02.23.11

An excerpt from a sermon by Rev. William J. Cumming on August 6, 1876. He was the congregation’s 10th pastor, serving from 1876 to 1906.

This church antedates the Declaration of Independence by nearly half a century. When it was organized, no one then thought of a separation from the mother-country, nor had it then entered into the minds of even of the most visionary the astounding changes a century would make.

At this time, the population of this entire county, outside of a few of the large towns in the south-east corner, was not more than one-fourth of that of Peekskill today. The country was sparsely settles. Many, perhaps most, of these hills were covered with forests. These roads were but bri-dle-paths. The saddle, whish has since been superseded by the wagon, was then in vogue. The main road was called the “King’s Highway”, and what is now known as Crompond Street was styled “Kingston Street”.

Then there was but one Synod in the entire American Presbyterian Church, while now they number thirty-seven; and four Presbyteries, while now there are 175 in the northern church alone. The General Assembly, with which we have become familiar by its annual sessions, did not exist until sixty years later. The Yorktown Church has passed through all the periods of both church and state. It was born in colonial times, it passed through the fiery trial of the Revolution, and has remained to witness and rejoice in the one hundredth anniversary of our national birth.

It lived under royal governors, and it enjoyed the beneficent rule of the republic. It began its existence when the divine right of kings was an established dogma, and it has lived to see accepted in profession, even by the tyrannical Sultan of Turkey, the fundamental principle of our national government, that rulers derive their authority from the consent of the people.

It was born in the slow-coach days of the sailing vessel and the saddle, and it has seen these give way to the wagon, the steamer and the railroad. At its birth there was going on in the American Presbyterian Church a conflict between Old and New sides, which culminated in the Division of 1741.

Submitted by Dick Hunter, Church Historian

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