Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pioneer Preachers

On June 5, 1908, J.H. Moore addressed the bicentennial on "Our Pioneer Preachers."

It requires a strong man to go out on the frontier and command the attention and respect of people who have been trained to do their own hard thinking, especially so when the purpose is a moral or religious information.

Moore regrets his lack of time to tell of some of the earliest pioneer preachers in Pennsylvania and Virginia. I must leave practically untouched the labors and achievements of these God-fearing men, who braved the hardships and privations of pioneer life, that they might open up a new country for civilazation and education, and lay the foundation for churches that would bear aloft the banner of King Emmanuel.

I now proceed to tell you of a typical pioneer preacher, who did much in opening up the West to our people, and left behind him an influence that is still molding sentiment. I refer to Elder George Wolfe.... Wherever he went, he impressed the people as one of a higher type than the common run of even intellectual men -- one entitled to more than ordinary attention and respect. ... Though a man of little schooling ... he could talk on the most difficult mental problems with the ease and grace of an accomplished scholar. He knew his Bible as few men understood the Book, was a close and an extensive reader, as well as a profound reasoner and a born logician. As an orator, in the pulpit or on the platform, he is said to have had but few, if any, equals in all this western country.

... Eld. Wolfe was not only a pioneer preacher, but he was a pioneer citizen. He helped to open up the great West, helped to lay the foundation of the State of Illinois, and then he helped to build up churches at a time when there were but a few able ministers in the country. He was happily equipped for nearly every department on the frontier life, and nobly did his part in making the world better than he found it when he cast his lot in the Far West.

Source: Two Centuries of the Church of the Brethren, chapter 15