder and former president of the International Theater Institute, a worldwide organization with 65 national centers, was an influential theater figure in New York and overseas.]
In 1940, she received a master’s of arts degree in general studies from the Yale Drama School, and in 1980, a second master’s degree in art history from the University of Iowa.
She was an early scholar of Joseph Cornell’s work, writing her masters thesis on Cornell's Medici Slot-Machine at the University of Iowa in 1978.

Helen lived in Chicago from 1940 until 1970, where she studied at the Art Institute with George Breur.

Helen Halsey Haroutunian
Chicago Lake Front, 1955

Her works of art in oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, and collage covered subject matter from urban scenes to rural landscapes. She showed her work at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Milbridge Historical Society. In 1998, Helen and her son, artist Joseph Haroutunian, had a joint retrospective show at the University of Maine-Machias that revealed influences of mother upon son and vice versa. Her published works include, “Incident on the Bark Columbia: Being Letters Received and Sent by Captain McCorkle and the Crew of his Whaler, 1860-1862” (Cummington, MA), 1941, a true story conveyed through letters, which she compiled and edited, and “Joseph Cornell in ‘View,’”Arts Magazine, 1983.
Teaching was another life-long interest. Helen taught both visual and language arts in middle and high schools, at the Cummington School, Cummington, MA, and at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago.

While at Cummington, Helen dated the poet Sameul French Morse. Although
she'd broken up with Morse, having found him and his friends "too snobby and only interested in their own opinions," Morse attended the funeral of her older brother Frederick in 1940.

Above all, Helen was a loving and devoted wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-aunt, and friend. Her paintings, writings, and teaching, indeed all her endeavors, were characterized by remarkable care and attention to detail. She was an exemplary cook and gardener, and a committed member of her church. Her sweetness, style, intelligence and command of the English language inspired all who knew her.

Helen Halsey Haroutunian
Still Life, 1960

[Ed note: HAHH's obituary from which much of this text is drawn appeared in the Bangor Daily News on November 22, 2003; Additional information comes from sources noted above and in conversations between the author and HAHH between 1996-2003. Images of paintings come from the artist's gallery at]

Seventh Presbyterian Church Closes

Cincinnati Magazine
May 2010

Did a Walnut Hills church close in anger, or was it a bullied pulpit?
By Polk Laffoon IV

When Seventh Presbyterian Church—a landmark on the corner of Madison Road and Cleinview in East Walnut Hills for nearly 126 years—closed its doors last September, no one was happy. The congregation, which made the decision to go dark, said that it had no choice. As one member said, “We were forced against a wall.” The Presbytery of Cincinnati, the ruling body for some 83 Presbyterian churches in the region, said that the church very much did have a choice, but that, for whatever reasons, it chose to die. In these precincts of faith, there was precious little good faith on either side.

“Under the circumstances, I would think you’d do everything in your power to keep us going,” says Dick Paulsen, a congregant of more than 40 years, “but no one raised a finger.”

“The congregation voted to close the church,” James DiEgidio, the general presbyter—that is, the chief administrator of the presbytery—counters. “You would have to ask them why.”

The story of why Seventh Presbyterian closed is that of a search for leadership, but one made interesting by the context in which it occurred: urban change, fading luster, impassioned allegations, and—how could it be otherwise?—money. Churches are not immune to the kind of complicated, internecine conflicts that beset other institutions. What was surprising in this case was the intensity of the bitterness, freely articulated by the congregants. As church member Margaret Valentine put it: “We didn’t die. We were murdered.” It’s a sentiment shared by a small but vocal congregation who won’t get over their loss anytime soon.

Founded downtown in 1849, the church moved to Walnut Hills 35 years later and, over time, became the church of choice for some of the city’s most prominent families. A bulletin from 1957 includes important names from the city’s halls of commerce and industry—Beckjord, Hollister, Pease, Schwab, and dozens more.

The second half of the last century was less kind. A mysterious fire in 1971 destroyed Seventh’s sanctuary, although not the beautiful steeple; amid much fanfare, the sanctuary was rebuilt. Yet the congregation was already in decline. From a total of approximately 700 members in the early 1960s, it dropped steadily until, by 2009, only 60 members remained. In this it was like many urban churches. But Seventh had something going for it that other churches in decline generally don’t: an endowment of nearly $2 million that could be (and was) used to help with shortfalls when times were tight.

In the summer of 2004, after six years in the job, Steven W. Willis, the young and well-liked pastor of Seventh, left to follow his wife to a new position in Washington state. As is customary in such situations, an interim minister was appointed. Taking the pulpit in August 2004, Richard Fouse was, by all accounts, a skilled interim, and he turned out to be exceedingly popular. “We loved him and we would have kept him forever,” says Paulsen.

“Our ministers have always delivered strong, intelligent, and stimulating sermons,” says Margaret Valentine, “and Dick Fouse lived up to that standard very well.” So well, in fact, that after two years the church petitioned the presbytery to give Fouse a two-year extension. The petition was granted, in part on grounds that continuity is vital in any church.

Not only did the members at Seventh like Fouse, he liked the church—a lot. “It was a very healthy relationship,” he said recently. “They seemed to be of one mind and one heart and knew what they wanted to do. This was my ninth ‘interim,’ and it was the most joyful, happy, cohesive, collegial one I ever had.”

So why didn’t he just stay? For one thing, the denomination’s governing principles, as set out in the Presbyterian Book of Order, dictate that interims cannot become permanent pastors. For another, Fouse was on the verge of retirement. He did agree, in February 2008, to yet another extension of his interim status, but the Committee on Ministry (COM), the presbytery’s powerful arbiter of who will or will not serve as minister at any given church, voted to deny the extension. Not to be bullied, the members of Seventh appealed the decision to the pastors and congregational representatives that make up the full presbytery, and mirabile dictu, won their appeal. However, in doing so, it seems, they used up all their chits.

Meanwhile, the church had made virtually no progress on finding Fouse’s permanent replacement. Why not? “We floundered,” admits Margaret Valentine. “We knew what we had to do, but the path to get there was hard.”

What they had to do, she said later, only became clear in the winter of 2007–2008, when congregants became aware of an inspirational presentation about a San Antonio church in a changing neighborhood transformed by dynamic leadership. It demonstrated how their ministry might be reinvigorated under the right pastor. “That was God showing us the way,” Valentine recalls. “But the presbytery did not agree with us.”

The ambivalent feelings the congregants at Seventh had about the presbytery were nothing new. Paulsen explains: “Over the years, Seventh never had good relations with the presbytery. We paid them the money”—approximately $25 per congregant annually—“that we were required to contribute, but we never really got involved. We were conservative. They were liberal. There was a feeling that the presbytery was out to get us, and they did it by turning down our choice of minister.”

Margaret Valentine served as the church’s clerk of session—its official record-keeper; long-time member Buck Middlekauff was the church’s treasurer; and both found themselves in the center of the wrangling. They report that when they requested Fouse’s second extension, the reception they got from the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry was demeaning. “I have never been treated so poorly in my entire life,” says Margaret Valentine.

Traditionally, a Presbyterian congregation forms a pastor nominating committee (PNC) to locate and “call” a new pastor. In church-speak, a PNC asks for God’s guidance in identifying a new leader. In practical terms, a committee seeks out candidates through church publications and referral channels, even using DVDs and YouTube videos to size up preachers before meeting them.

With Seventh, most of these tactics were employed, but to no avail. One problem, says Valentine, was the revolving-door liaisons from the Committee on Ministry, delegated to assist Seventh’s PNC. “The first one was unacceptable because of attitude,” she recalls. “He wanted to control things.” She says that the COM assigned four different liaisons before the PNC settled in with one comfortably. Then, “we didn’t hear from him for a year and a half. We were put on hold.”

In August 2008, the PNC and the congregation made the unusual—within church circles—move of hiring a ministerial search firm. And by the following March, Seventh’s PNC was looking favorably at a candidate: the Reverend Dr. Ian Lamont.

On paper, Lamont seemed to have it all. At 50, he was serving as senior minister at Dardenne Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, an historic church that had almost died in the 1960s but more recently had grown substantially both in numbers and attendance. Previously, he had performed similar magic at a church in New Jersey and another in Ft. Myers, Florida.

A reputation for thoughtful, provocative sermonizing and an appealing turn of phrase was reflected in a quote from his personal statement, supplied by the search firm: “I find God making me softer on issues that need charity, and firmer on issues that need clarity. My prayer is that the world would not meet me each day, but that Christ would meet the world through me.” The candidate summary supplied by the recruiter noted, “He has an ‘investment’ mindset and would like his next call to be where he can invest the next 20 years of ministry.”


The congregation, led by Mike Valentine, Margaret’s husband and chair of the PNC, voted to issue the “call” to Ian Lamont last July. Following Presbyterian protocol, they next presented their candidate to the COM for approval. After all the years of being pastor-less, it was an approval they felt confident of receiving. But within two days, the COM rejected Lamont.

Nine specific reasons were given, some having to do with style and some with alleged improprieties. Number one: “The candidate does not seem to be a good theological match with the congregation.” The congregants interviewed for this story interpret this as the liberal-leaning presbytery not warming to the conservative Lamont. Furthermore, Lamont was perceived as having a strong personality that, the COM said, was “brash and unyielding.”

The COM had other issues. Seventh had offered Lamont a total compensation package of approximately $130,000, which the COM deemed “excessive.” Also, deep in the COM’s list was this: “The report of the Permanent Judicial Commission [in the St. Louis presbytery] indicated inappropriate action regarding Dr. Lamont’s finances….” And this: “Dr. Lamont appears unwilling to accept any responsibility for conflict in the congregation he previously served.”

Here’s what appears to be in Lamont’s baggage. His move from Florida to St. Louis in 2007 left him saddled with two mortgages, so he asked his new church for help. Some members objected, and one filed a complaint with the presbytery. (A formal remedial review by the presbytery resulted in no suggestion of wrongdoing.)

Plus, Lamont didn’t weather the transition to his new pulpit successfully. As the report to the COM in the St. Louis-area presbytery put it: “…conflicts within the congregation over worship styles, staff roles, and stewardship issues reasserted themselves.” By mutual decision, Lamont and the presbytery agreed that his “pastoral relationship” with Dardenne Presbyterian be dissolved. On July 1, 2009—five days before he got the call from Seventh—it was.

In the weeks that followed, Margaret Valentine tried to sort the problems out by telephone with Susan Niessen, associate executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy in St. Louis. Niessen clarified that Lamont was on “administrative leave,” but “not for anything he did wrong.” A letter to the COM of the Presbytery of Cincinnati from the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, dated September 8, 2009, reiterated the message that Dr. Lamont left his position “without prejudice, free to seek a new call.” But it was too late. On that same day, the full Presbytery of Cincinnati denied Seventh’s appeal to overturn the COM’s rejection of Lamont. When Margaret Valentine tried to introduce the letter at the hearing, Thomas D. York, pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church in Hyde Park and chair of council for the Cincinnati Presbytery, who was chairing the meeting, failed to recognize her. The vote was 96–40.

During the appeal, one of the congregants had asked a member of the COM what he thought the future of Seventh would be were the appeal to be turned down.

“Only God knows,” came the answer.

“They knew damn well,” says Dick Paulsen. “We would have no choice but to close.”

Of course, they could have started the search all over. But “we ran out of steam and bodies,” says Middlekauff. When you talk with former members of Seventh, you hear the litany of their complaints: They feel the presbytery resented them and their elitist heritage, resented their hiring a headhunter, feared bringing a strong, conservative voice into the presbytery, and was frustrated that the church did not look at candidates closer to home.

When the COM gave Lamont a thumbs-down, members even became fearful that the presbytery had designs on their endowment. In a time of uncertainty or difficulty, Middlekauff explains, the presbytery has the right to dissolve a congregation’s ruling body and put its own people in to administer the church. “Then they have control of the money,” he says. “They didn’t do it, but we were concerned.”

Whether they were justified may be something else only God knows. Tom York, for his part, says simply, “There was never any desire expressed by anybody to me that the presbytery was anxious to take over.”

The vote to close was taken at a congregational meeting on Sunday, September 27. There was no dissent. The endowment was placed in a legacy fund at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation where, Margaret Valentine says, the ministries of Seventh Presbyterian “will live forever.” On November 10, the presbytery officially dissolved the session—Seventh’s ruling body—ending the 160-year-old institution. Dispersal of the church property is up to the presbytery.

“It was not an easy situation,” said General Presbyter James DiEgidio, afterwards. “Nor was it taken lightly.” He feels the presbytery and the COM dealt fairly with the little congregation. “The amount of time the Committee on Ministry spent was literally hours and hours,” he says. Nor was there any effort to steer the church’s hand in their selection. “You try to find the best person you can,” DiEgidio says, “and that you feel God is leading you to.”

“The last thing any of us wanted was for the church to close,” adds York. “But once the vote was taken, it’s hard for the presbytery to say, ‘No, you can’t close.’ It was very sad.”

Could there have been a different outcome? Maybe if the church had borne down on the project sooner; maybe if it had been more flexible with its choice; maybe if it had found the energy to reignite the search for a new leader. And surely it would have been helpful if the presbytery had provided the emotional and psychic support that the congregation needed.

It appears that the conflicts that beset Seventh before its death haven’t passed away. The church was a beneficiary of a trust administered by U.S. Bank. Early this year, Margaret Valentine, as former clerk of Seventh’s governing body, asked that the money go to the church’s legacy fund; the Presbytery of Cincinnati asserted that it should be the beneficiary. As this article went to press, U.S. Bank was asking a higher power—the Probate Court of Hamilton County—to sort it out.

From Cincinnati Magazine, May 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Abigail Halsey Van Allen

Abigail Halsey Van Allen, 86

Died Sept. 8, 2008, in Iowa City, Iowa, where she had lived since 1951.

She was a beloved and revered member of the Iowa City community who touched many people’s lives.

Born Abigail Fithian Halsey II on Aug. 9, 1922, in Southampton, N.Y., she spent summers there in a Halsey family home and swam daily in Peconic Bay. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from the Lotspeich and Hillsdales schools of Cincinnati. She graduated with the Class of 1944 at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., where she was a founding member of the V-8’s acappella group. After college, she worked at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Silver Springs, Md., where she met her future husband, James A. Van Allen.

After a short courtship, they married Oct. 13, 1945, in Southampton, N.Y., in a service officiated by her father, Jesse Halsey, a Presbyterian minister.

She was predeceased by her husband of 60 years, James A. Van Allen, who died Aug. 9, 2006.

She was valued member of Hiking Club, University Club, P.E.O.-Chapter E, E.O.S., Raphael Club, Physics Wives and Newcomers Club. Over the years, she was advocate for retaining open spaces and the preservation of landmark buildings. She was involved in the effort to preserve Old Capitol and Old Brick, and was an early advocate of Project Green.

From Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Services

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Suggested Title: "An Old Arm-Chair"

THE more general celebration of Mothers' Day in our churches, on the second Sunday in May, is affording a unique opportunity for the minister to reach the unchurched and the occasional church-attendant. People who seldom, if ever, darken your church door will attend, if properly advised, and the sort of people who come at Christmas and Easter will add this to their list of holy days. The human appeal that this day makes is far-reaching and inclusive. The call of memory reaches the heart, and when the emotional deeps are broken up it is possible to touch the most calloused soul by use of the homely and intimate things that the day suggests.
. . .Open the service by repeating some passages of Scripture, such as "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, saith the Lord." . . . This will give tone to the whole service.

...The subject of the sermon or address can be worded in such a way as to convey a compelling meaning, e.g., "His mother and mine" (Rom. 16:13), or "An Old Arm-Chair."
One year the children distributed [white carnations] during the opening hymn ("By cool Siloam's shady rill") and then followed the children's sermon; subject, "The White Flower." On Monday morning bunches of flowers tied with a white ribbon were taken to the saloons in the neighborhood. On each was this card:
We would suggest that arrangements be made in advance with your florist to secure a quantity of old-fashioned "spice pinks" (in white) which to the writer's mind (as to all those who have known an old-time garden) would be the most appropriate reminder possible of mother.

. . . In this, as in all the serviced, one must obey MacDowell's own direction--"Not too sentimentally." The vocal numbers should, of course, be chosen with reference to the sermon. . . . Many arrangements of Horatius Bonar's "I hear the voice of Jesus day" are available, but non more touching than the old English ballad tune to which Ben Jonson's "Drink to me only with thine eyes" is sung. If the suggestion of this tune offends, try it at the evening service, and its appropriateness for the more formal worship will be evidenced. . . . "These are they" from Gaul's "Holy City" might follow an address that emphasized the sacrifices of mothers. If this is used the text of Rev. 7:14-15 should be printed on your program.

. . . The text of one hymn very difficult to find is here added. "Like a cradle rocking, rocking" should by all means be sung at your morning service or at both services. Nothing could be more acceptable had it been written with this very occasion in mind.

"The Work of the Pastor: Suggestions for Mothers' Day," The Rev. Jesse Halsey, Cincinnati, Ohio; The Homiletic Review, An International Magazine of Religion, Theology, and Philosophy, Treat's Every Phase of the Minister's Life, Vol. LXXI, January - June 1916

"Useful positions"

Among his numerous descendants, scattered all over the country, several have won their way to distinction and useful positions.
--"Biographical Sketches: Halsey, History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant, 1629-[1893], Volume 2, Alonzo Lewis and James Robinson Newhall

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Daily Princetonian, April 3, 1913

"The Work of Dr. Grenfell in Labrador" to be Described at Meeting Tonight

The regular Thursday evening meeting of the Philadelphian Society will have this evening as its speaker Dr. Jesse Halsey, who is a member of the medical staff of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen at Labrador. The subject of Dr. Halsey's address will be "The Work of Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell in Labrador." The lecture will be illustrated by lantern slides showing the nature of the physical obstacles to be overcome in such a severe climate and the condition of the fishermen to whom Dr. Grenfell's mission has been a Godsend.

Dr. Grenfell's Career
Wilfred Thomason Grenfell is Superintendent of the Labrador Medical Mission of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. He was born at Chester, England in 1865, went to Oxford University and took a course in medicine at the London Hospital, where he later held the post of House Surgeon. In May of 1907 he was granted the degree of M.D. by the University of Oxford the first man upon whom that degree was conferred, in the whole history of the University. He successively received the Hon. LL.D. degree from Williams College, and an Hon. M.A. degree from Harvard in 1909. In 191 1 he received the Hon. M.D. degree from Toronto University.

His Work in Labrador
In 1892, Dr. Grenfell seeking for an opportunity for service accepted the call of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen to found a mission on the bleak Labrador coast, which had been hitherto neglected. His field of work comprised six hundred miles of almost barren
rock along the Labrador coast where a small population of fiishermen lived a hard and neglected existence, without means of education, without medical assistance and at the mercy of
local traders. The story of the founding and development of the Labrador Deep Sea Mission is a story of heroism and sacrifice which has won for Dr. Grenfell the admiration of everyone; especially has he won the suport of college men wherever he has come in contact with them. Yale University fitted out and manned a hospital boat for his use, as did Princeton in 1909.

At present the mission, through Dr. Grenfell's untiring efforts and unusual personalty has an equipment of four hospitals and a despensary, provides house visitation by dog sledges, conducts schools, runs fisherman's cooperative stores and other business enterprises, and administers to the spiritual life and to the uplift of the whole Labrador coast.

The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, May 1908

Jesse Halsey will also be in the land of heather, but expects to spend most of the summer traveling.