John W. Stevens Letter, Feb. 6, 1879

Feb. 6, 1879  Dear Sir: I will say something more of the churches in the upper end of this county and of the first Sabbath school.  I have said about 1838 there were some young men who came in Brush creek church and started a prayer meeting, which was not common among Baptist churches at that time.  The schoolhouse I named in my last was suitable place for preaching and out prayer meetings until the school house was moved and the church house put in its place.  These meetings were carried on with prayer and religious exhortations.  I think I have been to some of the best meetings in that school house that I ever experienced in my life.   I will now name one of those young men, Robert Dawson, as he was the most urgent in getting up the prayer meetings.  I well remember the first prayer meeting.  It was held at the house of a young brother who had just come into the church.  Brother Dawson came to me to go in with them to carry out their intended prayer meetings.  I told him there had never been any carried on in the Brush creek church, and I rather opposed it, thinking that the young brethren were taking too much upon themselves.  He made me promise to come to the first meeting.  Brother Dawson led the meeting. I well recollect the substance of his prayer: that the Lord would revive the membership of this church by his holy spirit and that those who were strangers top God may be saved by the blood of Christ at the meeting.  My heart was made soft and my mouth opened to praise God and prayed for the prosperity of Zion.  These prayer meetings were kept up and a great revival was held and many joined the church and there was no minister until they came to baptize the members.  Brother Dawson was not long with us until the Lord called him where he will ever be with Him.  I look back on my long life and say I truly believe that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.  I write this for the encouragement of my brethren at Persimmon grove and other places, as there are but few in the church who were in it forty years ago.  Those prayer meetings have been carried on in the church until the present time.  I will say something of the  Sabbath schools.  The first that I was ever in was in the school house that I have mentioned.  I was over forty years old and it may seem strange to some now, but there were no Sabbath schools here until then at that time.  A Mr. Lancing Grey, who lived two or three miles off, came and helped us to start one but he could not attend to it.  We gathered the children in the neighborhood with their school books until we got a small library.  The school was carried on through the summers in this school house until the church was built, which was in 1853.  After that it met at the church house, by the church appointing the superintendent and Librarian, and for the last five or six years back, I attended regularly.  Especially with the small children, singing with them their sabbath school songs.  (to  be continued)  John Stevens


from the Newport Local, February 6, 1879