Friday, February 08, 2008

Edward Frantz at the Bicentennial

The Brethren, like other early Americans, settled in the East and then began to move west. The Brethren have largely remained in the East and the Midwest, but by the time of the Bicentennial in 1908 there were 15,000 Church of the Brethren living west of the Mississippi. Edward Frantz was one of the speakers at the 1908 Bicentennial in Des Moines, Iowa and spoke about the opportunity for expansion of the Brethren in the states west of the Mississippi. His remarks are included in the book, Two Centuries of the Church of the Brethren.

Frantz remarked 100 years ago that plans should begin to grow the western church before the tercentennial: What are we going to do in the next 100 years? ... It is not too soon to lay our plans for our tercentennial meeting. You and I, indeed, will not be there. Few, very few, of our children will be there. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be at that great meeting. Ah! That's the burning question: Will they? Where will they be? I want them there. Don't you?

And so I am going to move you, Brother Moderator, on this Bicentennial Pentecostal Day, the appointment here and now of the western section of the tercentennial committee ... the duty of that committee to be to see to it that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are present at the tercentennary celebration .... and to see further, if it please our heavenly Father that when at that meeting the roll is called of the trans-Mississippi States, the register shall show, not fifteen, but fifteen hundred thousand.

That's idle dreaming? I tell you, my brethren, it's the serious task we ought to lay upon our hearts. Not that we may glory in mere numbers, but because human souls are of such priceless worth.