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Parish History Notes 29: Fork Church in 1900

A visit to Trinity Church, a few miles to the west, provides a smaller-scale model of the layout of Fork Church between 1835 and 1913. 

The pews were arranged as we know them today, having been cut down from the older compartment style, but the pulpit was in the center at the front of the church, where the altar currently stands.  Under the reawakened Calvinist philosophies of the nineteenth century, the spoken word was the most important element of a service and symbols such as crosses and flowers were of little value.  “Sola scriptura” (“by scripture alone”) was one of five important slogans of the Protestant Reformation that reflected the tenets of John Calvin (1509-1564).  The altar was placed in front of and below the pulpit, holding less significance that it does under our liturgy.

The communion rail formed a semicircle around the pulpit, extending to the east wall at the approximate location of the current railing on either side of what was then the pulpit.  The organ was on the north wall behind where the pulpit is now placed.  A pot-bellied stove occupied a prominent place in the center of the aisle, with a pipe chimney extending up and then horizontally to a side window, where an upper pane was removed to accommodate it.