Friday, January 11, 2008

Autobiography of Rev. Charles H. Sage in Bay City Free Methodist Church in 1898

In the fall of 1898 I went before the stationing
committee to see if I would be permitted to remain

at Marine City another year. I was told that I was
just the man they wanted to see. They had a church
and parsonage in Bay City that was in debt and all
run down, and they said they would put a financial
agent in the field to collect and pay the debt, and
they wanted me to go and repair the property and
try and resurrect the society. I held off, but they
pressed me, declaring that they did not have another
man who could do as well as I. They urged me to
try it. I saw the necessity in the case and although
I was nearly seventy-three years old, I consented to
go. We left our home for another man to step into,
without rent, and we moved up to Bay City. We
found the property in a dilapidated condition. The
window glass was about all out of the parsonage;
the roof was leaking; the house was dirty and black;
the chimney was smoking, and the weeds and thistles
were waist high around the building. When the
church was built there was a good society, but
through bad management, extreme notions and
fanatical freaks, the membership and congregation
had nearly all left. When a preacher thinks he
knows it all and that no one else has salvation but
himself and his clique, it is time to call a halt. At
one time the property was sold to the colored people
on contract, but they failed to meet the contract,
and our people were obliged to take it back. A
good sister gave us the use of one room which we
used as a parsonage. It served for kitchen, dining-
room, bed-room, sitting-room and parlor. We put a
part of our goods in the church. There were no

members to look to; no congregations from which
to take collections, and no means furnished for the
repairing. I had a little money with me which belonged
to another, and a little of my own, but all of
it did not go far; the financial agent called to see
me and gave me two dollars. The chairman and
agent went out to solicit, but received only a little,
as the people had no confidence in the Free Methodists.
I went at the work with a will, working
early and late, and began holding regular meetings
in the church. I paid out five dollars for window
lights alone, and put them in myself. I shingled the
roof and built a chimney; repaired the kitchen; built a
new sidewalk and a woodshed, and, in fact, kept at
it until we were quite comfortable for the winter.
Some of the members came back and a few were
converted during the year.
In the spring I began to work on the outside of
the building. The buildings were quite large but I
nailed the old siding on so it was solid, and then
gave the buildings three coats of paint on the outside
and two on the inside, besides calcimining the
church. I did all the calcimining and painting excepting
two or three days' work. Sister King, from
Saginaw, helped varnish the seats and chairs. My
wife did nearly all of the pastoral visiting and led
one-half of the meetings, besides doing much other
work that rested upon her. Before conference the
work was completed and the bills were all paid; and
the financial agent had collected enough to pay the
debt, so that all was clear.

I was used up, and when I went to conference
that fall was suffering with erysipelas. I told the
stationing committee that my work was done at Bay
City, and they need not return me there, but when
the appointments were read the general superintendent
said, "Bay City, C. H. Sage." For the first time
in my life I backed up and would not go, and I felt
perfectly clear in the course that I pursued. A
change was made and I went back to Marine City.


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