Dr. Tyng, Jr.s Church, Madison Avenue, New York, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views” by Unknown – Original source: Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. Thanks to Alexander Perry Scott for help in getting our images right.

On October 30, 1878, the “First American Bible and Prophecy Conference” commenced at 10 AM at Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Despite driving rain, a large crowd turned out for the national conference at the church on Madison Avenue, which inaugurated a pattern of Bible conferences for the next one hundred years.

The first day was opened with an address from Reverend Stephen H. Tyng. Sr., celebrated rector of St. George’s Church. The theme of the conference was “Christ’s Coming: Is it Personal and Visible?” This conference marked the beginning of national visibility for the “prophecy movement” that united churches of all denominations. The conference included many prominent leaders from the Episcopal, Reformed Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, and other denominations.

Rev. Tyng, Sr.’s was too ill on the first day to give his address in person, so his son, pastor of the Church of the Holy Trinity, gave his father’s opening address. He read, “The future glorious coming of Jesus is the very life of the hopes, the inheritance of His people…Living in Christ, looking forward to the promised coming of Christ, and to an everlasting dwelling with Christ, have made up the character, the joy and the hope of true believers in every age..with equal certainty in our day.” Rev. Tyng, Sr. was able to attend subsequent days of the conference.

The reporter was puzzled that such a large audience paid such eager and patient attention to long, and sometimes technical presentations on the Bible and theology. The reporter exclaimed, “There was even a large attentive crowd of “ladies” listening to “the learned discussions.” He seemed rather out of touch with the activist Christian women of his age.

There was also a large emphasis on the expectation that Israel would be re-gathered as a nation in Palestine. The Tribune reported that “the warmest expressions of approval came in response to Bishop W.H. Nicholson of Philadelphia’s address, “The Gathering of Israel.” Nicholson said that the new Israel was even then being prepared under the protectorate of the English in “the Holy Land” and would be aided by further miraculous events. The bishop recounted the history of the persecutions of the Jews.

The New York Tribune, October 31, 1878, page 1.
“Retro Flashes” are Journey’s quick takes on moments of history that have made New York City what it is, what New Yorkers are, and, maybe, what it will be.

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