Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Building a Church by Pastor Rebecca

As we move towards our Conference on the Past on October 10th, the Stepping Stones team has been doing research on the history of both South Bend and Sunnyside. The two intersected at the beginning of the 20th Century when JM Studebaker committed funds and land to help build what would become the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church that we know today.

Below is a letter that he sent to the men of the church after speaking in worship on a Sunday morning:

June 23, 1916

My dear Sir:

It was published that I was to speak at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning last, at 10:45 a.m. I had been ill with a severe cold and confined to my house for a week, but I made a special effort to be with you, and of course, expected to see a very full house. To my utter surprise and disappointment I found very few men there, and so I requested your pastor to give me the names and addresses of those who were not present, which counted up to 46. Naturally I formed the impression that the men that stayed away were not in favor of building a new church and were not willing to make some sacrifices to get it and felt that the old church was good enough for them. Now in order to satisfy myself on this question I am sending each and every one of you this letter, and I shall ask you to reply on the same sheet and return it in the enclosed stamped envelope.

1. Why were you not in church on Sunday morning?
2. Do you conscientiously approve of building a new church?
3. Are you willing to make personal sacrifices in order to get a new church? That sacrifice means that you should do all in your power and ability to give what you can towards the building of a new church.
4. Do you approve or disapprove of building the new church on the corner of Washington and Frances?
5. Do you approve or disapprove of changing the name of Trinity church to Sunnyside?
6. Will you pledge yourself to do all you can in support of the new church?
7. Do you expect to retain your membership in this church?

Now I shall expect and answer from your. Please remember that the interest that I am taking in this is for the good of yourself and your family and is for the interest I take in God's work, as I believe that a new church would give you and incentive to do better Christian work.

Hoping I will have a prompt answer, I am

Sincerely yours,
JM. Studbaker

Sunnyside has built physically may times in our history, most recently just 5 years ago. This Stepping Stones journey that we are on is about building a church in a different way, but many of Mr. Studebaker's questions may still apply: What does it mean for each of us to be committed to sacrifice on behalf of Sunnyside's ministry? What does it mean to be a church in this neighborhood? What does it mean for each of us to call ourselves Sunnysiders today?

Save the date, October 10th, to learn more about Sunnyside's history and how it might shape our future!

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