1857 - 1925
We move on now to the name of the Rev. Frederic Edwards. He had acted as assistant pastor to Mr Finch from May, 1857. to the end of September in that year. On November 3rd recognition services were held in connection with the settlement of Mr Edwards as pastor. He remained until 1860 when he was called to the church at South Parade, Leeds. Mr Edwards, however, returned to the Harlow pastorate four years later, following the Rev. Thomas Stevenson who had meantime served as pastor.
Mr Edwards had been back only one year when a very important event, affecting us today, took place. The old chapel was pulled down and the present building erected in its place, The cost was just over £2,000, which amount was raised largely by liberal contributions of friends connected with the church.
For twenty-nine years Mr Edwards served our church with devotion. The esteem in which he was held was expressed at the tune of his retirement in 1893 when the church recorded their appreciation in these words: “The members of the church assembled... desire to record their devout gratitude for the great help they have received from his teaching and ministry among them, and they thankfully remember the interest he has always taken in foreign missions, and rejoice in the results that have attended his ministry”.
Almost coinciding with the retirement of Mr Edwards was the resignation, through illness, of Mr Charles Whittaker from the diaconate after well over forty years of service. It is startling to read that this left Mr Samuel Young as sole deacon of the church. In the Minutes it is recorded that Mr Edwards urged the church to propose and elect another deacon to join Mr Young before the arrival of a new pastor. It is also recorded that other deacons had found themselves in Mr Young’s position in former years, and included Mr Whittaker himself, who was sole deacon for a time until joined by Mr Young. The secretarial work of the church was carried out by Mr Edwards, who also handled all the correspondence in the settlement of his successor. He remained pastor emeritus until his death in 1899.
Mr Edwards was followed in the pastorate by the Rev. J. W. Butcher in 1893. Previously he had been pastor of the church at Blenheim Chapel, Leeds. He served at Harlow for sixteen years, retiring in 1909. At his farewell, the chairman of the meeting, Mr Samuel Young, said that Mr. Butcher would be particularly remembered for his conduct of the devotional part of the services. Apparently he brought dignity into the worship every detail of which was as carefully prepared as the sermon itself.
Early in Mr Butcher's ministry Mr Charles Whittaker died, His work as a deacon was outstanding and maintained a fine family tradition. His father and grandfather before him had held similar office in our church, each with forty years of service to his credit. It is also left on record that he was a preacher of ability. His son, Dr C. D. Whittaker, became Headmaster of Taunton School. Another son, Mr J. C. Whittaker, was to serve the church in later years as treasurer, thus continuing something of the long association of this family with the church.
An interesting item occurs in the Minutes for October 29th 1902, when the church gave its approval to a proposal to form a Free Church Council in the district. Mr G. H. Young was among those appointed to attend the preliminary meeting at Bishop’s Stortford. A year later we read of Mr 6, H. Young's election to the diaconate. Two others v ere elected with him – Mr John Coleman and Mr John Shirley. This election was preceded by an objection by Mr Young to what he regarded as an unsatisfactory method of electing deacons. He felt so strongly about it that at first he refused his name to go forward, At length, he won his point, which was to make the election of deacons thoroughly democratic, and the diaconate was thus not only strengthened in number but placed on a firm foundation for the future.
Following the ministry of Mr Butcher came that of the Rev. P. F. Boyd, who moved to Harlow from Amersham in 1910. It fell to him to steer the church through the difficult and anxious years of the First World War. The war memorial in the church was erected in 1921.
At the beginning of Mr Boyd's ministry, his wife began the Harrow Sisterhood. It has met regularly at the church ever since, and some of the founder members are happily still with us,
In 1918 the church sustained the severe loss through death, of Mr Samuel Young, for fifty-eight years a member and fifty years a deacon. A man of great integrity of character, he had served the church in outstanding and generous measure. The Young family, following their father’s fine example, had become a great power for good in the church, and is remembered as a missionary family of no small accomplishment. One daughter, Dr Edith Young, had gone as a medical missionary to India, under the auspices of the Zenana Mission, during Mr Butcher’s ministry. Shortly after the end of Mr Boyd’s time in Harlow, Dr Young was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal (Gold Class) in the Birthday Honours, after twenty-three years of service. This decoration was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1900 for award to any person, irrespective of sex, race or occupation, who distinguished himself or herself in advancing the public interest in India. There were three classes – gold, silver and bronze.
At that time, Dr Young’s brother, Professor C. R. Young, was at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, under the Baptist Missionary Society, and her sister, Miss Miriam Young, worked in the same city, It is not inappropriate, perhaps, to mention at this stage that another brother, Mr F. S. Young, was Headmaster of Bishop’s Stortford College. A family of outstanding academic ability, their contribution to the cause of Christ was of rare distinction,
Mr Boyd left Harlow in 1925 to accept a call to a church in Northamptonshire. He served Harlow for fifteen years. The closing period of his ministry was somewhat overshadowed by ill health, and his departure was accompanied by the sympathy and sincere good wishes of the church.