Today is a sad day in Eaton, another of the Neighbors for Historic Eaton has passed, Tom Clark. The Rev. Tom Clark was a major mover in the Hamlet of Eaton helping to keep the Historic Eaton Congregational Church alive. What is ironic is that he would die the day before the 182nd Anniversary of the founding of the church that is now the Eaton Bible Church.
I thought I would include a piece on the church and Tom… that was put into our Bicentennial History Book in 1995…20 years ago.
EATON COMMUNITY CHURCH
Thomas E. Clark began his pastorate at the Community Church of Eaton in 1970, the same year that Eaton was reduced to a single church. Previously there had been three churches in the village.
The church is a Bible believing church with a vision. In the early 1970’s Bible studies were organized with as many as three groups meeting each week. As the congregation increased, it became necessary to build an addition in 1981 for Sunday school classes.
In the past 25 years we have continued debt free while adding storm windows and vinyl siding to the building. The front, back and balcony of the sanctuary paneled. New hymnals, new chairs for the choir loft and a new piano have been purchased.
For the past 6 years (*26 years now) we have been enrolled in Awana Clubs International and with the increase of youth it became necessary to purchase land behind the church and begin our gymnasium, which we hope to dedicate in this Bicentennial year. To date all bills are paid.
Beyond this even more we encouraged by the numbers of dedicated servants. Several have entered into some kind of full-time service for Our Lord! There is only ONE WAY, and Jesus declared it when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
….Here a snip it of the churches history by me on this day 3 years ago!
Today is a special day in Eaton, it is the day the current Eaton Church was dedicated on June 6th in 1833. It’s the historic sight I see while having coffee in the morning.
At that time it was the Congregational Church, its founding members included two of the original incorporators of the Baptist Theological Seminary that became Madison University and today's Colgate University.
In 1848 the church hosted the Congregational Society’s yearly northeast meeting at which time the Congregational Society officially adopted an anti-slavery stand. Some information on this is in the Cornell College Library.
The church had many noteworthy pastors including its first installed minister the Reverend E D Willis. I became interested in Willis because he lived in my house, a house that Allen Nelson Wood and his wife would buy on their return to Eaton.
The church’s members at that time included Allen Nelson Wood founder of the Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works and both his partners Loyal Clark Taber and Walter Morse.
Other famous Eatonites who attended services were Melville Delancey Landon and his family. Landon became a well known as both a writer and as a lecturer. Many rich and famous people attended the church during the Victorian era during what time Grover Cleveland’s brother; the Reverend William Cleveland was its pastor.
The church still today houses a historic Meneely Clock and Bell, and the churches windows which bear the names of some of Eaton’s greats... still grace its interior; an interior that sports hand turned pillars turned by Allen Wood himself.
During the Civil War the Eaton Churches banded together and held services attended by each other patrons during the week to pray for the wars end.
Eventually, the Congregational Church became part of the Federated Churches of Eaton and then later became a Community Church under the Pastor Thomas Clark who improved not only the building, and but helped institute a fabulous AWANA program. During the time he was pastor the congregation also built a large activities build that is used today for youths to play basketball and games and to host special functions.
Let’s look back to 1995 and Memorial Day & Rev. Clark speaking!