Where Machen Last Preached

Credit: Troy Larson

Credit: Troy Larson

The photo comes from GhostsofNorthDakoka.com. Thanks to Wayne Sparkman for pointing us to this photo of the Presbyterian Church of America congregation, in Leith, ND, as it was known then, where J. Gresham Machen preached his final sermon before becoming ill on the train trip to Bismark, ND, where he later died. John Bales adds background. Wayne adds a some background about the minister of the congregation and about Machen’s friendship with the Rev. Sam Allen.

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  1. That photo of the Leith church building is sad.

    Would it not be possible for someone to purchase the building and move it, either as a museum (perhaps for a chapel on the campus of Westminster-West or Westminster-East), or for use of a small OPC congregation that needs a building, is financially stable for the long term, but probably won’t grow too large for the building?

    The cost would not be inconsequential, but historical buildings typically were constructed much better than most modern buildings, wooden buildings typically can be deconstructed and rebuilt, and the total expense would likely be considerably less than new construction of a seminary chapel or a new church building.

  2. Another resource:

    Preaching on the Plains, ch 28:

    As I have said, Dr. Machen helped by visiting our Dakota churches and at the end of his tour, he was to speak in the city auditorium in Bismarck. I remember it well, for my wife and three children (John was a year old,) accompanied me as we traveled through the extreme weather the 120 miles from Lemmon to Bismarck to hear him. There was no trouble then between men like Sam Allen, pastor at Carson City, North Dakota, and myself. It proved to be Dr. Machen’s last address….

  3. Just to pick one fine point with the article by Mr. Bales: Sam Allen transferred into the PCUS (aka, Southern PC), not the PCUSA. In the late 1940’s and early 50’s, the PCUS was still quite conservative in many, if not most, places.

  4. This town has shown up again in the news, this time in a horrible way. A group of white supremacists is buying up property trying to turn Leith, N.D., into “an enclave where residents fly ‘racialist’ banners, where they are able to import enough ‘responsible hard core’ white nationalists to take control of the town government, where ‘leftist journalists or antis’ who ‘come and try to make trouble’ will face arrest.”

    New Neighbor’s Agenda: White Power Takeover

    If a tiny group of white supremacists can attract not just regional but national media attention for their plan to buy property and start a white-power enclave, surely somebody in the OPC or PCA has enough money to buy the last church where Machen preached, disassemble it, and move it someplace where the building will be valued and used, perhaps as a college or seminary chapel, or as a museum.

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