The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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convention for the purpose of organizing the church in this State. A convention was accordingly held in New Berne, June, 1817, attended by three clergymen and six or eight lay delegates. The second convention was more numerously attended, and the church from that time continued rapidly to increase, or, to speak more properly, to revive from her long and deadly torpor. At a convention held in Salisbury, attended by all the clergy and an unusually full delegation of laymen, in the year 1823, Mr. Ravenscroft was unanimously elected bishop of the diocese, and furnished with the requisite testimonial; he received his high commission in the city of Philadelphia, April 22, 1823, where he received his consecration at the hands of the venerable Bishop White, Bishops Griswold, Kemp, Croes, Bowen and Brownell being also present and assisting.

        Bishop Ravenscroft was only required to devote one-half of his time to the diocese, the other portion was used in the pastoral charge of the congregation at Raleigh. He set out on his Episcopal tour in June, within one month after his consecration.

        His devotion to both his diocese and parish always continued unremitted, besides "the care of all the churches," which to a mind so solicitous as his, respecting every thing that concerned their well being, was a source of constant and corroding anxiety. The mere physical labor of his annual visitations was an immense strain on his system. The farthest western County was more than three hundred miles distant from the more eastern, and yet long after disease had established itself in his enfeebled body he punctually and resolutely made his yearly visits to both sections, and these were only discontinued a short time previous to his death, when he had become utterly incapable of travel.

        In 1828 he was compelled to give up his pastoral duties in the congregation at Raleigh; immediately the large congregations of New Berne and Wilmington both sought his services, interrupted and hindered as they were, but these he declined, and selected the village of Williamsborough (now in Vance County) as the place of his residence, the congregation of that parish being small and never had the benefit of regular services. About this time he lost the whole of his worldly substance by a surety debt, the issue of which was his utter financial ruin; and yet a greater misfortune befell him, for, in January, 1829, he lost his faithful spouse by death. Yet was he willing to meet the will of God, and so confiding in that blissful hope of immortality, he lingered until March 5, 1830, the date of his death. His remains were deposited beneath the chancel of Christ Church at Raleigh.

        In person, Bishop Ravenscroft was large and commanding, with a countenance in its general aspect, perhaps, austere, but susceptible of the most benevolent expression. His manner corresponded with his person, especially when exercising his ministerial functions, being remarkably dignified, and so solemn and impressive as to inspire all who had witnessed it with reverence. As a man he was liberal in his views, independent in his principles, just almost to punctiliousness, honest in his intentions, warm and kind in his feelings, bold and fearless in the cause of truth, and remarkably regardless of self in all he said or did.

        As a citizen he was warmly attached to the free institutions of our country, and was often heard to rejoice that the church, of which he was an overseer, was untrammeled by any alliance with the civil power.

        As a neighbor, he was kind and charitable, being considerably skilled in medicine; he was, while resident in Virginia, the chief physician in his neighborhood, and performed the laborious duties attached to this beneficent species of charity with cheerfulness and alacrity.

        As a minister of the divine word, Bishop Ravenscroft was faithful, diligent and zealous. He loved to proclaim the goodness of God and the glad tidings of the gospel; and his appeals to the hearts and understanding were fervid and animated. He preached the gospel in its utmost purity. His success as a preacher no doubt arose in part from the familiarity which his early experience had given him with all the recesses of the unconverted heart, and the searching fidelity with which he portrayed its utmost secret workings. Not like the spy who had merely discovered the outward defenses of the enemy's camp, but like one who had been born and bred within its precincts, he knew every assailable point, every defenseless outpost, and bearing down upon it with impetuous force, it was impossible to withstand the assault.

        His solemn and impressive manner, his finely modulated voice, his commanding figure, and evident earnestness in the sacred cause in which he was engaged, never failed to command the attention and to move the hearts of his auditory; all were constrained to admit his zeal and singleness of purpose. Long may the mild influence of his pious example continue to bless the church which he so dearly loved, and may she ever pay a grateful and merited tribute to his memory.

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