From the Richmond Dispatch, 10/27/1862, p. 1, c. 4
Annual Convention of the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church. - Pursuant to adjournment the Synod assembled at 9½ A. M., and were engaged an hour in devotional exercises previous to proceeding with the regular business of the Synod. --After which.--
A discussion arose, owing to the absence of Presbyteries present yesterday, (Thursday,) as to whether or not the body, in its present stage of proceedings, was a regularly constituted Synod
Rev. Mr. Leavenworth took the ground that it was, and Rev. Dr. Read entertained a different opinion.
Pending the discussion and without coming to any definite conclusion.--
The Moderator announced that the hour for the order of the day--"Free conversation on the state of Religion"--had arrived.
Rev. T. D. Bell, of Harrisonburg, said the spiritual state of the Church had not deteriorated, though the absence of young men in the army is greatly felt. In the company in which are most of the members of the Church no one yet has been killed in battle, though actively engaged with Stonewall Jackson — but perhaps half have been stricken from the rolls. The heaviest loss was in the death of Col. Gibbons, of the 10th regiment, and he fell at his post a conscientious soldier and Christian.
Rev. Mr. Leavenworth, of Petersburg, said he had been for the past few weeks in the Western part of the State, in Pulaski, and Wythe counties, with Rev. J. N. Noff. In Wytheville, several years age, a Church was organized, composed exclusively of ladies — not a male member in it. Then they erected one of the handsomest churches in Wythevide. Wytheville is a very important point for ministerial labors. Very few of the male citizens of the town are members of any Church; at the same time there exists a decided partiality and sympathy for the United Presbyterian Church. In New Dublin Church we had a very pleasant meeting of three or four days. There were no additions to the Church, though a very excellent state of feeling pervaded. During this meeting a collection for the Evangelical. Tract Society was taken up, amounting to the handsome sum of $300.
The Rev. Dr. Read said the exercises of his Church had been regularly maintained except for a season during the summer. The interest of the people in religions matters has not abated. --There had been no special manifestation of converting power and few conversions. Had heard favorably of the religious feeling in the army. Our young men had been marvelously spared. Up to the battle of Seven Pines, of forty members, not one was killed, and but one slightly wounded. On that day, as we were leaving the church, where we had gratefully recognized this preservation, we met an elder who met the ambulance containing the body of his son. Another young man has since been killed, and two or three been wounded; but we have great reason to be thankful.
Our Sabbath schools have suffered, especially on the Basin, composed mainly of poor children, some of whom suffered by explosion, and some detained for want of clothing.
We should drop the terms "O. S." and "N. S." Neither Church is now identified with the assemblies thus designated by the brother who has just preceded me. In conclusion, he took the occasion to protest against the title used to designate between the two bodies of Presbyterians. He disliked the designation of the "New School" and "Old School."--It did not belong to the enlightened age. In the organization of the Church in 1857, it was adopted that our assembly should be known as the "Synod of the United Presbyterian Church." He loved to have it designated as such.
Several ministers spoke of the state of their churches.
On motion of Rev. Dr. Converse, Rev. Mr. Brown, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was invited to take a seat in the body of the Synod as a corresponding member. Also, on motion of Rev. Dr. Read, a similar invitation was extended to Rev. Mr. Peterson, agent of the Petersburg Evangelical Tract Society.
On motion, the Synod took a recess until 4 o'clock P. M.
In the afternoon session, the free conversation on the state of religion in the bounds of the Synod was continued.
Rev. J. D. Thomas had been compelled to abandon his interesting field of labor on the Eastern Shore by the presence of the enemy there; but had labored during his residence here in the hospitals of this city, and is now located at Battery No. 8, where he holds regular religious services.
Rev. P. Fletcher, of Duval Street Church, Richmond, spoke of severe bereavements and hopeful signs in his congregation.
Rev. P. B. Price had labored in hospitals and the army during part of the year, and lately as regular supply of the Third Presbyterian Church, to which there had lately been two additions. The people have regularly maintained their meetings during all the confusion of the year; had abounded in labors and donations toward the comfort of the army; had given liberally to the cause of Missions, foreign and domestic, and looked forward with much interest to the present meeting of the Synod with them, praying that the services of the occasion might result in the revival of Christians and the conversion of the impenitent.
Rev. A. Converse stated that the success of the Christian Observer had exceeded his expectations; great difficulties attended the publication of it in consequence of the high price of paper, &c. He had preached and visited in the hospitals with interesting results to encourage him.
Rev. F. B. Converse had been constrained to leave his field in New Kent, in consequence of the approach of the Federal army. Previous, however, to this, there had been a protracted meeting, at which Rev Mr. Stiles preached with such success as to result in revival and additions to the Church. He had subsequently, in addition to his duties as associate editor of the Observer, ministered in the hospitals of the city.
Rev. Matthew Lacy had supplied regularly Douglas Church in Prince Edward.
Rev. J. L. Bartlett being without charge, had preached as opportunity offered near his residence in South Carolina.
Rev. J. D. Mitchell, of the 2d Church, Lynchburg, stated that there had been fifty or sixty conversions at a protracted meeting in his Church, under the ministry of Rev. Messrs. Stiles, Read, Lyburn, and others. Upwards of fifty men from his church were in the army; but his congregations had
received increase from refugees in Lynchburg. As Chaplain of the post in Lynchburg, he had labored extensively among the hospitals. The incidents furnished by him afforded a view of a year of much and varied labors, with very gratifying results.
Rev. G. W. Lyburn, as Agent of the Evangelical Tract Society, had seen many instances of the liberality of our people and the piety of our army.
Rev. T. D. Bell gave an account of the ministers in Winchester Presbytery, he being the only one present — the capture of some by the enemy, the interruption and trials of others, and the dispersion and sufferings of various congregations.
At 6 P. M., Synod adjourned until Saturday, at 10 A. M.
[This body adjourned sine die on Saturday last, the proceedings of which day we are compelled to defer for want of space.]
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