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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

February 5, 2010


Recently a church member gave me a copy of an article in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper.

It is about the great evangelist, Washington Gladden (1836 – 1918). That may not mean much to most people but to those of us in Dublin Community Church, this is interesting stuff.

We have an historic 1877 chapel here at the church. It’s brick and on the National Historic Register and it looks quaint and it is a treasure. It’s still used today. Fifteen years ago we added a larger sanctuary to accommodate our growing membership. The historic chapel was renamed The Washington Gladden Chapel.

Here is the story. Ohio lawmakers are going to put a statue of a great Ohioan in the U.S. Capital. Each state gets two statues. Supporters of Washington Gladden want his statue there in Washington D.C. 

Gladden is considered a “prophet of the social gospel.” Which means he spoke out for justice for the oppressed. It is much more complex than that but suffice it to say, Washington Gladden was a good man who was part preacher and part prophet. He was well known on the East Coast and New York City and here in the Midwest.

Back in 1912, there was a “cyclone” as the newspaper called it. It was probably some sort of high wind. It came from the west one afternoon and knocked down the Dublin Methodist Church building. It destroyed half the Dublin Presbyterian Church. The only church left undamaged by that high wind was our own Dublin Christian Church.

What to do in this small town where two of the three churches were destroyed? None of them had that many members and none could support a full time preacher.

Enter Washington Gladden. He was the famous preacher at First Congregational Church in Columbus some 15 miles away. And, writes his biographer;
With Gladden’s encouragement, the church people of Dublin moved forward toward union…they formed the Congregational Church of Dublin (later to be called the Dublin Community Church)…the new church acquired a membership nearly twice that of the previous three churches together.

Gladden’s Congregational Church colleague Rev. Byron Long, former pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church Columbus was chosen as the first pastor.

Interesting history. I heard one story from a member about his father witnessing the destruction of that Methodist Church (while he was hiding under a table in fear of his life). I know that we take pride in our place in Dublin’s 200 years of history.

I can’t be certain if Washington Gladden will make the cut to be immortalized in a statue in our nation’s capital. The competition is intense with other famous Ohioans like Edison, the Wright Brothers, Tecumseh and Jesse Owens in the running. (Pun intended).

But, I do like the story. I am proud to be a part of this church’s history and so are all of its members. Gladden was convinced that there is strength in numbers and a shared workload and a common faith in the Holy Spirit.

We will be celebrating 100 years of the reorganization of our three churches into that of one Community Church in just a few years. I guess Gladden was right. There is strength in banding together.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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