REV. PRESTON KENNEDY
Through a tent meeting held in downtown Binghamton, in the summer of 1900, Rev. Preston Kennedy came in contact with a group of saints who later organized as the Pentecostal Rescue Mission. According to his own testimony, he had been saved from a life of deep sin and shame but had never as much as heard that there was a Holy Ghost. Preston Kennedy entered into the fully sanctified experience in the spring of 1904 through the faithfulness of Sr. Puffer and others.
Considering the fact that Preston Kennedy was a man who had had a very limited education, it was surely a miracle of the Holy Ghost that such conviction and power attended his meetings. His simple faith in God, accompanied by an unusual
personality, contributed to the growth of the work. Under God this one man was largely responsible for the starting of many of the early churches in our connection.
Rev. Kennedy was pastor of the Binghamton work for many years. He was General Superintendent from the beginning in 1904 to the year of 1917. He was founder of the Orphanage at Binghamton Camp.
Many of his reports of meetings
were spoken of as battles. He denounced sin fearlessly and much
opposition was nearly always present. It was either a riot or a revival. The
throwing of eggs, tomatoes, fruit, and cutting of tent ropes was a
common affair. If this were not enough, the spreading of untrue reports caused many church doors to be closed to his preaching.
Whatever unfortunate circumstances precipitated his withdrawal from the Association, no one can deny the fact that Preston Kennedy was mightily used in the early building of the work. We owe a great debt to this unusual leader. Mr. Kennedy withdrew from the Pentecostal Association in 1921.
REV. ALBERT H. WILSON
Rev. Albert H. Wilson was born September 1, 1888 at Saranac, NY and spent the early part of his life in northern New York. He was converted at the age of 16 and soon afterward sanctified at the Moors New York Camp Meeting under the
ministry of Rev. B. S. Taylor. He attended Poultney College, Poultney, Vt.
With the call of God upon his heart, he left college and immediately entered the full-time ministry. Rev. Wilsons first two pastorates were at Binghamton and Schenectady. In 1914 he assumed the pastorate of the Albany church and remained as pastor for 30 years.
In 1918 Rev. Wilson became General
Superintendent of the Pentecostal Rescue Mission and retained his position
of leadership for the next 20 years, doing double duty as pastor and superintendent.
In 1938 he asked to be released from this office, but was elected Assistant
Superintendent and served in this capacity for seven years.
In addition to his pastoral and administrative duties, Bro. Wilson, for many years, was actively engaged in evangelism throughout this and other states. He was a strong advocate of “Second-Blessing Holiness.” Throughout his life he manifested a most gracious spirit, and was known for “keeping sweet” in different situations. Bro. Wilson’s ministry was a rich blessing, not only to those in his home state, but also to thousands across the nation.
REV. H. J. OLSEN
Rev. H. J. Olsen was born in Sears,
Mi. on January 19, 1879. He was converted in a community-wide revival in the
early part of 1905 and entered God’s Bible School, Cincinnati, Oh., in December
of that year. He was sanctified under the ministry of Rev. Seth Cook Rees,
after hearing holiness preached for the first time.
Bro. Olsen was ordained to the ministry immediately after completion of his studies at God’s Bible School and in 1907, went to his first pastorate at Baltimore, Md. He served here for seven and one-half years. Alter pastoring in Providence, RI, for one and one-half years and in Trappe, Md. for sixteen years, Bro. Olsen came to Binghamton in 1932. He pastored the Frederick St. church for five and one-half years. In 1938 Bro. Olsen was elected District Superintendent of the New York District and served until 1943.
In addition to Bro. Olsen’s work as pastor and Superintendent, he labored faithfully in revivals throughout the state. He also served as an evangelist for both the Victory Grove and Binghamton Camp Meetings.
Rev. H. J. Olsen was an uncommon
man and an able exponent of the Word in several capacities. Not only was he
a capable preacher, but also an outstanding teacher and writer, as well. For
years, his written comments on the Sunday School lessons were a blessing to
readers across the nation. His love for missionary work and his compassion
for the lost not only took him twice to the Caribbean Islands, but also had
its influence in creating a strong interest in Missions. It is evident that
this interest in Missions among the New York churches still prevails today.
The life of Rev. H. J. Olsen continues to have its impact on the New York Conference as members of his family still render service which is invaluable.
“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” —Daniel 12:3
REV. A. E. BLANN
Rev. A. F. Blann was born in Landing Neck, MD, on August 8, 1883. He was converted on the night of September 9, 1899, at the age of 16 in a tent meeting in Landing Neck under the preaching of Rev. T. F. Tabler. He was sanctified two years later at Denton Camp, Md. For 70 continuous years he served the Lord. Bro. Blann attended God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Oh. For two years he pastored a church in Orleans, In., From there he moved to Northville, NY. For 32 years he labored faithfully in this little northern New York town. It was in the year 1943 that Bro. Blann was honored by being elected Superintendent of the New York District. Previously he had served in such capacities as District Secretary and Assistant Superintendent.
Rev. Blann served five years as Superintendent and then returned to pastoral duties, pastoring the Oneonta church for nine years. He retired in 1957 after 48 years of active service. Bro. Blann was a contributor to a number of religious publications including the “News From Home.” A great contribution to the Conference was Bro. Blann’s influence in missionary interest. Moreover, his march of 70 years without one faltering step is also an inspiration as well as an example. He may not have had the dash and sparkle of some “star-dust preacher” but he had every bit of the faithfulness that makes for a good pastor and balanced leader.
Incidentally, Bro. Blann preached the first sermon at Victory Grove Camp. This was Decoration Day in 1919. If the writer’s recollection is correct, the last message he preached in the Conference was at the Anniversary Service in the church he served for 32 years. He preached the same message that he used 50 years ago trying out as a potential pastor for the Northville Mission.
REV. 0. L. FAY
The success of any man can be traced back through his life generally to some specific event. Events, circumstances, etc. play an important part in charting the course of each individual. However, one hour, one moment or crisis often sets man in the direction he will pursue in life. Such a crisis in the life of Rev. 0. L. Fay is traced back to the year 1928 and to the basement of the old Lake Placid church. In that hour, coming face to face with Jesus Christ, Bro. Fay settled it to go with God, and to devote his life to the cause — wherever, however, or whenever the Lord saw fit. Following this experience, Bro. Fay was sanctified on the Binghamton campground, giving him the essential foundation for the eventful years that followed.
Before his formal ministry, Bro. Fay engaged himself in the work of the Kingdom. Enthusiasm and courage characterized his early endeavors. These traits never diminished. Think of it! As a young man, uncommitted, uncounseled, without: a 2/3 vote, a majority opinion, or any credentials, he rented a tent, engaged an evangelist and started a meeting in Bloomingdale, NY. The evangelist stayed on as pastor there, starting the work we presently have.
Bro. Fay entered his first pastorate in 1934. He went to East Windsor which at this time had no church, parsonage, or organization. Due to his dedicated labors there the church was organized, a church building and parsonage secured, and the indebtedness cleared. During his five years there he started the work in Bennettsville. During this time, he and Bro. Oscar Lawrence held a tent meeting in Bainbridge where Bro. Whitney settled it to go with God. Bro. Fay’s next charge took him to Wells, NY where he pastored for five years. His ministry was not confined only to Wells. Having purchased an old saw mill and an old truck, he proceeded to move it to Fox Hill, where he built our present church. This was built with sacrifice and hours of toil. Money was used that they received from selling eggs obtained from their own chickens. When he finished the church, there was a $40 indebtedness which was raised on the day of dedication.
Following his years at Wells, he accepted a call to Albany, NY. While there, a new church was purchased. During this time, Delbert Stuart, a member of the Albany church moved to Pittsfield, Ma., where Bro. Fay had anticipated starting some meetings. However, he was elected to the Conference Presidency so he urged Rev. Donald Babcock and Bro. Delbert Stuart to go ahead and start something. So was the beginning of our church at Pittsfield.
After four years in Albany, Bro. Fay was elected as District Superintendent in 1948. During his superintendency, Bro. Fay asked Bro. Blann to hold some meetings in East Worcester. Bra. Fay played a vital part in the beginning of our work there. In 1962 Bro. Fay withdrew his name, ending his 14 years of leadership as Superintendent.
Bro. Fay’s activities continued following his superintendency. Being elected as Conference Vice-President, he assisted Bro. Whitney in many areas. He became a supply pastor at Port Leydon, traveling to the charge on weekends, calling, and preaching. This was only one of the many places where he was of service.
Another event that had a tremendous influence on the life and ministry of Bro. Fay was the day he stood with Miss Dorothy Posson and exchanged wedding vows “for better or for worse.” Behind every battle, burden, and the cares of life in the pastorate or superintendency, Sr. Fay carried the load with him.
Who can in so little space and with words so inadequate, summarize and evaluate such an illustrative ministry? Statistics at times are cold, meaningless items, but listen, if you will.
Bro. Fay, at the time of this writing, had been actively engaged in the ministry for 38 years and served on the council for 34 years. He missed only one Conference in 44 years because he was at Vermontville working at camp. He drove approximately 200,030 miles as Conference President. In the past 38 years he has preached approximately 5,000 times, dedicated numerous churches, held many annual meetings, board meetings and labored on home missionary works. He attended three camps each year and held revivals in and out of the Conference.
At the time of this writing, possibly a little foot-sore, weary, gray-haired, scarred from battles, Bro. Fay still stands tall and uncompromising with his sight focused on the horizon yonder that rises beyond transitory things. Ecclesiastical battles, fiery taunts of liberals, and the flood waters of compromise have not altered the course that God, through the Spirit, charted for him on his day of conversion.
Today, the effects of his devotion and the fruits of his ministry are evidenced in our midst. These influences shall live on until one day they splash their ever-widening effects on eternity’s shore. While we wish to pay tribute to Rev. 0. L. Fay, we are so limited. With our respect expressed and our appreciation voiced, let us be assured that his greatest reward and tribute lies at the feet of Christ.
REV. ANDREW I. WHITNEY
The God who supplied spiritual, stalwart leadership for the early and founding days of our church has not failed to provide for more recent years and days. He who had a Joshua to succeed Moses has always had a man to fill every gap arising in Conference Administration. He found such a man in Rev. Andrew J. Whitney to succeed Rev. 0. L. Fay.
A native of Bainbridge, NY, Bro. Whitney was saved on June 6, 1936 while still a teenager in a tent meeting under the ministry of his predecessor, Rev. 0. L. Fay. Slightly over two years later on November 20, 1938, he was sanctified wholly and that same year called of God into the Gospel ministry. Because he was under age, he was hindered from going to Bible College for two years. In 1940 he entered the Allentown Bible Institute and graduated in 1943. On June 12, 1943, he was united in marriage with Evelyn Livingston, also of Bainbridge, who labored faithfully with him.
Bro. Whitney’s full time ministry was begun with the joint charge of Toddsville and Cherry Valley, NY, where he served from 1943 to 1949. While there, he built the church and parsonage at Cherry Valley.
Bro. Whitney next moved to Nicholson, Pa., where he pastored the Green Grove Pilgrim Holiness Church from 1949 to 1958. Under his leadership, the church there was renovated.
His next pastorate was at Haverhill, Ma., where he served until being elected District Superintendent on July 10, 1962.
While he was at Haverhill, a new church was built. While Bro. Whitney’s administration thus far — like King David’s — has nor been one of ease and peace for the Conference, under his capable leadership, the Conference has never been more united to meet these battles and thus through God has been victorious until this present hour. His loyalty both to God and to the Conference has been unquestionable. He has conscientiously, faithfully, and unreservedly given himself to the work of God and this Conference.
Under Bro. Whitney’s leadership, Home Missionary fields have been opened in Camden, Canandaigua, and Kingston, NY. Since 1963 more than 15 churches have been added to the Conference roll. Also, the Conference parsonage has been enlarged and all of the Camp grounds have new buildings including a new tabernacle at Victory Grove. Not only has the Conference become highly active in the IHC during Bro. Whitney’s administration, but also joint Ministerial Conventions have been held with the God’s Missionary Churches and the Wesleyan Holiness Association of Churches.
In the educational field, a ministerial school has been established to be held twice yearly for the particular benefit of ministers working towards ordination. A “new day dawned” for the Conference in missionary endeavors with Rev, and Mrs. Howard Beveridge and family leaving for Brazil, South America on March 8,1972.
Bro. Whitney has represented the Conference with dignity on convention and Campmeeting platforms. He has been the kind of leader that one can point out to others with a sense of pride. He has truly “shown himself a man.” And so, Bro. Whitney, we salute you and pledge you our prayers as you look forward to the dawning of more “new days.”