Faithful and Beloved
by Rev. David T. Myers
Last year on this date, this author found no Presbyterian person, place, or thing, so he wrote on one of the Shorter Catechisms. This year however, the person and ministry of the Rev. Dr. James Crowell comes into This Day in Presbyterian History as a result of the Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church, by Alfred Nevin. And in that volume, we are told that Dr. Crowell was born on June 9, 1827 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of a druggist and apothecary shop owner.
Nevin doesn’t give us much in the matter of his early years in either the home or the church, but there must have been a commitment to the Presbyterian church at some time. He attended the College of New Jersey in 1848, graduating fourth in a class of eighty students. He taught for one year at West Chester Academy after graduating, but soon found his next training at Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1851. His faculty during his student days were Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, James Addison Alexander, James Waddel Alexander, and William Henry Green. With spiritual mentors like these, he would be adequately trained for his life calling to the pastorate.
For six years, Rev. Crowell served the Lord as pastor of the Upper Octorora Presbyterian Church in present day Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. Nevin says that “he was greatly loved by the congregation and prospered in his labors.” [Note: It is one of the early buildings of this congregation which which we have chosen for the masthead (see above) of This Day in Presbyterian History.]
Continuing his pastorate, James Crowell served for twelve years as pastor of Seventh Presbyterian Church in his home town of Philadelphia. Again it was stated that he labored there as the preacher and pastor of the flock with great fidelity.
Two years were spent at St Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, where his spiritual labors were once again blessed by the Lord.
His last pastorate, from 1870-1882, was again taken up in his home town of Philadelphia, at the Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, where he was described as being faithful in his ministry, and beloved by his flock.
What stands out to this author is that here we have a man of God committed to his pastoral calling, faithful, and as a result, fruitful in leading men and women to saving faith in Christ. He was universally loved by the people of the Lord in these Presbyterian congregations.
Nevin concludes his treatment of James Crowell by stating that “he was a cultivated gentleman, an exemplary Christian, a good preacher, and highly esteemed by all who knew him.” (p. 167)
Words to Live By:
To those followers of This Day in Presbyterian History who are called to be pastors of the flock of God, the focus of our post today, the Rev. James Crowell, stands out as an exemplary undershepherd who obviously loved the Word of God, who preached that Word in all its fullness to edify the hearts and minds of the people of God, and most importantly, who lived out the eternal principles and practices of the Word of God before the watching world. Oh for teaching elders today to have such a zeal for the God’s Word in their present ministries.