An Educated People and Ministry

“The Nineteenth Century was a great century for collegiate education in America. Colleges by the score were founded across the country, most of them by some church group. Among the churches which took the lead in this enterprise, the most outstanding were the various Presbyterian bodies. Their emphasis on an educated ministry, which was one of the universal characteristics of the Presbyterian system, made it imperative that colleges be available to train the church leadership. The high cost of travel and the relatively low cost of starting a college led to the formation of a large number of rather small colleges wherever the church became established. The United Presbyterian Church offers an excellent example of this trend. Though its constituency numbered only a few thousand, by 1890 it had a close association with no fewer than twelve colleges, not including Knoxville College for Negroes or the mission colleges overseas. Of this dozen, to be sure, there were many which were never under complete denominational control, but they all had been organized by ministers of the Church and felt a close relationship to it.” — Wallace N. Jamison, “An Educated People and Ministry,” in The United Presbyterian Story, p. 144

“The Presbyterian and Reformed Churches take pride in the fact of a trained ministry. This has marked their record. It was seen that the sum of Christian truth could be unfolded and applied only by cultured thinkers and mouth-pieces. There was also the realization that, with their democratic government, an effective leadership must be had, a leadership fitted for intelligent direction. For these reasons a thorough ministerial education was planned and sought after in all ecclesiastical bodies of the Presbyterian and Reformed type.” — John McNaugher, Theological Education in the United Presbyterian Church and Its Ancestories (1931), p. 4

Lady of the Covenant: Katherine Heath Hawes

When Moses Drury Hoge was seeking the right person to lead a Sunday school program at his pastorate, the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia, he called upon Miss Katherine Heath Hawes (1875-1956), then about 20 years old.

Miss Katherine Heath Hawes of Richmond, Virginia, is credited with beginning Presbyterian youth ministry in the Southern Presbyterian Church. After Hawes returned from boarding school in 1895, the pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Dr. Moses Drury Hoge, asked Miss Hawes to teach either a boys or girls Sunday school class. She chose the boys class (they were ages eight to ten!). Seeing how few boys attended Sunday school, Miss Hawes opened her home to them on Friday evenings for games and music, to provide them a place for fellowship with their peers. The following March, Company No. 1 of the Covenanters was born. Officers were elected, and a badge, watchward, and flag provided symbols of the Covenanters. Reports from and offerings for missionaries proved to be the focal point of the group. They eventually developed a choir and orchestra, then a fife and drum corps, followed by an emphasis on service projects.

As the boys grew older, their enthusiasm for the Covenanters brought about a desire in other Presbyterian churches to have such a ministry. By 1900, Presbyterian churches in nine other states and the District of Columbia registered as Companies of Covenanters. Soon Miriams, a companion group for girls, was added. (Mark H. Senter, When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America, pp. 180-181)

Katherine Heath Hawes pictured in 1895.

Katherine Heath Hawes pictured in 1895.

The daughter of Samuel Horace Hawes, a member of the Confederate “Immortal 600,” Miss Hawes was also known, among other things, for her concern for the plight of blacks (particularly, black women) in her day. A student from her Social Service class in the 1920s wrote in 1986: “Miss Katherine was the first to awaken my conscious [sic] regarding the sorry plight of the negroes - especially the black woman sending off her children to school not knowing what insult, injury, or slight they might meet with during the day . . . .Their courage!" Compassion for the needs of the young and disadvantaged was a hallmark of Miss Hawes’ labors of love. She never married but she gave a life of service to the youth of the Presbyterian church, and the community around her. After her passing, her body was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Robert Pollok Kerr wrote a book-length history and tribute to the Scottish Covenanters. Published in 1905, The Blue Flag, or, The Covenanters Who Contended for 'Christ's Crown and Covenant', this volume was

Miss Katherine Heath Hawes,

Who conceived and carried out the idea of
organizing the Presbyterian boys of the
United States in companies of “Covenanters”
to work for Christ and his Church, infusing
into them the spirit of those splendid heroes,
of whose toils and sufferings for liberty and
truth this book is a history:

And to the

Covenanter Companies:

May they keep the Old Flag flying, and be
faithful soldiers of Christ and his Church.

The Author