The Work of the Church
Edward S. Lacy, Pastor FCCSF
December 9, 1860
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Sermon delivered before the charter Members of First Congregational Church of Oakland at The Pavillion
on December 8, 1860
We are blessed to have the original hand written manuscript of this sermon in our History Room at First Congregational Church in Oakland. A ministry team is working on translating the text from its original script to a typed text format. Please contact us if your interested in the progress of this work.
Rev. Edward S. Lacy was a pastor at First Congregational Church, San Francisco and at the request of the Founding Members, preached the first sermon for First Congregational Church of Oakland's first sermon.
About Rev. Edward Lacy
With the first Sunday of January 1856 Rev. Edward S. Lacy began his dynamic and successful ministry [at First Congregational Church of San Francisco] of ten years from which the ravages of tuberculosis finally forced his retirement.
A native of Saratoga County, New York, Mr. Lacy had come to California in quest of his health in 1854, shortly after his graduation from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. After engaging for a time in missionary work at Crescent City, he had returned to San Francisco. Like Mr. Hunt and Mr. Brayton a New School Presbyterian, he had been brought to the attention of the church while supplying Howard Presbyterian Church in the Summer of 1855, through a Sunday morning exchange with Mr. Brayton.
Mr. Lacy was a large man, full six feet tall, with a long, full, black beard, and a deep sonorous voice; a devout man, full of zeal and earnestness and possessed of a winning personality. Then about 30 years of age, he was engaged at first as stated supply, but became settled pastor on June 4th, 1856.
In his first Winter his health did not permit of his preaching evenings, but with the coming Summer he was much improved and the church was again opened Sunday nights. Notwithstanding the long absences from his work necessitated by impaired health, the church under his inspiring leadership forged ahead.
Rev. William C. Pond, who knew him personally, tells in his volume of personal reminiscences, entitled "Gospel Pioneering," that Mr. Lacy's preaching was conversational in style rather than eloquent, yet was suggestive and inspiring; and declares that under his ministry the church rose up out of embarrassment such as might easily have been fatal, to a place of eminence among the few strongholds of righteousness in the city.
In 1858 a tidal wave of reform and religious conversion swept over the State through the efforts of Rev. A. B. Earle an evangelist, and the church received 64 accessions.
In 1859 Mr. Lacy's health required a prolonged absence, and the pulpit was supplied by Rev. John C. Holbrook, previously of Dubuque, Iowa, and for a time western correspondent for a Congregationalist weekly then published in New York City. He arrived by steamer March 17th, 1859.
The census of 1860 disclosed that the City's population had grown to 56,862 from 459 in 1847. The main business street was Montgomery, with the center of activity between California and Clay. Few people lived further west than Powell. The main routes of travel were north and south, along Montgomery and Kearny, Third and Fourth, from Telegraph Hill and Washington Square, then as now at Powell and Union, to the vicinity of South Park and of the present Bay Bridge approaches. On July 4th, 1860 a steam train was placed in operation from Third and Market out Market to Mission Dolores, running half-hourly during business hours. In December 1862 rival horse-car lines began running, one on Montgomery and Third with a branch on Howard, the other on Kearny and Fourth with a branch on Folsom, supplanting bus lines which previously had operated.
The Civil War found this church strongly united for the Union cause. It is said that it was the first church in the city to unfurl the flag over its building, and the first to sing Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the tune of "John Brown's Body."
In February 1864, Mr. Lacy's ministry was cut short by a severe hemorrhage and at his request he was granted a leave of absence. In July, not having improved sufficiently to resume his work, he presented his resignation and sailed for Europe. It was not accepted, however. The following year he renewed it, and when hope of his recovery was abandoned, it was accepted with great reluctance on October 3rd, 1865.
After two years in Europe Mr. Lacy returned to the United States somewhat improved, settled on a farm near Martinsburg, Virginia, and while there acted as County Superintendent of Schools. In 1872, having, as he thought, sufficiently recovered his health to resume the religious work he loved so well, he acceded to the suggestion of friends to come to California and act as pastor of Mills Seminary Church. About two years later his health again failed, and after a lingering illness, he died peacefully near St. Helena, Napa County, on August 23rd, 1875.
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