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PRESBYTERIAN UNION

The PRESBYTERIAN UNION (1870-1949), originally named the Cleveland Presbyterian Church Union, formed in 1870 and was incorporated on 24 Apr. 1891. A voluntary association of Presbyterians, pastors, and officers from several churches in Greater Cleveland, it organized to extend local Presbyterianism, establishing a network of mission churches, Sunday schools, and other religious and humanitarian enterprises throughout the city. The preliminary planning meeting on 13 Nov. 1869 in the chapel of Westminster Church, Prospect and Huntington streets, was attended by officers of the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN (OLD STONE) CHURCH, and Second, Euclid St. (Third), and Westminster Presbyterian churches. On 10 Jan. 1870, also in Westminster church, 16 representatives (from First Presbyterian of Euclid [later FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF EAST CLEVELAND], and Old Stone, Miles Park, Parma, Second, Euclid St., and Cleveland West Presbyterian churches) elected officers. These included: president, Rev. William Henry Goodrich, D.D.; vice-president, Rev. James Eells, D.D.; secretary, Caleb S. Bragg; and treasurer, JOSEPH PERKINS. The executive committee included Reuben F. Smith, SOLON L. SEVERANCE, and George H. Wyman. The union, meeting quarterly, assumed the financial responsibility for helping many Presbyterian churches and/or mission Sunday schools get started, helped churches finance building programs, repairs, and maintenance, and contributed to pastors' salaries. After incorporation, the union could hold property. Funds came from individual donations and church contributions.

As president, Dr. HIRAM COLLINS HAYDN of Old Stone Church (1874-75, 1908-13) and TRUMAN P. HANDY (1873-74, 1875-93) guided the union during critical years. The union helped to expedite and celebrate the centennial of Presbyterianism in Cleveland, held 12-14 Nov. 1911. At this time, it extended opportunity for membership to all Presbyterians, and in 1928 it developed a new constitution, making it possible for all Presbyterian churches to be represented on the Board of Trustees. During the Depression, the union provided emergency funds for many churches in danger of closing. It also established and maintained Harkness Camp (1919-45), a coeducational camp near Willoughby, OH.

Later, the union evolved into a social organization for fellowship and service. Many of its activities overlapped with those of other Presbyterian organizations; consequently, in 1948-49 the Endowment Fund of the Cleveland Presbytery, the Church Extension Committee of the Presbytery of Cleveland, and the Presbyterian Union consolidated into a single corporation, entitled the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery of Cleveland (later the Presbytery of the Western Reserve). The combined organizations first met on 20 Feb. 1949.


Ludlow, Rev. and Mrs. Arthur Clyde. History of Cleveland Presbyterianism (1896).

See also RELIGION, PRESBYTERIANS.