What Does a Church Mean to You? What do You Mean to a Church?

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

The following eulogy was written for Mrs. Amelia J. Stevenson, a lifetime member of the Universalist faith, who passed away on April 7, 1905. It was written by Emma James, a friend and member of the Alliance women’s group to which Mrs. Stevenson also belonged. Mrs. Stevenson was not just a member. She was the daughter of Reverend Isaac Williamson, a pastor of our church and also a member until his death in the 1870s. Much of Mrs. Stevenson’s life had centered around the Universalist Church.

In Memoriam

Mrs. Amelia J. Stevenson

Born Feb. 12, 1845 Died Apr. 7, 1905

“Our dear friend and companion was suddenly called home leaving a gap in the Alliance circle and grief in the hearts of all who knew her.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, the influence of the sunny skies and the gentle manners of the southern ladies remained with her all her life. Reared in a Universalist family, Rev. Dr. I. D. Williamson of sainted memory being her father, she was in early childhood grounded in the Faith, which became a vital part of her life, and which she imparted to her children, who are following in her footsteps.

Wooed and won by a soldier boy who had given his right leg in defense of our country, she proved a model wife and mother, and the happy home life when four young children made the house brighter with their laughter will be remembered always by the children who remain. One of her boys when young said to her—‘Oh, mamma, we have the homiest home I’ve ever seen.’

In the church and Alliance she was a willing worker, ready to lend a helping hand to all who needed it and making the gatherings of the ladies brighter by her genial ways and pleasant talks. Gentle in spirit with the unswerving habit of never saying anything unkind, and speaking only of the good qualities of everybody, her life shows what one person can do to make the world better.

Music is a solace to all, and her friends remember the pleasure which her piano playing gave with their request to play for them. In loving memory of our friend who has gone to her reward, we stand together in the fraternal circle she liked so well, hoping to meet her when we, too, shall have crossed the River.”

Mrs. Stevenson was married to Gillette Stevenson who was wounded at the Battle of Petersburg, Va. during the Civil War causing the amputation of his right leg. Several months after Mrs. Stevenson’s death, Mrs. James received the following letter from one of the deceased’s sons:

‘On behalf of my brothers and for myself I would like to thank the ladies of the Alliance for the beautiful memorial to my mother which was adopted and spread among the minutes. My mother was devoted to the practical work of the Universalist Church and was never happier or better satisfied than when she was doing something to help along the principles which were so dear to her. I think one of the chief sources of satisfaction that she had was the thought that at last she was close to her church and in a position to give her time and thought to it while unburdened by other duties which come in a woman’s life, all of which she had performed. It seems too bad that she could not have been spared to work in your Alliance for twenty years longer. Advancing years might have enfeebled her but could not have impaired her faith.

F. W. Stevenson’ ”

Image: The Essex Place church building, location of our congregation at the time.