The Beginning of the Ministry
of the Rev. Amos J. Bailey, 1886
History of Congregational United Church of Christ, Ogden
A Continuing Series by Dr. Gordon Harrington
Copyright, 2011, Gordon Harrington
In December 1886, the Rev. Amos J. Bailey arrived from Chicago to serve the Ogden Congregational Church. Under his leadership, on August 3, 1887, the church incorporated under the laws of the Territory of Utah, becoming known as the First Congregational Church and Society of Ogden. The objects of the church were stated in the Articles of Incorporation as being:
religious, social, charitable, and educational, and not for pecuniary profit, religious in maintaining and striving to propagate among all men the religion of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as that religion is understood and taught in and by the Congregational denomination of Evangelical Churches,-Social, Charitable and Educational, as aids and helps in maintaining and propagating said religion, and to that end to hire, lease, buy, build, and in any lawful way, acquire, own, hold, use, sell and exchange such real estate and personal property as may be necessary or convenient for the use of the Association in establishing and maintaining houses of worship, suitable places for meeting of the members of the Association, and for other purposes; and to provide suitable accommodation for the pastor, and accommodation for religious preaching, teaching, lectures, instruction and worship, and to maintain and support all proper modes of religious instruction and worship.
The Articles of Incorporation were signed by the following twenty three persons, seventeen of whom were women:
- Amos J. Bailey
- Millie Phillips
- Ray D. Bailey
- Lydia M. Bailey
- Sarah A. Ball
- Maude Wykes
- H.S. Emerson
- Isabel Martindale
- Ruth Bailey
- Mary M. Emerson
- Mary Canfield
- Edith Bailey
- Virginia W. Ludden
- Hattie S. Martindale
- P. H. Emerson
- Alice B. Hamlin
- Maude C. Bailey
- Grace Emerson
- Anna F. Bell
- Mary J. Wykes
- C.R. Hank
- Alpharaeta Buckmiller
- H.W. Ring
Directors of the church were elected from the above list. They were H.W. Ring, Rev. A.J. Bailey, C.R. Hank, Mrs. Alpharaeta Buckmiller, and Miss V. W. Ludden.
In an accompanying Constitution a statement of faith was outlined:
This church acknowledges Jesus Christ as its head and recognizes the Bible as the sufficient rule of faith and practice, and holds that living in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ is the true test of fellowship. Each member shall have the undisturbed right to follow the Word of God according to the dictates of his own conscience under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The following statement of faith (or principles), therefore, is not a test but an expression of the spirit in which the church interprets the Word of God.
Faith. We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love, and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived and died and rose again and liveth evermore; and in the Holy Spirit who taketh of the things of Christ and revealeth them to us, renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of men.
Covenant. We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scripture, and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ to proclaim the gospel to all mankind, exalting the worship of one true God and laboring for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood. Depending, as did our fathers, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the life everlasting.
The Constitution made it quite clear that the local church was sovereign and that all decisions were to be determined by a majority vote of the membership. While it was “amenable to no ecclesiastical body” it did accept the “obligations of mutual council, comity, and cooperation involved in the fellowship of Congregational Christian churches,” and pledged “to share their common aims and work.”
In assessing the words of the Articles of Incorporation and the Constitution of l887, one must step beyond the non-inclusive language required by today’s world. In particular one should be impressed by the expression establishing the local church as sovereign, which is a continuing tradition. Further, one should note the comment that members of the church should “walk in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us (underlining mine).” This early comment parallels the present assertion that God is still speaking to us.
Under the leadership of the Rev. Bailey the membership of the church grew, reaching thirty. Sunday school attendance averaged fifty to sixty, reaching one hundred on occasion. The Ogden Academy also was growing in number.