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“The Only One in America: A Hebrew-Christian Church Dedicated Yesterday,” New York Times, October 12, 1885. p. 2.




On the northerly side of St. Mark's-place, a few doors from Third-avenue, is a three-story and basement brick structure. Across the front of the building, above the line of the first story windows, extends a black board sign, on which. beneath certain Hebraic characters, are the words: “Hebrew-Christian Church.” The surmounting inscription translated reads: “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Two handsome stained glass windows, one inscribed, “In memoriam of Rev. Charles Freshman, D. D.,” and the other emblazoning the name of its donor, ornament the front of the first floor of the building.

Yesterday the front door of the building was open all day, and two young men stood in the neatly carpeted hallway and welcomed the many persons who climbed the granite steps. The visitors were attendants upon the dedicatory exercises of the First Hebrew-Christian Church of America. They were ushered into a room of considerable dimensions at the left of the entrance and were seated in two rows of pews. On a platform were a reading desk, a parlor organ, and a few high-backed upholstered chairs. The pews are plainly constructed of ash. The apartment is finished in light coloring to correspond with that of the pews, is prettily carpeted, and is bright and cheerful in appearance. Yesterday's ceremonies mark an epoch in the religious life of New-York, and for that matter of America. Although several missions for the conversion of Hebrews to the Christian faith have been established in the United States and Canada, there has never, until now, been a regularly established house of worship for Jewish proselytes on this side of the Atlantic.

The new church is the result of years of effort by the Rev. Jacob Freshman, who was yesterday ordained its Pastor, and is the direct outgrowth of the Jewish mission which he established in this city about four years ago, and which for a year or two past has been meeting in a hall at the corner of Allen and Grand streets. There Christian religious services have been held every Saturday by Mr. Freshman, and there he succeeded in making a good many converts. For a long time he has been endeavoring to establish a regular church where Hebrew Christians might worship, and he has finally, through the help of various denominations of the Christian faith, been successful in his undertaking. The building on St. Mark's-place was purchased for $20,000, of which amount $5,000 has been paid down, and at an expense of $3,000 or $4,000 more it has been transformed to its present uses. Besides the hall of worship in the first story, prayer, reading, and Sunday school rooms have been introduced in the basement of the structure, and the Pastor and his family will live in the apartments over the church proper.

Mr. Freshman is a son of the late Rev. Charles Freshman, a Jewish rabbi who embraced Christianity, and has been a regularly ordained Christian minister for several years. He says that his church will be non-sectarian in character and open to all Christian believers. He is very enthusiastic and expects pronounced results from his present undertaking. He mentions, with an evident belief in the prophetic significance of the fact, the circumstance that in the building now occupied by his church lived, many years ago, Dr. Somers, a then well known Baptist clergyman, who baptized the first Israelitish convert to Christianity in New-York.

The dedicatory services proper of the Hebrew-Christian Church were held yesterday forenoon. There was a good attendance, and among those present were members of several of the uptown Christian congregations. Bishop William L. Harris, of the New-York Diocese of the Methodist Episcopal Church, conducted the exercises, and Mr. Freshman was ordained in regular form. Bishop Harris preached the dedicatory sermon, congratulating his hearers upon the significance of the event and expressing the hope that the future of the new church would justify the expectations of its founder. It had, he said, the good wishes of all the other Christian denominations. Following Bishop Harris, Mr. Freshman gave a short sketch of his efforts in founding the church. The services were interspersed with singing by the congregation, led by Mrs. Freshman, the wife of the Pastor, and Mrs. Marshall, his sister.

At the afternoon's services, at 3 o'clock, there was a larger attendance than in the morning. Besides Mr. Freshman there were on the platform the Rev. Dr. Marvin R. Vincent, the Rev. Dr. William T. Sabine, and the Rev. Dr. J. R. Day. The services were opened with a voluntary on the organ, followed by the singing of Watts's hymn, “Delight in Worship,” by the congregation and the choir of Dr. Vincent's church. Dr. Vincent offered prayer, after which he and the other ministers present told of the pleasure they felt at participating in the exercises, and extended the sympathies of their respective congregations with the new movement signalized by the opening of the church. Mr. Freshman also addressed the congregation, reviewing the history of his work. He made earnest appeals to the Christian community to assist him in the undertaking of lifting the church debt, and declared that he had experienced great difficulties and been confronted with deep prejudice from people of his race in his endeavors to establish a Christian house of worship for Hebrews.

In the evening there was another good sized congregation, which was addressed by the Rev. Dr. Hamilton, of the Scotch Presbyterian Church. All of yesterday's exercises were in English. There will be a German service tonight at the church and English services every other night of the present week.