Thursday, November 3, 2016

Faith of the Presidents: Grover Cleveland

Did you know that U.S. President Grover Cleveland (1837-1901, 22nd and 24th President) was a Presbyterian and the son of a Presbyterian minister?  Like many other ministers, the Rev. Mr. Cleveland supported a large family on a small salary. His children went to work as soon as they were able. Grover worked in a store in Fayetteville, N.Y., where his father served his final church before his death.
            Later, Grover went to New York City, where he taught for a while in a school for the blind. Here he became acquainted with Fanny Crosby, the noted hymn writer. He moved from New York City to Buffalo, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar.  While in Buffalo, he remained on the roll of his father's old church in Fayetteville.
            After Grover Cleveland entered the White House, he gave more attention to the Church, he also married Miss Frances Folsom, a lady of great personal charm.  Duirng his second term, he became prominently religious. In a Thanksgiving Proclamation, Cleveland recognized the Lordship of Jesus Christ, something no other President had ever done in a presidential proclamation.
            Cleveland was an advocate of "practical Christianity" that is, putting the ideals of Christianity into action in one’s daily life.  Perhaps the most poignant moment to try his faith was when the Cleveland’s daughter Ruth died (the “Baby Ruth” candy bar was named for her).  On January 7, 1904, after Ruth’s death, Cleveland wrote to a friend:
"I had a season of great trouble in keeping out of my mind the idea that Ruth was in the cold, cheerless grave instead of in the arms of her Savior. It seems to me I mourn our darling Ruth's death more and more. So much of the time I can only think of her as dead, not joyfully living in heaven. God has come to my help and I have felt able to adjust my thought to dear Ruth's death with as much comfort as selfish humanity will permit. One thing I can say: not for a moment since she left us has a rebellious thought entered my mind."
            Later, his sister was heard to say that she knew "his boyhood's faith brightened his dying hours." 
            Being a faithful Christian is a life long journey.  We draw upon our beginnings in the faith every day thereafter.  Some days, the way is challenging, and we are burdened by grief.  Yet, God comes to our help, just as he did to President Cleveland.  God helps us adjust our thoughts, even in our bleakest hours.  God offers us comfort, and shields us from rebellious thoughts.  Just as boyhood faith served Grover Cleveland all his life long, may your faith in Christ brighten all of your hours.


John A. Dalles, Pastor

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