Thursday, April 24, 2008

George Wolfe II

In the years following the Great Earthquakes of 1811-12, a great revival happened on the frontier including what became the State of Illinois in 1817. Around 1817 Brethren minister George Wolfe II and a Baptist minister named Jones held a series of joint revival meetings in the southern Illinois community where Wolfe resided and where a Brethren congregation was established. Even though this was a time when denominational differences were vigorously debated, the two preachers remained on friendly terms while defending the practices of their respective denominations. At the conclusion of the meetings Wolfe and Jones shook hands.

Thirty-three years later, when Union County (where the meetings had taken place) decided to adopt a seal, the engraver pictured two preachers facing each other and shaking hands. Some have suggested that the name chosen for the county in 1818 reflected the spirit of union manifested by pioneer ministers like Wolfe and Jones.

The atmosphere was not nearly so friendly on another occasion when George Wolfe II was challenged to debate a Roman Catholic priest at Kaskaskia, the first capital of Illinois. Religious issues were intensely regarded then (around 1820) and Kaskaskia was already a stronghold for Catholicism. So skillfully and forcibly did our pioneer preacher meet his opponent at every point that after the debate was over the governor of the new state who presided at the debate arranged for a military escort to accompany Wolfe on his way home.

Sources: The Brethren Encyclopedia
Some Brethren Pathfinders,
J.H. Moore