STOVES IN THE CHURCH.
If you have ever come to church on a cold winter morning, settled into a pew, and found yourself uncomfortably warm throughout the service because you were sitting over a heat register, consider this: The early church had no heat AND that was on purpose! Rev. Symmes tells the story of how stoves came to our church:
In the comforts and conveniences of the sanctuary services for the early worshippers in Old Tennent, necessity was a law as regarded some things; so also was stern and rugged conscience. The latter of these was possibly the reason that no stoves were used in the church for many years, neither was there any fireplace. But this was in accordance with the custom and opinion of the times, as some church people of those early days thought that the introduction of stoves into the churches was ‘‘an invention of Satan.’’ The Old Tennent building, in its erection, could easily have been arranged to be heated; or it could have been fitted up for this sooner than it was. It has been said that the Tennent fathers of those days gave as their reason for not having any fire in the church, that they had determined not to be lukewarm, but to be either cold or hot. This may appear somewhat facetious, and yet nevertheless it suggests the existence of a rugged sense of self-sacrifice in religion. For some time it was the custom of the women worshipers to keep themselves warm by means of a ‘‘footwarmer,’’ which was a tin—lined box with a pan of live coals in it, covered over with some ashes. Stoves were introduced into Old Tennent church somewhere about 18oo, and even then some of the church members were opposed to their being put in: the opposition and objection to the stoves was so strong that some members are said to have gone out of their pews and sat in other seats as far from the stoves as they could get, so as not to feel their warmth any more than possibIe. It is known from the records that stoves were in the church by 1815. They stood in the aisle that runs the whole length of the church; one near to the juncture of this aisle with that running north and south on the east side, and the other correspondingly on the west side. The smoke pipes led up over the gallery, and passed out at the windows on the east and west gable ends of the church.
Rev. Frank R. Symmes, History of the Old Tennent Church (second edition), Cranbury, NJ: George W. Burroughs, Printer, 1904, pp 127-128