Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wilbur Stover

Wilbur Stover was not only a pioneer missionary (1894-1920 in India); he was also one of the first home mission pastors. For years his vital Christian spirit and his enthusiasm for missions left an indelible impression upon the student body of Mount Morris College. He wasn't content with the status quo. He was often out of step with his contemporaries. He saw the challenge of the city and the lands beyond the seas. It is said that this vision filled his eyes and his voice with glory.

While serving as the pastor at Germantown, Brother Stover continued to preach missions. It is said that at Annual Conference he talked missions to anyone he could get to listen. At first he did not think of himself as a candidate to go as a missionary. He was convinced of only one thing: Someone must go. When conservatives argued that the church was not ready for such progressive ideas he replied, "It is my business to help the church get ready for her great first-work."

In 1892 he offered his services to the Missionary Committee as a candidate for mission work in India. The board hesitated, primarily because Stover's full beard did not conform to the uniform, plain dress of the German Baptist Brethren, but finally approved him on condition he place himself entirely under the board's direction and agree to adopt the Brethren "uniform." Stover, however, was not yet married, and his future father-in-law and other leaders, in keeping with Victorian values, thought it best that marriage precede departure for mission service. Wilbur Stover and Mary Emmert complied on June 29, 1893.

Other complications delayed the start of the venture and it was not until October 1894. that the Stovers, together with Bertha Ryan (Shirk) sailed for India.

Sources: Meditations on Brethren Life, DeWitt and Mary Hartough Miller
The Brethren Encyclopedia, "Stover"