Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dan West: Prayer

The following is a prayer offered by Dan West in a 1948 Peace Workshop:

Our Father, we thank thee that we are living now in thy troubled world.
We thank thee for the hard problems we don't know how to solve yet.
We thank thee for the faith that dares to try to solve them.
We thank thee for our Lord and Master, thy Son, who can show us the way.
Wilt thou look on all we have done and bless whatever is good;
And wilt thou help us to antidote what is not good;
And wilt thou make of us more profitable servants
for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Source: Passing on the Gift: The Story of Dan West, Glee Yoder

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dan West: World Traveler

In 1959, Dan and Lucy West and son Steve took a trip around the world after Dan's retirement. They traveled some 43,000 miles to 30 countries in about ten months. Steve earned his own money and Dan sold a portion of his farm to a neighbor in order to finance the trip. From a tape made at a reunion in 1960, we have some comments on this around-the-world trip.

"We found good people everywhere we went and some of our friends and some Brethren. ... Glad we have people carrying the Gospel in their own way. Wish we had more doing that."

"Couldn't get permission to go into China and it might not have been the healthiest for everyone if we had gone. However, I do not think we can continue to insist that China does not exist. What to do next is not clear, but I think we have not recognized them officially sometimes. I'd like to see the Heifer Project put some cattle in there and help them.... I think the common people are to be trusted under everybody's government, and I think we had better make friends with those people or otherwise we'll kill each other off."

Dan's charisma was evident everywhere they went. The whole trip was full of people and places, not just people one meets as a tourist, but farmer and peasant types who genuinely appreciate the help of the Heifer Project International.

In a letter Dan wrote to a friend, he reported, "It was a good trip we three took around the world, but like a cow out on heavy pasture I need some time to chew my cud and digest it. That is happening, and it brings new meaning to some events on the trip. But it makes me both grateful and critical of what we have and have not done in the USA. My job now is to keep my home base on our farm (and do a little work to keep fit) but also to reach out to a world in the making."

Source: Passing on the Gift: The story of Dan West, Glee Yoder

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dan West: Hunger

If we love our neighbors as ourselves, as Jesus commanded, Dan West asked in a Christian Century article (January 18, 1950), "Can We Feed This Hungry World?" After discussing issues of surpluses and distribution, Dan suggested it is fundamentally a religious problem as much as an economic issue.

1. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will set as one of our main goals feeding the hungry world as much, as well, and as soon as we can. That includes those we call communists, in spite of what they think and do and want.

2. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will determine to produce more food and to move our surplus as fast as it accumulates, whether we make money on the transaction or not....

3. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will spread these dollars around, through investment in foreign agriculture and industries, so that the little people can have seed and tools and know-how....

4. Further, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, we shall stretch our loyalties until we belong more to the world than to our own nation. A man without a country is in bad shape, but a man whose loyalty is frozen at national boundaries is out of date now....

5. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will put a ceiling on our wants, ration ourselves down to the point of physical efficiency - and then share with the hungry majority....

6. Finally, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will not stop with being critical at inappropriate policy or action on the surplus problem....

"We North Americans are for the time being living in the most favored place in the world. ... We can move the hungry world - toward peace!"

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

As you give thanks this day, with family and friends, to God for the blessings of life. Don't forget your brothers and sisters who are not so fortunate this day. You may wish to reflect on these words put into a song by Kenneth Morse.

Brothers and sisters of mine are the hungry,
who sigh in their sorrow
and weep in their pain.
Sisters and brothers of mine are the homeless,
who sit without shelter
from wind and from rain.
Strangers and neighbors,
they claim my attention.
They sleep by my doorstep,
they sit by my bed.
Neighbors and strangers,
their anguish concerns me,
and I must not feast
till the hungry are fed.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rufus P. Bucher

Rufus P. Bucher was a Brethren minister, evangelist, and farmer. He served for 55 years as a free minister, elder, and pastor of the Mechanic Grove congregation in Pennsylvania. In addition he was the presiding elder of six other congregations, moderator of district meeting ten times and Annual Conference in 1946. He served on the district mission board for forty years. The extent of his evangelistic work was impressive - more than 200 series of meetings resulting in almost three thousand accessions to the church.

On his return from one such meeting he encountered a young stranger in a railway depot who handed him a tract entitled "Brother, Are You Saved?" When the young man put the same question to Bucher, he replied, "That is a good question and deserves an answer. I think, however, that I might be prejudiced in my own behalf. You'd better go down to Quarryville and ask George Hensel, the hardware merchant, what he thinks about it. Or you might go to the Machanic Grove grocer or to one of my neighbors in Unicorn. While there you might ask my wife and children. I'll be ready to let their answers stand as my own."

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1972 Brethren Evangelism Statement

Throughout the twentieth century, evangelism on the national level has been lodged with a succession of home mission boards and commissions. At times there has been a specific department or office for evangelism or Annual Conference Statements such as the following excerpt from the 1972 Annual Conference Statement on Evangelism.

Christians have too often been tongue-tied,
hesitant or apologetic when they have had
natural opportunities to tell the good news of God.
...But our confidence is not in ourselves:
it is in Christ whose examples and teachings,
whose life and death still speak with authority....
If we experience the love of Christ,
like Peter and John,
"we cannot but speak of what we
have seen and heard."
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known

Monday, November 24, 2008

Manley Deeter

This story has to do with a Brethren minister who purchased a house trailer and went camping.

Manley Deeter was born near Pleasant Hill, Ohio in 1865. His father William was preparing for a teaching career when he was called to ministry and gave up teaching to focus on ministry. In 1881 the Deeter family moved to Milford, Indiana where William became a church leader. In 1925 the W.R. Deeter cabin was named for him and was the first building constructed at Camp Mack.

Manley was baptized by his father in January 1884 and became a member of the Bethel congregation in Milford where he was chosen as a deacon in 1896 and called to the ministry in 1897. For many years he served with his father in the ministry of the Bethel congregation. He also served on a committee to establish a Brethren camp for youth that led to Camp Mack.

He very early became interested in Manchester College as a factor of a better educated ministry of the church. He served as a trustee of the college from 1909 to 1915 and later as a field representative among the churches of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan raising thousands of dollars for improvements at the college.

His wife Ida died in January 1939 after nearly 55 years of marriage. Manley was 74 years of age but rather than retiring he became interested in carrying the Gospel message to out-of-the-way places. He began in upper Michigan where he organized a new church. After returning to Northern Indiana, he decided to travel and camp in the hills of Kentucky for a season. At the age of 77, in the autumn of 1942, he left his friends and brethren around New Paris, Indiana and set out with his house trailer in search of a community not served by any organized church.

In Clay County, Kentucky he got in touch with a man known as "Preacher Adams" on Big Creek who directed him to the post-office town of Creekville. The Postmaster of that town gave him permission to park his car and house trailer under an ash tree across the road from the post office and general store. The post office had no mail routes so all the mountaineers came to that place to receive their mail and purchase supplies.

Brother Deeter, the "kindly man with the beard," talked to the people on their way to or from the country store. He also learned that they were very kind but suspicious of newcomers.

He never neglected his daily devotions alone in his house trailer. One night, as he was praying aloud, two men were passing by and heard him. They heard him praying to His Heavenly Father to open the hearts of the people. Those two silent listeners soon spread the word among their kinfolk and friends that "we need not be afraid of this stranger, as he has come to help us."

Brother Deeter labored and preached to the people he met but being in his seventy-eighth year realized the task was too great for a man of that age. He appealed to the General Mission Board and they requested the Mission Board of Southern Ohio to assume the supervision of this mission point. The Flat Creek Church was soon organized with Brother Ferdie Roher as pastor and Elder Manley Deeter as moderator.

One year after the church was organized, sentiment was expressed for the need of a church building. The lumber for this church building was a gift of more than 100 logs from the Ford Motor Company, which were taken to a saw mill and sawed to specifications for the structure. The labor was supplied by the local people as well as the two ministers. Brother Deeter at that time had passed his eightieth year.

Source: Lest We Forget and Tales of Yester-Years, Vol. III, Rolland F. Flory

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brethren and the Great Commission

One of the earliest calls for mission work was the following query and answer to the 1852 Annual Meeting. Annual Meeting agreed but made no effort to organize for missions.

Query: Whether the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
... does not require of the church to send brethren to
preach the gospel, where the name of Christ is not known?
Answer: Considered, that the Brethren acknowledge the great commission
of Christ to its full extent, and that it is the duty of the church,
the ministers, and every private member,
to do all that is in their power to fulfill that commission
in accordance with apostolic practice.
Source: Let our Joys Be Known

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nettie Senger

Steve Bowers, in the book Planting the Faith in a New Land, includes a section devoted to the women from Indiana who were involved in mission work. Among those listed are: Winnie Cripe, Josephine Powell, Lillian Grisso, Minerva Metzger, Laura Shock, Ella Miller Brubaker, Anna Warstler, Josephine Keever Flory, Velma Ober, Ruby Frantz Rhoades, Marguerite Burke, Alice Eby, and Nettie Senger.

Unlike most of the others who served with their husbands, Nettie was an exception. A native of Fort Wayne, she went to China in 1916 as a single woman. She had studied the Chinese language for about a year when she started developing a closer relationship with the villagers in her area of Shansai Province.

Nettie established special ties to the women of the villages and accepted Chinese customs as a way of getting closer to the people. She began wearing native Chinese dress and always carried knitting with her so she could join in the informal conversations among small groups of women.

A number of senior missionaries repeatedly admonished Nettie to stop identifying so closely with the Chinese people because she was demeaning the dignity of a Chinese missionary. She ignored the warnings and moved ahead with projects she felt were important. She established a school for young mothers and wrote textbooks that were used in many schools all across China. During her years in the country, she earned a master's degree in Chinese philosophy and a doctorate studying the impact of Chinese civilization on women.

Nettie was forced to leave China in 1939 with the coming of war and revolution. She returned to Fort Wayne where she continued to be active as a Bible teacher and church worker. She was one of the charter members when the Beacon Heights Church was established in 1952 and remained active in the congregation until her death in 1969.

One of Nettie's hobbies was collecting old and rare Bibles. She gave her collection to Beacon Heights, and the church in 1975 turned over the collection to Bethany Theological Seminary. Among the many valuable items in the collection was one of the original Bibles printed in German by Christopher Sauer.

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land

Friday, November 21, 2008

Adam and Alice Eby

Adam and Alice (King) Eby were two Indiana pioneers in the foreign mission field

Adam Eby was born August 12, 1866 near Wawaka, Indiana, the fifth of 14 children of Cornelius and Susan Eby. He later studied in Mount Morris for two years and was called to the ministry in 1896. He continued his education at Manchester College from 1896 to 1899.

Alice King was born to Daniel and Mary King near Laketon, Indiana on November 11, 1871. She also attended Mount Morris College and then became one of the first students at Manchester College in 1895. She became an assistant to Professor E.S. Young in Bible and also attended the University of Chicago one year, 1899-1900.

While Adam was a student at Manchester, Alice was one of his teachers. They were both interested in missions and were married in September 1900 and sailed for India in October.

While in India, Brother Eby engaged in the varied activities of a pioneer missionary - educational work, evangelism, and medical aid. Sister Eby had charge of a training school and did much evangelistic work. She also wrote commentaries in English for the Sunday School lessons which native scholars translated into Indian languages. They also became the parents of 8 children.

When Adam's health failed in 1931, they returned to the United States and lived in North Manchester where he remained active in preaching and she in teaching. Adam died in 1939 and Alice, with her heart still in India, returned to India in 1945 for two more years of work.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Henry Neff, Sr.

While the "Neff" name is very common in Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties of Indiana, Henry Neff, Sr. was the father of one family of Neffs noted for its number of preachers given to the church.

Henry was born in Botetourt County, Virginia in April 1798. He was married there to Anna Frantz and moved to southern Indiana about 1833. In 1840 he moved to Elkhart County where he raised a family of six sons and three daughters. Henry had been elected to the ministry in Virginia but took a great interest in the work of the church in Indiana.

Henry worked with Elder John Leatherman in the oversight of the Turkey Creek church where he did much to build up the church. When the Union Center congregation was organized in 1859 from the Turkey Creek church, Elder Henry Neff, Sr. had charge working with John Anglemyer and John Burkholder as ministers.

A large brick church building was built at Union Center in 1867. It was here that Henry died suddenly on November 20, 1868 just a few minutes after preaching a sermon.

Two of Henry's sons became ministers in the Church of the Brethren as well as his three son-in-laws and a number of grandsons.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A.C. Wieand Quote

The Gospel Messenger of November 19, 1904 carried this self-descriptive comment by A.C. Wieand who, along with E.B. Hoff, would open the doors of Bethany Bible School the next fall.

I am fundamentally opposed to every change
in the faith and practice of the church
that will takes us farther away
from the Bible.
That's how conservative and orthodox I am.
But I am always in favor of any change
that will bring us closer in faith and life
to the Word of God.
That is how progressive I am ....
Just as fast as we get new light on
the Word and Will of God
we must change our practices
to suit it more fully.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known,
A Brethren Heritage Curriculum
Richard B. Gardner and Kenneth M. Shaffer

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Turkey Creek

Turkey Creek was the third church established in the Northern Indiana District when it was organized in 1838. The historic church building, located at Gravelton four miles east of Nappanee, dates from 1878.

Elder John Leatherman is credited with organizing the Turkey Creek District. He was born in Maryland in 1776 and moved to Ohio as a young man before moving to Elkhart County, Indiana in 1836 where he became a part of the church in the Elkhart District (now West Goshen) only seven years after its beginning.

Turkey Creek was the local church sponsor of Annual Meeting in 1852 when it was held at Baintertown and was also a sponsor for Annual Conference in 1882 held at Arnold's Grove, located southeast of the intersection of US 6 and SR 15. It was at this conference that a major denominational division occurred which led to the formation of what is now the (Ashland) Brethren.

About a fourth of the Turkey Creek membership left with the Progessives when the split occurred, although some later returned to the congregation.

Early minutes of the congregation (dating from 1884) are complete with disciplinary actions taken. The minutes are brief but use the full names of the individuals. Among the disciplinary actions are those taken for misconduct, hunting on Sunday, using bad language, attending a saloon, ladies wearing hats, having two living companions, and wearing a mustache without wearing the full beard.

Source: Planting the Faith in a New Land
Turkey Creek Church of the Brethren 160 Years - 1838-1998

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clyde E. Weaver - forerunner to Brethren Bloggers

In the Introduction to a small booklet titled "Plumb Line" published by Brethren Press in 1980, Fred Swartz introduces Clyde Weaver with these words:

There are some people who may call Clyde Weaver a "jack of all trades" and their evaluation is not entirely unfounded. He has "packed a lot" into his five short decades of life, including vocational journeys into food service and processing, seminary teaching, marriage and family life counseling, automobile dealership, and Christian publishing and marketing.

Some of us will remember the years when Clyde was Director of Marketing for the Church of the Brethren. In that role he was able to introduce us to new Brethren books each year at Annual Conference. His brief "advertisements" were always creative and interesting and often ended with the remark that "those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot read."

Clyde believed that one's life needed to be consistent with one's beliefs. Part of his own method of evangelism was his own orientation toward people - tolerant, caring, empathetic. But he also was a master of humor and used the pun to expose the truth. For a time in the late 1970s, he was searching for a way to make a personal witness to his peace convictions and decided to invest in a periodic ad in the local newspaper. Today, he might have chosen to blog. For one year Clyde bought space for "Plumb Line" in his local newspaper biweekly. Some of these brief meditations were then published by Brethren Press. One example follows:


Each of us was once a child. We played spontaneously, loved anything warm and cuddly, thought wallpaper was a blackboard, enjoyed the feel of oozing mud and delighted in the intrigue of a sandpile. We learned by experimenting, laughed easily, and were fascinated with anything that moved. We held grudges for two minutes or less, loved stories, ate at the wrong times and occasionally enjoyed watching our parents trying to figure us out. We were the emerging generation and happy in not knowing it.

How sad that in our preoccupation with the sophistication of adulthood we forget to reflect upon these beginnings. Was not Jesus alluding to the same values as he indicated how difficult it would be to make it into the Kingdom unless we become like children. In our fear of being childish we forget to be childlike. Indeed, we can never be whole persons without nourishing the child that dwells within us. Could it be that by starving the child within us we become desperate, fearful and unloving adults? "And a little child shall lead them."

Source: Plumb Line: Straight Talk for Christians and Other Sinners, Clyde E. Weaver

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Priesthood of All Believers

God's Spirit and life calls
all those who are baptized
to be Jesus' disciples.
All who belong to God in Christ
are priests, participating in Jesus' calling
to be God's very life in the world.
This priesthood of all believers
is basic to our understanding of ministry.
Membership in Jesus Christ
is enrollment into the ministry
of the priesthood of all disciples.
Source: Leadership Needs and Ministry Issues,
1985 Annual Conference statement
Everyone who becomes a servant of God has something to contribute to the work of the body of Christ. Every believer is a priest with a ministry. Because we are all equal, decisions are made by the community, not by a hierarchy. Our meetinghouses are simple, without a raised dais to symbolize our equality. People who feel called to a certain ministry seek affirmation from the community to see whether others sense the same calling for him or her. In some cases the church looks for talents in its members and calls them out for service.
Source: Let Our Joys Be Known, Gardner and Shaffer
A Brethren Heritage Curriculum for Adults

Saturday, November 15, 2008

William E. Stafford

William E. Stafford (1914-1993) became known later in his life as one of America's foremost poets. As a writer he authored 67 volumes. In 1962 his Traveling Through the Dark won the National Book Award for Poetry. During the 1970-71 year he served as consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress. Most of his career was spent on the English faculty at Lewis & Clark College where he taught from 1948 until his retirement.

His first book, Down in My Heart, was published by Brethren Press in 1947 and tells of his experiences in Brethren Civilian Public Service camps from 1942-1946.

In the Introduction to that book, Stafford writes: During the war years we who openly objected and refused to participate often felt alone, and said good-by and went away to camp or to prison. Some twelve thousand of us of draft age went into the alternative service program called Civilian Public Service; some five thousand were sent to prison.... I went to a Civilian Public Service camp for religious objectors in January of 1942 and came out four camps later in January of 1946. ... It might aid the reader's understanding of our situation, our family arrangements and daily worries, to know that we received no pay. The peace churches, primarily the Brethren, the Friends, and the Mennonites, paid our upkeep and furnished our spending money - $2.50 a month.

In one chapter titled "The Battle of Anapamu Creek," where he served in a camp with the Forest Service, he relates the following story:

The Forest Service was going to send a spike camp of about a dozen men back into the chaparral, into the back country; and the foreman was to be Eric Kloppenburg, a big, rough, tough hater of Germans, Japanese and CO's.

...At first some of the Forest Service men had talked largely, among themselves when some of our men had happened to overhear, about their enmity for CO's; and I myself had overheard one man, later our friend, say in the ranger station, "I wish I was superintendent of that camp; I'd line 'em up and uh-uh-uh-uh" - he made the sound of a machine gun. I went ahead with my clerical work, and regaled the boys with the story that night.

The situation was, nevertheless, not funny. One superintendent had patrolled the camp after dark with a shotgun; one had reached for his pistol and shouted, during those first days at the camp, at a lagging CO, "Don't run, or I'll shoot!" In our late sessions in the barracks, over a pot of coffee or some cookies from home, we had laughed at the incidents. One Forest Service man had told me with great seriousness that he had gone out with a gang and killed a "German" within twenty miles of our camp one night just after the beginning of the war.

"But," I protested, "that's unconstitutional; the man was living her; that's downright fascistic."

"Son," he said, impressively lowering his voice, "when it's a matter of defending my country I'll do anything - law or not."

Source: down in my heart by William E. Stafford
Additional information:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Paul LePrad and Civil Rights

During the civil rights struggle in the 1960s in the United States, a white student at Manchester College, decided that he wanted to study a year at Fisk University, a black school of higher education. During the first weeks there, Paul LePrad, the Brethren student, was quiet, almost unnoticed. He went about his studies and stayed pretty much to himself.

In the South at that time black people were not served at lunch counters designated for whites. A handful of black students at Fisk went to a local drugstore lunch counter and sat there waiting to be served. They were so poor that if they had been served they might not have had money to pay for it. They were largely ignored.

One Saturday, as the handful of blacks sat at the counter, Paul showed up and went to the counter and sat with them. The whites in the drugstore were furious. They began to swear at LePrad and call him names. Paul said nothing. He simply sat there with his hands folded on the counter. This made them even more angry. One man held a burning cigarette against the back of LePrad's neck. Still he said nothing, made no response, only sat there.

Some of the people pulled Paul from his lunch counter stool and began to beat and kick him. A Newsweek magazine photographer was there and took a series of photographs. Those photographs went around the world.

The president of Fisk University told Earl Garver, the dean of Manchester College, that up until that time the sit-in efforts in the South had been largely unsuccessful. Tiny groups of students had gone without widespread support. But at that point things changed. The fact that a white student would voluntarily go and sit with them and take upon himself the hatred and violence meant for them suddenly aroused them. Suddenly black students began to turn out in large numbers. The sit-in movement caught on across the south.

Source: To Follow in Jesus' Steps, C. Wayne Zunkel

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elizabethtown College

On November 17, 1898, Jay G. Francis, a minister in the Green Tree, PA congregation wrote a card inviting the elders of the German Baptist Brethren churches in Eastern Pennsylvania to attend a meeting to consider the practicality of establishing a Brethren school in Eastern Pennsylvania. The favorable sentiment of this meeting resulted in the appointment of a location committee which recommended that a school be organized in Elizabethtown.

The college officially opened on November 13, 1900. Formal opening exercises were attended by about one hundred people, including the six students. In 1917 by action of the district meeting of Eastern Pennsylvania the ownership and control of the college was transferred to the district. In 1920, the charter was amended and ownership and control of the college was given to Brethren congregations of the Eastern and Southern Districts of Pennsylvania.

In the early years of the college the instruction offered was on the high school level. It aided teachers in advancing their certificates and offered to students an opportunity to complete high school work. The academy was discontinued in 1926.

Today the college is located on an 110-acre campus with fifteen major buildings and 1600 fulltime students.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia
see also

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sarah Major Quote

I conceive it would be very inconsistent
in an apostle,
who has laid his hands
on men and women,
and pray'd over them,
that they might receive the Holy Ghost,
to quench the gift
of the Spirit of God,
because it was given
to a woman.
God always gave his gifts freely
where they were willing
to use them, and
I believe
in Christ Jesus
male and female are one,
just as Jew and Gentile
are made one.
Source: Sarah Righter Major
(from a letter dated April 1, 1835)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jacob Neff

Some Brethren moved west along the old Forbes Road from the Philadelphia area to the Morrison's Cove region around the year 1755. Brethren, indeed, formed the majority of the population in that region. They quickly purchased large tracts of land and settled in what was a fertile valley.

However they suffered a great deal during the Indian wars. Figures are hard to come by, but it seems that on several occasions Brethren were killed, abducted or sent packing. On one occasion five members of the Martin family were murdered and six were abducted. Shortly afterward another child, who proved too young to move fast enough to suit the Indian captors, was also murdered on Sideling Hill. There is a record of a petition from John Martin, who lost his wife and five children as a result of the raid, asking officials for help in recovering his other children.

This happened on more than one occasion. One of the worst, in 1777, became know as the Dunkard massacre. More than thirty Brethren were killed, in part because they refused to resist because of their faith.

Jacob Neff, another Brethren, stands in stark contrast. He operated the mill near Roaring Spring and always kept a loaded rifle nearby. When he spotted two Indians lurking in a small wood about a hundred yards below the mill he picked up his rifle without thinking and shot the older of the two. Neff ran out of the mill with his rifle when the younger Indian took aim at him and fired, but missed him. According to the story the two stood forty yards apart and both began to reload their rifles. Neff proved the quicker, but when he raised his weapon the Indian began to gyrate his body in a series of contortions, finally throwing himself to the ground, in an effort to throw Neff off his aim. This did not work. When the Indian rose to his feet Neff shot him through the head. The then ran off for help, but when he returned the mill was in ashes.

The non-Brethren version of the story is that the Brethren shunned him for defending himself, and refused to patronize his mill. However, James Sell, writing about the incident, tells a different story. Sell states that Neff did not own the mill, he only worked there. He also says that Neff admitted he was wrong to take a human life and that he was excused by the members of the church.

He was not excommunicated until he took to bragging about his exploits. Repeatedly. Over and over again. After many warnings he was expelled from the Brethren. Neff did not move away from the region. Records show that he continued to live and work in the area.

Source: A Tercentennial Minute by Frank Ramirez

Monday, November 10, 2008

The "Gotswiltahns"

Brethren in the American colonies were at times confronted with serious tests of their nonresistant principles. An unfriendly chronicler of the Revolutionary War in the Morrisons Cove area described the Brethren response to frontier warfare.

The alarm was spread among the inhabitants [November 1777] and they fled to the nearest forts with all dispatch; and on this first expedition they (the Indians) would have had few scalps to grace their belts, had the Dunkards taken the advise of the more sagacious people, and fled too; this, however, they would not do. They would follow but half of Cromwell's advise: -- They were willing to put their 'trust in God,' but they would not 'keep their powder dry.' In short, it was a compound they did not use at all.

The savages swept down through the Cove with all the ferocity with which a pack of wolves would descend from the mountains upon a flock of sheep. Some few of the Dunkards, who evidently had a latent love of life, hid themselves away; but by far the most of them stood by and witnessed the butchery of their wives and children, merely saying, 'Gottes Wille sei gethan [May God's will be done].' How many Dunkard scalps they carried to Detroit cannot now be, and probably never has been, clearly ascertained, - not less than thirty, according to the best authority.

The 19th century historian added in an explanatory footnote that the phrase Gottes Wille sei gethan "was so frequently repeated by the Dunkards during the massacre, that the Indians must have retained a vivid recollection of it. During the late war with Great Britain [1812-1815] the older Indians on the frontier were anxious to know of the Huntingdon volunteers whether the 'Gotswiltahns' still resided in the Cove."

Source: Donald Durnbaugh in The Brethren Encyclopedia
from U.J. Jones, History of the Early Settlements of the Juniata Valley (1855)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Floyd Mallott - part 3 of 3

In 1980, Dale Brown wrote an interpretive essay about Floyd Mallott. We begin with excerpts related to Mallott's decision to be re-baptized into the German Baptist Church after 50+ years of membership in the Church of the Brethren and 35 years as a faculty member at Bethany.

Why did one who had been a missionary to Nigeria, a part-time pastor, and a teacher at Bethany leave the Church of the Brethren at the time of his retirement?

Mallott was never a good organizational man. He may have feared that had he retired in a Church of the Brethren community all kinds of things might be expected of him. Such pressures would have interfered with the kind of retirement he coveted, one of having great freedom to meditate, to reflect, to read, and to be with his dogs in nature.

More appropriate, however than such conjectures is to take him at his word as he describes his baptism at the thirteeenth year of life .... [see Apologia entry yesterday]
In my only visit to Mallott in Southern Ohio following his retirement ... He ... proceeded to tell me that in no way did he want to sever his relationship with the Church of the Brethren. Although his baptism may be taken as a sign of his protest against many of the trends of the largest body of Brethren, he stated in the Apologia on the banks of the stream his deep feelings about the sense of continuity he wished to maintain with the denomination he was leaving.....
Mallott retired just a few miles from Eaton where Ellis Guthrie has been pastor for many years. Ellis reports that the last time he visited him in the hospital the conversation turned to the Church of the Brethren. Ellis voiced his concern and diasappointment at some trends in the church. But to his surprise, Mallott gently rebuked him and stated his confidence and respect for the Church of the Brethren and the church at large. And the professor witnessed again as he had so many times before that he really believed the Lord of the Church who promised: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Brown adds the following statement about Mallott: Mallott taught that one of the major philosophical ingredients of Pietism was simply the assumption: to be religious was to be good. This ethical humanitarian concern was translated into the Christian context in the simple affirmation: to be Christian is to be like Jesus.

Brown writes: In his last personal letter to me, he concluded with a statement he had sometimes shared in the classroom: "Said old Elder Joel Montgomery, ‘We believe that God has a people and is doing something for our world. We don’t presume to say how many people God has nor exactly what He is doing (Deut 29:29) but we believe we are of God’s people and we believe this Brotherhood of our will endure until Jesus comes.’ I have never found a better viewpoint from which to read Church History."

Generation of Brethren ministers who attended Bethany from 1927 to 1962 appreciated the teaching of Floyd Mallott.

Source: Dale Brown, "Floyd Mallot", Brethren Life and Thought Spring 1980

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Floyd Mallott - part 2 of 3

After 50+ years as a member of the Church of the Brethren and a 35-year teaching career at Bethany, Floyd Mallott retired in 1962. On July 10, 1962, Mallott was re-baptized and received into membership in the Bear Creek congregation of the German Baptist Church in Southern Ohio. On that occasion, Floyd Mallott prepared a written statement which he read to the gathered congregation. This statement ""Apologia" was later printed in the Spring 1965 issue of Brethren Life and Thought. Excerpts are printed below:

In my thirteenth year of life [description of his baptism]. I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I stood before the congregation and the elder said to me publicly: "Today you present yourself to join a company of people with no other doctrine or law save the New Testament. The New Testament is our creed. If anyone asks you for a copy of your creed you can do nothing better than to hand him a copy of the New Testament. I counsel you that if you ever find a people who are keeping closer to the precepts of the New Testament than the Brethren, go and join them." The step I am now taking is in obedience to the counsel of the elder from whom I first received instruction in Christ.
The step I now take is in obedience to my conscience and under the impulsion of a sense of duty. What I do now is no more a repudiation of that which is good, holy, true, and beautiful in my former association than the Apostle Paul’s following his vision of Jesus, the Messiah, was a repudiation of Israel and his brethren, the Israelites.
I witness this to my friends and the many whom I have tried to instruct. I would that my witness and my protest against the present course of the Church of the Brethren could be understood as an action of love after prolonged self-examination. My years in the Church of the Brethren almost exactly correspond to the period in which the church was drawn into the wake of nineteenth century religious and social liberalism. I have been associated with, or have known, most of the church’s leaders of this period. .... I wish to record my judgment that the only path of return for the Church of the Brethren from the verge of absorption into humanism is to return to the ideal of a New Testament church, with the apostolic writings as authoritative law, norm, and guide.
For myself, I believe the Spirit spoke at Schwartzenau, and I believe that the biblical party of the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation represents in our century the clearest line of God’s speaking. I wish to record my conclusion that much of the nominal "church work" of the past century has not been an extension of God’s Kingdom as such, but primarily the attempt to bring religious-minded people into some predetermined attitude toward the economic-political-social order of our Western capitalistic world.
I wish a church fellowship founded in a loyal biblicism. As a safeguard against biblicism becoming a shelter for a too-extreme individualism, the historical Dunker remedy was the collective counsel of the Brethren. Such counsel, willingly accepted in love, becomes a most useful witness and a most useful method of developing the inner spiritual life. One of the errors of our times is that the inner may be separated from the outer and still exist.
As I look back across the years I am humiliated and penitent at my failures, and it is no idle mouthing of Scripture to say that I have been an unprofitable servant. I am astonished at how many moods, whims, fads, fancies, and tangents I have participated in. I have here read a judgment of the Church of the Brethren - and it is my clearest judgment - but I am under the judgment too, for why were not my words effective in averting the perils I so deplore? I have earned the praise of men as a teacher, but seldom have I been able to communicate the deep conviction by which I lived.

Source: "Apologia" by Floyd Mallott, Brethren Life and Thought, Spring 1965

Friday, November 07, 2008

Floyd Mallott - part 1 of 3

Floyd Mallott (1897-1971) served the Church of the Brethren as a missionary, pastor, teacher, and author. He was born near the Deshler, Ohio congregation where he was baptized at the age of 13. He graduated from Manchester College in 1917 and after a year of teaching high school, taught at Blue Ridge College from 1918-1920. He attended Bethany Bible School and the University of Chicago. He was married to Ruth Blocker in 1921 and their son was born in 1922. The Mallotts served as Missionaries in Nigeria from 1924 to 1927.

After returning to the USA, he became professor of church history and Old Testament at Bethany Biblical Seminary at the age of 30. He taught at Bethany for 35 years until his retirement in 1962. He was a beloved and colorful teacher, characterized by his great enthusiasm, delightful mannerisms, skilled storytelling, and reputed absentmindedness.

Dale Brown, in an interpretive essay about Mallott, wrote in Brethren Life and Thought: "There is another gift which made him a great teacher. He was a great storyteller. ... Mallott told stories to illuminate insights in reference to personalities, movements, and basic doctrines.
The contemporary Jewish sage, Elie Wiesel, has suggested that God made us because he loves stories. Here we can note that Floyd Mallott told stories because he loved God."

One of Mallott's often ree-told stories is of the Dunker couple who first climbed into their Model T Ford and started down the highway. It was not long before the broadbrim hat flew off, then the bonnet, followed by the remainder of the distinctive attire, them many of their peculiar practices, and finally the non-resistant peace testimony.

Mallott loved the history and traditions of the church and frequently interpreted Brethren ordinances. From 1939 to 1942, Mallott edited Schwartzenau, the first scholarly periodical in Brethren circles. In the lead article of the July 1939 issue, Rufus Bowman, President of Bethany Biblical Seminary, explains the choosing of the name:

This is a sacred name in Brethren history. The different bodies of Brethren people all go back to "Schwarzenau." The backward look is valuable for at Schwarzenau we see the great principles that bind us together. The name wins us because of the spirit of those eight pious souls who met on the banks of the Eder. Schwarzenau was the official birthday of Brethren history. The name has become a symbol for the great first principles upon which our Church was founded: the New Testament as our rule of faith and practice, the ordinances as a means of grace, no exercise of force in religion, religious freedom even at the cost of suffering, the simple spiritual life, peace according to the spirit and teachings of Jesus.

...Dr. Floyd E. Mallott, head of the Church History department of Bethany Biblical Seminary is a man who believes in the destiny of the Church of the Brethren and loves her traditions. For the last few years, Dr. Mallott with a few of his companions has been dreaming dreams of the creation of a Journal of Dunker History for the preservation of historical dataHe loved the history of the church and its traditions.

Upon his retirement in 1962, Mallott moved to Southern Ohio and surprised many by his decision to be re-baptized into the Bear Creek congregation of the Old German Baptist Church. That will be our focus tomorrow.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia
Dale Brown, "Floyd Mallott" in Brethren Life and Thought, Spring 1980

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Brethren Petition to the Territory of Oregon, 1856

Church of the Brethren Petition, 1856

Transcript of original document:

To the Honorable The Legislative Assembly of the Teritory of Oregon We the undersigned Respectfully represent to your Honerable Body that at a Church Meeting of the Church of Brethren (commonly called German Baptists or Tunkards) held on the first nunday of September 1856 at the Hamilton Creek School house in Lyn County that the undersigned (members and brethren of the Church aforesaid) were chosen a committe and instructed to present to your Honerable Body the following petition

Aaron Hardman Wm B Carly

We your petitioners Respectfully request of youre Honerable Body that where as by the presant Military Law we are compelled to do violence to our consience by bearing Arms to be trained in the art of killing our fellow men or pay an exhorbitant fine and where as we are taught in the gospel to be obedient to the Laws their remains no alternative but to submit and pay the fine- therefore our request is that you shold take our case in to faivorable concideration and so amend the aforesaid Military Law as to permit us to Laibor on the highway that portion of time that we are by the presant Law commanded to bear arms and we you petitioners as in duty bound do pray &c Signed each and everymember of the Church aforesaid

Passed by a unanimous vote


Members of the Church of the Brethren came to Oregon from settlements in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. Their practices included simple dress, refusal to swear oaths, and pacifism. These beliefs often caused suspicion and hostility among outsiders. This petition requests the territorial legislature to exempt members of the Church from the provisions of the militia law. The petitioners offer to work on the roads in lieu of militia service. The following year the legislature decided to allow religious exemptions from the militia act.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

John H. Moore

J.H. Moore had a strong urge to write. Probably his greatest contribution to the Brethren was his long-time association with Brethren publishing interests. He was editor of Gospel Messenger twenty-five years and author of several books on Brethren history and doctrine. His library and a portion of his files formed the nucleus of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Those who have become truly regenerated,
and are new creatures in Christ Jesus
...should be known by their manner of living,
their dealings with ... one another,
by the evils they shun,
the good deeds they do,
and their well-studied efforts to avoid things
that have even the appearance of evil.
Their character and deportment in life,
in the interest of nonconformity,
ought to be well enough defined
to make them as a separate people.
Sources: The Brethren Encyclopedia
and Let Our Joys Be Known

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

1988 Annual Conference Resolution

Responsible Citizenship in an Election Year

In 1967, the Annual Conference adopted a statement on "The Church, the State, and Christian Citizenship." That statement has served well to give us guidance and counsel since the time of its adoption. One specific principle from the statement declared that a Christian should be "an informed citizen, go to the polls regularly," and vote for candidates and measures "most likely to approximate Christian standards." An election year provides an opportune time to reflect further upon being Christian citizens in an electoral process.

We believe elections can be a time of service and witness for the Body of Christ. The service comes in assisting in the process of selecting officials who embody and promote the commonweal . The witness comes in identifying and advocating courses of action in issues that determine peace and justice.

We believe there are certain guidelines for the church and for Christians at the time of elections that can maintain for the church a sense of God's sovereignty and can uphold for both church and state the principle of institutional separation. Among these guidelines are the following:

  1. The church as a corporate body should avoid endorsing a particular party or candidate. Election activity by the church should avoid partisanship; an exception may occur in votes on specific issues or programs.
  2. The church should approach elections and candidates with a view to total qualifications and character of the persons involved, not with a "single issue" approach.
  3. The church as congregation or other organized structure can be an important source of information not only for its own members but also to the larger community. The church is uniquely qualified to bring morality into the public political debate. Ways of information sharing include candidate forums and debates, interviews, responses to questionnaires, the publishing of voting records on selected issues of concern, and the publishing of the positions of candidates compared with the position of the Church of the Brethren as reflected in Annual Conference or General Board statements and resolutions.
  4. The church as individuals is encouraged to become involved in the political process: as candidates, with an opportunity to perform public service and to embody their faith in public office; campaigning for candidates; or assisting in such procedures as election day work in a polling precinct.
  5. The church should see elections as only the beginning of its responsibility in government. Beyond the election there is need to uphold in prayer those who are chosen for public service, and to be in regular communication with those elected, registering our opinion on issues as we are informed by our faith.
  6. We believe that government ("God's servant," Romans 13:4) can be strengthened by participation of its entire citizenry. Therefore, we urge voting by all of our members and we support steps by our government to recognize the full enfranchisement of all of our citizens.

Source: 1988 Annual Conference Resolution - "Responsible Citizenship in an Election Year"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Early Brethren Thoughts on Voting

The Minutes of the 1864 Annual Meeting (during the very divisive time of the Civil War) include this statement regarding voting: We have been led to think that at all times it would be best and most consistent with our profession, and especially most proper and safe in the present critical state of things, to have nothing at all to do with politics, and entirely abstain from voting.

Such an attitude toward voting was not entirely due to problems which the Brethren faced during the Civil War. As early as 1813, and several times thereafter, the Annual Meeting took a negative stand on the question of voting. Sometimes in conjunction with this negative stance, the Brethren were called to pray for the government and its elections.

At the 1865 Annual Meeting, voting was made a test of fellowship by stating that those who continued to vote were to be treated according to Matthew 18. The next year, however, the test was revoked, and those who did not vote (the majority) were advised to act with forbearance toward the members who chose to vote.

By the beginning of World War I, most Brethren were voting, according to Rufus Bowman, and a few had been elected to positions in the government. The most notable example of a Brethren in an elected position was Martin G. Brumbaugh, who was governor of Pennsylvania from 1915 to 1919.

Source: "On Church and State," Texts in Transit II
Tomorrow: 1988 Resolution: Guidelines for
Responsible Citizenship in an Election Year

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Kingdom Hope

Dale Brown shares the following story about kingdom hope.

"Shortly before his death from cancer, I had the privilege to visit Harold Row, architect of several Church World Service projects. He shared with me that spiritually he was ready to die. At the same time he dreamed of many ways he could serve his Lord in the future if his health would be restored.

"I have come to see the logic in this contradiction. As Christians, we should live courageously and prophetically in the face of continual bad news of possible destruction of our world. At the same time we are called to live and plan as if our world will continue for a long time. Ours is an apocalyptic hope, a hope that refuses to be buried in evidence pointing to disaster.

"It is a hope that inspires us to watch, pray, serve, and make peace. We know neither the day nor the hour when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord."

Source: Biblical Pacifism, Dale W. Brown

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thrilling Music at Ephrata

Those who visited Ephrata during its active period were impressed by many things but perhaps most of all by the unusual singing. A graphic description was penned by an Anglican clergyman, Jacob Duche, of Philadelphia. His letter was written in 1772 and originally published in a newspaper, the Pennnsylvania Packet.

I shall at present remark but one thing more, with respect to the Dunkers, and that is, the peculiarity of their music. Upon a hint given by my friend, the sisters invited us into their chapel, and, seating themselves in order, began to sing one of their devout hymns. The music and little or no air or melody, but consisted of simple, long notes, combined in the richest harmony. The counter, treble, tenor, and bass were all sung by women, with sweet, shrill, and small voices, but with a truth and exactness in the time and intonation that was admirable.

It is impossible to describe to your Lordship my feelings upon this occasion. The performers sat with their heads reclined, their countenances solemn and dejected, their faces pale and emaciated from their manner of living, their clothing exceedingly white and quite picturesque, and their music such as thrilled to the very soul. I almost began to think myself in the world of the spirits, and that the objects before me were ethereal.

In short, the impression this scene made upon my mind continued strong for many days, and I believe, will never be wholly obliterated.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia