A Journey of Faith VIII: 1867-1869

View from Vandeventer Avenue

This is the eighth in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

First Congregational Meeting, Preachers Henry Westwood, Henry Baker, and Josephus Sooy.

On May 2, 1867, after due legal notice having been given, the annual meeting of the male members of the congregation was held in order to elect trustees. This is the first mention of such a congregational meeting, probably a Quarterly Conference.

In February 1868 the church observed Conference Sunday, as a day to make a special effort to raise money to liquidate the debt of the church. The pastor was requested to collect “Centenary contributions.” A special speaker was desirable, and the choice was Brother Halsted of the Brooklyn Praying Band.

On April 9, 1868 Henry Westwood was appointed by the Bishop to serve a church in Omaha, Nebraska. A committee was immediately set up to find supply preachers to fill the pulpit, but by June 5 the Reverend Henry Baker had been assigned to the Princeton church.

The Committee on Assessment reported that Collectors had again been appointed who had “cheerfully agreed” to perform their duties. However, ”there was not a proper disposition manifested by the members of the congregation towards the payment of the amount assessed.”

In March 1869 the Treasurer reported that $948 had been paid to Baker. With the usual juggling of monies to make ends meet, $42.00 of this sum had been borrowed from a member of the congregation, who was to be paid out of the money collected for the coal bill. In June Baker asked for a leave of absence for health reasons for the month of August and part of September; this was unanimously granted.

Josephus Sooy, who would later become pastor of the church, was a member of the Class of 1871 at the College of New Jersey. On October 2, 1868 he was licensed as an Exhorter and on June 8, 1869 the Quarterly Conference recommended that he be licensed as a Local Preacher. After attending Drew Theological Seminary he became a member of Conference in 1875 and Princeton was his first appointment.

The book containing the Trustees’ Minutes ends on October 4, 1869, when the trustees made provisions for having the rear of the church repaired and sanctioned whatever the Sunday School might do about replenishing the Library. The detailed minutes give us a sense of intimacy with the small group of men who labored so faithfully to guide the church through its infancy. They gave not only many hours of their time, but sometimes took impromptu collections at their meetings in order to augment the always slender treasury. We are indebted to their dedication and perseverance.