A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a gentleman who was baptized at Redeemer in 1930, J. Elliott Lindsley. He eventually went on to become a priest, and served congregations from St. Stephen’s, Millburn, to the diocese of New York. He has maintained his ties to Morristown (indeed, he wrote the definitive history of the Morristown Club, of which he is still a member).
Elliott and I had such a delightful time at lunch, and he told such wonderful stories about the history of Redeemer, that he generously agreed to come to Morristown so that I could film him sharing some of the history of our beautiful building. As we walked from window to window he told me about the families that gave them, where they lived, their circumstances at the time and what motivated them to give the windows. Later, he walked right over to the candlesticks on the altar in the chapel and said, “Redeemer never had candles until I gave these…” and with a little squinting, we could read the inscription that they were indeed given in memory of his grandmother. (Historical tidbit: Elliott’s Flower’s, on the corner of South and Elm, was his family’s business until the forties.)
But here’s where a delightful lunch and fascinating stories connected to something completely unrelated….
Last Sunday we observed Genocide/Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our speaker this year was Ms Susan Barba, telling the story of her father surviving the Armenian Genocide (complete with film clips of her father– it was very moving). In the Adult Forum she talked about the support that came from the United States– support that helped put an end to the Genocide. She had a handout that included stories of disabled children in Newark bringing gifts of food to be sent to Armenia.
On Thursday I was leafing through a file that Mr. Lindsley had brought to me of the Rev. Barrett Tyler’s sermons. Most of them were handwritten, including one that was either notes for a sermon at the laying of the cornerstone of the church in 1917, or notes about the contents of the cornerstone (the handwriting is a bit difficult to decipher; Mr. Barrett was the rector at the time the current church was built). These cornerstone notes were written on the back of what was probably a piece of scrap paper (it would have been over a year old by the time he was using it)–a printed financial statement titled “Financial Statement of the Church of the Redeemer, Morristown, NJ, for the year ending April 30, 1916.” While the financial statement was interesting in and of itself, and while it was notable that I was reading it almost exactly 100 years after the fact, my eyes were immediately drawn to this particular item: “Contribution for Armenian Relief….$440.00.”
Imagine– at a time when our budget was just under $16,000, and we were in the midst of building a new building, we managed to give $440 to “Armenian Relief”! Adjusted for inflation, that $440 would be worth $10,100 today. But dollar value aside, it was amazing to see history connecting us 100 years later through a visit with Elliott Lindsley and a sermon by Susan Barba, a few days apart.
Needless to say, you will get to learn a lot more of the history of Redeemer as we approach the centennial of the church building in 2017. Wayne Walton and Colleen Hintz are co-chairing a committee to consider appropriate ways to mark the occasion. If you are interested in being a part of the planning, please speak to them.