Leonard, Rev. F. G. of Universalist Church Recognized 1930
Has Served Morris Church
For 30 Years
Record of Rev. F. G. Leonard
of Universalist Church
There Recognized in
Thirty years of consecutive service to the first Universalist church of Morris on the part of Rev. F. G. Leonard is recognized fittingly in the current issue of the “Empire State Universalist,” monthly publication of the churches of the New york state convention of that denomination
The following excerpts from that tribute necessarily considerably abbreviated, will be of interest not only to the many friends of Mr. Leonard, but as well to those interested in rural churches.
“When Dr. Thomas Guthrie looked down on a part of the most squalid, abandoned, vicious districts of Edenburgh, he exclaimed, 'A beautiful field!' He saw the dire need of Christ in those cursed lives. Dr. Guthrie, one of the first ministers of “The Church of Scotland, Free,” felt the immediacy of his call to meet the needs of these poor benighted souls. He served them gloriously.
Pastors Love their Rural Fields
“Fortunately the small towns can boast of great ministers who refused to be lured to the city. These men have regarded the village as a beautiful field in which to labor in the name of the Christ. They can so portray the advantages of their field over against the disadvantages of the large city pastorate that the great city ministers really wonders if he has made any lasting impression on the multitude whom he calls his fellow-citizens. Like Dr. Grenfell of Labrador, the useful rural minister can say, 'Don't pity me; I love my work.' Having dedicated his life to a beautiful field, he cannot be separated from it.
“The rural minister faces a small salary, a small constituency, a small congregation, a small church school in small town life.”
Minister Is Everyday Factor
“Everybody knows the minister in a small town. Everybody knows where he lives and how he lives. He is not an invisible, incomprehensible person exposed to a select group of admirers only on Sundays. He is an everyday factor, gripping the lives of his fellow townsmen and that means more than merely touching them. He knows people and they know him. When this familiarity generates increasing respect, as the years run into the twenties and thirties, you must recognize that man as an outstanding success in the ministry. He is a success because he is indispensable and cannot be replaced. He moves in the town even when his body is under the sod.”
“On May 1, 1929, Rev. Fred G. Leonard completed thirty years of service as pastor of the First Universalist church in Morris. Thirty years he has labored as a Christian friend in this town of 600 persons, and to him it has been always a beautiful field. He confesses that he has labored among some of the best people that the sun ever shone upon.
“This man began life in East Eddington, Me., on January9, 1862. His parents were Universalists in the day of theological conflicts and they knew just why they were Universalists.
Rev. Leonard in Morris Since 1899
“He was ordained to the Universalist ministry in 1893 with his first pastorate in the Universalist church of Huntingville, Quebec. He served this church for three years and then accepted the call to the Universalist church in Southold, L. I. This was also a three years' pastorate, and then came the invitation to Morris, where he began his work on May 1, 1899.
“Morris has four churches and as minsters have come and gone, Mr Leonard has remained, always ready to sponsor any worthy cause in the village. Naturally his congregations could not be large but nevertheless he has the respect and affection of every church and person. That accomplishment is real wealth for any man. For the past ten years, his salary has been $600 per year. For the previous 20 years, it was $500 per year. The church does not possess a parsonage.”
“In speaking of his work, Mr. Leonard said:
“My greatest joy has come through the assurance which I have received from saddened people that I have brought them comfort in the hours of sorrow and have with the help of God cleared away the doubts that have beset them when they have watched the operations of man or contemplated some of the mysterious workings of providence. More often we sow the seed and have to trust for the future.”
“I know no special key to rural success. Keep hard at it. Give the people the best you have. Drive home the practical, uplifting ideals of our faith. Strive constantly to enthuse to exalt.”