SAMUEL W. IRWIN
The Loranger Methodist Church was fortunate to have Dr. Samuel W. Irwin as its pastor for two years during the time he was “on mission in Louisiana, 1937-40.” He was a sincere friend, a counselor and spiritual guide for all who learned to know and love him. He served his Lord and Saviour cheerfully and with great humility. In this rural community and greatly influenced the lives of its people. He organized and guided the activities of a Junior church group which numbered from 50 to 90 in attendance. This group was made up of school children who met in the church at the noon recess period. A Junior Board of Trustees, also, was organized by Dr. Irwin, functioning in co-operation with the Senior Board of the church.
In the “Addenda” of Dr. Irwin’s book, “The Hills of Rome,” the following was written concerning his life and accomplishments.
“He was born a Canadian on an island—total population about 500.
His first adventure was at the age of two years when he was to come out safe from under a farmer’s road wagon. Nobody noticed but the horse—and he made it carefully across the road.
At four and a half he was in school! There were two younger brothers in the family. The two older girls became teachers later, and one older brother a teacher, another a minister, and another a farmer.
He graduated from the Genese Wesleyan Seminary of New York in 1898, received his A.B. and D.D. degrees from Albion College in Michigan, and did post-graduate work in the School of Theology and the Graduate School of Philosophy at Boston University. He was ordained in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1911 and was married to Edith L. Riggs in 1913. Four children were born of this union: Warren Hamilton (died while on convoy duty in the North Sea in 1942), Barbara Leigh, Lois Mansfield, and Jeane Wadsworth.
Dr. Irwin served in many and varied capacities during his lifetime: he was pastor of Hope Chapel in Boston from 1906 until 1910, President of the Greenwich Academy, R.I. from 1910-1919. Y.M.C.A. Secretary for France in the summer of 1918, and Director of Entertainment in Italy in 1919. Following World War I he was appointed Superintendent of missionary and educational work for the M.E. church in Yugoslavia, and, later, as President of Collegio Internazionale Monte Mario in Rome, 1924-29. In 1930 he organized the Christian Common wealth—a Central Christian Cooperative Community in Louisiana, and from 1937-1940 was “on mission in Louisiana.” Part of this time was spent as pastor of the Loranger Methodist Church in the Baton Rouge District, after which appointment he was named Conference Evangelist in 1940-41.
A versatile author, Dr. Irwin contributed to the Church Press, Book of Remembrance—Y.M.C.A. Recollections, and several books, including “Musing Through the Years” and “The Hills of Rome.”
During his later years he preferred to be called Brother Samuel. His life in Washington continued to be active and fruitful. He not only wrote the above mentioned books but visited Congress regularly and contributed to the Church Press a column about its activities entitled “Washington Diary.” He also founded a Children’s Hospital. He was ably assisted in this work by his two older daughters Lois and Barbara. His activities were terminated only by his death in 1961.
His love of Nature and deep reverence for the Creator of all things are clearly shown by the following short poem, taken from the book “Musing Through the Years:”
Sunrise and singing bird
And glory in the east
Lord may the wonder of thy voice be heard.
Faith’s living feast!
High noon and emerald sky
A pilgrim’s gratitude—
Again thy task as hours fly,
Toil our beatitude!
Sunset and evening shade
And voice far and clear,
I shall not exalt, and turning unafraid,
Behold my God is here!
Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 1963; p. 265 Mrs. Leslie Schultz
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