A historian for the Presbyterian Church of Madison is scheduled to give a presentation Tuesday evening on the beginnings of Madison's oldest, continuously functioning church and critical events in its 266-year history.
Madison resident Bob Garman is scheduled to present "The Presbyterian Church of Madison – 266 Years of Christian Witness" 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library. Garman will use a variety of church records and rarely seen physical artifacts, according to a Madison Historical Society news release.
The church's congregation first met in barns and homes, and "endured the War of Independence, a schism by its Chatham Village congregants, the sectional crisis and the Civil War, economic depressions, World Wars, and society’s disenchantment with the main line denominations," the announcement said.
"Throughout, it has tried to live up to its mission of witness, caring, and compassion to all those in need. And it continues to reinvent itself as society’s needs change.”
Garman said the church's growth and struggles "mirror our town’s evolution from a rude frontier settlement to settled small town to gilded age retreat to the suburban center we know today."
Madison Historical Society program chairperson Cathie Coultas said the church produced Madison's first historians and histories, and church records—including historical discourses, journal entries, an anniversary history, vital records for 1747-1900, and a 2004 cemetery study—"are testimony to the diligence of its members to document the life in Bottle Hill / Madison."
"Using a selection of these sources and some rarely seen physical artifacts, Mr. Garman will explore the genesis of the church and critical events in its past," Coultas said.
Garman is a 36-year member, deacon, and elder of the Presbyterian Church of Madison, and currently serves as president of its Board of Trustees. He also administers the church’s Hillside / Bottle Hill Cemetery on Main Street. Garman was project manager for five historic preservation grants that documented and stabilized Webb Memorial Chapel, a key structure in the Madison Downtown Commercial Historic District.
Garman is a graduate of Dartmouth College and of the MIT Sloan School of Management. He served for five years as a project engineer in the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and later worked for Exxon Mobil for 25 years in a variety of business development, planning, financial and information systems positions.
Garman also is giving a series of three tours of Hillside Cemetery this fall in partnership with the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, including one at 2 p.m. Saturday titled "Madison and the Civil War" and another at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, titled “Revolutionary Madison." Another tour about "Famous Figures of Madison" was scheduled this weekend.
For reservations and more information about the cemetery tours call the museum at 973-377-2982 ext. 13.
The Madison Historical Society preserves matters of historical interest concerning Madison and its residents, and houses its collection at the Local History Center at the Madison Public Library. For more information call 973-377-0722 ext. 8 or visit www.madisonhistoricalsociety.org.