Sally Herndon Rawlings lived with her husband, Richard, just across the street from the Orange Presbyterian Church, opposite Dr. Holladay’s home. She brought fun, organization, and devotion to OPC in the early 20th Century.
Sally Herndon was born in 1859. She was admitted to OPC by letters of transfer from Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church, Rapidan, VA in 1900. Not long after joining the church, she organized the “Busy Bees,” which had a membership of 42 people.
In 1921, Sally Rawlings organized and was Chairman of the Sunshine Band. At the November 1933 meeting of the Women’s Auxiliary, she donated $50.00 made by the “little band” to the Auxiliary Fund. She asked that the money (about $1,018 in 2021 dollars) be applied to the Building Fund. The Sunshine Band continued for many years.
Rawlings also taught young children in the Sunday School Department (grades 1-6) of the Orange Presbyterian Church.
OPC possesses a lovely silver pitcher with “Mrs. R. H. Rawlings” inscribed on it. It reads “By the S. S. Primary of the Presbyterian Church”. The pitcher was possibly given in thanks to Rawlings for her service.
Mrs. Richard Herndon Rawlings passed away March 2, 1940. She is buried, alongside her husband, in Graham Cemetery, Orange, VA.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
The parlor grand piano in the OPC sanctuary has a backstory. It was a gift from a member of the church. The piano, in turn, had been a gift to his father for a very special project.
A landmark recording
Mark Andrews (1875-1939) was a distinguished organist in the early 20th Century. He was also a recording artist for RCA Victor. During the 1920s Andrews made a number of solo organ recordings, with music Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Rossini, Richard Wagner, and Gabriel Fauré.
In 1929 RCA commissioned Andrews to supervise a recording of "The Crucifixion," a popular Victorian era oratorio by John Stainer.
Andrews assembled a stellar cast, including baritone Laurence Tibbett and tenor Richard Crooks. Tibbett and Crooks both appeared frequently on the Metropolitan Opera stage, and performed popular ballads on the radio and in recordings.
The Trinity Choir, along with the soloists, crowded into the Victor recording studio in Camden, New Jersey in May of 1929. Andrews produced the sessions, and played the organ for the recording.
The project was one of the earliest complete recordings of Stainer's oratorio. It was released on six 78 rpm discs in a bound book. It was later reissued on 33 rpm LP, and still later on compact disc.
In gratitude for the successful recording, the RCA Recording Company presented Mark Andrews with a Seinway parlor grand piano.
The Andrews Steinway
The presentation piano was a Steinway Model A parlor grand piano (now known as a salon grand). The instrument has the touch and feel of a full-sized grand piano, though it takes up significantly less space. This made it a popular choice for schools and institutions -- and for Mark Andrews' home.
From New York to Orange
Mark Andrews, Jr. inherited the piano from his father. Mark, Jr. moved to Orange, Virginia and became a member of Orange Presbyterian Church. He, like his father, loved music and was a member of the OPC choir. When he moved to a smaller home, Mark Jr. donated the Steinway to the church.
Brought back to life
The piano had suffered from years of neglect. But the congregation decided it was an important instrument and worth restoring. After two years of fund-raising, the restoration work began. The Andrews Steinway (as it was now known), was officially dedicated on Saturday, November 17, 2007.
The instrument is in the front of the sanctuary, and is regularly used during worship.
- Ralph Graves
OPC Communications Team
Anna Ward Craun married Welford A. Sherman, Sr. and they had six children: Welford Ashton Sherman, Jr., Mary Anna Sherman (Lawler), Frederick Wise Sherman, Sarah Sherman (Cowherd), Jane Sherman (Harmon), and Alice Sherman (Bovee). Anna and Welford raised their children in the Orange Presbyterian Church.
Anna Ward Sherman was active in the Women’s Auxiliary. She helped with mission work. and raising funds for the church debt and repairs needed to the Manse. On top of that, in 1936, Mrs. Sherman volunteered to be custodian of all church linens…laundering and keeping them in place.
Three of their children remained faithful members of OPC after marriage and raised their children to do the same. Welford, Jr. and Irwin Sherman, Courtney and Mary Anna Lawler, and Freddie and Lulu Sherman were all mainstays of the congregation.
Anna passed away in in September, 1956. On September 1, 1957, new air conditioning and a set of communion vessels were dedicated in her memory.
Today, OPC is fortunate in many ways from the faithfulness of some of the grandchildren who still attend.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
Continuing the work of the church
Orange, Virginia, like the rest of the country, was feeling the effects of the Great Depression. But the Women’s Auxiliary was not slowing down. They had made it their mission to financially support their church however they could.
And they did so quite creatively. That year the Methodist Ladies asked to use the OPC dining room and kitchen, and the Auxiliary received a payment of $5.00. The yearly rummage sales continued, the women served meals at other churches, garden clubs and to the Rotarians. They held lawn parties, donated their egg money, made and sold Christmas cards and sold their handwork. In March, the Auxiliary gave $50 toward the church debt ($959 in 2021 dollars!).
In 1933, the Auxiliary took a vote to pay the sum of $125.00 on the church's note held by the bank. It was due May 1st, and the Auxiliary voted to not only pay $125.00 on the Principal of the note but to also to raise the additional amount needed to cancel the debt. (The $125.00 was equal to $2,400 in 2021 dollars). Mrs. W. W. Sanford offered to act as chair of a special committee to raise the sum.
In June, repairs on the Manse began and the Auxiliary discussed ways to raise the necessary money. At their August meeting, it was voted that each member pledge and donate up to $1.00 to be paid toward this expense.
In November, Mrs. Rawlings, chairman of the Sunshine Band, donated $50.00 made by the “little band” to the Auxiliary Fund and asked it be applied to the Building Fund.
At the same time, the Auxiliary continued their work in the community, essential during the Depression. There was always White Cross work making compresses and bandages.
At the June meeting, Mrs. Hazzard brought to the attention of the Auxiliary the responsibility of the Church to the employees of the Silk Mill. American Silk Mills, Inc. was established in 1929 and was one of the town's biggest employers. Mrs. Hazzard and Miss Elma Williams were appointed to confer with other churches and organizations in Orange and try to work out some plan by which the girls and boys working in the mill could be helped.
In March of 1934, Dr. Stribling, then pastor of OPC, the Auxiliary for the noble work accomplished in the past year.
In 1929, the OPC Women's Auxiliary was made up of three groups: Circle #1, Circle #2 and the Girls' Circle! They would often meet in the Sunday School Room of the Sunday School Building. Although sometimes in the "Girls' Room." The Girls' Circle was made up of young girls in the church and they were guided by Miss Elma Hansbrough Williams.
Elma H. Williams
Elma H. Williams (1899-1980) was a major figure in the history of OPC and Orange County. She was born at Berry Hill in Orange, and lived there her entire life. In the 1930s she helped start Orange's first Girl Scout unit, and served as the area's first Girl Scout leader.
An avid gardener, she was active in the Dolley Madison Garden Club, and painted several watercolors of the club's daffodil collections. She co-founded the Orange Garden Club in the 1950s.
The OPC Women’s Auxiliary March, 1930 minutes had this entry:
- The Girls’ Circle asked to take over beautifying of the church grounds and were granted permission with the greatest of pleasure.
Raising funds with food
The May meeting was held at Woodley, the home of the president, Mrs. W. W. Sanford (Lelia Johnson Sanford). Twenty-two members attended. The Auxiliary held a Fireman’s Supper on May 6. At the meeting, they reported a profit of $63.00 (the equivalent of $954 in 2021 dollars).
In October, the Auxiliary’s monthly meeting was at Berry Hill, the home of Mrs. Evelyn Johnson Williams. It was suggested they serve lunch at the Poultry Show in Orange in December.
The fundraiser was a success. Mrs. Sanford reported in December that $55.00 -- $832 in 2021 dollars -- was made from the Poultry Show lunches!
At the OPC Womens’ Auxiliary January meeting, there was a motion to give $100 on a note due on the church debt. Mrs. H. E. Grasty was authorized to write the check, the equivalent of about $1,730 in 2021 dollars.
For the relief of lepers
In February, Mrs. Wambersie read a paper on lepers. It must have made an impression. The minutes in October read: “A motion was carried to the effect every member’s failure to notify the hostess of her absence before the meeting would be fined with this being used for the lepers.”
Mrs. Chester C. Hazard became a member of the Auxiliary in October.
In November, it was voted to adopt an orphan in Lynchburg and that the Auxiliary would send the amount of her support quarterly.
Mrs. Evelyn Johnson Williams of Berry Hill passed away November 1st. Mrs. Stribling read the resolutions of respect, which were published in the local newspaper.
"[Evelyn Johnson Williams] was the senior member of our society and the oldest member of this church, and for years has been our guiding spirit in enthusiasm and service.
Her love for the church and her Lord was proverbial, rarely was her place vacant in the church, the Sabbath school, or our society."
The world is changing again. This time a year ago we were all under lock down, fearful of what the future would look like. In the past year we have lost loved ones, lost precious time, and learned how to cope. It seems like this past year has been a perpetual Good Friday – living in the reality of death. And yet, we have the promise of Easter. We have the promise of resurrection. As the flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the bunnies hop, we are reminded of new life, of hope. I, like so many of you, have received my vaccination. In fact, I received my second shot on Good Friday. (If you have not received your vaccination yet, I pray that you soon will.)
This truly is a new time. And yet, even on Easter we remember the pain of Good Friday. We remember the pain of death. We remember what has been lost. So, as we enter this time of new beginnings, this time of resurrection, I ask you to reflect on the question: what now? What do we do now, as people of faith? What happens now that we have entered this new time? What does it mean now that we are safer? What now?
We cannot go back, we can only go forward, so what will we do with this gift of newness? How will we embrace this new time? What now?
I pray God’s blessings upon you all as you discover what this newness means for you and for OPC. I pray that when we gather, we will be safe. I pray that we do not forget our time of Good Friday, even as we rejoice in the promise of Easter.
- Pastor Rebekah