The Union Chapel was dedicated on Sunday, Aug. 20, 1871, and it had its first christening on Sunday, Aug. 3, 1958. We do not mean to imply that the years between these two dates were lost or without event, but only that the christening adds to a long history rather more than newer generations might suppose. The early builders and supporters of Union Chapel, and those who followed them, would be particularly proud of that christening, id they could know.
The association of events and cherished places or institutions, the “firsts,” the anniversaries, used to have more significance than they have today. There used to be people on the Vineyard who could tell you, offhand, about the first birth on the Camp Ground, the first marriage in the iron Tabernacle, and so on.
As for the Union Chapel, its tradition is richer and more distinctive than its term of years would seem to admit. About its origin there was a worldly complication: the camp meeting people had put up a seven foot picket fence around their grounds, and the new community of the Oak Bluffs Land & Wharf Co. outside the fence was being called ungodly. With liberality much praised at the time, and also with business acumen, the Oak Bluffs company erected the chapel, and thereafter the picket fence lost some of its pointed quality.
In 1880 the Oak Bluffs Christian Union was formed, and that was when tradition began to accumulate; able speakers and fine music became the yearly rule, and the small but appealing eminence of Chapel Hill justified the name. And now, 1958, a christening! A lot of people who used to keep scrapbooks would clip the item to paste in, but nowadays - well, who keeps scrabooks any more?