History of the Baptist churches in Vermont

by Rev. Henry Crocker    Copyright 1913 by The Vermont Baptist State Convention

Pownal

Elder Caleb Nichols gave fifteen years of faithful labor among this people, and died in their affections.

The next pastor was Elder Dyer Starks, three years. For three or four years they were again without a pastor, 1807-1810, and during this time they were favored with a gracious revival, aided by the labors of Elder John Leland, so that in 1808, they reported to the Association, meeting with them that year, the accession of seventy-seven and a total of one hundred and ninety-two in the membership of the church.

In the year, 1811-12, Elder David Hurlbert was pastor and then three years of destitution till 1816. George Robinson was pastor for five years. But, from 1811 to 1821, it was a time of declension in which not more than five persons were added to the church, according to the minutes of the Association. For many years, the church was supplied in their seasons of destitution by two licentiates living among them, named Benjamin Gardner, and Dr. Cranmer Bannister. Elder Leland, of Chester, usually baptized for them.

In 1822, they report twenty-six baptized, with a total of only ninety-five. In 1824-5, Elder Edward Green was pastor and thirty-one baptized in 1824. In 1829, we find Elder Wakeman 0. Johnson pastor, and in 1831-3, Elder Green was again their supply, with an addition of fifteen in the time. But, in 1834, Elihu Dutcher was their pastor till 1837. During his first year, in mid-summer, a powerful revival was enjoyed as the result of a protracted meeting in which various ministers assisted, among whom was Elder Eber Tucker, an evangelist, and fifty-nine were baptized, raising the number to one hundred and seven. In 1837, another season of refreshing was enjoyed in a similar meeting, in which their pastor. Elder Thomas S. Rogers, was aided by Elder William Grant, which brought in another accession of twenty by baptism. Elder Rogers was ordained in the midst of these meetings. He remained only a year.

After him came Elder Isaac Childs as pastor, and then a destitution for three years. In 1843, Elder D. W. Gifford, pastor, there were no additions,-total membership, seventy-eight.

In 1843, Elder Matthew Batchelor settled among them and continued pastor for many years.

In 1854, the Association passed the following resolutions:

Whereas, it has been made known to this Association by the North Bennington and Hoosick churches that they recently commenced a labor with the church in Pownal, with reference to certain heretical sentiments understood to have been embraced by their pastor. Rev. Matthew Batcheler, and fellowshiped by them, particularly the following, viz.: That future punishment of the wicked consists in an utter extinction of being, and Whereas, it was satisfactorily ascertained, from the acknowledgement of both pastor and people, that the doctrines above referred to are held and propagated by them, and Whereas, the said church refuses to unite with them in calling a mutual council, therefore, Resolved, that according to Article V of our Constitution, said church be "considered as regularly out of fellowship, and be dropped from the minutes." In 1873, the Association appointed a committee, consisting of Rev. Z. Jones, Rev. F. Henry, and Rev. S. L. Peck, to visit the church in Pownal to learn the condition of the church and their wishes with reference to its reinstatement with them. This committee at the next meeting reported that a visit had been made to several prominent members of the Pownal church, with whom they were acquainted, and on stating the object of their visit were most cordially welcomed, and each for himself expressed much gratification that the church had been thus remembered; and the Committee from information these brethren gave, in reference to the condition of things there, are encouraged to believe the prospect is favorable to its early reinstatement into the fellowship of the Association. Upon this report, the Association voted to receive the Pownal church, and the hand of fellowship was extended to its pastor. Rev. J. M. Batcheler. For a few years there was little sign of vitality. In 1879, Arthur Day was chosen pastor, and the membership reported was thirty-five. The house of worship was put in repair and the church began to show anxiety concerning its future.

A. H. Simons was pastor in 1883, and three were baptized, the first for many years. L. E. Scott followed, in 1888, and ten new members were added. Women's Mission Circles were organized.

In 1890, three hundred dollars were expended on their church property. McGeorge came to their help in 1892 and twenty-one new members were received. The next year the church entertained the Association for the first time in fifty-one years, and for the fifth time in its history, the other times being in 1808, 1828, 1837 and 1843. Rev. Thomas Cull, visited them in 1895, and seven new members were received. In 1897, Rev. B. F. Kelloggbegana pastorate of seven years, during which Rev. W. A. Davison) State Superintendent of Missions, assisted in a series of meetings, resulting in the addition of twelve. Rev. F. W. Klein had a short pastorate, 1904.

In 1907, State Evangelist Hafer held a ten days' meeting with the church and baptized fourteen and received three by letter. The help rendered at intervals thus by the State evangelists proved most fruitful and gave the church new hopefulness and influence.

Rev. C. E. VanSchaick was the next pastor, under whose ministry the church became greatly encouraged. In 1908, it invited the Association to hold its sessions with them the next year. In 1909, H. G. Mohl became pastor. The bright prospects of the church were greatly darkened January 11, when their church edifice, recently renovated, was destroyed by fire. The membership last reported was seventy-six. Under the energetic leadership of pastor Mohl, a new, substantial edifice was erected in place of the one destroyed by fire, and dedicated in 1912.