13 August, 2010

RP History Mystery Solved!

When was your presbytery founded? For many Presbyterians the answer is easily accessible since many of the conservative Presbyterian bodies were not founded until the 1930s or 1980s. For the Reformed Presbyterian, things are generally less new.

At the beginning of 2010 I inherited the coveted "Clerk of Presbytery" position, and have been researching our history ever since. Last week I finally stumbled upon the jewel that I was looking for: "When did our Presbytery begin?" You see our records only go back to 1930, and I was unable to locate our older Minutes (they have since been located at RP Archives on Penn Avenue). I knew we were older than 1930!

Last week I found this in a dusty copy of the Minutes of Synod from 1911:

"Paper number (3) is a petition of the session of the Seattle congregation for the organization of a new Presbytery consisting of the congregations and mission stations on the Pacific Coast. We recommend that such a presbytery be organized and that it be call- ed the Presbytery of the Pacific Coast, that the boundary between it and the Colorado Presbytery be the Colorado River, the Wahsatch mountains and the Rocky mountains to the borders of the British possessions, thence east along that border to the western border of Ontario taking in all the British possessions west of Ontario; all the country in the United States and Canada lying to the west to be under the jurisdiction of this Presbytery; that the ministers and elders present here included in these bounds be directed to meet in this place before the final adjournment of this Court and to organize said presbytery and that PJ McDonald act as moderator and constitute that court."

That was the key to the RP History Mystery. I promptly began my search for Paper (3) from the 1911 Synod- and found it! I also was able to find the exact date of our organization of a Presbytery. The Pacific Coast Presbytery met for the first time on June 6, 1911. Amazing.

Below you will see a scan of Paper (3) from 1911. The back of the request reads: "Transferred to Synod by Colorado Presbytery, May 31, 1911." Under that it reads: "June 3: Transferred to committee on Discipline."



Nathan W. Bingham said...

Great detective work there Nathan!

I'm especially intrigued by the two telephone numbers at the top-right-hand corner. Were letters and numbers common for phone numbers then?

Wayne Sparkman said...

One history lesson leads to another.
Phone exchanges were originally designated by a combination of letters and numbers. Thus the famous "Pennsylvania 6-5000" tune by Glenn Miller:


Lawrence Underwood said...

That is interesting and refreshing at the same time. I appreciated both their zeal for evangelism and their use of an Underwood typewriter.

Irene said...

Providential that you are uncovering this mystery as our presbytery is set to celebrate it's 100th anniversary! Re phone #s, the letter/number combination is much more recent even than 1911. I was born in 1946 and remember our phone number as OX-82867 and I believe that was at least as late as my high school years. Howard (and he's only a little older than I am) remembers a phone # of his family that contained only 6 digits. The letters actually stood for words, though not sure the significance of those words. Our # actually began with Oxford, but there was also Oxbow. Seems odd to have two different words when they would both work out to OX! Anyway, a bit of trivia, for what it's worth.

Ryan said...

Great work Nathan! I think you've locked yourself into the position of clerk indefinitely...at least that is what I am going to propose.

Heather said...

Be careful Ryan. These things can sometimes backfire...