Monday, January 21, 2008

Preaching in a Tavern

Kenneth Morse began in 1943 and served a 35-year tenure on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff. He was a popular writer who served as editor of youth publications, The Gospel Messenger (renamed Messenger during his tenure), and hymn-writter (including Move in Our Midst).

His 1997 book Preaching in a Tavern, published by Brethren Press, includes 130 real-life anecdotes about Brethren. Since it is an important sourcebook for many of these daily writings, I thought you might enjoy the anecdote from which the book takes its title.

George Price and several other Brethren ministers were visiting congregations in western Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. Seeking a night of rest, they found overnight lodging at a tavern, but the proprietor warned them that a dance scheduled for that night, predictably accompanied by loud music and boisterous behavior, might disturb them. Learning that the next inn was seven miles distant, the ministers decided to stay and "sleep through it."

When the leader of the dance expressed eagerness to meet the preachers and arranged for his friends to come along to meet with Price and his companions, the conversation proved so interesting that the dance was postponed and George Price was encouraged to preach to this impromptu congregation in the tavern.

J.E. Miller, who recounts the story [The Story of Our Church], concludes, "Thus it came to pass that those who came to fiddle and dance heard a Dunker preach and pray."