Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on the Close of the Year

The following words come from John Kline's Diary - entry of December 31, 1838:

This evening closes the work of another year. The record of this year is now nearly complete. Have I any idea of that record? I think I have. Of one thing I feel sure. It has not been kept with paper, pen and ink. Neither has it been written in the skies. Each one's yearly record is written by no hand but his own, and upon no tablet but that of his own heart.

Each one's LIFE, therefore, is his record. This, before God and the angels, is a faithful transcript of his mind and heart within. "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things; likewise an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things."

The good things of the one and the evil things of the other constitute the life record of every man. This makes character, and character is the basis on which men make up their opinions of one another; but the HEART, out of which the character grows, is the BOOK that will be opened before the throne, out of which everyone will be judged. A good heart is each redeemed saint's BOOK OF LIFE: and an evil heart is each lost soul's book of condemnation.

Hence we are told by our Lord "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment:" and that "whatsoever is spoken in the ear in the closet shall be proclaimed upon the housetop." Good words leave the lines of their light upon the heart's love-tablet; but evil words leave their shadows in the chambers of the soul, and deepen the darkness there.

Source: Life and Labors of Elder John Kline, Benjamin Funk

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coming to the end

Throughout this 300th anniversary year of the Brethren, it has been our intent to provide daily stories and reflections about the Brethren. Much has been recorded over the years and we are indeed grateful to the historians and writers who have kept alive the stories and information about the church in their era. We hope our effort has helped in some small way to help keep the writings of others alive for a while longer. Tomorrow's entry will be the final entry in this series - coming from the December 31 journal entry of John Kline which we believe will bring fitting closure.

But for today we turn to words written by J.H. Moore at the conclusion of his 1929 book, Some Brethren Pathfinders. In the Preface to the book, Moore described how the chapters had been written for the Gospel Messenger to keep the stories alive for boys and girls of that generation. Demand led to the publication of the stories in book form and is a tribute of respect to the religious heroes of the wilderness.

Moore's book ends with a paragraph titled simply: The End.

To all things there must be an end, and here ends my story, not because the material at our disposal is exhausted ... but we think enough has been told to show that in the generations gone by we had a band of devout and efficient leaders worthy of any honor that we might possibly be able to confer upon them. All honor to the noble heroes of the cross and heroes of the wilderness. They blazed the way for present and future generations and we shall do well to keep their achievements in mind, and profit by their devotion, experiences and sacrifices.

Source: Some Brethren Pathfinders, J.H. Moore

Tomorrow: a year-end entry from John Kline's Diary

Monday, December 29, 2008

White Christmas

Brethren missionaries in the Far East faced grave danger in the face of the Japanese war of aggression that led to United States involvement in World War II. Some escaped through harrowing circumstances, but others, such as Lloyd and Ellen Cunningham, were captured and interned by the Japanese during the war.

The Cunninghams, along with their then two and a half year old son Lloyd, Jr., were in the Philippines after Pearl Harbor. They had been serving as missionaries in China since 1938, but they had moved to the Philippines for advanced language study in 1941. On December 29 of that year the three were imprisoned, and were not liberated until February 3, 1945.

It was over 32 years later that Ellen Edmister Cunningham decided to write down some of her memories of that era. Her account of her imprisonment is filled with stories of hunger and want. At one point, she wrote, "Our calories dropped to about 600 per day. Breakfast consisted of a cup or two of very bad tea. The natives pointed out some wild greens that were edible so we spent hours picking and cleaning these leaves that grew in the back of the compound. Those mixed with a little oil and lots of water furnished our noon meal of soup."

Through the latter part of her imprisonment she relates that on more than one occasion the rumors of an Allied advance were tempered with the fears that they would be killed by the Japanese to prevent their liberation.

On their last day of imprisonment they heard American tanks and wondered if this would also be their last day on earth. But their Japanese captors had fled. Even so they had a difficult time convincing their liberators they were Americans, who thought that all the prisoners of war had already been set free.

Their son, who by that time was five, had never seen a loaf of bread and asked what it was. Then Ellen asked one of the American soldiers if World War II had produced any memorable songs like the previous world war.

"The soldier with whom I was talking thought a moment and then he said, 'I don't think of any war songs, but have you heard White Christmas?' Of course we hadn't, so he called one of his buddies over and had him sing it for us. I thought it was such a beautiful song and even yet I get goose bumps when I hear it and it brings back memories of that long ago night."

Source: Frank Ramirez, Tercentennial Minutes for December 28, 2008
"White Christmas" is an Irving Berlin song whose lyrics reminisce about White Christmases. The morning after he wrote the song — Berlin usually stayed up all night writing — the songwriter went to his office and told his musical secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written ... the best song that anybody's ever written!"
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dan West: The Brethren in the Future

Writing in 1947, Dan West suggested that "in the last third of a century we [the Church of the Brethren] have moved so far and so fast that were my own father to return he would not likely recognize the same church to which he belonged."

Many of these changes, Dan believed, had demonstrated the genius of the Brethren in action. ... Dan concluded that the future was "uncertain as yet but potentially far beyond anything in our history."

According to him the question was, and still is, whether the Brethren would continue to develop their social policy as rapidly as they had done in the past fifty years, or whether they had reached the point where an inevitable leveling-off would take place.

Perhaps Dan would say today, as he wrote in the family's Christmas newsletter in 1944:

God is still in his heaven ...
and here on earth too
trying to help us floundering mortals
to learn how we ought to live
in homes, in churches, in communities,
and in the world.
He shouldn't have to wait so long on us!
Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Called to Serve

The Lord Calls Us to Serve

The Lord calls us to serve our present age. He speaks through our heritage to those of us in new communities where our neighbors, uprooted from former church homes, may easily drift away from religion to be counted among the vast unchurched. He speaks to those of us in urban communities where neighborhoods are changing in class and in color, and we must either serve or die. He speaks to those of us in rural churches where the community is so stable that rigid boundaries have long been drawn between the churched and the unchurched, the Brethren and the non-Brethren.

This is what our heritage says to me: "You have a vision of what the church can become – a fellowship of disciples, learning, growing, and following the Master together. You have the New Testament as an authority out of which your practice, your faith, and your approach should continue to grow. You have a plan that is sound: a keen interest in family living and an appreciation of what this basic unit of society can do to shape the world’s tomorrows. Your respect for conscience and for the religious experiences of others gives you the attitude for service. All this finds its final and dramatic challenge in the ordinance of feet-washing."

These are things which the Church of the Brethren holds dear. And since we do, we must share them or we shall lose them. A church that will risk losing its life in the service of a community will discover it has new life in its Lord. It was a wise brother who said, "If we have reason for existing, we have reason for serving."

Source: "To Serve the Present Age," Robert N. Miller, Brethren Life and Thought, Winter 1956

Friday, December 26, 2008


It is the love experienced
when Christ is at the center of one's life,
that draws us into unity.
We do not create unity or fellowship.
They are gifts.
When our lives are Christ-centered,
we can disagree
without being bitter or divisive.
It is a mark of the working of the Holy Spirit
that we can hold one another
in love and fellowship
even though
there is diversity among us.
Source: Biblical Inspiration and Authority
1979 Annual Conference Statement

Thursday, December 25, 2008

First Brethren Baptism in America

In August of 1723 a rumor spread that famed preacher Christian Liebe had come from Germany to the Colonies to preach in Philadelphia. The rumor was false, but it caused some of the scattered Brethren who had emigrated to Pennsylvania to get back in touch with each other after four years in America.

In 1719 the Brethren in Europe, penniless after having been hounded from sanctuary to sanctuary because of their religious beliefs, faced dissension from within as the group split over the question of whether one could only marry within the fellowship. Exhausted and hurt, some emigrated to Germantown, under the leadership of Peter Becker.

For the next four years they established farms and businesses, while sending back glowing letters describing the unlimited opportunities in William Penn's colony, which was the home of an experiment in religious liberty. Though the Liebe rumor proved false the Brethren realized they missed worshipping together. Peter Becker, who had a great reputation for singing, was named their first minister in America.

A baptism was arranged at the edge of the Wissahickon Creek on Christmas Day of 1723. The ice was broken, and six new members were dunked three times forward. Twenty-three adults gathered afterward at the Gumre home on the top of the nearby hill. With everyone dried off and warmed both outwardly and inwardly, the Brethren shared their Love Feast.

They felt so good afterwards they decided that the following fall all the men would go forward in a great evangelistic trip, one that would result in the founding of new churches that are still in existence today.

Christmas Day, 1723 - one of the most important dates in Brethren history.

Source: Frank Ramirez, Tricentennial Minute for December 23, 2007

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 1940 - Kenneth Morse

In 1943, Kenneth Morse began a thirty-five year tenure on the denominational staff. He edited youth publications from 1943-1950 and became as editor of The Gospel Messenger in 1950. In 1965 he and his staff radically changed the magazine's appearance and the name was changed to Messenger. In 1971 he became book editor for Brethren Press but continued as associate editor of Messenger until his retirement in 1978.

Morse was noted as a poet and hymn writer (including "Move in Our Midst"). A book of his hymns, poems and prayers, Listen to the Sunrise, was published in 1991. The earliest of the poems is a meditation for Christmas Eve, 1940, when our country was preparing to conscript its young men to serve in a war that came a year later. It seems appropriate for this day as well.

Christmas Eve, 1940

Will the angels sing on the hills tonight
When the world is weary with war?
Will they sing again of peace on earth?
Will the shepherds hear them once more?

Will the wise men see the star tonight
While the fires of hate burn high?
Will they bring to the child their gifts of love?
Will they find his star in the sky?

Will the Lord God intervene tonight
To halt the hatred of men?
Or will this night of horror spread
To cripple the world again?

To the ears of faith the angels sing,
To the eyes of hope the star leads on;
To the hearts who wait the Lord God speaks;
To the world he gives his son.

Sources: The Brethren Encyclopedia
Listen to the Sunrise,
Kenneth I. Morse

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Incarnation of God's Reconciling and Redeeming Love

We who are the body of Christ,
an incarnation of God's
reconciling and redeeming love
in the world,
are called to be a channel of God's loving justice.
Wherever brokenness among people exists,
we are called to participate
in God's work of healing;
Wherever people suffer from oppression,
we are to work
for God's act of liberation; and
Wherever people are deprived of basic
human needs and opportunities,
we are called
to God's work of humanization.
Source: Justice and Nonviolence
1977 Annual Conference Statement

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bill and SueZann Bosler

Bill Bosler was pastor in Miami, Florida's First Church of the Brethren. He went about his work largely unnoticed by our denomination or by the city where he worked. He served in a racially troubled neighborhood. Under his leadership, the Miami congregation grew from 12 to 70: Salvadorians, Haitians, Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, whites, American blacks and others. The poor, the alienated, the struggling, the young were among those he served.

Bill Bosler died the way he lived: reaching out to a young stranger in a poor, high-crime area filled with violence and danger. At 2 p.m. on December 22, 1986, he was murdered at the parsonage by someone who came to his home asking for help. He died with love toward the young man who attacked him.

SueZann Bosler, Bill Bosler's daughter, walked into the room where he father lay dying from knife wounds. His killer turned on SueZann, slashing her three times in the back and twice on her skull. Pretending to be dead, her life was spared. When the man left, she called for help.

It took months for SueZann to recover from the physical and emotional trauma she had suffered. Her lifelong opposition to the death penalty was put to the strongest possible test. Her father's convictions about the sacredness of life helped sustain her during that time. Several Bible passages strengthened her view that "only God has the right to take a human life."

The intruder, James Bernard Campbell, was arrested and convicted. The judge sentanced him to die in the electric chair. SueZann went to the judge to plead that the killer's life be spared. Since that time she has become an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, telling her story and appealing as a witness to the way of Christ, a way that advocates mercy in place of vengence.

"I want to give James Campbell something," she told Annual Conference in an emotional appearance. "I want him to have a Bible."

Source: To Follow in Jesus' Steps, C. Wayne Zunkel

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dan West: The Word Became Flesh

Dan West lived what he believed.

Thurl Metzger said of Dan, "Dan refused to eat cake until all could have daily bread."

Kermit Eby wrote: "Heifers, unlike bombs, are personal, particularly if you bring them up or sacrifice for them. Before they mature and become cows (giving their new host not only milk but the beginnings of a dairy herd) they become pets. Sent away to help the needy, a part of you goes along. Received by fellowmen in need, the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is reaffirmed.

"And so once more the word becomes flesh; and brotherhood takes on meaning because first a simple Brethren dreamer and than a church realized that brotherhood knew no boundaries."

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Earth Peace

On December 20, 1974, M.R. Zigler invited approximately thirty-five persons to join him for dinner at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, MD. That evening twenty-seven persons met and launched the On Earth Peace Conference. This initial meeting included one member of the Brethren Church and twenty-six members of the Church of the Brethren.

The goal of the OEPC was " implement the proclamation that came into the world when Jesus was born." (Luke 2:14)

On Earth Peace has helped fund several books and assisted in the early stages of the Brethren Encyclopedia.

Since the OEPC movement was initially made up of largely Church of the Brethren members, the decision was reached that OEPC should affiliate with the ... Church of the Brethren. That formal affiliation occurred in September 1976. In August 1981, OEPC was incorporated as an independent body.

More information about On Earth Peace today may be found at their web site:

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Sword

Now we see that Christ always,
in all his sufferings,
endured them,
and that with great patience,
and never resisted
or defended himself.
we can not see or find
any liberty
to use any (carnal) sword,
but only the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
Source: 1785 Annual Meeting Minutes

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anticipating Christmas

December 1918

Once more the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child
awakens the world to a new appreciation of that priceless Gift,
sent from heaven by the great loving Father.
And once more, in that name, we wish you
the happiest season that you have ever experienced.

Fitting indeed it is that we celebrate Christ's birth this year.
Pile up the wood a little higher on the hearth,
allow the smile to return to the mouth,
the twinkle to the eye,
the deepest gratitude to the heart.
For the message of the angels, proclaiming peace,
two thousand years ago,
finds renewed expression at this glad time,
when the Great War is over.

The peace which has suddenly come to "all mankind"
is but an imperfect type of that ineffable joy and peace and rest
which will come when a world of sorrow and sin
is made willing to lay every burden at His feet.

Once more the stocking will be hung on the mantelpiece,
the roaring fire will crackle up the chimney;
stories of winter snows and reindeer and sleighs
and Kriss Kringle will gladden the happy little hearts of all lands,
bursting with joy; and why not!
All the elements of mystery and enchantment and imagery
surrounding the story of the Babe of Bethlehem
are due the child in this happy Christmas celebration.
We almost wish we were children again.

Source: The Missionary Visitor, December 1918

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Elder Landon West

A native of Ohio, Landon West studied at the New Vienna Academy operated by James Quinter and taught public school for several years. He was called to the ministry in 1864, the same year he was married at the age of 23.

Although progressive in many ways, Landon West remained with the German Baptist Church (Church of the Brethren) in the 1881-83 division. He was a strong advocate of the Sunday school movement and mission work among blacks in southern Ohio.

Poor health forced Landon West to end his extensive travel and preaching around 1887 although he continued his writing, including frequent contributions to church periodicals. In 1900 the family moved to Miami County, Ohio near Pleasant Hill. He had eight children, among them his son Dan West.

Among his many writings, perhaps his most original work was "Eden's Land and Garden with Their Marks Yet to be Seen" (1908). He received wide recognition for his carefully presented theory that the Great Serpent Mound near his boyhood home in Adams County was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden.

West's theory differed markedly from the notions of archeologists who visited Serpent Mound after it was first surveyed in 1849. The mound is about one thousand feet long, in the form of a serpent whose bent body and curled tail extend along a hilltop. The serpent's jaws are opened wide as if ready to devour an oval shaped object.

West believed that the mound was created by the hand of God as a lesson to the world, that its forms were symbols of Satan and of the forbidden fruit with which the serpent tempted Eve. West is reported to have said, "This figure is the most ancient record of history known to exist. It shows first sin and its immediate results as Moses also records them.... [It] supports the written or inspired history of the human race."

According to archeologists, Serpent Mound is one of many "effigy" mounds built by American Indians around 1000 BC. Some were used for burial purposes; others may have been intended for religious rituals.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


In the West African Hausa language the "lafiya" greeting means "health and well-being." It became the name given to a medical program begun by the Church of the Brethren in 1971.

Lafiya was directed by J. Roger Schrock, medical coordinator for Brethren mission work in Nigeria. The program comprised three areas: education, village outreach, and construction projects. It began with the training of Nigerian doctors, nurses, midwives, and para-medical workers and an interim program to train four teams of Nigerian medical personnel to conduct clinics for prenatal care and monthly "under-five" child welfare clinics in the villages. Hospitals at Lassa and Garkida were remodeled and enlarged and a training center was constructed at Garkida for a rural health center.

The rural health program directed by John Horning emphasized maximum local praticipation and the utilization of village health workers. It provided a three-month course in simple curative medicine, health education, and disease prevention using innovative mthods to teach rural people about health and preventative medicine.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Monday, December 15, 2008

Katharine Drexel

On October 1, 2000 Pope John Paul II canonized Katharine Mary Drexel who became only the second recognized American-born saint in the Roman Catholic Church - and the only official saint with a Brethren mother.

And now for the rest of the story.

A young Brethren woman, Hannah Jane Langstroth, was raised and baptized by the German Baptist Brethren in 1850. She married into the wealthy Drexel family of Philadelphia to Francis Drexel, a banker and partner of J.P. Morgan. In 1858 Hannah Jane Langstroth Drexel gave birth to their second daughter Mary Katharine. Thirty-four days later Hannah Jane died and was buried in the Germantown Brethren cemetary. She would not live to see the wonderful ministry of her infant daughter.

Although Katharine never knew her mother and was devoted to her step-mother. According to one biographer, Katharine and her sister Elizabeth regularly visited in the home of their mother's family in Germantown where they played with their cousins and learned to crochet from their grandmother, who wore the Brethren plain dress. Who knows what else they learned from the Brethren side of their heritage.

At the age of thirty, Katharine gave up her social position as the member of a prominent family and chose a religious vocation. She founded the Blessed Sacrament Sisters for Indians and Colored People. For many years she chose to live on less than a dollar a day while she poured more than a thousand dollars a day into the charitable and educational projects she initiated and supported. Over a period of sixty-four years, she contributed to these causes between twelve and seventeen million dollars from her inheritance.

Katharine traveled widely in order to know personally the living conditions of American Indians in the West and blacks in the South. Her contributions helped in the establishment of Xavier U., an institution in New Orleans aiding the education of blacks.

While Katherine was often called saintly, an official petition that she be regarded as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church was introduced in 1964 by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia, less than ten years after her death. When canonization finally came on October 1, 2000, Katherine became the first official saint with a Brethren mother.

Sources: The Brethren Encylopedia

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dan West: Faith

Dan was periodically known to write down a brief outline of his faith beliefs, adding "here is the outline (incomplete) of my best interpretation now. In a few more years it ought to be better and fuller."

A note written by Dan on an envelope ... postmarked January 27, 1961, expressed his continuous search for truth: "Sometimes I wonder if I am out of it for clinging to such things as hope, faith, and love. Camus in The Stranger (1946) would say that I am. But my life is too much grounded in facts of love. This I know. Deep as these doubts are that Camus helps me to see within me, my present direction - is faith!"

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Anna Mow - writing on faith

In the introduction of her book, Springs of Love, Anna Mow shares the following thoughts which grow out of her many years of mission work in India:

A young minister asked me, "What do you think of Zen Buddhism?"

I said, "I have been interested in Zen Buddhism and other mysticisms of the East for years, but have you heard about the Holy Spirit?"

Americans who have never taken God's promises seriously and have been undisciplined in their lives, of course, find great benefit from seriously practicing quiet times and accepting disciplines for their lives. A guru from India is reported to be persuading 30,000 converts a month to his method of finding inner peace. He promises relaxation with alertness, decreased blood pressure, decreased anxiety, increased individual self-esteem and capacity for intimate contact, increased creativity and personal satisfaction in life and work.

On the other hand, I know many Hindus who were previously devout in the faith they inherited but later found it inadequate. When these people found the reality of Christianity they gladly accepted the new truth even when it meant disinheritance and persecution. We need not be frightened about the inroads of foreign faiths, if we know what we really have in Christ.

Source: Springs of Love, Anna Mow

Friday, December 12, 2008

Anna Mow - writing on wives and husbands

Anna Mow in her teaching in the church often touched upon the subject of wives and husbands.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husband as to the Lord. (Eph. 5:22)

This is one of the most misinterpreted verses in Scripture. The verb is not even repeated in the original Greek, and this is only a participial phrase added on to verse 21. The verb is in the previous verse where it is given as a law for all human relationships. Whatever basic attitude is required for a wife toward her husband is also, therefore required of a man in all his relationships.

I think the Apostle Paul applied this statement to wives first because he thought that women who were created to be mothers would be the first to understand what quality of life he was talking about.

... I know some Christian women who have been told they must "obey" even non-Christian husbands because a woman must obey a man! That is easy to answer if he asks her to do something wrong because the relationship is to be "in the Lord." There is no difficulty in the woman-man relationship if both are truly committed to the Lord. ...

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head
of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior."
(Eph. 5:23)

Many Bible people talk about the "order of command": God, Christ, man, woman. I have no objection to the order, but the use of the word command is not Christ-thinking. Especially as it is usually defined in this instance.

... In 1 Corinthians 7:4, Paul made them partners. Aristotle, 300 years before Paul, said that man is superior and woman is inferior, that man was made to rule and woman to be ruled. It is particularly relevant that in that social context Paul made them partners.

Then man's headship is described as the same as Christ's headship. And Jesus said He did not come to be ministered unto but to minister (Matt. 20:27,28, KJV). He also said, "Whosoever would be great among you must be your servant." (Matt. 20:26) So European theologians in 1952 came to the conclusion that a husband is the head of his wife when he is her servant!

Authority for the Christian is power for the benefit of others and never power over them. If we can find this secret in the closest human relationship, we will be able to live it in all of life.

Source: Springs of Love, Anna Mow

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anna Mow - writing on "being subject to"

Anna Mow was loved and appreciated in the Church of the Brethren for her teaching - in hundreds of churches and in her books. The following teaching on Ephesians 5:21 is excerpted from her 1979 book, Springs of Love. "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."

When relationship to another person is called "being subject" to that person, it really his hard. No one wants to be anyone's doormat. The fact is that there is nothing in all the Bible which says that anyone is to be another person's doormat. ... So what does it mean to be "subject to another?"

The Greek verb tanslated "be subject to" ... means "to arrange under" or "to put yourself under." The important thing in this is that a choice is implied. It does mean "take anything that happens to you." It is not passive, docile resignation; it is not cringing self-effacement or mere complaisance. It is choosing the best welfare of the other one.


We do not have two areas in our hearts for our relationships - one for God and another for other persons. We act according to what we are in the depths of our being. No person, man or woman, can be humble and reverent toward God and then act or feel arrogantly toward any human being.

So the ability to love and respect another person depends upon our relationship to God. This is the reason that true fulfillment comes first of all out of one's commitment to God. Because of this God relationship we can see all people as God sees them. ...

We usually call this having respect for one another. Even children need to be respected. When we see God's love for every individual it is also easier to have respect for ourselves.

Source: Springs of Love, Anna Mow

continued tomorrow

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anna Beahm Mow

Anna Beahm was born in Virginia and educated at Hebron Seminary (1909-14), Bethany Bible School, Manchester College (A.B. 1918), and Bethany Biblical Seminary (B.D. 1921; M.R.E. 1941; Th.M. 1943). During her first term at Bethany, A.C. Wieand actively recruited her for the faculty in spite of her well-known intention to become a missionary to India.

From 1923 to 1940, Mow served as a missionary in India where she established close ties with Vijaya Pandit, sister of Nehru and later president of the United Nations, and E. Stanley Jones, noted Methodist missionary and evangelist.

After joining the Bethany faculty where she served until 1958, Mow taught courses in Christian education and the devotional life and sponsored the popular Thursday night student prayer meetings for many years. Deeply committed to Keswick Higher Life spirituality, like her brother William Beahm, she believed that the primary human problems were spiritual and that "secular service , which is merely human goodwill, is not enough."

In a pointed 1947 essay, "The Surrendered Life," Mow observed that surrender "to missions, service, even Brethren service, to temperance, to peace ... even to prayer" was not what God required. As she noted, "The surrender must be to God as revealed in Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is not a commitment to a cause or an institution, it is a commitment to a Person, the divine Person, first of all."

If people respected Mow for her deep spirituality, they loved her for her humor and common sense. When a young pastor's wife with three small children confided to Anna that, given the great needs of the world, she felt she had no right to own an automatic washer and dryer, Anna informed her that there was far greater simplicity in the ownership of such devices than in a life of slavery to the basic necessities of life.

Not ordained until 1960, Mow's greatest contribution to the church was as an author and speaker. From the late 1950s until the early 1980s, she developed a virtual celebrity status, extending far beyond the Church of the Brethren. Immensely popular in evangelical circles, she averaged ten "revival" or evangelistic engagements a year by the mid-1960s and authored a series of widely read books.

In response to the 1960s' Charismatic movement, Mow dryly noted that since Brethren had a "special dip in baptism for the Holy Spirit," they ought to be in the forefront of the movement. Insisting that the mission of the church was reconciliation, in the late 1960s Mow stood with a young man who had burned his draft card on the floor of Annual Conference, admiring his courage although she personally opposed such actions. As she noted in the midst of the turbulence of the late 1960s, "Being conservative or liberal is not the important matter at all. The question is always, "What is Christ-like?"

Her calm in the midst of the passions of youth, whether inspired by the charismatic renewal or social radicalism, greatly reassured a troubled church. People marveled at the ease with which she bridged the so-called generation gap.

Source: Bethany Theological Seminary: A Centennial History
by William Kostlevy

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

William Beahm at Bethany

Note: Earlier references to William Beahm may be found on April 13 and 16.
William Beahm was the son of noted Brethren evangelist, educator, and theological conservative I.N.H. Beahm. He served as a Church of the Brethren missionary in Nigeria from 1924 to 1937. Upon his return from Nigeria, he began the pursuit of a PH.D. at the University of Chicago. His return came at the same time that Rufus Bowman was named president of Bethany Seminary. One of Bowman's first acts as president was to name Beahm as professor of theology and missions. In 1944 Beahm was named as dean at Bethany where he served until his retirement in 1962.
William Beahm was truly an unforgettable figure, noted as a "connoisseur of words and idioms." He combined his famous dry sense of humor with a remarkable ability to remember names and faces. In addition to his heavy responsibilities at dean, Beahm served the Church as secretary of Annual Conference from 1942-1953, and as Moderator in 1954 and 1959.
Beahm was deeply committed to the church. As a theological moderate, he often criticized both liberals and evangelicals for failing to see that the church was an end in itself. As he noted, the Social Gospel tradition's tendency to reduce the mission of the church to the promotion of a particular social agenda had the same deadening effect upon the institutional church as Fundamentalism's tendency to push the kingdom entirely into the future. He wrote in 1947: "The church is not self-centered but God-centered when she nurtures and perpetuates her inner life. This inner life, by the same token, is nurtured by God."
In a time when many emphasized service to the exclusion of evangelism and mission, Beahm remained a traditionalist. Standing squarely in the tradition of A.C. Wieand, he emphasized both the reality of sin and the transforming power of the gospel. Although he frequently quoted liberals, Beahm believed that humanity's central problem was sin and Christ was "our savior because he saves us from sin." In one of his notable quotes, "Sin is a raspberry seed under God's denture."
Beahm died in April 1964.Earle Fike noted in his funeral sermon, "In the Bible, it is of paramount importance to know who you are, and to do this you must know from whence you came and to whom you belong. Brother William knew to whom he belonged ... and therefore he knew the One to whom all rightly belong. In Beahm's words, everyone is a person "for whom Christ died."
Source: Bethany Theological Seminary: A Centennial History
by William Kostlevy

Monday, December 08, 2008

An English Traveler in Indiana

Of the foreign visitors who published accounts of their travels in the USA, the English author Harriet Martineau (1802-76) was one of the most noted. Her comments were often caustic. She had nothing but praise, however, for members of a Brethren family living between Laporte and Michigan City, Indiana, whom she met in 1836 when her stagecoach was blocked by poor roads and bad weather:

"A family lived at hand, who hospitably offered to receive us; and we were only too ready to accept their kindness ... We perceived by a glance at the beard and costume of our host, that there was something remarkable about him. He was of the Tunker sect of Baptists, ... a very peculiar sect of religionists. He explained without any reserve, his faith, and the reasons on which it was founded. ... His wife won our hearts by the beauty of her countenance, set off by the neat plain dress of her sect. She was ill, but they made us thoroughly comfortable, without apparently discomposing themselves. Sixteen out of seventeen children were living; of whom two sons and five daughters were absent, and six sons and three daughters at home; the youngest was three years old.

"Their estate consists of eight hundred acres, a large portion of which is not yet broken up .... He has thus become worth 40,000 dollars in the three years which have elapsed since he came out of Ohio. ... The house, log-built, consisted of three rooms; two under one roof; and another apparently added afterwards. There were also out-houses. In one of these three rooms, the cooking and eating went on; another was given to us ladies, with a few of the little children; and in the other, the rest of the family, the gentlemen of our party, and another weatherbound traveller, slept.

"Huge fires of logs blazed in the chimneys; two or three of the little ones were offered us as handmaidens; and the entire abode was as clean as could be imagined. Here was comfort! ... Our sleep amid the luxury of cleanliness and hospitality, was most refreshing. ... When it had come to saying farewell, our hostess put her hands on my shoulders, kissed me on each cheek, and said she had hoped for the pleasure of our company for yet another day. For my own part, I would willingly take her at her word, if my destiny should ever carry me near the great lakes again."

Source: Don Durnbaugh in the Brethren Encyclopedia
from H. Martineau, Society in America (1837)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dan West: Heifer Project

A Gift of Life is A Gift of Love
These words, printed in large letters, greet you as you drive up the road to the entrance of HPI. They ring true as you tour the ranch and talk with its dedicated staff. As one member confessed: I formerly looked at our help merely as providing animals for those in need. Recently, I've come to see more - it also gives new meaning to life for those of who share with others through the giving of the animals.

The Dan West Education Fund, established as a memorial to the founder of HPI, is to be used to support volunteers who manifest his spirit and who are able to give training in animal husbandry to recipients of HPI livestock. Thurl Metzger said of these volunteers: [They] have an overwhelming opportunity and responsibility. They must gain the confidence of the poor and the respect of the powerful. In addition to being technically qualified they should reflect 'the fruits of the spirit which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance' plus a good sense of humor.

These qualities "manifest Dan's spirit," whose gentle voice was rarely raised except when he talked about the accomplishment of HPI. Then he got really excited. "Too much has already been said as if I were responsible for this. The credit belongs to God and should be given to him. It was God in the hearts of farmers who actually raised the heifers and in the hearts of the many, many people who have helped."

responded an interviewer, "and God in the heart of a man who listened for the voice of God in the whispering grass and the wailing babies and the sobbing mothers."

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thurl Metzger

While Dan West supplied the idea for Heifer Project International, Thurl Metzger supplied the hands that made it a worldwide success.

Born near Sidney, Indiana, he taught school from 1938 to 1942 while graduating from Manchester College in 1941. Drafted into the army in 1942, Metzger registered as a conscientious objector and was sent to a camp in Michigan. He later went to work in an agricultural unit at the University of Minnesota.

Unable to find a teaching job after the war because of his conscientious objector stance, Metzger began working with Heifer Project and became the organization's representive in Europe. When Ben Bushong retired as executive director in 1951, Dan West asked Metzger to take over the job.

Metzger immediately launched a campaign to increase support for HPI and guided its incorporation as an independent, nonprofit corporation in 1953. From an office in North Manchester, he successfully guided HPI during years of tremendous growth. He travelled extensively from the very beginning.

He also wrote extensively, and his stories were often published in Messenger. He wrote of his dismay that cheese, butter, and grain were piling up in warehouses in the U.S. while much of the world was still hungry. He appealed for more understanding of the problems in Latin America and urged Brethren to share food to build peace as a positive way to demonstrate the will of God.

HPI's impact under Metzger's direction has been felt around the world. In the late 1970s, the Korean Minister of Agriculture stated that half the chickens in his country were offspring from HPI chickens sent after the Korean War.

Metzger finally retired in 1981 after guiding HPI for 30 years. During a farewell address at his retirement, Metzger said, "The road to development is very long, it is filled with frustrations, and it is, in fact, more of a pilgrimage than a plan ... A sense of destiny requires that we have a firm belief that this is what God wants us to do ... and that we are willing to take risks, with God as our final evaluator."

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land: Church of the Brethren in Indiana

Friday, December 05, 2008

John Eberly

The success of thousands of student exchanges between the United States and other countries can be directly traced to one man - Indiana native John Eberly.

Eberly was born near North Webster, Indiana in 1904. His parents saw no need for any of their 13 children to have much education, so John literally ran away from home to attend and graduate from high school. With help from the North Webster Church of the Brethren, Otho Winger, and high school teachers Glen and Viola Whitehead, he graduated from Manchester College in 1929 and earned a master's degree from Indiana University in 1932.

While serving as president of the Northern Indiana Youth Cabinet, he met Ollie Heaston who was president of the Middle Indiana Youth Cabinet. They were married in 1925.

Eberly taught school and served as a pastor in Indiana from 1927 to 1948. He was one of the principle founders of Camp Mack, along with L.W. Shultz and others.

In 1948 Eberly accepted an assignment to Italy with the Brethren Service Commission. One of his duties was to distribute breeding stock being shipped to Europe by Heifer Project.

He pioneered the Brethren Student Exchange program in 1949-50. Two groups of teen-agers from Germany were brought to the U.S. to live with farm families and attend local high schools. Fifty were chosen from refugee camps and another 40 from a rural youth group in southern Germany. His first effort was so successful that 400 students were approved in 1950.

Eberly returned to the United States in 1950 to become director of the Brethren Service/Church World Service Center at New Windsor, MD. He continued as administrator of the student exchange program which in 1957 received interdenominational support and became known as International Christian Youth Exchange.

In 1964 Eberly became the Church of the Brethren representative in Washington D.C. where he regularly testified before Senate and House committees on behalf of the church.

He retired to Indiana in 1970 and remained there until his death in 1985.

Source: Planting the Church in a New Land

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jacob M. Blough

As Sarah Barndt Blough looked into the face of her newborn son on a December day in 1876, what dreams for his future did she cherish in her heart? We wonder if the dreams came up to what afterwards became a reality for Jacob Blough, missionary and church leader.

During his fifteenth year he accepted Christ, and soon began to teach a Sunday-school class and two years later he led his first Bible class and offered his first public prayer. After completing the equivalent of a high school course and nine weeks of teacher training he became a teacher, using his earnings to secure further education. Shortly after graduating from college in 1903, he married Anna Z. Detweiler, who remained his inspiration and willing helper through 46 years of joyful missionary service. They sailed for India that fall.

Their home in India became noted for its generous hospitality. Everyone was welcome. Thousands of cups of tea were served to government officials, friends who came for social visits, casual callers, humble villagers seeking counsel and guidance, and ordinary beggars. Their home was dedicated to God and the service of all persons.

Most of Brother Blough's years in India were spent at Vyara and Bulsar, although he took charge of the work at Anklesvar and Ahwa for shorter periods. He was at Ahwa during the severe flu epidemic of 1917-1918, at which time a fourth of the people died. The Bloughs gave out medicine and ministered to the sick until he, too, fell ill. Though near death, he was spared.

During his first furlough Brother Blough solicited funds for the building of Bulsar Bible School. A profound and devoted Bible student, he made the message of the Word clear to his hearers and inspired them to obey it. An Indian leader said, "No other Bible teacher has so influenced the students in devotion and loyalty to Christ and the church."

Source: Brethren Builders in our Century, 1952

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Medford Nehrer

Medford Nehrer was a Church of the Brethren pastor with a special artistic gift. He is best known for having painted the 12-panel Mural History of the Church of the Brethren which is displayed at Camp Mack, Milford, Indiana.

Neher was born in Radnor, Indiana on July 25, 1892. His education took place at Rochester College, Manchester College, and Bethany Seminary. He was called to the ministry in 1914 and married in 1919. He served as pastor of the Eastwood and East Akron (N Ohio) congregations from 1927 to 1933 in the free ministry. He went on to pastor at Defiance, Poplar Ridge churches in Northern Ohio, Peoria, IL, and Michigan City, Indiana. From 1958-1961 he served in Pompano Beach, Florida where he retired to give all his time to Christian art which he began studying in 1929.

His long-cherished project - a series of murals depicting the history of the Church of the Brethren - became a reality in 1949 at Camp Mack. He had been commissioned to the project by the Regional Youth during a camping experience. It required four years to complete. He later collaborated with Lawrence Shultz to publish the murals and a written account in A Mural History of the Church of the Brethren.

In addition to this lasting tribute, his work lives on in a number of congregations where he also painted murals - often as a backdrop for the baptistry.

Source: The Church of the Brethren in Northeastern Ohio, Edgar G. Diehm

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Adam Paine

Adam Paine was a frontier preacher who came from Ohio to Illinois during the frontier period. He had served as a private in George Rogers Clark's army (1778-79) and thus was eligible for land in the area after the Revolutionary War. In the early 19th century he was known as an itinerant Dunkard preacher among the white settlers and a missionary to the Indians of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

He was a striking personality and was described as "tall and large with a high forehead, piercing black eyes, and a black beard which hung in clusters over his breast." It is said his beard was over two feet in length. He was said to possess a "wonderful voice and tremendous energy." He was not only an eloquent speaker, but a good singer!

In 1830, at a council of Indians, he spoke as the council was about ready to open. His plea for peace carried and the council rejected the proposal made by Black Hawk for a federation of war against the white settlers.

Later, Paine would go on to preach in the tiny village that was then Chicago. He died in 1832 while traveling in Kendall County where he was killed by Indians.

Source: A Mural History of the Church of the Brethren
The Brethren Encyclopedia

Monday, December 01, 2008

Lemuel Hillery

Lemuel Hillery was born in Frederick County, Maryland in 1843 and moved to Illinois at the age of 13. He was wounded and partially disabled as a soldier in the Civil War. He was a member of a Brethren congregation only six months before he was chosen a minister at Marshalltown, Iowa in 1865. Like other Brethren ministers of the time, Hillery was a "free minister" meaning he served his congregation without a salary.

Hillery helped to organize scattered Brethren into congregations in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana. Stories and legends about his preaching skills are numerous. One such story is recounted in The Brethren Encyclopedia.

Brethren free ministers were expected to preach without notes. Some were so skilled at this art that they could deliver an excellent sermon extemporaneously when there was no opportunity to prepare in advance. Lemuel Hillery sometimes asked his listeners to suggest a Bible text for this sort of on-the-spot sermon.

On one such occasion, a minister from another denomination tried to embarrass Hillery by calling out a phrase from Numbers 22:21: "And Balaam saddled his ass." Hillery expertly parried the thrust. His sermon, constructed around a three-point outline, informed his listeners that (a) the other minister was Balaam; (b) the other minister's salary was Balaam's saddle; and (c) the congregation which paid the other's minister's salary was Balaam's ass.

Although not all Brethren approved of Hillery's (mis)application of the text, most could not resist admiration for his wit.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dan West: Prayer

The following is a prayer offered by Dan West in a 1948 Peace Workshop:

Our Father, we thank thee that we are living now in thy troubled world.
We thank thee for the hard problems we don't know how to solve yet.
We thank thee for the faith that dares to try to solve them.
We thank thee for our Lord and Master, thy Son, who can show us the way.
Wilt thou look on all we have done and bless whatever is good;
And wilt thou help us to antidote what is not good;
And wilt thou make of us more profitable servants
for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Source: Passing on the Gift: The Story of Dan West, Glee Yoder

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dan West: World Traveler

In 1959, Dan and Lucy West and son Steve took a trip around the world after Dan's retirement. They traveled some 43,000 miles to 30 countries in about ten months. Steve earned his own money and Dan sold a portion of his farm to a neighbor in order to finance the trip. From a tape made at a reunion in 1960, we have some comments on this around-the-world trip.

"We found good people everywhere we went and some of our friends and some Brethren. ... Glad we have people carrying the Gospel in their own way. Wish we had more doing that."

"Couldn't get permission to go into China and it might not have been the healthiest for everyone if we had gone. However, I do not think we can continue to insist that China does not exist. What to do next is not clear, but I think we have not recognized them officially sometimes. I'd like to see the Heifer Project put some cattle in there and help them.... I think the common people are to be trusted under everybody's government, and I think we had better make friends with those people or otherwise we'll kill each other off."

Dan's charisma was evident everywhere they went. The whole trip was full of people and places, not just people one meets as a tourist, but farmer and peasant types who genuinely appreciate the help of the Heifer Project International.

In a letter Dan wrote to a friend, he reported, "It was a good trip we three took around the world, but like a cow out on heavy pasture I need some time to chew my cud and digest it. That is happening, and it brings new meaning to some events on the trip. But it makes me both grateful and critical of what we have and have not done in the USA. My job now is to keep my home base on our farm (and do a little work to keep fit) but also to reach out to a world in the making."

Source: Passing on the Gift: The story of Dan West, Glee Yoder

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dan West: Hunger

If we love our neighbors as ourselves, as Jesus commanded, Dan West asked in a Christian Century article (January 18, 1950), "Can We Feed This Hungry World?" After discussing issues of surpluses and distribution, Dan suggested it is fundamentally a religious problem as much as an economic issue.

1. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will set as one of our main goals feeding the hungry world as much, as well, and as soon as we can. That includes those we call communists, in spite of what they think and do and want.

2. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will determine to produce more food and to move our surplus as fast as it accumulates, whether we make money on the transaction or not....

3. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will spread these dollars around, through investment in foreign agriculture and industries, so that the little people can have seed and tools and know-how....

4. Further, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, we shall stretch our loyalties until we belong more to the world than to our own nation. A man without a country is in bad shape, but a man whose loyalty is frozen at national boundaries is out of date now....

5. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will put a ceiling on our wants, ration ourselves down to the point of physical efficiency - and then share with the hungry majority....

6. Finally, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will not stop with being critical at inappropriate policy or action on the surplus problem....

"We North Americans are for the time being living in the most favored place in the world. ... We can move the hungry world - toward peace!"

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

As you give thanks this day, with family and friends, to God for the blessings of life. Don't forget your brothers and sisters who are not so fortunate this day. You may wish to reflect on these words put into a song by Kenneth Morse.

Brothers and sisters of mine are the hungry,
who sigh in their sorrow
and weep in their pain.
Sisters and brothers of mine are the homeless,
who sit without shelter
from wind and from rain.
Strangers and neighbors,
they claim my attention.
They sleep by my doorstep,
they sit by my bed.
Neighbors and strangers,
their anguish concerns me,
and I must not feast
till the hungry are fed.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rufus P. Bucher

Rufus P. Bucher was a Brethren minister, evangelist, and farmer. He served for 55 years as a free minister, elder, and pastor of the Mechanic Grove congregation in Pennsylvania. In addition he was the presiding elder of six other congregations, moderator of district meeting ten times and Annual Conference in 1946. He served on the district mission board for forty years. The extent of his evangelistic work was impressive - more than 200 series of meetings resulting in almost three thousand accessions to the church.

On his return from one such meeting he encountered a young stranger in a railway depot who handed him a tract entitled "Brother, Are You Saved?" When the young man put the same question to Bucher, he replied, "That is a good question and deserves an answer. I think, however, that I might be prejudiced in my own behalf. You'd better go down to Quarryville and ask George Hensel, the hardware merchant, what he thinks about it. Or you might go to the Machanic Grove grocer or to one of my neighbors in Unicorn. While there you might ask my wife and children. I'll be ready to let their answers stand as my own."

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1972 Brethren Evangelism Statement

Throughout the twentieth century, evangelism on the national level has been lodged with a succession of home mission boards and commissions. At times there has been a specific department or office for evangelism or Annual Conference Statements such as the following excerpt from the 1972 Annual Conference Statement on Evangelism.

Christians have too often been tongue-tied,
hesitant or apologetic when they have had
natural opportunities to tell the good news of God.
...But our confidence is not in ourselves:
it is in Christ whose examples and teachings,
whose life and death still speak with authority....
If we experience the love of Christ,
like Peter and John,
"we cannot but speak of what we
have seen and heard."
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known

Monday, November 24, 2008

Manley Deeter

This story has to do with a Brethren minister who purchased a house trailer and went camping.

Manley Deeter was born near Pleasant Hill, Ohio in 1865. His father William was preparing for a teaching career when he was called to ministry and gave up teaching to focus on ministry. In 1881 the Deeter family moved to Milford, Indiana where William became a church leader. In 1925 the W.R. Deeter cabin was named for him and was the first building constructed at Camp Mack.

Manley was baptized by his father in January 1884 and became a member of the Bethel congregation in Milford where he was chosen as a deacon in 1896 and called to the ministry in 1897. For many years he served with his father in the ministry of the Bethel congregation. He also served on a committee to establish a Brethren camp for youth that led to Camp Mack.

He very early became interested in Manchester College as a factor of a better educated ministry of the church. He served as a trustee of the college from 1909 to 1915 and later as a field representative among the churches of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan raising thousands of dollars for improvements at the college.

His wife Ida died in January 1939 after nearly 55 years of marriage. Manley was 74 years of age but rather than retiring he became interested in carrying the Gospel message to out-of-the-way places. He began in upper Michigan where he organized a new church. After returning to Northern Indiana, he decided to travel and camp in the hills of Kentucky for a season. At the age of 77, in the autumn of 1942, he left his friends and brethren around New Paris, Indiana and set out with his house trailer in search of a community not served by any organized church.

In Clay County, Kentucky he got in touch with a man known as "Preacher Adams" on Big Creek who directed him to the post-office town of Creekville. The Postmaster of that town gave him permission to park his car and house trailer under an ash tree across the road from the post office and general store. The post office had no mail routes so all the mountaineers came to that place to receive their mail and purchase supplies.

Brother Deeter, the "kindly man with the beard," talked to the people on their way to or from the country store. He also learned that they were very kind but suspicious of newcomers.

He never neglected his daily devotions alone in his house trailer. One night, as he was praying aloud, two men were passing by and heard him. They heard him praying to His Heavenly Father to open the hearts of the people. Those two silent listeners soon spread the word among their kinfolk and friends that "we need not be afraid of this stranger, as he has come to help us."

Brother Deeter labored and preached to the people he met but being in his seventy-eighth year realized the task was too great for a man of that age. He appealed to the General Mission Board and they requested the Mission Board of Southern Ohio to assume the supervision of this mission point. The Flat Creek Church was soon organized with Brother Ferdie Roher as pastor and Elder Manley Deeter as moderator.

One year after the church was organized, sentiment was expressed for the need of a church building. The lumber for this church building was a gift of more than 100 logs from the Ford Motor Company, which were taken to a saw mill and sawed to specifications for the structure. The labor was supplied by the local people as well as the two ministers. Brother Deeter at that time had passed his eightieth year.

Source: Lest We Forget and Tales of Yester-Years, Vol. III, Rolland F. Flory

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brethren and the Great Commission

One of the earliest calls for mission work was the following query and answer to the 1852 Annual Meeting. Annual Meeting agreed but made no effort to organize for missions.

Query: Whether the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
... does not require of the church to send brethren to
preach the gospel, where the name of Christ is not known?
Answer: Considered, that the Brethren acknowledge the great commission
of Christ to its full extent, and that it is the duty of the church,
the ministers, and every private member,
to do all that is in their power to fulfill that commission
in accordance with apostolic practice.
Source: Let our Joys Be Known

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nettie Senger

Steve Bowers, in the book Planting the Faith in a New Land, includes a section devoted to the women from Indiana who were involved in mission work. Among those listed are: Winnie Cripe, Josephine Powell, Lillian Grisso, Minerva Metzger, Laura Shock, Ella Miller Brubaker, Anna Warstler, Josephine Keever Flory, Velma Ober, Ruby Frantz Rhoades, Marguerite Burke, Alice Eby, and Nettie Senger.

Unlike most of the others who served with their husbands, Nettie was an exception. A native of Fort Wayne, she went to China in 1916 as a single woman. She had studied the Chinese language for about a year when she started developing a closer relationship with the villagers in her area of Shansai Province.

Nettie established special ties to the women of the villages and accepted Chinese customs as a way of getting closer to the people. She began wearing native Chinese dress and always carried knitting with her so she could join in the informal conversations among small groups of women.

A number of senior missionaries repeatedly admonished Nettie to stop identifying so closely with the Chinese people because she was demeaning the dignity of a Chinese missionary. She ignored the warnings and moved ahead with projects she felt were important. She established a school for young mothers and wrote textbooks that were used in many schools all across China. During her years in the country, she earned a master's degree in Chinese philosophy and a doctorate studying the impact of Chinese civilization on women.

Nettie was forced to leave China in 1939 with the coming of war and revolution. She returned to Fort Wayne where she continued to be active as a Bible teacher and church worker. She was one of the charter members when the Beacon Heights Church was established in 1952 and remained active in the congregation until her death in 1969.

One of Nettie's hobbies was collecting old and rare Bibles. She gave her collection to Beacon Heights, and the church in 1975 turned over the collection to Bethany Theological Seminary. Among the many valuable items in the collection was one of the original Bibles printed in German by Christopher Sauer.

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land

Friday, November 21, 2008

Adam and Alice Eby

Adam and Alice (King) Eby were two Indiana pioneers in the foreign mission field

Adam Eby was born August 12, 1866 near Wawaka, Indiana, the fifth of 14 children of Cornelius and Susan Eby. He later studied in Mount Morris for two years and was called to the ministry in 1896. He continued his education at Manchester College from 1896 to 1899.

Alice King was born to Daniel and Mary King near Laketon, Indiana on November 11, 1871. She also attended Mount Morris College and then became one of the first students at Manchester College in 1895. She became an assistant to Professor E.S. Young in Bible and also attended the University of Chicago one year, 1899-1900.

While Adam was a student at Manchester, Alice was one of his teachers. They were both interested in missions and were married in September 1900 and sailed for India in October.

While in India, Brother Eby engaged in the varied activities of a pioneer missionary - educational work, evangelism, and medical aid. Sister Eby had charge of a training school and did much evangelistic work. She also wrote commentaries in English for the Sunday School lessons which native scholars translated into Indian languages. They also became the parents of 8 children.

When Adam's health failed in 1931, they returned to the United States and lived in North Manchester where he remained active in preaching and she in teaching. Adam died in 1939 and Alice, with her heart still in India, returned to India in 1945 for two more years of work.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Henry Neff, Sr.

While the "Neff" name is very common in Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties of Indiana, Henry Neff, Sr. was the father of one family of Neffs noted for its number of preachers given to the church.

Henry was born in Botetourt County, Virginia in April 1798. He was married there to Anna Frantz and moved to southern Indiana about 1833. In 1840 he moved to Elkhart County where he raised a family of six sons and three daughters. Henry had been elected to the ministry in Virginia but took a great interest in the work of the church in Indiana.

Henry worked with Elder John Leatherman in the oversight of the Turkey Creek church where he did much to build up the church. When the Union Center congregation was organized in 1859 from the Turkey Creek church, Elder Henry Neff, Sr. had charge working with John Anglemyer and John Burkholder as ministers.

A large brick church building was built at Union Center in 1867. It was here that Henry died suddenly on November 20, 1868 just a few minutes after preaching a sermon.

Two of Henry's sons became ministers in the Church of the Brethren as well as his three son-in-laws and a number of grandsons.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A.C. Wieand Quote

The Gospel Messenger of November 19, 1904 carried this self-descriptive comment by A.C. Wieand who, along with E.B. Hoff, would open the doors of Bethany Bible School the next fall.

I am fundamentally opposed to every change
in the faith and practice of the church
that will takes us farther away
from the Bible.
That's how conservative and orthodox I am.
But I am always in favor of any change
that will bring us closer in faith and life
to the Word of God.
That is how progressive I am ....
Just as fast as we get new light on
the Word and Will of God
we must change our practices
to suit it more fully.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known,
A Brethren Heritage Curriculum
Richard B. Gardner and Kenneth M. Shaffer

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Turkey Creek

Turkey Creek was the third church established in the Northern Indiana District when it was organized in 1838. The historic church building, located at Gravelton four miles east of Nappanee, dates from 1878.

Elder John Leatherman is credited with organizing the Turkey Creek District. He was born in Maryland in 1776 and moved to Ohio as a young man before moving to Elkhart County, Indiana in 1836 where he became a part of the church in the Elkhart District (now West Goshen) only seven years after its beginning.

Turkey Creek was the local church sponsor of Annual Meeting in 1852 when it was held at Baintertown and was also a sponsor for Annual Conference in 1882 held at Arnold's Grove, located southeast of the intersection of US 6 and SR 15. It was at this conference that a major denominational division occurred which led to the formation of what is now the (Ashland) Brethren.

About a fourth of the Turkey Creek membership left with the Progessives when the split occurred, although some later returned to the congregation.

Early minutes of the congregation (dating from 1884) are complete with disciplinary actions taken. The minutes are brief but use the full names of the individuals. Among the disciplinary actions are those taken for misconduct, hunting on Sunday, using bad language, attending a saloon, ladies wearing hats, having two living companions, and wearing a mustache without wearing the full beard.

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land
Turkey Creek Church of the Brethren 160 Years - 1838-1998

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clyde E. Weaver - forerunner to Brethren Bloggers

In the Introduction to a small booklet titled "Plumb Line" published by Brethren Press in 1980, Fred Swartz introduces Clyde Weaver with these words:

There are some people who may call Clyde Weaver a "jack of all trades" and their evaluation is not entirely unfounded. He has "packed a lot" into his five short decades of life, including vocational journeys into food service and processing, seminary teaching, marriage and family life counseling, automobile dealership, and Christian publishing and marketing.

Some of us will remember the years when Clyde was Director of Marketing for the Church of the Brethren. In that role he was able to introduce us to new Brethren books each year at Annual Conference. His brief "advertisements" were always creative and interesting and often ended with the remark that "those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot read."

Clyde believed that one's life needed to be consistent with one's beliefs. Part of his own method of evangelism was his own orientation toward people - tolerant, caring, empathetic. But he also was a master of humor and used the pun to expose the truth. For a time in the late 1970s, he was searching for a way to make a personal witness to his peace convictions and decided to invest in a periodic ad in the local newspaper. Today, he might have chosen to blog. For one year Clyde bought space for "Plumb Line" in his local newspaper biweekly. Some of these brief meditations were then published by Brethren Press. One example follows:


Each of us was once a child. We played spontaneously, loved anything warm and cuddly, thought wallpaper was a blackboard, enjoyed the feel of oozing mud and delighted in the intrigue of a sandpile. We learned by experimenting, laughed easily, and were fascinated with anything that moved. We held grudges for two minutes or less, loved stories, ate at the wrong times and occasionally enjoyed watching our parents trying to figure us out. We were the emerging generation and happy in not knowing it.

How sad that in our preoccupation with the sophistication of adulthood we forget to reflect upon these beginnings. Was not Jesus alluding to the same values as he indicated how difficult it would be to make it into the Kingdom unless we become like children. In our fear of being childish we forget to be childlike. Indeed, we can never be whole persons without nourishing the child that dwells within us. Could it be that by starving the child within us we become desperate, fearful and unloving adults? "And a little child shall lead them."

Source: Plumb Line: Straight Talk for Christians and Other Sinners, Clyde E. Weaver

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Priesthood of All Believers

God's Spirit and life calls
all those who are baptized
to be Jesus' disciples.
All who belong to God in Christ
are priests, participating in Jesus' calling
to be God's very life in the world.
This priesthood of all believers
is basic to our understanding of ministry.
Membership in Jesus Christ
is enrollment into the ministry
of the priesthood of all disciples.
Source: Leadership Needs and Ministry Issues,
1985 Annual Conference statement
Everyone who becomes a servant of God has something to contribute to the work of the body of Christ. Every believer is a priest with a ministry. Because we are all equal, decisions are made by the community, not by a hierarchy. Our meetinghouses are simple, without a raised dais to symbolize our equality. People who feel called to a certain ministry seek affirmation from the community to see whether others sense the same calling for him or her. In some cases the church looks for talents in its members and calls them out for service.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known, Gardner and Shaffer
A Brethren Heritage Curriculum for Adults

Saturday, November 15, 2008

William E. Stafford

William E. Stafford (1914-1993) became known later in his life as one of America's foremost poets. As a writer he authored 67 volumes. In 1962 his Traveling Through the Dark won the National Book Award for Poetry. During the 1970-71 year he served as consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress. Most of his career was spent on the English faculty at Lewis & Clark College where he taught from 1948 until his retirement.

His first book, Down in My Heart, was published by Brethren Press in 1947 and tells of his experiences in Brethren Civilian Public Service camps from 1942-1946.

In the Introduction to that book, Stafford writes: During the war years we who openly objected and refused to participate often felt alone, and said good-by and went away to camp or to prison. Some twelve thousand of us of draft age went into the alternative service program called Civilian Public Service; some five thousand were sent to prison.... I went to a Civilian Public Service camp for religious objectors in January of 1942 and came out four camps later in January of 1946. ... It might aid the reader's understanding of our situation, our family arrangements and daily worries, to know that we received no pay. The peace churches, primarily the Brethren, the Friends, and the Mennonites, paid our upkeep and furnished our spending money - $2.50 a month.

In one chapter titled "The Battle of Anapamu Creek," where he served in a camp with the Forest Service, he relates the following story:

The Forest Service was going to send a spike camp of about a dozen men back into the chaparral, into the back country; and the foreman was to be Eric Kloppenburg, a big, rough, tough hater of Germans, Japanese and CO's.

...At first some of the Forest Service men had talked largely, among themselves when some of our men had happened to overhear, about their enmity for CO's; and I myself had overheard one man, later our friend, say in the ranger station, "I wish I was superintendent of that camp; I'd line 'em up and uh-uh-uh-uh" - he made the sound of a machine gun. I went ahead with my clerical work, and regaled the boys with the story that night.

The situation was, nevertheless, not funny. One superintendent had patrolled the camp after dark with a shotgun; one had reached for his pistol and shouted, during those first days at the camp, at a lagging CO, "Don't run, or I'll shoot!" In our late sessions in the barracks, over a pot of coffee or some cookies from home, we had laughed at the incidents. One Forest Service man had told me with great seriousness that he had gone out with a gang and killed a "German" within twenty miles of our camp one night just after the beginning of the war.

"But," I protested, "that's unconstitutional; the man was living her; that's downright fascistic."

"Son," he said, impressively lowering his voice, "when it's a matter of defending my country I'll do anything - law or not."

Source: down in my heart by William E. Stafford
Additional information:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Paul LePrad and Civil Rights

During the civil rights struggle in the 1960s in the United States, a white student at Manchester College, decided that he wanted to study a year at Fisk University, a black school of higher education. During the first weeks there, Paul LePrad, the Brethren student, was quiet, almost unnoticed. He went about his studies and stayed pretty much to himself.

In the South at that time black people were not served at lunch counters designated for whites. A handful of black students at Fisk went to a local drugstore lunch counter and sat there waiting to be served. They were so poor that if they had been served they might not have had money to pay for it. They were largely ignored.

One Saturday, as the handful of blacks sat at the counter, Paul showed up and went to the counter and sat with them. The whites in the drugstore were furious. They began to swear at LePrad and call him names. Paul said nothing. He simply sat there with his hands folded on the counter. This made them even more angry. One man held a burning cigarette against the back of LePrad's neck. Still he said nothing, made no response, only sat there.

Some of the people pulled Paul from his lunch counter stool and began to beat and kick him. A Newsweek magazine photographer was there and took a series of photographs. Those photographs went around the world.

The president of Fisk University told Earl Garver, the dean of Manchester College, that up until that time the sit-in efforts in the South had been largely unsuccessful. Tiny groups of students had gone without widespread support. But at that point things changed. The fact that a white student would voluntarily go and sit with them and take upon himself the hatred and violence meant for them suddenly aroused them. Suddenly black students began to turn out in large numbers. The sit-in movement caught on across the south.

Source: To Follow in Jesus' Steps, C. Wayne Zunkel

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elizabethtown College

On November 17, 1898, Jay G. Francis, a minister in the Green Tree, PA congregation wrote a card inviting the elders of the German Baptist Brethren churches in Eastern Pennsylvania to attend a meeting to consider the practicality of establishing a Brethren school in Eastern Pennsylvania. The favorable sentiment of this meeting resulted in the appointment of a location committee which recommended that a school be organized in Elizabethtown.

The college officially opened on November 13, 1900. Formal opening exercises were attended by about one hundred people, including the six students. In 1917 by action of the district meeting of Eastern Pennsylvania the ownership and control of the college was transferred to the district. In 1920, the charter was amended and ownership and control of the college was given to Brethren congregations of the Eastern and Southern Districts of Pennsylvania.

In the early years of the college the instruction offered was on the high school level. It aided teachers in advancing their certificates and offered to students an opportunity to complete high school work. The academy was discontinued in 1926.

Today the college is located on an 110-acre campus with fifteen major buildings and 1600 fulltime students.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia
see also

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sarah Major Quote

I conceive it would be very inconsistent
in an apostle,
who has laid his hands
on men and women,
and pray'd over them,
that they might receive the Holy Ghost,
to quench the gift
of the Spirit of God,
because it was given
to a woman.
God always gave his gifts freely
where they were willing
to use them, and
I believe
in Christ Jesus
male and female are one,
just as Jew and Gentile
are made one.
Source: Sarah Righter Major
(from a letter dated April 1, 1835)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jacob Neff

Some Brethren moved west along the old Forbes Road from the Philadelphia area to the Morrison's Cove region around the year 1755. Brethren, indeed, formed the majority of the population in that region. They quickly purchased large tracts of land and settled in what was a fertile valley.

However they suffered a great deal during the Indian wars. Figures are hard to come by, but it seems that on several occasions Brethren were killed, abducted or sent packing. On one occasion five members of the Martin family were murdered and six were abducted. Shortly afterward another child, who proved too young to move fast enough to suit the Indian captors, was also murdered on Sideling Hill. There is a record of a petition from John Martin, who lost his wife and five children as a result of the raid, asking officials for help in recovering his other children.

This happened on more than one occasion. One of the worst, in 1777, became know as the Dunkard massacre. More than thirty Brethren were killed, in part because they refused to resist because of their faith.

Jacob Neff, another Brethren, stands in stark contrast. He operated the mill near Roaring Spring and always kept a loaded rifle nearby. When he spotted two Indians lurking in a small wood about a hundred yards below the mill he picked up his rifle without thinking and shot the older of the two. Neff ran out of the mill with his rifle when the younger Indian took aim at him and fired, but missed him. According to the story the two stood forty yards apart and both began to reload their rifles. Neff proved the quicker, but when he raised his weapon the Indian began to gyrate his body in a series of contortions, finally throwing himself to the ground, in an effort to throw Neff off his aim. This did not work. When the Indian rose to his feet Neff shot him through the head. The then ran off for help, but when he returned the mill was in ashes.

The non-Brethren version of the story is that the Brethren shunned him for defending himself, and refused to patronize his mill. However, James Sell, writing about the incident, tells a different story. Sell states that Neff did not own the mill, he only worked there. He also says that Neff admitted he was wrong to take a human life and that he was excused by the members of the church.

He was not excommunicated until he took to bragging about his exploits. Repeatedly. Over and over again. After many warnings he was expelled from the Brethren. Neff did not move away from the region. Records show that he continued to live and work in the area.

Source: A Tercentennial Minute by Frank Ramirez