Member by Subscription

Posted by on March 2, 2015 in History Stories | Comments Off on Member by Subscription

In writings about the early days of Old Swedes, it is said that the Church was built mostly by subscription. Some paid in money and others in work and materials.

In less than 4 years after the church was built the walls “had perceptibly given away.”
A committee determined that rooms should be built on each side of the church, to strengthen the walls. Although this plan was the most expensive, it would allow one end
to be a vestry-room, and the other could be used for a vestibule or entrance to the church. To pay for the work a subscription or pledge was started. Rev. Sandel complained that the new construction “gave him a great deal of trouble.” Many of the subscribers were behind in making their payment even though the wardens were attentive to their duties. The workmen were anxious to be paid, and he was obliged, with one of the wardens, to go from house to house to collect what was due.

Soon after the church was built, arrangements were made for renting the pews. By renting or subscribing to a pew you were able to reserve your seat in the church. By the mid-1800s Rev Jehu Curtis Clay noted the “attention shown by this congregation to strangers, in the visits they often pay to our church.” Transverse sectionHowever he noted that “it frequently happens that persons visiting for a while in our city, feel desirous while here of attending some place or places of worship, that they
may spend the Lord’s day in the manner that God requires, and to which they have been accustomed at home.” He continued “what opinion must such persons form of the Christian courtesy or politeness of a congregation in which they find themselves ordered out of the pew or pews into which they may enter. Or suppose a person caring but little about going to a place of worship, is induced in some way or other to enter one of our churches. He takes
a seat, supposing, perhaps, as well he might, that the followers of Christ would be glad
to see him coming to unite with them in the holy services of the sanctuary. But he finds himself mistaken. The renter of the pew comes to the door and gives him to understand that he is an intruder. He goes into another pew and is treated in the same manner. Indignant that persons having the name of Christians should act thus, he leaves the church, and can never again be persuaded to enter it, or, perhaps, to enter any other place of worship.”

Bob Josuweit
History Committee

(Riverside, February 2008)