Laying the Cornerstone of the Central Presbyterian Church


Laying the Cornerstone of the Central Presbyterian Church


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




1913 December 19


Wilson Papers, Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, District of Columbia


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence


The President, at the Laying of the cornerstone of the Central Presbyterian Church, Friday, December 19, 1913Mr. Taylor, and ladies and gentlemen: I cannot let this occasion pass without at least expressing, in the first place, my personal pleasure that it has been my privilege to join this congregation and to share with them the satisfaction of seeing their hopes with regard to owning a new place of worship finally realized.
Perhaps I may also express what I am sure is in your minds with regard to the significance of this occasion. We are here doing something more than laying the foundation of a place of worship; because while a church is intended as a place of worship, and does serve as the rallying place or central home of a congregation of fellow worshippers, it seems to me to stand for something more than that.
In the Old Testament scripture which was read to you today there are two beautiful expressions. One speaks of the spirit of man as the place where there is the Highway to Zion, along which the Spirit itself moves from strength to strength. A place of worship is in my mind a place of individual vision and renewal. I do not see how any thoughtful man can be conscious that he sits in the presence of God without becoming aware not only of his relationship to God, so far as he can in this life conceive it, but also of his relationshp to his fellow-men. How a man can harden his heart in the exclusiveness of selfishness while he sits in a place where God is in any degree revealed to him, I cannot understand.
I believe that every place of worship is sanctified by the repeated self-discovery which comes to the human spirit. As congregations sit under the word of God and utter the praise of God, there must come to them visions of beauty not elsewhere disclosed. Even the family is too little a circle. The congregation is a sample of the community. There is revealed to the man there what it is his duty to be and to do.
Therefore I, in looking forward to the privilege of worshipping in this place, shall look forward with the hope that there may be revealed to me, as to you, fresh comprehension of duty and of privilege.

Original Format





Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Laying the Cornerstone of the Central Presbyterian Church,” 1913 December 19, WWP18228, First Year Wilson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.