100 Years Ago, December 21, 1907
compiled and delivered by Pastor Robert Alley, December 16, 2007
Two persons now in our congregation were living on December 21, 1907. Only one of them lived in Bridgewater, and she was only 3 months old. What happened on December 21, 1907? Here is the story:
When this congregation was formed in 1878, we were part of a larger parish called the Cooks Creek Congregation of the German Baptist Brethren. That parish included four other congregations besides this one. We continued to be part of that parish for 30 years. In 1907, arrangements began to be made to divide the Cooks Creek congregation. In February, the congregational council of the parish heard a petition signed by nearly one hundred persons requesting a division of the congregation. One of the first questions to be settled in such a division became the dividing line between congregations. There was already some dispute between the Beaver Creek and Cooks Creek congregations regarding their dividing line. A century ago, such dividing lines were very important because every member was required to attend the congregation in the area where he or she resided.
In March of that year, a 6-member committee with majority and minority reports came to council both recommending dividing the congregation but disagreeing on the exact dividing line. The matter of the line was deferred until the next congregational council to be held at the Bridgewater meeting house, then located in the area across from Oak Lawn Cemetery where the horse and wagon are displayed today. Roger Sappington, in his History of the Brethren in Bridgewater, summarizes: “The interest was probably great and the attendance was probably large at the congregational council of August 2. It was decided unanimously to divide the congregation.” (p. 30) But discussion continued regarding the dividing line, creating a new committee and waiting until the November council when a proposed line was unanimously approved. The “Cooks Creek congregation was divided with four churches remaining in the congregation and keeping that name, and one church at Bridgewater separating to become an independent congregation.” (p. 31)
“The new congregation met to organize on December 21, 1907 [one hundred years ago] – something of a Christmas present. One of the first decisions was to name the congregation the Bridgewater congregation.” (p. 32) At that meeting, officers were chosen, a petition was received from nearly 100 people living in WV eager to have more preaching in their area, and council meeting dates were established. Very soon, the congregation decided to schedule worship services every Sunday, with morning services at the church and evening services at the College.
100 years –1/3 of the life of the Church of the Brethren. We celebrate our heritage in many ways with different milestones and give thanks with the psalmist who wrote: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a delightful heritage.” (Psalm 16:6)
1878 Cooks Creek Congregation at Bridgewater