|Mr. Derby Thompson was chair of the pulpit committee at the time. He asked Roscoe if he would like to be considered for a call to become pastor of his church. Roscoe told him he was not seeking a call, but that he was willing to consider it. Burlington was twice the size of Shelbyville, where Roscoe had served in the previous ten years. The membership of First Church in 1959 was a little more than 700 members. The family was given the option of living in the manse at 801 N 5th Street or purchasing their own home. Roscoe and his wife, Imogene, chose the former option of living in the manse. This was a lovely 4-bedroom brick home which would be home to the Wolvington family for the next 17 years. Their family included 4 children when they first moved to Burlington but a 5th child was born in 1964. The children of Roscoe and Imogene included Howard, Nancy, Carol, David and Roger.|
|In 1959, when Rev Wolvington arrived, the staff at the church included Lynn Slosser, the Director of Christian Education, Juanita Jamison was the organist/choir director and Florence Schuneman was the secretary. The custodian was a man whose nick-name was "Steffy." On the first day at Burlington, Roscoe found letters of resignation from everyone on staff which he rejected immediately!|
Lynn was a graduate of Macalester College (in St. Paul, MN) and the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She played the flute and was wonderful at working with the youth there are First Church. However, after a year she did resign in order to enroll at McCormick Theological Seminary to get her degree in Christian Education. She later married Bill Yueill and after their marriage that shared a wonderful ministry in Minneapolis. Her successor was Jack Pereboom who had just graduated from McCormick Seminary. He was became the first Assistant Pastor to serve the Burlington church and he won the hearts of the congregation. He was of particular help to Roscoe because he convinced Roscoe that he was following "Barthian theology" and then encouraged him to explore another theological orientation. Jack went on to accept a call in Illinois where he served until his death a few years ago.
Juanita Jamison was a wonderful organist, choir director and all round musician. She had worked with Mr. Barnes in Evanston, IL to build the 3-manual Aeolian-Skinner organ that was installed in the church. She was the organ teacher to Roscoe and Imogene's oldest son, Howard, who went on later in life to become an accomplished church organist. Roscoe felt that Ms Jamison had circulated into the community information that would make it difficult for her to be replaced. Nevertheless, the church found a new organist, Charles "Chuck" Davidson who was a graduate of Westminister Choir College. Mr Davidson was knowledgeable about organ repairs and was able to go into the organ chambers and "revoice" most of the reeds and mixtures to his liking. By December of his second year, he had rehearsals started for a performance of Handel's "The Messiah" with contracts signed for professional soloists (largely from Iowa Weslyan College). In November, he found out he had been drafted in the military. The only thing that could prevent him from being induced into service would be a letter from Roscoe stating that he was indispensable. When the letter was not provided, he resigned immediately. The concert did go on, however, with the organ music played by Howard Wolvington, Roscoe's son. With the abrupt departure of Mr Davidson, the church needed a musical director. Roscoe played clarinet all through his growing up years. It was Roscoe who then conducted the musical performance for that occasion and the day was saved.
|The next organist for First Church was Ruth Ann Hanger. Before Roscoe left his position at First Presbyterian Church to work for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies under the United Presbyterian Foundation, there was a merging of the church with Westminister Presbyterian Church (a more modern church located further out from Downtown Burlington).|
While Roscoe was the minister at First Church, he was involved with the Presbytery of Southeast Iowa, holding several offices in the leadership including Moderator. He served on the Council and Ministerial Relations Committee. As Moderator of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery, Roscoe presided over the Ecclesiastical trial of "The Session of First Presbyterian Church of Iowa City versus Joseph and Matilda Baker." This case drew national attention when a reporter arrived from the New York Times. Both NBC and CBS came with cameras to cover the story including the Huntley–Brinkley Report. The Bakers were not ex-communicated, but were "sentenced" to a one year suspension from the communion of the church for "disturbing the Peace and Purity of the Church" under the rules of the Book of Discipline of the Presbyterian Church.
During the years that Rev Wolvington was the pastor, the church was very active with the Mariners. There were two "clubs" or Mariners at First Church, the younger couples known as the "Explorer Mariners" and the older couples known as the "Mississippi Mariners." This was a rich time in our church's history when families all came together to pray together, dine together and play together. There were many a church potluck (once a month) and every year a wonderful church Christmas Pageant. This was an era when churches were still strong in most communities
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