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“Thoughts by a Country Woman” by Clara Mack

Church Still Serves

By Clara Mack

1950

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Advent Church Springwater NY.

Residents of our street and passersby have been watching the architectural change being made at Springwater’s fire house. The wooden building was erected as an Adventist church and served that purpose for generations. Finally the church society, for lack of members, was forced to disband, relinquish their charter, and the religious structure was sold to local firemen.

It was a pretty country church and even now the raised platform remains, there is an elaborate circular stenciled design on the ceiling where the original kerosene-burning chandelier was suspended, many of the old original wooden seats are still in use, and the tall, narrow windows, decidedly in keeping with a church, are gracefully curved at the top.

The Advent and Methodist churches were always famous for their fine-sounding bells. On a clear Sunday morning their gentle tones rang out across the valley as a melodious reminder that all the residents ought to spend at least one hour of the busy week within a house of worship. Sometimes, before our electric siren was installed to wail out a fire warning, the bells at both churches were rung fast and insistently to call out a bucket brigade. They rang, and rang, on the evening of November 11, 1918, as if they would, by their very strength, bind the world in a lasting peace.

Although I did not attend the Advent church regularly, I always liked these bells best. They were less sharp than the ones at the Methodist church, pitched at least a tone lower, and they seemed to linger harmoniously over the rooftops long after their actual sound had faded.

Along with the removal of its square bell tower in favor of a less ornate roof over the front section, workmen have taken down the chimes. They are merely two long tubes of brass, approximately four inches in diameter, one a few inches shorter than the other, and the mellow bell tones were made by pulling ropes attached to heavy springs. Fastened to the springs were two sounding cylinders made of wood and metal, somewhat resembling an oversized croquet mallet. When the ropes were pulled, one at a time, the cylinders struck the brass tubes, making the bell-like tones. The tubes, suspended horizontally in the bell tower, weigh nearly 200 pounds each.

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Advent Church Springwater NY.

Three generations ago the Advent church was largely supported by a few loyal families. Two of the most staunch pillars were James and John Stark, and Grandma Caskey used to tell me the villagers declared that the Advent bells sang the same tune every Sunday morning . . . “come Jim, come John, come Jim, come John” . . . as a command to Sunday service.

Now, in line with progress, the fire house, minus the bell tower and the chimes, and, incidentally, the hundreds of pigeons which had appropriated the tower as a permanent residence, looks more like a public service building. The “Don’t Park Here” sign at top of the doors were the fire engine is kept is no longer incongruous with church property.

The Advent church is the second to be closed and sold and remodeled into buildings of another type. Several years ago the Presbyterian church at the south end of the village ceased to operate and was eventually made into town machinery sheds.

It remains for the Methodist church to carry on as our one religious edifice, and the Methodist bells will be depended upon to proclaim their messages of spiritual value.

Editor’s Note: Clara Mack wrote a column for the Wayland Register between 1935 and 1950. She published her articles in a book called “Thoughts by a Country Woman” in 1950. In 1938 she won second prize in a national contest for the selection of the best country newspaper correspondent for the year.

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