Parish History:Edward Henry Newbegin

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EDWARD HENRY NEWBEGIN, son of Henry and Ellen T. (Sturdivant) Newbegin, was born 25 November 1870 in Defiance, Ohio. He received his early education in his native town and was prepared for college by private tutors. After graduating with honors from Bowdoin College in 1891, he studied law in the office of his father, and passing a highly creditable examination, he was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Ohio in June, 1893. He had, however, felt an imperative call to the ministry, and relinquishing the profession for which he was so well prepared, he entered the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, completing the course and receiving the degree of B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) in 1896. At the same time, Bowdoin College conferred upon him the degree of A.M. He was ordained a deacon in June 1896, and a priest in May 1897, by the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts.

Immediately, on 12 July 1896, he was appointed minister of St. Andrew's Church, Ayer, Massachusetts. He was our first resident minister, living in a private house in the town. In 1898, when the mission was organized as "St. Andrew's Parish in Ayer and Groton," he was elected rector. He was much loved, not only by the parish, but also by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He was particularly committed to making the Church more effective in rural communities. In the November 1898 issue of the Diocesan newspaper, The Church Militant, he wrote about his plan to establish new missions in the villages surrounding Ayer:
It is but a generation or two, in New England, since on Sunday morning the father of the family harnessed his horse and with his entire household drove the two, five, or even ten miles to the nearest church. Now, with an occasional exception, he stays at home and his children grow up even more indifferent to religious things than himself.

We may philosophize as much as we will on the causes of the spiritual and industrial decay of rural New England, but the fact still confronts us that the country districts are untouched by the Church's influence, and that their inhabitants will go no long distance to avail themselves of the Church's ministrations. There is but one way out of the difficulty, and we may as well face it resolutely. If the people will not go to the Church the Church must go to the people.
It is but a generation or two, in New England, since on Sunday morning the father of the family harnessed his horse and with his entire household drove the two, five, or even ten miles to the nearest church. Now, with an occasional exception, he stays at home and his children grow up even more indifferent to religious things than himself.

We may philosophize as much as we will on the causes of the spiritual and industrial decay of rural New England, but the fact still confronts us that the country districts are untouched by the Church's influence, and that their inhabitants will go no long distance to avail themselves of the Church's ministrations. There is but one way out of the difficulty, and we may as well face it resolutely. If the people will not go to the Church the Church must go to the people.

Meeting with unusual success here, he was called in November 1899 to St. John's Church in Bangor, Maine, where the remainder of his short life was spent in labors faithful and well appreciated. He was president for two years of the Bangor Ministers' Conference, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bangor Public Library, one of the original movers of the formation of the Citizens' League, a member of the Twentieth Century Club, and one of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. He was married to Elizabeth Woodbury King, daughter of D. Webster and Jennie W. (Purinton) King of Boston, 12 September 1900 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They had four children.

The Rev. Edward Henry Newbegin died of typhoid fever at the age of thirty-five on 14 October 1906 in Portland, Maine, after an illness of about five weeks. His funeral was held at St. John's Church in Bangor, Maine, followed by a memorial service at the Chapel of the Massachusetts Cremation Society at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts; the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, officiated, assisted by the Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody, headmaster at Groton School. He is buried with his wife in the Foreside Community Churchyard Cemetery, Falmouth, Maine.

In his obituary, the Bangor Daily News wrote, "Personally, he possessed noble qualities of mind and heart, which won for him many friends and held them true to him always. Genial, courteous and considerate, yet firm and determined when he believed himself in the right; ever true to his own best principles and the best principles of those about him--few Bangor clergymen have been so genuinely popular and few will be more sincerely mourned. His brief life was an example of unselfish devotion and true Christian manliness."

The beautiful wood carving that still hangs on the wall behind the altar, "The Shepherd of Jerusalem," is his memorial. The Rev. Dr. Endicott Peabody said of Rev. Newbegin in an address given at the memorial service at St. Andrew's on the evening of All Saint's Day, 1 November 1906, "I want to point out to you one of the great qualities of Edward Newbegin's life, that of unselfishness. He was faithful as a friend, as a pastor, as a preacher of righteousness; he was faithful unto death and God has surely given him a crown of life."
Sources:
1. The American Church Clergy and Parish Directory (Uniontown, Pennsylvania: Frederick E. J. Lloyd, 1905), 205.
2. Bennett, Mrs. Frank Silas History of St. Andrew's Church: Ayer, Groton, Forge Village 1892-1942 (Ayer, Massachusetts: St. Andrew's Church, 1944), 11.
3. "Death of Rev E H Newbegin" Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine, 15 October 1906, 3.
4. Newbegin, Edward Henry "The Problem of the Country Church," The Church Militant (November 1898), 4-6.
5. "Newbegin - King," Boston Daily Globe, Boston, 13 September 1900, 5.
6. Obituary Record of the Graduates of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine for the Decade Ending 1 June 1909 (Brunswick, Maine: Bowdoin College Library, 1911), 410.
7. "Recent Deaths," Boston Transcript, Boston, 18 October 1906, 3.
Original author: Richard C. Dabrowski. This text is released under GFDL.
Photograph courtesy of Dorothy N. Davis, Groton, Massachusetts.

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