4. 1903-1953

Martin D. Hardin served the church twice as pastor, as a young man from 1931-1934, and after retirement from his long career, from 1971-1973. In the thirties he was remembered for teaching the local young ladies to tap dance. He was always widely admired for his thoughtful sermons and prayers. At the time of the Sesquicentennial celebration he came from his post in Elmira to deliver the sermon.

Village life in Trumansburg has been chronicled by Lydia Sears, a member of this church, who tells of many events led by Presbyterian church members. Verner Timerson served as mayor, and his wife Hazel Timerson became the first woman elder to serve in the Presbytery of Geneva.

Faith, Service and Survival, 1953
By Martin D. Hardin, Jr

“Labor not for that meat with perisheth but for that meat which endureth with everlasting life, which the son of man shall give unto you.” – John 6:27

…So once again the thing that is needed is faith – faith great enough and courageous enough to enable us to lead the life of service. The life for which we were intended which neither fears nor cringes but labors on at the things which need doing, confident that God will make them to abide. What needs to be said about this kind of faith, surely, is the thing that Jesus is saying in our text, that it is the free gift “which the son of man shall give unto us.”

Not all of those early followers of his were able to receive it. It is recorded that some of them, when Jesus spoke of it, said, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” and a little farther on the solemn comment, “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.”

But some of them did receive it. The story is told in this same chapter of John. A group of the disciples were out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm came up. As the waves rose higher and the darkness came down upon them, they grew terrified; for Jesus was not with them and they were alone. They longed for him to come and then, suddenly, they saw him coming. “It is I,” he said, “Be not afraid,” and they willingly received him into the ship.

This is one of those stories, which the modern mind does not readily accept. I do not believe it was told originally as an allegory but as a statement of fact, remembered perhaps with too great enthusiasm and at too great a distance, but the teller of the tale himself. He had been in that boat and known fear and then suddenly he had seen Jesus and heard his voice, and the fear had gone out of him.

But whatever we make of the story itself, it tells of an experience that is universal, it has happened again and again since that time, and it happens today. It happened one hundred fifty years ago to that little band of Presbyterians who founded this church, and it has happened again and again to those who came after them Yet it does not happen until we want it to happen. It happens only when we make up our minds that we want it for the thing that is it, the answer to the deepest desire that we know – deeper than the desire to service, for it only makes survival desirable, and deeper too than the desire to be of service, for service without faith is a futile and empty thing.

May God enable this church to survive and be of great service to this community and to our world. But above all, may He kindle your faith and enable you as a church to kindle the faith of others.