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Diversity of Pastors at First Baptist Hudson, NH

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By Ruth M. Parker – March 2014

This past winter, in the midst of a de-cluttering session, I came upon a copy of the History of the Hudson Baptist Church 1805-1905. This booklet was lying face down amongst a collection of computer cables and extension cords for which I had no further use. After discarding the modern ‘stuff’ I picked up and leaved through the pages of the church history. Inside the pages I found some notes, clearly written by Dr. H. O. Smith and in his handwriting!

I am not certain when or for what purpose these notes were made. An educated guess places the writing about 1925; to be delivered to the church body, most likely as a tribute to Rev. and Mrs C.J. Reekie, their pastor at the time. Within these notes is a reflection on the diversity of our church pastors since the start of our second century in 1905. When I first found these notes, I gave their content little thought. Now, in March 2014, as our church is making plans to begin a new chapter of its history, these words take on a new meaning. I share these words with you, exactly as written by Dr. H.O. Smith. I have used endnotes to help clarify and provide some background information.

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In November, 1921, the Hudson Baptist Church was without a pastor and its members were in a state of dire perplexity as to the nationality from which it should choose its new leader.

For the first hundred years of its existence its pastors were, without exception, of the old colonial, so called American stock[1].  But, with the beginning of its second century came a complete change. We first crossed the borders of Maine and brought Mr. Christopher from one of the eastern Canadian provinces.

Then we went still further afield and from Old England came our next leader. This was a case of love at first sight, for the church loved Mr. Anderson and Mr. Anderson loved the church.

Then we went the limit as to distance and Mr. Westneat, an Australian born and bred came to us[2]. At the time of his departure the vogue of Theodore Roosevelt was at its height. He was our first president of Dutch descent and for a time everything Dutch was much in evidence. Even in the barber shops you could get nothing but a “Dutch cut”. So to be in style we called Rev. Mr. Van der Voet to our pulpit.

But, as I said, in 1921 we were again without a pastor. The prohibition amendment had just passed and it may be that some members of our society thought that a little “Old Scotch” would go well.

At any rate, having tried a Canadian, a cockney, an Angac, and a Dutchman we looked for a man of sturdy Scotch lineage. But there were other requisites: He must be married. And his wife must have certain scriptural qualifications. You all remember the verse Proverbs 32:18 “Fortunate is the church the wife of whose pastor is comely of countenance and kindly of heart” and that passage in the Song of Solomon: “Sweeter is her voice than the sound of the lute and she bringeth glad music from the great organ”. So we sought for a couple that fitted this description and we found them.

Mr. and Mrs. Reekie came to us.

We have summered them and wintered them and found them to be strictly up to specifications.

The Apostle Paul bade us “Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good”.   We have proved Mr. and Mrs. Reekie and we are holding them fast in the firmest possible grip.

Tonight we are glad to be here and witness the renewal of the ceremony of a quarter of a century ago. We greet the bride and groom, wish them all possible joy and happiness and tender them this slight token of the love and esteem in which we hold them.[3]

Notes:

[1] Upon reflection I find this is not entirely true. On May 1, 1805, an ecclesiastical council met at Brother Thomas Senter’s residence in Nottingham West for the purpose of ordaining Brother Thomas Paul who had been called by the Londonderry Church. This was the same council which met, to establish our church as a separate unit from the Londonderry Church. For several years afterwards our church did not have a settled pastor; Rev. Paul was one of a number of pastors who supplied the pulpit. Rev. Paul was a black American preacher of great ability. He later became a minister of the First African Baptist Church of Boston.

[2] Dr. Westneat was pastor from 1915 to 1918; arriving as a single man he met and married a lady from Merrimack. After his retirement from the ministry in the mid 1950’s Dr. Westneat and his wife Alice returned to Hudson to live. He served our church as Pastor Emeritus.

[3] Rev. C.B. Reekie was called to serve our church in 1921. While a pastor of our church he passed to be with the Lord August 6, 1927.


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