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Description: Dr. Otts Writes a Letter Concerning Dr. Woodrow;
In Memoriam of Robert Randle Kelly
Newspaper published in: Huntsville, AL
Source: Madison County, AL Library
Page/Column: Page 3, Column 5
================ Page 3, Column 5 =================
Dr. Otts Writes a Letter Concerning Dr. Woodrow
Rev. J. M. P. Otts, Moderator during the sessions of the late Presbyterian Synod at Huntsville, has written a letter to the Selma Times, which concludes in the following words:
The board declined to give Dr. Woodrow the trial which he demanded, but proceeded to remove him at once by vote from the Perkins professorship, and to declare the same vacant. Against this act of removal without formal trial Dr. Woodrow complained to the four synods, and asked them to withhold their approbation of it. The question before the synods at their late meetings was not that of evolution in any shape or form but simply; did the board in removing Dr. Woodrow without a formal trail go beyond their instruction and violate a constitutional law of the seminary? It was not a question whether or not Dr. Woodrow should be tried by his Presbytery as a minister on the charge of heresy, but whether or not the board did right in refusing a trial by the board did right in refusing a trial by the board as a professor on the charge of unfaithfulness or incompetency in his professorship. On this point there was an honest difference of opinion to each of the four synods. The synods of South Carolina and Florida have disapproved of the action of the board, and those of Georgia and Alabama have sustained its action.
The question of evolution was not before the synods at their last meetings at all. So far as the four synods, with the theological seminary at Columbia, are concerned that question is no longer an open one. It has been decided a year ago that no theory of evolution can be taught in their seminary by any professor. Dr. Woodrow himself said in open synod at Huntsville last week that he recognized the fact that it is a settled question, that no one can teach any theory of evolution in the seminary at Columbia, and that he bows in loyal submission to the lawful authority of the synods which have decided this question. There has not been the least indication in any one of the synods to recede an inch from this decision. The question of evolution was seldom referred to in the discussions in the synod of Alabama at Huntsville last week and never except in an incidental way. If there is one elder or minister in all the synod of Alabama who believes in the hypothesis of evolution, it is more than the present writer knows. The question before the synod of Alabama last week was one of Presbyterian law and order, and not one of doctrine. In all the discussions the most perfect order prevailed, and the spirit of sweet Christian harmony and true brotherly love reigned in every heart. There was not a disrespectful or unkind word spoken by any one, nor even an angry tone heard in all the debates. The arguments were trenchant and the discussion earnest, as they should be among honest men who honestly differ from one another. The present writer was the moderator of the synod, and he did not have a single occasion to call to order any member for the violation of the courtesy and decorum of debate. I mention this because it has been reported that the session of the synod was a stormy one, and that much of the time was taken up in angry discussions of the subject of evolution. The question of evolution was not before us at all. A good Methodist brother, on the adjournment of the synod, said to me as moderator in commendation of the harmony and good will that had uniformly prevailed: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
ROBERT RANDLE KELLY, son of J. L. P. and Mary Kelly, was born in Madison County, Ala., Sept. 4, 1860, and died Nov. 3, 1885.
My acquaintance with the family antedates the birth of Robert. I knew his father well, and when a young man and inexperienced minister, I found in him a true friend and brother and his house was my home. He met his death as a soldier in the front rank of the charge and died a brave and true Christian man. After an absence of many years I was returned to that portion of the Conference in which, the widow and her sons resided. My past associations created in my mind a more than ordinary interest in the children, and I was delighted to find them in many respects following the footsteps of their father and showing distinctly the impress of their Christian mother.
In giving an analysis of the character of my young and deplored friend, several prominent traits appear to my mind. He had a tender heart and an affectionate disposition. This was manifested in the solicitude he evinced for his mother, of whom he never spoke but in terms of highest respect and deepest love. Unlike many sons, when she would press upon him the interest of his soul, no impatience or annoyance was indicated or felt by him. He always replied to her solicitude with the utmost candor and truthfulness. His love for his brothers was more than a common love. It took on that chivalrous type that made personal sacrifice for their well-being and comfort. With deep emotions and in broken sentences each surviving brother has made mention of this fact to the writer. He was generous. In his conduct and intercourse with the world the sordid principle of selfishness constituted no part of his creed. He seemed to think more of others than himself and to live for their comfort, he was an honest young man. He had a high regard for his personal obligations of whatever character. About two years since when, as salesman, his salary was small and business prospects gloomy he said to me that as soon as he could discharge his debts he would seek employment elsewhere, but that he could not leave unpaid debts behind him. He was industrious and energetic. What he undertook he prosecuted with energy. I have never known him unemployed. He always had something on hand.
Of his Christian life I would write a few lines. Some years since, at Meridianville, in a protracted meeting conducted by Rev. Mr. McDonald, of Mooresville, Ala., he was happily converted to God. The very lines of a new life were written upon his face and found expression in praise to God. He said to Brother McDonald: “Brother McDonald, I have put the whole matter into the hands of Christ.” Succeeding the meeting a young men’s prayer-meeting was organized, in which he was active and efficient. During the protracted meeting in Huntsville, conducted by the Rev. Sam. Jones, he consecrated himself to God and repledged himself to a new life. Since that time I have been his pastor and as carefully as I could observed his walk and conversation. His place at the Sunday School, prayer-meeting and preaching were rarely vacant. He was making a persistent effort to lead a Christian life. I have called on him to lead the public prayer, and he always responded, and had more than ordinary gifts in this direction. He desired active Christian life and discharged as best he could and willingly the duties imposed upon him by his pastor and the Church.
The first day of last April he led to the altar Miss Laura Landman and was happily married. I well remember the expression of happiness on his countenance when he thus realized love’s young dream. At the hospitable and elegant home of Geo. P. Landman he found a happy home and there, in the sweet associations of a cultivated Christian family, the days passed happily by, made up of mutual affections.
Life was before him and promise of many days was his, and with his accustomed energy he was prosecuting the business he had undertaken, and on the morning of the fatal day he was bending his energies to accomplish more than usual. No doubt Tuesday morning, November 3rd, when the bright sun from a cloudless sky was beaming upon us, Robert began the day’s duties with cheerful heart and buoyant steps, not dreaming of the terrible calamity which fell upon him. But at 9 A.M. our community was shocked to hear that he had met his death. Let us draw a veil over the sad scene. So many hearts are torn and bleeding and their grief is too sacred and profound for invasion, and human words and human sympathy are powerless to bring relief. In looking at the fearful tragedy our community is deeply stirred and our city is in mourning. If human sympathy and the prayers of Christians are powerful, are all freely given. His sorrow-stricken mother, who seemed to live only for her boys, upon whom she lavished all the wealth of a mother’s affection, is the subject of universal sympathy and the prayers of all God’s people. His young wife! How soon bereft, and how deep her grief. May the God of all consolation be gracious to her! The brothers are tenderly remembered by our people.
One universal regret and deep sorrow fills the hearts of our people. We are dumb in the presence of so much sorrow and grief. Our young brother passed from this existence with an exclamation of prayer to God. His last word was to call upon Him. He is in His merciful hands, and there we leave him, knowing that He is too wise to err and too good to do wrong/
JOHN A. THOMPSON