Watercolor Church Histories – Boyer Community Church
Green Bank, Wv – Green Bank artist Dorothy Sutton has created watercolor paintings of four northern Pocahontas County churches, to be auctioned off on December 16th at the Green Bank Artisans Co-op open house. During a recent reception for the paintings, volunteers shared some the history of those churches, and we’ll be hearing some of that history in stories all this week. Today we’ll hear from retired Pastor David Rittenhouse, talking about the Boyer Community church. Rittenhouse says the church was built in 1904 in the days of the big timber.
“I think that’s one of the prettiest churches around,” says Rittenhouse. “The whole community went together and built it. I have a little write up here from the newspaper clipping of 1904; a lot of people didn’t realize it, but this was built by the Presbyterians.”
According to the newspaper account, the church was dedicated on October 23rd, 1904 by the pastor residing over Liberty and Baxter Presbyterian churches. The dedicatory sermon was preached by a man from Kentucky.
“When they got finished, they still owed $260.00 on it,” says Rittenhouse, “of course this was in 1904, $260.00 was worth more than it is now. But they took up and offering and raised more money than they needed to finish paying for it. And Gertrude Moyers played the new organ which was one these old pump organs that’s still there in the corner. William T. Price had the dedicatory prayer.”
Rittenhouse says even though technically owned by the Presbyterian church, Boyer was more ecumenical in practice.
“The Methodists, the German Baptists, which 2 years later became the Church of the Brethren, and the Lutherans could preach there free,” he says, “because they were all involved in helping. In the deed which I looked at, it say any orthodox church’ whatever that means; but it specifically has trustees from the Brethren and the Methodists and the Lutherans along with the Presbyterians.”
The church sits on a one acre lot donated by M.P. Bock. Rittenhouse says the church was also named in honor of a young man who died far too young.
“The special thing about it, it’s named Kerr Memorial, because Lt. Robert David Kerr died in the Philippine war in 1898,” he says. “He was 22 years old in 1898 and his picture is still inside; it was built in memory of him.”
Rittenhouse, a Brethren minister, says when he came to the area, he and Jake Fairburn, a Methodist minister took turns preaching in the Boyer church. He recounts a story from the summer of 1959.
“Jake and I preached together at Boyer and New Hope and Pine Grove,” he says. “I always said he was a Methodist first and a Christian second, he was very zealous for the Methodist church. But that summer we had softball games [for] the 9, 10 and 11 year olds and we always had a prayer before. I heard two little nine year old boys talking; they said you know why we always have a prayer before the game? The other boy said no. He said it’s to keep the preachers from fighting!”
Rittenhouse says the Methodists stopped preaching at Boyer in the 1970’s. The second story in this series will be about Baxter Presbyterian on November 30th..