Although the first volume of the local church's minutes is missing, records of the Geneva Presbytery to which the church belonged and reported are still extant, and these clearly reflect the revival in the congregation at Palmyra. The minutes show that by September 21, 1825 when figures were in for a revival over the winter of 1824-25 "99 have been admitted on examination." As early as February 1825 the Presbytery was called on, in glowing terms, to

bless the Lord for the displays of sovereign grace which have been made during the past year. In the congregation of Palmyra, the Lord has appeared in his glory to build up Zion. More than a hundred have been hopefully brought into the kingdom of the Redeemer. The distinguishing doctrines of grace have proved eminently the sword of the Spirit, by which the rebellion of man's heart has been slain. The fruits of holiness in this revival even now are conspicuous. The exertions for the promotion of divine knowledge are greater than formerly. Sabbath Schools, Bible classes, Missionary & Tract Societies are receiving unusual attention, & their salutary influence is apparent. [1]

Evidence of the increase of "Sabbath Schools, Bible Classes, Missionary & Tract Societies" also can be seen in the following excerpts printed in the local newspaper the Wayne Sentinel:

Messrs. Editors -- Please to allow the subscriber . . . the privilege of expressing his gratitude to God, for what He is doing for the people of Palmyra, and likewise his thanks to a number of friends in that village, for assisting him in printing Tracts, and in setting up Sabbath Schools.
The collection taken up on the Sabbath evening, amounting to $7[.]72, by the recommendation of the Rev. Mr. STOCKTON, will afford the subscriber some assistance, and it being divided and partly appropriated to a Juvenile Library, for a Sunday School in Palmyra, it will probably be the means of commencing a Library there for the benefit of the rising generation. . . .
By a Sabbath School Society is meant an institution for collecting the children and youth, of all denominations, whenever most convenient, for the purpose of giving them instructions from the word of God without any attempt to build up any peculiar sect or party. Such parts of the Holy Scriptures ought to be committed to memory as are of the most practical nature, and such as may be considered most useful in pointing out the duty of man to his Maker, and to his fellow creatures; such, for instance, as the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, Christ's Sermon on the Mount, the xii. of Romans, iii. of Colossians, and iv. of Ephesians. ...
A MEETING will be held in the Presbyterian house of worship, in this village, on Thursday evening, the 16th inst. at half-past 6 o'clock, for the purpose of organizing a RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY. All who feel disposed to encourage the circulation of Scripture truth in the form of small and familiar publications, are invited to attend. [2]

A look at the Presbytery records for 1820 suggest some anticipation of a revival in the church of Phelps (located at Oaks Corners some fourteen miles from Palmyra) and at Canandaigua (some thirteen miles away), but nothing for the Palmyra church. The "Presbyterial Reports to the Synod of Geneva" confirms the scarcity of converts in the conference year of 1820. The presbytery reported to synod only fourteen additions to the Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra for the period between February 1820 and March 1821. The additions include eight infant baptisms. [3]
This pattern of growth is confirmed by Reverend James Hotchkin, who in 1845 began writing the official history of the rise of the Presbyterian denomination in western New York. The Synod of New York backed this effort and requested all the churches to open their records to him. Hotchkin was especially interested in revivals. His account for the Palmyra church shows revivals in 1817 and in 1824 but nothing in the intervening years. [4]
The revival over the winter of 1816-17, which affected mainly the Presbyterian Church of Palmyra, received coverage in at least a dozen periodicals, including among others the Christian Herald and Seaman's Magazine, the Religious Remembrancer, the American Baptist Magazine, and the Boston Recorder. [5]

The Palmyra newspaper for March 2, 1825 reprinted a report from the Religious Advocate of Rochester:

More than two hundred souls have become the hopeful subjects of divine grace in Palmyra, Macedon, Manchester, Phelps, Lyons, and Ontario, since the late revival commenced.-This is a powerful work; it is among old and young, but mostly among young people. Many are ready to exclaim, "what hath God wrought!" "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes." The cry is yet from various parts, "come over and help us." There are large and attentive congregations in every part, who hear as for their lives. Such intelligence must be pleasing to every child of God, who rightly estimate the value of immortal souls, and wishes well to the cause of Zion.

Since the Religious Advocate was a Presbyterian-related periodical, the figures undoubtedly reflect Presbyterian gains. A note in the same issue of the Palmyra paper adds this balancing information: "It may be added, that in Palmyra and Macedon, including Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches, more than 400 have already testified that the Lord is good. The work is still progressing. In the neighboring towns, the number is great and fast increasing." [6]


[1] Geneva Presbytery "Records," September 21, 1825, Book D:40; Geneva Synod "Records," October 6, 1825, 431, both in the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the Presbytery's Report to Synod, the Palmyra church reported for the year between September 10, 1824 and September 23, 1825 additions of 103 members and a membership jump from seventy-nine to one hundred seventy-eight members (one hundred thirty percent) with forty adult baptisms. See "Presbyterial Reports to the Synod of Geneva," Presbyterian Historical Society. For the quote, see Geneva Presbytery "Records," February 2, 1825, Book D:27-28.

[2] Wayne Sentinel 2 (Dec. 15, 1824), Palmyra, New York.

[3] Geneva Presbytery "Records," February 2, 1820, Book C:37 and "Presbyterial Reports to the Synod of Geneva." The membership for Palmyra shows an increase over the previous year's report from sixty-one to seventy-one members. This figure includes those who transferred in by letter of recommendation from another congregation as well as those joining upon profession of faith, off-set by those transferring out and those who either died or were dropped from membership.

[4] James H. Hotchkin, A History of the Purchase and Settlement of Western New York, and the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Presbyterian Church in that Section (New York: Published by M. W. Dodd, 1848), 378.

[5] See accounts in The Christian Herald and Seaman's Magazine (September 28, 1816; May 10; June 7, 1817): 2:16; 3:103f, 164; Religious Remembrancer (October 5; November 2, 1816; May 17, 1817), 4th Series, 24, 39, 151f; American Baptist Magazine (July 1817) 1:153; and Boston Recorder (September 17, 1816; May 13; October 21, 1817): 1:151; 2:88, 180. See also Joshua Bradley, Accounts of the Religious Revivals . . . from 1815 to 1818 (1819), 223.

[6] Wayne Sentinel 2 (March 2, 1825):3, 4.

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