THE PASTORATE OF 1869 TO 1879.
The sudden and unexpected termination of Mr. Spencer’s pastorate soon after the delivery of the Historical Discourse, makes it fitting that a fuller record of the events that marked his connection with this church should appear in this place.
The introduction of the Service of Song in the place of the Psalmist, in December, 1871, was designed to promote congregational singing, and the result has been a far more general participation by the people in this part of the Sabbath worship than was known before, and a better appreciation of pure psalmody.
The revival during the winter of 1874 is gratefully remembered as a season of great spiritual awakening in the church and in the community. It was manifestly a work of the Holy Spirit, and was traceable to no special instrumentalities or methods of work. It seemed to be the result of the faithful use of the ordinary means of grace—the ministry of the word and prayer. The revival followed close upon the annual Week of Prayer, to the surprise and great joy of both churches, which shared about equally in the fruits of the precious work of grace. Special meetings were continued for about seven weeks. The results of that revival season include not alone the forty-four persons that were added to the church by baptism, but also an infusion of new spiritual life and harmony in the church. The seasons of spiritual quickening that have since been enjoyed, though not so wide-spread, were rendered possible by the greater blessing of 1874. During the winter of 1875 the South Foxboro neighborhood was blessed by a special outpouring of the Spirit, in connection with the labors of brother Daniel Jones, since ordained to the work of the gospel ministry at Pocasset, Mass. Twenty-five persons were added to the church as a result of that work—an addition, bringing with it increased responsibilities and a call for wider sympathies and a more unremitting watch-care on the part of this church. The spring of 1876 and also of 1877 were both marked by special religious interest in this church and congregation, resulting in considerable additions to the church.
During the past four years, the pastor of this church has aided to sustain regular preaching in the neighborhoods of East Foxboro and South Foxboro, where a few earnest brethren and sisters had long carried on Sabbath Schools. Mr. Spencer inaugurated occasional preaching services in East Foxboro, Oct. 1, 1871. A Chapel has since been built in each of those neighborhoods by the united efforts of members of different denominations, and the pastors in the surrounding neighborhoods supply the pulpits.
One of the pleasant things to be remembered in connection with this pastorate is the visit of Rev. E. A. Stevens, D. D., and his son, with their wives, missionaries to the Burmans. Their temporary residence in this place brought the church into a fuller sympathy with Foreign Missions, and gave an impulse to the missionary spirit here, which ought to be permanent.
In the statistics of this pastorate given in the Discourse the following changes and additions should appear. There have been added by baptism one hundred and twenty-one; by letter thirty-nine; by experience thirteen; restored, two; total received one hundred and seventy-five. There have been removed by death, thirty; by letter, forty-six; by erasure, sixteen; and by exclusion, nine; total one hundred and one, showing a net gain of seventy-four. The number of additions has exceeded the entire membership of the church in 1869.
The interest of the church has been absorbed during the past year by the work of repairs and alterations in their house of worship. This work has been marked by a gratifying unanimity in interest and effort. Contributions have been received from one hundred and seventy-five members of the church and congregation varying in amount from twenty-five cents to hundreds of dollars, while substantial tokens of God will have also come from some who are not in any way connected with us.
The work of remodeling the church was put into the hand of a building committee consisting of William Carpenter, Deacon Elisha White, Henry T. Comey, William B. Crocker, with the pastor. The extent and cost of the alterations in the house are as follows: The entire building was raised two feet and four inches. The old laths and plaster of the entire interior were replaced by new. Additional space was gained for the vestibule and gallery by carrying the front of the church out against the pillars. The building was lengthened by an addition of eight feet on the rear, giving room for an ample pulpit platform and baptistery, a room for the pastor’s use on one side and an organ room on the other. Below, the additional space is occupied by two ante-rooms and a kitchen. The walls and ceiling of the auditorium were tastefully frescoed, the old windows were replaced by new ones made of stained cathedral glass, and the church was entirely refurnished with new ash pews, cushions, carpet and pulpit furniture. The rose window in the pulpit recess was given by the pastor as a memorial of his little daughter, Mary Lincoln, whose earthly life began and ended in his Foxboro home. The vestry was supplied with a pair of new furnaces and with new lamps. The house was re-shingled and painted, and the spire was strengthened by the addition of a strong new truss at its base. A new grade was established in front of the church and concrete walks were laid. The entire cost of the alterations was in round numbers $6600, of which about $5500 was raised by subscription and other means, leaving about $1100 to be raised.
This work was no sooner completed than the church was brought to face another change, little expected and deeply regretted by all. On the very day when the church was rededicated, the pastor received an intimation that this was not his rest. By the morning mail he received an invitation from the Baptist church in Waterville, Me., to visit them with a view to becoming their pastor. The visit was postponed for two weeks, but the result was a call to change his field of labor, which, after careful consideration, he did not feel at liberty to reject. His resignation was reluctantly offered amid expressions of profound regret on Sabbath day, March 2, to take effect the last day of the month.