by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
Last year, the Springdale Presbyterian Church closed with a Zoom final service. It of course wasn’t the way we wanted to end, but – 2020 being what it was – it was a tearful and beautiful celebration nonetheless.
The first Presbyterian Church in the Ohio Valley was James Kemper’s log cabin on what is now Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets in downtown Cincinnati. Founded in 1790, it grew through a series of new churches and mergers to become today’s Covenant-First and Pleasant Ridge. Together, these are considered the oldest Presbyterian congregations west of the Alleghenies.
In 1792, another Presbyterian church formed and moved north from Fort Washington, in 1801 building the Springdale Presbyterian Church, and started a cemetery now known as Old St. Mary’s Cemetery. The church eventually moved to a new building on Kemper Road; it is this building the Presbytery and the Springdale Presbyterian congregation gifted to the Soul Winning Church of God to continue building the Kingdom in Springdale when the Presbyterian church folded.
Last week, the saints of Springdale Presbyterian Church and the leaders of the Springdale Community came together to commemorate the Presbyterian Church in Springdale at St. Mary’s Cemetery, which contains the foundation of the original church. It is a beautiful, peaceful oasis off a busy Route 4. Springdale Mayor Doyle Webster read a proclamation. The Springdale groundskeepers spoke to us of the restoration work they had done to the cemetery. The church dedicated a plaque on the ancient original foundation. And we spoke of the history of the area, and of the Presbyterians in the Ohio Valley, and the ongoing work of God. James Kemper’s Bible and the proclamation will be shown at the Sharon Woods museum; his 1804 log cabin from Walnut Hills is reconstructed there.
But the best part was feeling the ripples created by the saints that went before us, the ones that continue to work in each of us as we move forward. We don’t always know what we have done to build the Kingdom, or who we may have influenced to move missionally, or what seeds we have planted. The Presbyterian Church in Springdale may not formally exist now, but those that move forward from that place take with them the history and the work they engaged in while there. And the Soul Winning Church of God inherits much more than a building – they inherit the prayers, the hopes, the dreams, and the work of all those who built and loved and labored in the Presbyterian Church in Springdale, generation upon generation. And God hears those prayers, and will honor them, and build them beyond anything we might dare imagine or dream.
Our seasons of witness outlive us, and outlive our buildings, through Him Who holds us all. As it was meant to be.
I pray that each of our churches live, today, first and foremost to build the Kingdom, no matter what season we find ourselves in. For it is we, the workers in those fields, that toil to bring in more laborers, more workers – more Believers. Every Day.