A century-old tradition continued recently at Philadelphia Presbyterian Church, when Jim Black, a life member of the church, was presented the Bain Cane, an honor bestowed on the oldest male member of the congregation.Black isn’t the first in his family to carry the cane: His father, C.M. Black, carried the Bain Cane from 1958 until 1962.Though he appreciates the gesture, Jim Black says it’s not something he earned.“It was nothing I did; it was the good man upstairs that let me live this long,” said Black, 93.The Bain Cane originally was presented to John Bain, a church member and founder of Bain Academy, in 1889, when he presented the new academy building to the church. The church and members of the community presented Bain a gold-headed walking stick to show their gratitude.When Bain died in 1897, he willed his cane to Philadelphia Presbyterian with the stipulation that it be carried by the oldest male member. The church arranged for a gold band to be placed under the head of the cane to be inscribed with the names of those who carried it.When the first band was filled with names, a second band was added.Jim Black is the 26th recipient of the cane.A lifelong resident of Mint Hill, Black attended Bain School – the former Bain Academy – from 1924 until he graduated from Bain High School in 1935. He continued his education at Davidson College, where he graduated in 1942.Black served in the Air Force during World War II, then married, settled back in Mint Hill, and raised two children in the home where he grew up. Daughter Nancy Norelli says her father is pleased to carry on the tradition. “It was something he had looked forward to. He was very humbled by it, knowing that he is now the oldest member of the congregation,” Norelli said.
Friday, Jan. 04, 2013
93-year-old now carries Bain Cane
Church gives historic cane to its oldest male member
In 1958, Philadelphia Presbyterian Church minister the Rev. Russell Kerr presented the Bain Cane to C.M. Black, the oldest male member of the congregation at that time. The cane recently was presented to Black’s son, Jim Black, who is now the oldest male member at Philadelphia. COURTESY OF NANCY NORELLI
When John Bain died in 1897, he left his cane to Philadelphia Presbyterian Church with instructions that it be passed to the oldest male member of the congregation. Bain’s name is engraved in the gold head of the cane, and two gold bands underneath are engraved with the 26 names of those who have held it since Bain’s death. MELINDA JOHNSTON