History of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church
THE SECOND DECADE (1894-1904)
Rev. B. F. Lipscomb, who came to Mount Vernon in 1893, moved on after four years of service in 1897. Generally the church had advanced in many ways under his leadership, and he left at a salary of $1450. Following Mr. Lipscomb was Rev. John T. Bosman, who remained at Mount Vernon for two years.
Rev. Dr. T. N. Potts took over the leadership of the church in 1899. Concerned about the spiritual growth of the church, he constantly addressed those concerns from the pulpit and through his daily living practices.
Rev. R. F. Gayle succeeded Reverend Potts. Although his ministry was relatively uneventful, it was marred by the death of his child during his first year at Mount Vernon. Rev. G. K. Lambeth led the church through the remaining years of the first decade.
The church of the second decade had interesting means of removing debt. One of the early goals was to remove $1,000 of debt from the parsonage. To do that, the Board of Stewards subscribed $700, and the congregation was asked to subscribe the remainder. Similarly, in 1901 all the debt was removed from the parsonage. At this point in its history, Mount Vernon had no debt on either the church or the parsonage.
It has been said that the choir is the War Department of the church. So apparently it was in the second decade of Mount Vernon. The chairman of the Music Committee and the choir leader had an open controversy over who had control over matters of the choir: the right to select members, select music, set times of rehearsal, and generally supervise the work of the choir. In 1895 the Board passed a resolution granting these powers to the choir director. Brother B. F. Fout was appointed the choir leader, and the choir was subsequently praised for its work in a protracted spiritual meeting. The organist was even given a specially bound hymn book (valued at $1.50).
In 1900 a plea was made to the Board for approval of a paid soprano in the choir. It was noted that the section was weak and the need for help was great. The request was rejected with no further comment.
One of the big news items of 1900 was a carnival that was coming to the city. Saloon keepers had petitioned City Council to allow their establishments to remain open all night for the duration of the event. Mount Vernon’s Board voted to oppose the petition to Council and to register a protest before Council, insofar as that was possible.
Reverend Potts, who reputedly was something of a character, certainly had some concern about the worldliness of the city. He reported to the Quarterly Conference in 1901 that “ A tide of worldliness has been raging in the city. It has not affected us to any great degree. We propose, by preaching, personal solicitation, and other means, to keep the goat from our flock.” Using “goat” rather than “wolf” was apparently intentional on the part of Potts.
The small triangular park ("the triangle") in front of Mount Vernon became a matter of concern in 1901, and a committee from the church was appointed to work with the city on its maintenance. Various things were proposed, even a statue as a memorial to the Confederate dead. (The present fountain in the triangle has also had its problems through the years. Stratford students frequently provided soap suds for all to see.)
So the century turned, and Mount Vernon was thriving. There was no debt on the church building or parsonage, “worldliness” had been attacked, and the choir was still singing. The second decade was a good precursor for the times ahead.