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Letter to Florence Boothby

on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Stewart Memorial Church

30 Audubon Street

Rochester 10, N.Y. August 4, 1947

[Please bring this letter before your committee or read it when greetings from other early ministers are read].

Mrs. Norman Boothby

Dear Mrs. Boothby:

In view of the fact that you are having the sixtieth anniversary of the Stewart Memorial Church in the Community Hall at Dwight and that the names and records of early ministers of the church are being sought, I am sending in this record of my church contacts with Dwight.

I have a very profound feeling of love for the Dwight Baptist Church. Every element of my religious nature has beginnings and long-time connections with the church and with the people of the Dwight community. It is a great grief that I cannot be there in person at this time.

My record with the Dwight church begins one year after the dedication.

I, then, began attending the church in July 1888, and up to 1900 I averaged six Sundays' attendance every summer. In sixty summers I have missed not over five summers or with Sunday attendance I have never missed a Sunday service when I was near enough to get to it. My attendance at the church amounts to about five years' residence with church attendance every Sunday.

I am proud of that little church and I am proud to bear the name of its founder, my grandfather, the Reverend Alex Stewart. I think I made my first effort to follow my grandfather's example as a rural preacher about 1899, when I had finished my junior year in college. In the summer of 1900, I served the Baptist church at Orchardville, Ont., a church near Durham, Ont., which along with the Dwight Baptist Church was one of the 26 preaching stations and churches which my grandfather had founded. From then onward, I took part many times in church services in the Stewart Church, the Dwight Presbyterian Church and in many preaching stations in the Dwight region. I remember taking part in or having full charge of services at the Robsons,' at the Salmons', at or near the Monroes', at Robertsons' on Oxtongue Lake, at the Portage, Hillside, Chaffey (sp.?), the Quinn settlement.

Sometimes I went along with the Presbyterian student pastor, sometimes I took the student pastor's place at stations which were too far apart from other stations to be reached in one Sunday. I remember coming home with the Reverend Mr. McGillivray late one night after having meetings in about five places in one Sunday, coming from near Fox Point over a path with no road carrying a revolver, ready for wolves and bears which might want to get religion by eating the clergy.

I also had many rides with Dr. Howland. One Sunday after I preached in Huntsville Baptist Church, Dr. Howland drove me south to a service near the locks. There are more places and occasions where I preached or conducted worship than I can now remember.

After a post-graduate course in Rochester Theological Seminary, I was ordained in the Baptist Church in Breckinridge, Minnesota in May, 1905. I was the first of the Stewart family of this generation to be ordained, and I am still an ordained minister, always ready when possible to come back to render the Dwight community the debt of love I owe, either by officiating in church services or helping with regional history.

I hope that my intermittent services as a minister in Dwight will merit me some remembrance along with my brothers and friends who in the past sixty years have taken an active part in the services of the Stewart Memorial Church. I send my regard and my ministerial benedictions to all the residents of Dwight and my prayerful regard for their ancestors.

Alexander M. Stewart.

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Contents (except letter) 1999 John S. Allen

Last revised 26 November 1999