A Church Planter One Year, A Country Politician the Next Year —
by Rev. David T. Myers
Born on February 12, 1721, in Millington, Connecticut, Elihu Spencer studied at Yale College, graduating in 1746. Ordained two years later into the Presbyterian Church in America, he was called to minister with David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards to the Iroquois Six Nation tribes of native Americans. After doing that for a number of year, he was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, New Jersey in 1750. He believed that wherever he was needed, there he would go. And so when the French and Indian War broke out, he was appointed a chaplain to the troops in that conflict. After that war, he would pastor five Presbyterian Churches in New Jersey for the next 15 years.
In 1764, he and the Rev. Alexander McWhorter was sent to North Carolina by the Synod of New York and Philadelphia to rally the scattered Presbyterians in that colony to begin congregations. They were successful in planting many Presbyterian churches in the colony.
On December 26, 1775, the provincial congress of North Carolina petitioned the Presbytery of New Brunswick in New Jersey to send the Rev. Dr. Elihu Spencer back down to North Carolina for the purpose of “uniting the people in the cause of independence.” Evidently, some of the Presbyterians were loyalist or Tories, resisting the patriot cause. Who better to convince you that your path should be with the American independence movement than the one used by the Lord to organize your scattered groups of Scot-Irish believers!
Nine years later, on also December 27, 1784, Elihu Spencer would go to meet his Maker and Redeemer, with a life and ministry full of deeds for God and country.
Words to live by: Today, Christian Presbyterians might be hesitant to stand so boldly in the political world, using their religious ministry as a basis for their actions. But the day of our American revolution was a challenging one. Certainly, there is nothing changed in the Proverb which states that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” We who are ministers of the gospel must seek to hold God’s Word before the people so that they can vote and act responsibly as Christian citizens.