Church of Our Father – Meeting Minutes of Dec 16, 1891 (Ordination of Rev. Cole and Others)

Atlanta, Ga. Dec 16, 1891

Meeting of Council held before the ordination of William Roswell Cole, Charles Tildon Sempers (See Archivist Note 2 at end of this entry) and Frederick G. Preston in the Church of Our Father, Atlanta, Ga. December 16th, 1891.

At 3:30 pm, Rev. Mr. Chaney called the delegates to order and offered prayer.

Those present were Rev. D. Munro Wilson of Quincy, Mass., representing the church of New Orleans, Rev. Mr. Gibson of Florida, Rev. E.D. Lowe of Chattanooga, Tenn., the Rev. Geo. L. Chaney Southern Superintendent of the A.U.A., Mr. Cole of Atlanta, Mr. Sempers of Asheville, NC and Mr. Preston of Boston, Mass.

Mr. Cole and Mr. Sempers gave a statement concerning their preparation for the Unitarian ministry.

Mr. Cole’s statement: He had prepared for college, in Loyola College, Baltimore, Md. (a Jesuit college) and later a preparatory school in Baltimore. He entered the John Hopkins Ministry of Baltimore, Md. In 1884 and took the degree of B.A. in 1887. He then entered the Divinity School of Harvard University in 1887 and 1890 took the degree of D.D. He returned to Harvard for post-graduate work in Theology and Comparative Religions and seminary (Archivist: not sure seminary is the best transcription, may be in error) the year 1890 – 91.

In July of 1891, he received a call from the Church of Our Father in Atlanta, Ga., which call he accepted.

Mr. Semper’s Statement: He had prepared for college at Andover, Mass. He entered Harvard College in 1884 and graduated in 1888 taking the degree of B.A. The next year, he entered the Divinity School of Harvard University and after three years study graduated taking the degree of B.D. and M.A. In October 1891, he came to Ashville, N.C.

Mr. Chaney then read a hearty letter of endorsement of Mr. Preston form the Rev. E.E. Hale, which will be found at the end of these minutes. Also one from Rev. Thos. Van Ness of California.

All of the above statements being made and the Rev. D. Munro Wilson being appointed to give the Right Hand of Fellowship of the churches to the candidates, it was voted to proceed to the ordination of Mr. Cole, Mr. Sempers and Mr. Preston.


E.D. Lowle, Secretary for W.R. Cole for Mr. Lowle.

Letters of Endorsement

South Congregation Church
Boston, Dec. 7, 1891

My dear Mr. Chaney,

My dear friend Mr. Frederick Preston will bring to you this letter and I hope you will read it to your own church or to any council which may call at Atlanta.

It is three years that Mr. Preston has worked with me in my ministry as a valued and indeed necessary assistant. Before that time he had been giving careful attention to theological and philosophical study, and, as you know, he is an accomplished linguist and scholar, having gone over ground which is remarkable for a young man of his age.

What I regard as vastly more important for a young man entering our profession is that his is a consecrated life. His wish and purpose are to be of use to mankind. All his studies for many years have been conducted with the view, and he now wishes to use the results of such study, and to give all his power to the work of the Christian ministry. It seems to me that his preparation for that ministry has been singularly fortunate. I think you know that my own impression has always been that the best preparation for our profession is made in the field in which a man is to work – I mean in the activities of daily life – and that certain dangers attend the merely literary or scientific studies which are call theological.

I wish that this letter may be understood as being the commendation of the South Congregational Church to Mr. Preston as a valued member, and our approval of him for the work of the ministry. He has been diligently engaged with us in the work of our Sunday-school and of our charities.

What is perhaps of more interest to your council, is his active work in the foundation of the Church of the Good Samaritans to which he gave himself with energy and in which he earned a valued company of Christian friends.

In the hand-to-hand work of charity, as well as in the scientific work of charity organization and other branches of social science, he has given his time and admirable talents fearlessly and unselfishly. In this way he has earned the thorough respect of the best leaders in the Christian ministry, and, if it were desirable, I should easily send with this letter their recommendation of him to you and to your friends.

If Mr. Preston were not eager to go into missionary work in the southern state, there are positions here of great usefulness where we could and should immediately employ him. But he believers, and I think he is right, there is more need for such work as he has been preparing for in the growing towns and cities of the South than there is in Boston, or indeed in New England.

It is not for you or me to wish to check such eagerness or the part of a young man to go into fields which you and I think are ripe for harvest.

While I lose, therefore, a personal friend and assistant whom I highly value, I cordially unite with the South Congregation Church in commending him to you and to the council at Atlanta.

You will observe that this letter stands for the certificate of church membership and for the certificate of proper preparatory study which is rightly, as I think, always called for by our congregational councils. Wherever you may station Mr. Preston, you may be sure that he will be followed by our best wishes, sympathies and prayers.

Truly Yours,


Edward E. Hale 

Minister of South Congregation Church

Archivist: Order of Service for installation of Rev. Cole.

Physical Archive: UUCA Box: 25   Folder: 02   Book: 01   Pages: 100 – 105
Citation: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta Records, RG 026, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta GA

Archivist Note 1:  The placement of these minutes on pages 100 – 106 in the Book 1 is out of sequence with the meeting minutes of March 27, 1883 which begin on page 106.   The availability of pages at “the front” of book 1 may have been possible by the leaving of blank pages from member signatures (pages 7 -19),  marriages (page 66), baptisms (page 66) and deaths (page 86).

Archivist Note 2:




Born Dec. 9, 1859, North East, Md.
Parents Charles Tildon Sempers and Eliza Anne Whitaker.
Degrees B.D. and A.M., 1891.
Address R.F.D. No. 1, Elkton, Md.

Having changed the spelling of his middle name and having changed the color of his hair from brown to gray, Charles Sempers, after many years’ absence from our reunions, appeared at our Fortieth. He writes that he lost touch with our former Class Secretary as far back as 1909. He has had the experience of teaching English at the Rand School of Social Science and at the University Settlement in New York, followed by long and severe illness in Philadelphia. He has written many articles — both prose and verse — on a great variety of subjects, has composed several pieces of music (including a hymn for a special Thanksgiving service in Washington attended by President Wilson) and also served for a time as dean of a college for negroes in Philadelphia. His song, “When Molly Takes the Trolley,” received public favor.

He mentions being in Washington in 1917 and also in Baltimore. In 1924 he took a small farm near Elkton, Maryland, where he has been raising ducks. He greatly enjoyed our Fortieth Reunion, and we were very glad to have him with us again. ”I said to Wardner,” he writes, ‘I was the hundredth of the flock that got lost. To the good shepherds of my Class who sought me and brought me back to the fold.’

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