The people of York seem to have been in no haste in securing the successor of Father Moody, for it was more than two years after his death when the Rev. Isaac Lyman was ordained as the third pastor of this church, Dec. 20, 1749.
Mr. Lyman was a young man, a native of Northampton, Mass., where the name of Lyman still continues to be one of the most honored. Isaac Lyman, unlike his two predecessors, was not a graduate of Harvard, but of Yale. His ministry here was a long and faithful one. For more than sixty years he was known as the pastor of this church, although during the last ten or twelve years of his life he had a colleague. He was evidently a man of very different type from his predecessor, Mr. Moody, but the record is that "Mr. Lyman ever sustained the character of a faithful minister of Christ." His labors were successful. It is recorded that in 1756 when he had been seven years pastor, the town was visited by a revival of religion.
"The great earthquake in November, 1755, was a means of awakening the attention of a great number. As the fruits of this revival about forty persons united with the church." It is also a matter of record that at the close of Mr. Lyman's long ministry, "he had the satisfaction of seeing his people united and profited by his labors." "They regarded him," it is said, "with the veneration of a beloved father," and when he had been gathered to his rest the Rev. Dr. Hemmenway, of Wells, preached his funeral sermon and paid a high tribute to his character. Rev. Mr. Lyman was the father of nine children.
An aged woman, still living in York, told me recently that she had a clear memory of Madame Lyman, who was living at an advanced age when this woman was a little schoolgirl.
Although Lyman, as a family name, has disappeared from York, the reverend pastor has many descendants here who bear other names. President Kliot, of Harvard University, is a great-grandson of Isaac Lyman.
The house until recently occupied by Miss Almira Allen, was built for Mr. Lyman.
The pastorate of Isaac Lyman was the longest ever known in York. Then followed the shorter pastorates, first, of his colleague and successor, Rev. Roswell Messinger, for nearly fifteen years, Moses Dow, fourteen years. During Mr. Dow's pastorate there was a division which resulted in the formation of the M. K. Church. Rev. Eber Carpenter followed Mr. Dow, His was a strong character, and he gained such a hold on the regard of many of the parishioners in his pastorate, five and a half years, that several children were named for him.
Mr. Carpenter married a Lyman, and his body lies in the Lyman lot in what is now known as the Grant farm.
Rev. John Haven followed Mr. Carpenter with a pastorate of four years. His wife, dying here, was the first to be buried in what was then the "new" cemetery.
Then came Rev. John L. Ashby, and he remained here nearly eight years.
Rev. William J. Newman succeeded Mr. Ashby, and died greatly beloved after a brief ministry of nine months.
The Rev. John Smith, represented here tonight by his son, Mr. Walter M. Smith, and by two daughters, was settled over this church 0ctober 9, 1850, and dismissed at his own request, on account of the ill health of Mrs. Smith, March 20th, 1855. This was Rev. Mr. Smith's last settled pastorate. He is said to have excelled as a pas- tor, and his departure was regretted.
Rev. William A. Patten succeeded Mr. Smith with a three years' ministry. Mr. Patten's pastorate occurred at a stirring period, just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Mr. Patten still abides in his native town of Kingston, N. H., in a vigorous and honored old age. Until quite recently it might have been said of him that "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."
After Mr. Patten came Rev. Rufus M. Sawyer, who is recorded as "stated supply" from Odtober 1st, 1861, till mid-summer, 1866. The name of Mr. Sawyer is a precious memory to many among us. His pastorate about covered the period of the Civil War, and there was no question of his patriotism. Neither was there any question of his devotion as a minister. A revival of religion, still remembered, some of whose fruits have been a blessing to the church ever since, distinguished his pastorate.
Rev. John Parsons succeeded Mr. Sawyer in a brief pastorate of two years and a half.
On September 28th, 1870, Rev. Benjamin W. Pond was installed pastor, serving the church from May, 1870, until September, 1873.
Rev. David B. Sewall followed Mr. Pond in a pastorate of fourteen and a half years. Mr. Sewall, in his honored and useful old age, is always a most welcome visitor in his former parish.
The successors of Mr. Sewall in the pastorate have been the Rev. Geo. M. Woodwell and the Rev. Melvin J. Allen, prior to the coming of the present pastor. The pastorates of both Mr. Woodwell and Mr. Allen have been so recent that they need no words of mine to describe them to their friends and late parishioners.
It was the early practice of the church to ordain elders, but I have seen no list of names. Many names have been honored among the clerks and deacons and other officers connected with the church and parish. Comparisons among these names would be indeed invidious, and the fear of omitting some deservedly cherished restrains me from mentioning any. It should be remembered that imperfect or missing records prevent the making of the complete history or even sketch that we would like to give.
The history of the First Church and Parish of York is one well worth a better treatment than I have been able to give to it in the brief time allowed for preparation. But the town of York has been a better and happier town because of the true and noble lives that have been nurtured under the influences in its First Church of Christ. It is fitting that I add a few words in regard to the Second or "Scotland" Church in the "Upper Parish." This parish was formed in 1732, when the first minister. Rev. Joseph Moody, was ordained. I said at the beginning of this address that the Second Church was the true child of the First Church. The relationship was certainly very close, for the first membership was composed of those who had been parishioners of this church.
The first pastor, too, was the gifted son of Father Moody. Bright, indeed, must have seemed the prospect of the new church and the newly ordained pastor. None could foresee that after a period of about six years the brilliant mind of the minister would ever afterward be clouded, but so it came to pass that Rev. Joseph Moody came to be locally known as "Handkerchief Moody," and more widely as Hawthorne's "Veiled Parson." This man in spite of his mental infirmity was like his father, remarkably gifted in prayer. His famous long prayer in the First Church while his father was absent on the Louisburg campaign was found to have been coincident with the battle. And was it an accident that in the midst of that long petition Joseph Moody's entreaties were turned to thanksgiving as though he saw the victory achieved ?
The "Scotland" Church has had a long and useful history. Good men have occupied its pulpit, no less than fourteen pastors, and three others enrolled as "supplies" having served there. The name best known after that of Moody is Lankton. Father Lankton's memory is cherished by many who are his descendants living in this town and its vicinity. But it is because there has been a true "apostolic succession" in the ministry of these two historic churches that they still live and seek to glorify the name of Him who is their Lord and Master.