Phineas Densmore Gurley

Phineas Densmore Gurley

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Phineas Densmore Gurley was Chaplain of the United States Senate
Chaplain of the United States Senate
The Chaplain of the United States Senate opens each session of the United States Senate with a prayer, and provides and coordinates religious programs and pastoral care support for Senators, their staffs, and their families. The Chaplain is appointed by a majority vote of the members of the Senate...

 and pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church . The church was formed in 1859-60, but traces its roots to 1803 as the F Street Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and another congregation founded in 1820 on its current site, the Second...

 in Washington, DC.

Early life


Gurley was born in Hamilton, New York
Hamilton (village), New York
The Village of Hamilton is a village located within the town of Hamilton in Madison County, New York, USA.-Geography and climate:The village, located at , lies in the Chenango Valley, just south of the headwaters of the Chenango River. The village is approximately southeast of Syracuse and ...

, on November 12, 1816,the son of Phineas and Elizabeth (née Fox) Gurley. Gurley graduated from Union College
Union College
Union College is a private, non-denominational liberal arts college located in Schenectady, New York, United States. Founded in 1795, it was the first institution of higher learning chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. In the 19th century, it became the "Mother of Fraternities", as...

, Schenectady, New York
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135...

, in 1837, with the highest honors of his class, and from Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary is a theological seminary of the Presbyterian Church located in the Borough of Princeton, New Jersey in the United States...

 in 1840.

Ministry


Gurley served First Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, (1840–1849) and First Presbyterian Church, Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

, (1850–1854). In 1854, Gurley accepted a call from the F Street Church in Washington, D. C., which in 1859 was united with the Second Presbyterian Church, to become the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church . The church was formed in 1859-60, but traces its roots to 1803 as the F Street Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and another congregation founded in 1820 on its current site, the Second...

. Gurley continued to be the pastor of the merged congregation until his death.

In 1859 he was chosen Chaplain of the Senate of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; one of fourteen Presbyterians to hold that office, to date. Dr. Gurley numbered among his worshiping congregation President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 and Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

. Lincoln was a pew holder and regular attender but not a member of the church. Gurley and his wife were frequent guests at the White House. Gurley was at Lincoln's deathbed, and he preached his funeral sermon on April 19, 1865 at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

.

Gurley had a beautiful singing voice (his mother was a professional singer) and a powerful speaker.

Gurley took an active part in the negotiations that resulted in the union of the Old School and New School branches of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Gurley continued to serve as pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church until his death in Washington, D. C., on September 30, 1868. He spent the last two years as moderator of the Presbyterian Church.

Personal life


Dr. Gurley married Emma Brooks on October 9, 1840. Both were natives of New York. Their children were: Frances Mary Gurley, William Brooks Gurley, Hosea Mellville Gurley, Charles Lawrence Gurley and Emma Harrison Gurley.

Additional References


http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=49&subjectID=2

David Rankin Barbee, "President Lincoln and Doctor Gurley", The Abraham Lincoln Quarterly, March 1948, Volume. V, No. 1.

Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, p. 321.

David Hein, "A Sermon Lincoln Heard: P. D. Gurley's 'Man's Projects and God's Results.'" Lincoln Herald 89 (1987): 161-66.

DeWitt Jones, Lincoln and the Preachers, p. 37.