1932 Sunday School Convention, Mark Haws, A Lost Ordination Certificate, and the Gospel Heralds Learn How to Preach: Society Newsletter

January, 2007

I enjoy preparing these newsletters. For the most part, I do it because it is fun for me. I can’t explain why but I don’t worry about that. But, there is more to it than fun. I like to make comparisons between what was and what is. I like to see how things have changed and ask whether we are better or worse for the change. I like to see what was important to those who went before and wonder whether they were doing better than we.

The first of our interesting articles is the minutes of the Sunday School Convention of 1932 held in Easton. I am struck by the care taken with the organization, procedure and record keeping of such an event. Were we obsessed with organization? Why did they keep careful minutes of such a meeting? Why did they insist on such careful order in the meeting itself? Take a look inside the work of Sunday School in 1932.

Sunday School Convention Report: 1932

The Forty-Fourth Annual Sunday School Convention of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ, Easton District, was held in the church on Race Street, near Sixth, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, May 18, 1932.

All the pastors, superintendents and delegates of the convention registered at 9:30.

The morning meeting was opened at 9:45 by the chairman, P. T. Stengele, by singing the convention hymn, “Longing to Go.” [see end for chorus] Rev. J. G. Shireman of Shamokin, Pa., then led in prayer. After which, Rev. P. T. Stengele, the chairman, read the scripture lesson from Phillipians 3, 1 to 14.

The question, who should be members of the convention was discussed, being properly moved and seconded that the pastors of the Easton District and the pastors present from the Allentown District, Superintendents, Delegates and essayists should be admitted in the Conference Bar.

Roll call was take with all the pastors, superintendents, delegates and essayists present. The rules of the convention were then made as follows: Resolved that the chairs in the front and the first two rows of pews constitute the convention bar. Anyone desiring to speak must respectfully address the chair and speak not over ten minutes on any one subject. No one dare leave the bar without permission, with the exception of pastor T. D. Gehret and superintendent A. F. Smith.

Next on the program was the appointment of committees. Resolved that a committee of three each be appointed on Publication, Finances, Resolutions and Statistics. Two each on Auditing and Minutes and a Timekeeper.

The committees appointed by the chairman were publication, Paul E. Baer, J. B. Henry and J. G. Shireman. Finances, W. W. Hartman, M. M. Meyers and E. E. Kublic. Resolutions, J. G. Shireman, H. W. Hartman and C. L. Miller. Statistics, E. George, J. B. Henry and R. H. Gehman. Auditing, E. J. Rutman and R. H. Gehman. Minutes, E. W. Bean and J. B. Henry. Timekeeper, E. George.

At this time a selection was rendered by C. L. Miller and E. George, entitled, “He Will Understand.”

The various reports of the Sunday School superintendents were as follows:

Newark, N. J.

The superintendent reported that this Sunday School was gaining steadily and that new scholars were being brought in by a contest called “The Great Lakes Trip” which has created a stir in the Sunday School.

Wissinoming, Pa.

The outstanding event they had in their Sunday School was Decision Day in which many of the scholars yielded their life to Christ. They are now having a contest called A Trip to Palestine in which the boys are at present ahead of the girls. A very helpful aid to them in class work is the class mottos for each class, such as “Fishers of Men,” and “The Good Samaritan,” and in the Primary Department “Buds of Promise.”

Camden, N. J.

The superintendent also reported having the contest, “A Trip To Palestine By Airplane.” The Sunday School is divided into two sections with each one trying to win the contest. The teachers are very faithful and have very little need of substitutes. They have organized a Men’s Bible Class which is encouragingly progressing. Each Sunday they start their Sunday School session by singing a theme song.

York, Pa.

The average attendance during the past quarter was 147 which is a very high average. A woman in this school who has much work at home, made it her aim to bring 14 new members into the Sunday School, although she did not succeed in bringing in this amount all in one Sunday she did bring the greater majority. On the day that the missionary barrels are collected each member of the school pledges himself to pray every day for the next six months for a certain missionary of his own choice and supported by our denomination which results in constant prayer being offered daily for every missionary supported by the Mennonite Brethren in Christ.

Wilmington, Del.

Although it is a newly organized school it is progressing very rapidly. The first Sunday afternoon the heralds from Chester motored to Wilmington and went into the streets inviting every one they met to come into their Sunday School which resulted in bringing nineteen into the school. But as is always the case in the Lord’s work some of the children were not allowed to return and others did not care to. Thus the attendance dwindled away until finally one Sunday only one girl was present. Courage was kept up and the streets were once more scoured in the hope of bringing in new members and thus with the aid of prayer they now have a very thriving school. One of the most strictly enforced rules is that each pupil must carry a Bible or Testament.

Mt. Carmel, Pa.

There has been a fluctuation in attendance due to the fact that many of the scholars have moved to various other towns and cities and also due to some of the children whose parents do not come and make no special effort to have their children come. They are blessed with a group of Spirit-filled and faithful teachers.

Lebanon, Pa.

A goal is set each Sunday for a certain number of attendance and if this goal is reached each individual present is awarded a prize. The goal for a certain Sunday was 125. When the report was posted it showed only 121 present. However the situation was soon remedied for a few of the scholars went out into the streets and brought in four more members which resulted in the goal being reached. The teachers help to bring in a good number of new members by canvassing from door to door.

West Philadelphia, Pa.

A new home department has been organized which is growing very encouragingly. They had an airplane contest in which every one on the purple as well as on the orange side worked hard to win. All children are given the privilege of securing Bibles by making a small payment of ten cents each week until the Bible is paid for. Thus many are enabled to possess Bibles which otherwise would be impossible.

At this time all stood and sang the chorus, “Only Believe,” which was followed by the report of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The Sunday School was given two bushels of popcorn and not knowing how to dispose of so great an amount a Bible drill was decided upon and each one finding the verses called for was given some popcorn. Most of the scholars have far to come which is a slight hindrance to the attendance.

Scranton, Pa.

A deep interest was created in this school by means of an airplane contest between the boys and girls. An apparatus was arranged to move the planes which sounded like a real airplane motor. Instead of the teachers giving object lessons some of the scholars are called upon to do so.

Chester, Pa.

This Sunday School meets in the morning at Chester, Pa. and in the afternoon at Trainer, Pa. Seventeen scholars were baptized last Sunday. A contest is now on in the Sunday School in which the school is divided the one side being called the Faith side and the other the Hope side.

Stroudsburg, Pa.

At present a contest is on to get new members, the one bringing in the most scholars will receive a prize and the one obtaining the most visitors wins a prize.

Harrisburg, Pa.

The Bible is honored above all other things in this school. The Bible is taught instead of things which of no spiritual help to the scholars. Many new scholars are being brought in by the radio broadcasting.

Following this report, the chorus, “Lord Keep Me Shining For Thee,” was sung.

Easton, Pa.

Rewards are given each year for reading the Bible through. The teachers study helpful Christian books in order to better fit themselves for their duty. The cradle roll which has been organized only two years ago now numbers 77.

Jersey City, N. J.

A new building has just been built and there is plenty of room for new scholars, also much new territory in which to carry on the work. During the past year they had an average of 13 cents per person for offering.

Sunbury, Pa.

The teachers speak Sunday on the different missionaries who have gone to foreign lands and laid down their lives in the Lord’s work. Last summer for three months a contest was held for the scholars being present every Sunday and being there on time. Bible drills were held. This past year there has been an increase of 16% in attendance over last year. During the airplane contest thus far there has been an average of over 75% of the pupils carrying their Bibles.

Shamokin, Pa.

The teachers and officers are workers in their school. The Sunday School is growing through the primary department. At present a contest is on for bringing new scholars and the one bringing the most will be rewarded.

After the Sunday School reports were finished, the chorus, “I Will Praise Him,” was sung.

Brother Gehman was called upon to give an inspirational talk on any subject of his choice. He gave a few comments on what was said about the various Sunday Schools which finally ended in the subject of an offering. While the offering was being lifted a new piece was sung entitled, “Watch for the Bridegroom.”

Brother Gehret gave an address of welcome and invited all to the basement for a good dinner.

The morning meeting was dismissed by Rev. E. N. Cassel at 12:02 o’clock.

The afternoon meeting was opened at 2:10P. M. By singing the convention Hymn, “Longing to Go.” We were led in prayer by Rev. H. K. Kratz.

The roll call was then taken with all pastors, superintendents, delegates and essayists present which was followed by the reading of the minutes of the forenoon meeting.

Reports of the Committee on Statistics

Total enrollment of officers, 109, of teachers, 195, of scholars, 1827, making a total of 2131. Home department, 481. Cradle roll, 424. There has been an increase of 257 scholars since last year or a 12% increase.

Report of the Finance Committee

Total Offering for convention – $248.20

Total amount of Expenses – 236.26

Balance – 11.94

Report on Auditing

The committee for the financial and statistical reports correct.

A solo, “Gather the Children,” was given by Brother Rutman which was followed by a duet by R. H. Gehman and C. L. Miller, “What a Wonderful Savior is Jesus.”

Essay – Requisites of a Spirit-filled Sunday School

To have a Spirit-filled Sunday School we must have unity. In unity there is strength. Let nothing be done in strife or vain glory. We should have one spirit and one mind to get effectual work done. We must be in accord with Jesus, as the tire of the wheel keeps the spokes in the wheel. I f the superintendent, teachers and officers are filled with the Holy Spirit progress is made.

We must be willing to go to God for things we cannot do ourselves. We should not wait for feeling or overcoming joy but do what Jesus tells us to do. The result of being Spirit-filled is heart-giving and thankfulness.

As a little leaven leaveneth a whole lump so we if we are Spirit-filled can win many scholars to Christ, but if we quench His Spirit we refuse His call and so we cannot do any good work for the Lord. The opposite of being Spirit-filled is strife. The Prophet said, “Do nothing through strife or vain glory.” Christ came to humble us therefore let us not think of ourselves. A superintendent and teacher must love the scholars to be Spirit-filled. The teacher that is full of the Spirit is fit to teach the scholars.

A scholar often thinks, “Does my teacher care for me?” A teacher should show deep concern about the scholars by shaking hands with them and inviting them to come again. A teacher should not teach of every day affairs but should teach the Bible. Prayer must be made without ceasing by the superintendent and teachers.

Teacher, did you ever weep over any of your unsaved scholars? To be a successful teacher you must have a longing to see all your scholars saved. A teacher should think, “How can I bring my scholar to Christ?” If a Sunday School is to be Spirit-filled it must have the power of God back of it.

Discussions on the Essay were then opened with the following points being given.

We should have the spirit of love and the thought of prayer for nothing can take the place of prayer. We should act first and then see the results. A teacher should think like boys and girls.

There is a need of more Spirit-filled Sunday Schools. We should always try to get more scholars. Each one of us engaged in this work should be yielded completely to the Lord. We must consider the little ones, welcome and encourage them. Best impressions are made when children are small.

Following the discussions all stood and sang, “I Long to Be Holy.”

Address by E. E. Kublic

Romans 12:11 – Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

We should not be slothful in business. Business is not a recreation but is a duty and work. The sluggard likes summer better than winter because in the summer he can get plenty to eat and when winter comes he has nothing stored up therefore it is hard to get anything. There is only one way that a sluggard can rid himself of this terrible condition and that is by yielding himself completely and fervently into the Lord’s work.

Address by P. T. Stengele

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Training children is a very important and necessary question today. There are two capacities that we possess – first the capacity to have the Holy Spirit dwell in us – second the capacity of heritage. In the home a Bible is necessary. A home without a Bible is dangerous at all times. We should train our children because of society, should teach them to be honest, loving and just. A child should be brought up in good sentiment instead of feeling. The reason for untrained children is that we do not depend on God and ask Him for guidance. If we train our children in the will of the Lord He will take care of them.

While the offering was being taken, Brother Gehret invited all present to stay for supper. The meeting was dismissed at 4:40 o’clock.

The evening service was opened at 7:20 with congregational and special singing. Rev. J. B. Layne led in prayer. The address of the evening was given by Presiding Elder Brother Gehman of Easton, Pa. on “The Christian Warfare,” the scripture being found in 1 Timothy 6:12. The evening service was dismissed by Rev. J. G. Shireman of Shamokin, Pa. At 9:00 P. M.

(Convention Chorus)


If Jesus should come, If Jesus should come,

I’d welcome the call from on high,

There’s nothing could hold me, not money nor home,

I’d leave without saying good-bye.


I’m longing to go,

(I’m longing to go, I’m just longing to go).

I’m longing to go,

(There’s nothing, there’s nothing can keep me below).

When the trumpet shall sound

From the mansions on high,

I’d leave without saying good-bye.

I’m tired of things earthly of everything here.

There’s nothing could hold me, I know

This world is a wilderness, naught I hold dear,

I’m longing, just longing to go.

I’ve laid aside weights, and I’ve washed my robes


And the blood’s flowing over my soul

The way seems so dark and so long is the night,

But faith keeps its eye on the goal.

I may not look princely, you mock at the thought

That I claim I’m a child of the King,

My garments within with fine needlework wrought

Make me meet with the ransomed to sing.

You laugh at me now but some day you will long

To have chosen your lot with me here;

You’ll wish for a mansion, a robe and a crown,

But ’twill be too late then, I fear.

(Copyrighted by H. S. Hallman)

LeRoy Wilcox tells me he is retired now. It sounds like he is pursuing his love of chasing details and putting stories together. He has shared the background of a couple of pastors who served with our denomination. Thanks, LeRoy, for sharing your work.


1838 – 1915

      Marks Haas was born on June 9, 1838 at Lobachsville, Pike Township, in Berks County, to Peter and Susan (nee Drumheller) Haas. He was the youngest son and the sixth child born of seven. Peter was born on September 22, 1901 in Cumru Township and died on September 12, 1884 in Oley. His father, Frederick, was born around 1765 and his mother, Cathereine, was born around the same time.

      Marks is listed in the 1850 Census as living in New Hanover, Montgomery County, with Rev. Conrad Miller and his wife Hannah. In the 1860 census he listed as living with his maternal grandmother, Susan Drumheller, in Earl Township, Berks County. His mother and father, Peter and Susan, together with three of his siblings, were also living in the area, probably next door. The census taker spelled the name ‘Hahs”.

      Marks served in the Civil War with the PA 32nd Regiment .The men gathered in Philadelphia on May 30, 1861 and the group then traveled to Easton by rail. They trained at Camp Washington, located just west of Easton, in what is now Wilson Boro. His commanding officer wanted him to anglicize his surname so he changed it to Haws. The 32nd was ordered to Washington D.C. and later assigned to General George Meade’s brigade, where they saw heavy fighting around Richmond. His term of service ended on June 17, 1864 but Marks reenlisted with the PA 54th Regiment on July 4, 1864 and served in West Virginia. After the war he married Esther A. Parker, of Oley Township, who was known as Hettie. The marriage was performed in Kutztown on November 7, 1868 by Rev. A.L. Leupold. Eight children were born to them but two died when quite young. Hettie was born on March 24, 1851 to Aaron and Hettie (nee Gambler) Parker.

      Marks is listed as a delegate in the minutes of the 1882 Conference. On February 13 it was resolved that Marks D. Haws of Reading be accepted on probation as a local preacher. He was sent to the Terre Hill church in 1883 and again in 1884. He was also assigned to collect money toward building a church at Reading. On February 3, 1885 at the morning session of Annual Conference, it was “Resolved that Marks D. Haws, Having passed his probation, be ordained”. The Stationing Committee then determined that he should continue at Terre Hill. In 1887 he was assigned to the circuit of Upper Milford (Zionsville), Hereford and Skippack. In 1890 he was assigned to the circuit of Bethlehem, South Bethlehem and Plainfield (Township). He appears in the Bethlehem 1890 Census as residing at 604 Main Street. His wife’s name is given as Hettie and seven offspring are listed, ranging in age from 3 to 21. Although not wounded in the war he applied for an invalid pension on April 19, 1891 and his residence is listed as 230 Third Avenue, Bethlehem.

      His standing with the denomination faltered in 1895. The following is in the minutes: “Whereas charges were brought against Elder M. D. Haws concerning his financial standing, therefore this committee having investigated the matter and not finding him a man according to 1 Timothy 3:4,5, therefore this committee requests the Stationing Committee not to give him a charge for the present.” Since they mention finances, it must not have been a problem with relationships within the family. Richard Taylor believes he was having problems managing his finances, stating they did not have problems with people having too much money. It’s curious, however, that this problem occurred soon after he began receiving his invalid pension. Was it considered fraudulent? At the Thirteenth Annual Conference, held at Allentown on February 7, 1896, it is recorded that M.D. Haws sent in his resignation, which was received. In the 1910 Census he is listed as living in East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County and listed under ‘occupation” as having his own income. His wife is listed as a seamstress. He died on May 14, 1915 at Reamstown and is buried there at the Salem Cemetery. His wife, Esther, died on November 30, 1940 in Reading.

      Marks appears to have served faithfully and without problems in his churches, yet unfortunately was one of those pastors who fell by the wayside.


1872 – 1942

      Robert Dreisbach was born on July 15, 1872 in Laury’s Station, a small town in Lehigh County on the Lehigh River. The name ‘Dreisbach’ means “stream flowing from a bog”. The first known progenitor of the family was Henry, born on November 17, 1800. He suddenly appeared in Allen Township, Northampton County, buying land near Kreidersville. Other Dreisbach’s lived in the area but his origins are unknown. One theory is that he was an illegitimate son, thus the silence. He married Elizabeth Solt on March 6, 1821 and they had twelve children. The fifth, Daniel, married Christiann Kratzer and they had eight children. A daughter, Sarah, married Jonathan Moyer and they became two of the first three members of our Bethlehem church. The first child born was Ammon Peter, who married Flora Anna Dorward. Flora gave birth to eleven children, Robert being the first-born.

      Robert’s father, Ammon Peter, was born on December 12, 1850 in Pennsville, a small town in Allen Township, Northampton County. His father, Daniel, had moved the family to Illinois in 1860 and Daniel joined the Union Army when the Civil War began. Daniel died of a disease at Memphis, TN, where he was buried and Christiann returned with the family to Henry’s farm. Ammon left school at the age of sixteen and worked on the farm. He then became a miller and married Flora Dorward. He found employment as an engineer with the Lehigh Valley Railroad and then became the First Fireman at the Allentown and Steam Heat Company. He next worked as an engineer for E.J. Schneck and Sons. He then worked for the Atlas Cement Company and in 1906 became the chief engineer of the Balliet Cigar Box factory, where he worked as a Stationary Engineer until he retired. He was acknowledged as the best in the area and founded the Order of American Stationary Engineers. He seems to have been a restless person, constantly changing his occupation. Ammon was very interested in genealogy and the Dreisbach Family Association was founded in his home around 1910. Ammon was a charter member of our Allentown church but later joined the Evangelical Congregationalists. Flora died on December 11, 1908 and he married Mary Alice Sensinger on November 29, 1909. She died on May 26, 1935 and he died on September 11, 1935.

      Robert was accepted as a probationer at Annual Conference in 1892, held at Zionsville, and he was sent to the Bethlehem, Catasauqua and Plainfield Township circuit to assist Adam Gehret. In 1893 he was assigned to assist William Gehman at the Upper Milford (Zionsville), Hereford and Graterford circuit. On February 22, 1894 Annual Conference convened at Terre Hill and Robert was given his own charge, that of the Erwinna, Bridgeton and Lambertville circuit. That same month, on February 21, he applied for a marriage license as he wished to have a Zionsville young woman, Nora Brunner, as his wife. They did marry and she joined him at his pastoral circuit. They had nine children. Nora was the daughter of Joel Brunner, a leading layman in our Zionsville church. Her brother, Charles, became a pastor at Bethlehem.

      Robert was ordained in 1895 and returned to Erwinna. He served at Terre Hill in 1897, at the Royersford and Spring City circuit in 1899 and then came north to be the pastor at Union Hill and Lehighton, in Carbon County. His wife, Nora, was licensed to preach in 1892 and after her marriage was able to assist him in the preaching ministry. In 1903 Robert was listed as a “conditional’ preacher. He left the ministry and began working for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, as his father had done. Like his father, he worked at different occupations rather than staying with one. In 1929 he is listed in the Allentown Directory as living at 614 N. Eighth Street and working as a salesman. Roy Ammon, his son, is listed as a salesman living at 633 N. Eighth Street. He also served as a tax collector for the city of Allentown as well as for the school district. Robert died on June 17, 1942 in Allentown. It doesn’t appear that he had problems with congregations or Conference leadership, yet was another pastor who fell by the wayside.

Notes on previous articles – from LeRoy Wilcox

Brunner family – Ardis Grosjean – I’m positive the genealogy in the book “The Brunner Brothers” is correct. Page 8 – Vera Cruz – it was popular after the Mexican War to name places after those associated with the War, such as East Texas in Lehigh Co., Mexico, a town in NY, and Matamoras in Pike Co., PA (Matamoras is located on the Delaware River across from Port Jervis, NY. A church there began a Sunday School, about the time of the War, in the settlement across the river and decided to name the settlement for Matamoras, Mexico, on the Rio Grande.)

      Article on David Gehman: she questions how he was able to purchase land at the age of 26. I’ve found that mortgages were readily available to young men who washed to purchase farms or stores. She questions how he became a postmaster. Most post offices in small towns were conducted from the town store. It didn’t pay much and was a lot of work, but ideal for a store. The PO in Dillingersville closed later because no one wanted the job. Concerning 2nd wife: in his will, dated March 14, 1876, he refers to Catherine Shoemaker, of Rockhill Township, as his “intended wife”. In the 1880 Census she is listed as his wife. I presume she was a widow and Shoemaker was her married name.

       “The Founding Fathers” – Harold Shelly – p. 5 – “Where is Greenville?” East Greenville was called Greenville and became a borough on 09/06/1875. A post office was then established but the name had to be changed because of Greenville in western PA, so it was then called East Greenville. It was named for a white pine tree, planted by an early settler named Andrew Yeakel. The tree, planed on a hilltop, grew to a great height and was very prominent, thus the name.

      Harold faults David Henning for the demise of the Bangor work but Germans moved out of the area and Welsh moved in to work in the slate quarries. “History of the Mennonites’, by Daniel Kolb Cassel, P. 276, also has this view. Concerning Bangor: “Death and removal to other parts of the country gradually reduced the number of Mennonites, until Father Henning was the sole remaining representative.”

William Detweiler Ordination Certificate

Whenever I receive books or Bibles donated to the archives, I thumb through the pages and see if any loose papers are hiding in them. I received a Bible in 1987 belonging to William Gehman from John and Annetta Stengele. In it was what looked like an ordination certificate that dated to 1886. I identified it as a certificate of William Musselman based on a quick look. I thought I would reprint that certificate for you and share it with you. I turned to the minutes of 1886 and discovered that William B. Musselman was neither licensed nor ordained in the year. Suddenly, I realized I had been careless. The certificate was issued to William C. Detwiler. And, I am indebted to LeRoy Wilcox again.

In his paper, “The Church That Began at Camp Meeting,” LeRoy notes that William C. Detweiler (or Detwiler) was assigned as the preacher there in 1886 following the death of Jonas Musselman and prior to the call of Eusebius Hershey to serve as pastor. William was by occupation a dentist. LeRoy suggested, “He was asked by the presiding elder, William Gehman, to be a supply pastor until camp meeting time, when Eusebius Hershey would take over. William Detweiler may have wanted to continue, as he left our denomination after Eusebius Hershey became the pastor.

The minutes of 1886 records his presence and recognition. On Tuesday morning, February 2, the minutes record that “William C. Detwiler of Easton was present and was recognized as an advisory member of our Conference.” He was at the conference prior to the death of Jonas Musselman so was not at that point considered a replacement for him. On Wednesday morning, February 3, the conference took the following action, “Resolved: That W. C. Detwiler of Easton, Pennsylvania, be and was taken in by our Conference as a member, and ordained as an Elder, and commissioned to go forth as an Evangelist.” On Wednesday afternoon, William C. Detwiler was elected secretary for the following Annual Conference. That seems like quite a jump. On Tuesday, he showed up at the conference. On Wednesday, he was recognized as a preacher. Later that day, he was elected to serve as secretary.

The certificate which was issued to Detwiler was signed and dated, February 4, 1886.

Postscript: Apparently, William never received his certificate because it was found in the Bible of William Gehman. One supposes that William Gehman filled it out on the day after the conference when he had the time but never forwarded it to Detwiler.

In the Annual Conference of February, 1887, the following was noted. “A. Kauffman was appointed secretary for the Conference because W. C. Detwiler, the elected secretary, was not present and was no longer a member.”

Perhaps he was upset because he never received his certificate. Or, perhaps he was upset that he was “bumped” out of the Bethlehem Church by the coming of Eusebius Hershey. Or perhaps, a more cynical view, he was a prominent and wealthy layman who was “wined and dined” but did not receive some honor that he expected.

In 1900, William was still alive and living with his wife Amanda and youngest daughter, Lillian, at 440 Northampton Street in Easton. His preaching career in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ was a brief one and he was never heard from again.

The Gospel Heralds were part of the outreach strategy of the MBC / BFC for over 50 years. R. C. Reichenbach and Jansen E. Hartman, both participants, reflect on the Heralds.


by. R. C. Reichenbach

Though not credited as such, the Gospel Herald Society in the past century played a valuable part in the history, development and growth of the Mennonite Brethren In Christ / Bible Fellowship Church. It was never a large organization, perhaps composed of 25 members at it’s greatest strength, it was never considered a vital, important part of the parent denomination. It
received little financial support for its operation, perhaps less than $200 per month for all of its missions that comprised the workings of the Society. In those days each mission was pressed to support itself and many did so without receiving any financial aid from the parent denomination.

But let us look at what was achieved. Some of our finest churches were once missions under the Gospel Herald Society. Let me name some of them: Wallingford, formerly the mission at Chester, PA., Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, Sunbury, Shamokin, Mt. Carmel; just to name a few. A number of fine people in those churches came to know the Lord through the ministry of the Heralds stationed at those missions. Think back to some of our finest ministers who spent
their first years in the Gospel Herald Society and then became pastors of our denominational Churches: the four Hartman brothers, Walter Frank, C. L. Miller, John Dunn, John H. Riggall, Robert Smock, [R. C. Reichenbach – editor’s addition] and others.

Our Mission Department can look back to men like Walter Frank, C. L. Miller and Richard Gehman, son of Rudy Gehman, a Herald, who distinguished themselves on the Mission Field. And our present Director, Dana Weller, is the product of a church that was a Gospel Herald mission.

Many of our churches were pastored by men who got their ‘on-the-job’ training in the Gospel Herald Society and if I were to start naming them, the list would be long.

The Society no longer exists as times have changed. Only a few of the former members are still living, but what they stood for, what they produced, carries on. We who remain are thankful to God for the organization, for what by His grace we accomplished for the glory of the Lord. Yes, we are proud to say we were part of the Gospel Herald Society and thankful for all that it taught


by Jansen E. Hartman

The Gospel Herald Society was designed to produce pastors with a well-rounded view of the ministry, as well as an evangelistic emphasis. Learning to teach and to preach the Bible was a major part of the program.

The greatest surprise I encountered when entering the Gospel Herald Society was the quality of the preaching. The sermons were instructive, interesting, and contemporary in meeting the practical needs of believers. Jack Dunn’s sermons, taken mostly from H.A. Ironsides’ series on various books of the Bible opened my eyes to new vistas of truth.

The Reading Course had two books written by A.T. Pierson that were helpful. They were “The Divine Art of Preaching,” and “Knowing the Scriptures.” The former gave instruction and the latter provided outlines and topical sources.

In the Thirties most of the new publications were sermons by popular men. H.A. Ironsides was known as the “Archbishop of Fundamentalism” and his every sermon was recorded and printed,

There were other pastors, such as Chapell, McCartney, and Lockyer, whose writings were popular. Dispensational preachers and teachers were popular in print and at prophetic conferences. Magazines such as Eternity, Moody Monthly, and Our Hope were widely read. Gospel Heralds could attend occasions when popular preachers held forth in New York City and Philadelphia.

I attended the National Bible Institute in NYC, and was privileged to study under men like J. Oliver Buswell, Arthur Fowler, and Milton Fish. The latter was my teacher of Pastoral Theology. He made many memorable statements such as, “Never preach a sermon that does not have as its foundation the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without such a foundation, it lacks the Christian message, and could be preached in any synagogue or Rotary meeting.” He also warned us not to preach another man’s sermon; it would be better instead to preach a third-rate sermon that was one’s own. Since then, I have endeavored to do just that, breaking the old habit of plagiarizing another man’s work.

Later my Homiletics professor in seminary, Edmond Clowney, emphasized proclaiming Christ in such a way that the audience was confronted by and held answerable to Him.

There were many opportunities to speak in prayer meetings, Sunday School, and the morning and evening services on the Lord’s Day. Tent meetings, jail services, and street meetings also offered a challenge to prepare and deliver Gospel messages.

The Gospel Herald Society held two conferences for three days each year. Besides W.G. Gehman’s instructions in pastoral theology and sessions in which we were personally counseled, there were also preaching assignments, given to us with about six hours’ notice.

It may also be said that the Gospel Herald brethren were quite free with their criticism and advice after a sermon had been given by a fellow Herald. Their comments were often helpful though at times humiliating.

It was a great experience to learn to preach in the Gospel Herald Society!

I hope that you enjoyed these articles and reprints. Remember, I welcome any submissions you send and will use them if I can.

You can contact me one way or another.

Richard Taylor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *