I watch Antiques Roadshow, the PBS series for people like me. At other places, this might be a confession but because I am among friends who probably watch it as much as I do it is okay to talk about it. I enjoy hearing the stories of people who have what looks like a piece of junk which turns out to be nearly priceless. I enjoy in a particular way the people who confess to be trash pickers and dumpster divers. They bring their treasures and discover that what they found will make them rich. I read a few weeks ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a man who runs a business making his living of hauling the trash out of old houses. He told of the treasures he has found and how he sells them and makes some extra money . He said the problem he faces is the desire to stop and pick through everything for the treasures that might be there.
That is my problem. I have been cleaning and straightening up piles of archival material I have received over the years. Some of it was there before I started (over 30 years ago now). To it, I have added my piles. When I receive something from someone, I label it and set it aside to be catalogued. I do pretty well keeping up with that but I set things aside to be looked at later and later takes awhile to come. Well, I have been sorting and reading and I am like the man who keeps finding treasure: little articles someone has clipped, some notes someone has made, or a picture stuck in a book. I am drawn to these bits and search out the treasure in them.
This issue includes some of the treasures I found stuck away among some loose papers. So, find a shade tree, get a glass of iced tea and enjoy.
The first is an obituary of Menno Gehman, son of William Gehman. I knew of him and his tragic death but little else. These notes were in a file of loose papers. They shed a little more light on the Gehman family. I am not sure who the author might be though I could guess that it is C. H. Brunner. It adds a few details to our brief information.
Menno M. Gehman
The name of the deceased was Menno M. Gehman, son of Eld. Wm. Gehman and his wife Annie nee Musselman. He was born Sept. 19, 1852, died Feb. 3, 1907, age 54 – 4 -14.
In his youth he was convicted of sin and converted to God after which he was immersed upon the confession of his faith. He then united with the M. B. C. Church of which he was a faithful and useful member up to the day of his departure.
Sept. 1, 1877 he united in holy matrimony with Amelia Matilda Knauss daughter of John Knauss and his wife Leah need Wieder in which they lived comfortably.
He leaves his faithful wife, [and] father in his 81 year yet active in the preaching of the gospel. Also 4 brothers and 4 sisters all of whom are here to mourn his sudden departure yet not as those who have no hope.
The cause of his death as we no doubt all know was a railroad accident in which his buggy occupied by himself, his wife, and his adopted son John Fidler was struck by a locomotive last Sunday near Emaus on the way home from the funeral of a near relation.
They were all taken to the Allentown Hospital at once where Bro. G. Died inside of 3 hours after the accident. His faithful wife is still there in critical condition yet somewhat improving. Their adopted son John Fidler is there also but on a fair way of recovery.
Mrs. H.B. Musselman
We seek to learn what we can about our preachers of the past. The old adage is that behind every man you will find a woman. I came across the notes of C. H. Brunner for his eulogy of Mrs. H. B. Musselman, the woman behind leader H. B. We learn a bit more about this woman who served the Lord. She was the daughter of John and Sallie Baus (Bause). In 1870, she was living with them in Longswamp Township, Berks County. John Baus was employed as a miner.
Address at the funeral of Mrs. H. B. Musselman
“As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness” (Ps. 17:15). This is a personal testimony, a testimony of Hope, a beautiful testimony
we say. But what brought it forth? Only a true child of God, having Christ dwelling within, can possess and exercise such a living, unchanging Hope.
What is the setting of this verse? It is the end of a Psalm written under great pressure from the wicked, from deadly enemies which, like greedy, hungry lions, were lurking in secret places watching for a chance to devour him. What does the Psalmist mean? My enemies may kill me “But I will behold Thy face in righteousness”. Disease and death may mar my features and break down my body, but “I shall be satisfied when I awake” again. I know this, that after death has spent its energy and done its worst, I shall “awake with Thy likeness”.
A faithful laborer will purchase unto himself a good credit and will be missed when absent – so will a wise counselor and a good friend. Jonathan said to David, “Thou shalt be missed because thy seat will be empty” (1 Sam. 20:18).
Sister Musselman is among the missing. She will be missed by the side of her life companion. She will be missed in the home. She will be missed in the circle of her family. A strong home-tie has been broken. A circle kept in tact for these many years has at last been broken.
She will be missed in her Sunday School Class, in her church, yea in all the churches of the Conference. She will be missed by her large circle of radio friends who heard her voice singing with her companion over WCBA, many of whom are here today while others are unable to be here, whose hearts no doubt are broken with ours, knowing that they shall never behold her face until the bright and glorious morning when we shall see each other in the fadeless glory of that summer land of bliss. Yes we shall know each other better when the mists have rolled away.
Our beloved brother Paul uses such comforting words when he says that “whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, Therefore we walk by faith and not by sight.” Then he continues and says, “We are of good courage I say and are willing rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-8). Our dear ones who served the Lord and have fallen asleep in Jesus are not lost – only gone, absent. God knows where they are; the angels know where they are; we know that they are in our Father’s blessed keeping. Yes, Satan knows where they are. The Spirits of the overcomers can shout in triumph, “O death, where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory.” There is no response for death and hell are swallowed up in victory.
Beloved, there is such a thing as death, it is called the last enemy; we cannot escape it if Jesus should tarry; but He has gone down into it Himself and has taken out its sting.
There is such a thing as the grave, we cannot deny it; we cannot conceal it; but Jesus has descended down into it Himself. He has robbed it of its power, its terror, its gloom; broken its bonds and bars; hence the true child of God cannot be holden of it but shall come forth with the shout of victory unto inexpressible glory.
A few weeks ago it was fifty years, only a short time it seems, when a few miles from this place my father called us five children to the bedside of our dying mother. I shall never forget her last words to us. There at the old homestead under the canopy of the heavens they sang
“Sie schlummert im Thale so schn.”
Yes, “We are going down the valley one by one.”
Your Pastor told me that a short time before her death, Sister Musselman read the following beautiful passage from Isa. 41:10 to the family – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness”. What a benediction! There are more eternal values expressed in these 37 simple little words than in a deed to the most beautiful estate on this earth. What a parting blessing from the pale lips of a dying, praying wife and mother! What a farewell message to those who have to wait here a little while, from one who is standing on the brink or the river waiting for the boatman to take her across! She has crossed over. “Yes we’l1 gather at the river,” on the other side of the river – perhaps very shortly.
The mother of a large family was lying in the casket in the vestibule of the church. The large concourse of friends and relatives passed by in silence as they looked for the last time upon her peaceful-countenance. Finally the heartbroken father brought his motherless children up to the casket, and as he gently stroked the face of his godly companion for the last time he looked into her face and with noble resignation said, “Here lies the sweet will of God.” Only a true child of God can say that at such a time.
Children – “It’s a wonderful thing, a mother. Other folks can love you but only mother understands you. She works for you, loves you, looks after you, prays for you. She forgives anything you may do, does all she can to make you happy and good. And then, the only bad thing she ever does to you is to die and leave you.”
I have been quite intimately associated with the family from Childhood days. I was the pastor of the family when they were all together, for quite a number of years. All the recollections of our fellowship are sweet. They always stood by nobly, everyone of them. We always felt a most cordial welcome in their home, receiving us most hospitably. We endeavored to have the church maintain that same attitude toward the family.
For years Sister Musselman was one of my Sunday School teachers. She was always held in the highest esteem by her Class as well as by the Church. She continually manifested the deepest respect and concern for the Church. Being possessed of a singularly even temperament, she naturally made many friends and also kept them.
Speaking for myself, and I feel safe in taking this liberty in speaking for all the rest of the pastors of the District, that we, our families, and also our congregations, were always greatly delighted when Sister Musselman could accompany her companion, our esteemed Presiding Elder, on the occasion of his quarterly visits, and deeply , regretted that she could not meet with us more frequently.
Of Abel the Holy Spirit saith that he, “being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). The second man born into this world died a martyr for his faith at the hand of his brother. After he was dead 4000 years the Holy Spirit says he was still speaking. Another 2000 years are almost gone and he is still speaking. D. L. Moody, Finney, Brainerd, though dead, are still speaking through their books, their converts. C. M. Alexander, Evan Williams, though dead, are still singing on their records. Fathers, Mothers, let us speak plainly into the records of memory so that the Holy Spirit can tune in after we are gone. He who does not speak before he dies will not speak after he is dead.
What is the secret of a happy death? A happy, holy life. This is expressed in the words of Zacharias (Luke 1:74,75). Being delivered out of the hands of our enemies we might serve the Lord without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives, childhood days, days of middle 1ife, even unto old age, to the last breath.
Our Brother Musselman and his companion both were saved in their young days – so were their children and grandchildren. What a comforting thought this had been to mother.
Sister Musselman responded to the call, “Come apart and rest awhile.” Soon the trumpet shall sound for you, our brother, for the family, for the rest of us who are in Christ, trusting in the merits of His death, and we shall be caught up to meet the Lord, to meet our loved ones, to enter in through the gates into that City whose Builder and Maker is God.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Who may rest? The faithful toilers of the evil days. What works do follow them? Those works, deeds done in the body, no others. What works will follow us? After all, all the good that can be said of any of us is what Jesus has wrought for us, and in us and through us.
We often sing of the Faith of our Fathers. Permit me to read the following poem from the pen of Fred Scott Shephard, entitled:
“Faith of our Mothers
“Faith of our mothers, wondrous faith,
That long endures and ne’er despairs,
Clinging to God. unwav’ringly,
For those that on her heart she bears.
Faith of our mothers, wondrous faith,
Hallowing life, strong even to death.
Though children sometimes go astray
And wander in the paths of sin,
Still doth her mother-love hold fast
And trust that Love Divine may win.
Through all the changing scenes of life,
Her love hath been a guiding star
To point us to the paths of right,
To draw us back from ways afar.
Faith of our mothers, speaking yet,
Though silent be her tender voice;
Shall we not turn anew to God
And seek the Saviour of her choice?”
The Gospel Banner carried her obituary.
From: Gospel Banner, July 28, 1932 (page 464 )
Musselman– Annie M. Musselman, (daughter of the late John D. and Sallie Baus) was born in Hereford Township, Berks County, Pa., on the 17th day of August, 1867, and ended her earthly career on July 8, 1932, bringing her age to sixty-four years, ten months and twenty-one days.
She was united in holy wedlock with Harvey B. Musselman on the 23rd day of April, 1888, which union was blessed with three sons, B. Bryan, Clarence E., and Jansen H., all of whom, with her beloved husband, survive. Three grandchildren, Oliva, Reuel, and Erma, also survive, together with the two brothers, J. Harvey and Charles C., and one sister, Mrs. Jeremiah Esterly, remain to mourn the loss of a most beloved one.
Sister Musselman was converted in her early girlhood and lived a most devoted life as a young Christian girl, and an exemplary life as a pastor’s wife, added thereto also twenty-nine years as the wife of our beloved Presiding Elder. Her life speaks for itself. She was a most amiable, devoted Christian wife and mother, rejoicing in the Blessed Hope, and her lips were uttering the praises unto Him who she loved and for whom she longed to some day see face to face up to the end of her life.
The end of her forty-fourth year of most blessed marital life has come, and she will be greatly missed – by the most blessed memories will always linger. Her most simple and earnest prayers uttered only a short time before her departure, in the presence of the family and immediate friends will undoubtedly never be forgotten.
The funeral was held in the Bethel Radio Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, July 12, 1932. All the pastors, with a number of the local ministers were present. About 1000 people thronged the church, and how many more listened in as the service was broadcast over radio WCBA remains unknown. Pastors E. N. Cassel, F. M. Hottel, and C. H. Brunner and W. G. Gehman, Presiding Elder, gave addresses and a number of familiar hymns which Sister Musselman and her husband often sang over the air and in the churches and missions were sung by the Allentown Mixed Chorus. A procession of eighty-eight machines followed the remains to Grandview cemetery, where the bereaved husband, H. B. Musselman, Presiding Elder, gave a fitting and very touching tribute to his long life bosom companion and friend, and Pastor B. Bryan Musselman, a son, committed her body till the resurrection morn, and J. C. Roth closed the service with the benediction.
I have seen the name of W. W. Dill in our minutes and knew that he was associated with our attempt at planting the church in Norristown. An inquiry from a relative set me off to find out more about him. My thanks to Van Galen, whom I do not know beyond the emails I have received. Once again, we are introduced to a layman who sought to make an impact for the Lord. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of him which would certainly add to my, and probably your, interest.
W. W. Dill
“Whereas the Lord has led Brother W. W. Dill of Norristown, to build a church at that place and to present it to this denomination, handing the keys over to the Presiding Elder at the dedication, January 1, therefore
Resolved: That this conference tender a hearty vote of thanks to the Lord and the dar brother for his kindness and liberality, and ask the Lord to bestow His richest blessings upon him and use the church as the birthplace of hundreds of souls.”
The 1895 Annual Conference recorded this benevolence but gave us little information about W. W. Dill. Who was he? Why did he build a church and present it to the Conference?
In 1897, W. W. Dill was asked to draw on his apparent expertise and prepare a tract. “Resolved, That we kindly ask Brother W. W. Dill to compile and publish a tract on his knowledge and experience on tobacco.”
From 1899 to 1905, W. W. Dill was listed as a quarterly conference licensed missionary worker.
I gathered this information after I received an inquiry regarding W. W. Dill from our website. Van Gale, a descendant of Dill, contacted me and shared the following information:
The Dill’s were my dad’s side of the family and his memory isn’t very good at the moment, so most of what I know comes from my mom’s memory which is good but, since she didn’t grow up with them, only knows these few things.
There are 2 W. W. Dill’s which caused a little confusion in your marriage index.
The first is father is William Wright Dill, b. 1845. He was mostly called “Professor Dill” and he sold patent medicines. He founded the Dill Medicine Company of Norristown, which lasted at least into the 1930’s. There is a regular stream of collectible bottles and tins from this company for sale on Ebay. Products included Balm of Life, Healing Salve, Royal Cough Cure, and “Dills Pills”. He made a lot of money selling these. I’m fairly sure he is the Brother W. W. Dill who built the Norristown congregation. His wife was named Cordelia.
The second W. W. is son Wallace Walter Dill, b. 1877. This is the Doctor who married Elizabeth Maude Willman. His medical degree was supposedly from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, but I haven’t been able to find his name on any alumni lists. Both he and his father were more into homeopathic
My father remembers that Wallace Walter was a great Sunday School teacher and fine bible teacher.
Both W.W.’s were very intense in their “evangelical” beliefs. Prof. W. W. also had a daughter besides son Wallace, and her husband would often get into heated arguments with the two W. W.’s about religion, which led to the daughter not receiving any inheritance. As I mentioned earlier, the W. W.’s were apparently friends with C. I. Scofield.
Wallace Walter had three daughters, and paid for them to attend and graduate from Wheaton College in Wheaton IL. The youngest, Ruth, was my grandmother. She spent most of her life working with my grandfather teaching and helping young adults.
When I first saw your church history site I thought maybe these Dill’s were orginally “Diehl” and anglicized their name for business reasons, but now I’m thinking the Willmans were part of the congregation and W. W. built the church for their benefit. I’m going to try and find out more about them and where they were from.
William Wright Dill, the senior W. W., is probably the one who was listed as a missionary. In 1900, he was living on Marshall Street which intersected Noble Street, which was the address of the preacher in Norristown in 1896, S. B. Knerr (532 Noble Street) This W. W. was born in 1845 and was married to Cordelia who was born in Virginia. He listed his occupation as Patent Medicine Man. He and Cordelia had a daughter Minnie who was born in 1868 in New Jersey indicating that they lived there at some point. They also had a son, Wallace Walter, born in 1877 in Pennsylvania. Wallace later became a medical doctor. He and his wife Elizabeth Willman lived for a time in Pottstown and later moved to Marshall Street in Norristown.
Some insight about the senior W. W. is gained from an article on circus history in Montgomery County. In 1885, some of the residents of Norristown were upset by the circuses which came to town and did their unloading and set up on Sunday. The sheriff, John White, was reluctant or slow to enforce Sunday Codes.
“O’Brien’s Circus came to town that same season but at a much later date. Professor W. W. Dill, a big shot of the town and patent medicine manufacturer, was leader of Sunday closing endeavor. Professor Dill went to the lot and waited until several tents were up then with action much more vigorous than Burgess White warned them if any more were erected they would all be arrested. Work ceased for the day.” (http://www.circushistory.org/bandwagon/bw-1961Jan.htm)
The questions of how and why he built and donated the church in Norristown or how and why he became affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren in Christ remain unanswered. But, thanks to Van Gale, we know a bit more than we did before.
LeRoy Wilcox sent me the following brief article offering more detail about the Bethlehem Church and its background. Thank you, LeRoy.
Bethlehem Church Beginnings
When our church began in 1884 the people met in the home of Jonathan Moyer at 316 N. Main Street. More room was soon needed and they began meeting at nearby Citizen’s Hall, shown here on the left on an 1873 map. It was located on N. Main Street, across from the North Street intersection. Citizen’s Hall was built for concerts and lectures and opened in 1856. The Episcopal Church got their start in this building when Bishop Bouman began preaching in this building on August 28, 1859. Our congregation, in 1884, met on the second floor where Pastor Jonas Musselman preached every night for two weeks. In 1920 it was listed as Colonial Café. The Kresge Paperbox Company, by 1928, had purchased this building and the adjoining building and joined them together. The buildings were demolished in 1972 for Senior Citizen housing, which occupies the site today.
Solomon Eby, the Presiding Elder of the Mennonite Brethren in Canada, visited the Chestnut Hill Camp Meeting in the summer of 1889. He sent his comments about it to the Gospel Banner. Clearly, he appreciated and enjoyed what he saw in the Pennsylvania camp meeting.
[Gospel Banner – September 15, 1889 – page 12]
A Visit to Pennsylvania Chestnut Hill Camp-Meeting.
Dear Editor of beloved Banner:
With your permission I will give the readers of the Banner a short report of my visit to Pennsylvania and Chestnut Hill camp-meeting, where by the grace of God I arrived safe, on the 22nd day of August, and found the pilgrims earnestly engaged in prayer, praise and fellowship, and as the hallowed sound was winding its way up to Heaven, my soul was filled with love to God and the brethren and realized with Jacob of old, this is the very gate of Heaven. Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will to men. Then, after the service was closed, I was kindly received by the brethren, and made acquainted with many who I never had seen before. After many warm greetings, and God bless you, I began to look around me, and behold, I never saw things on Chestnut Hill in this fashion before; seventy-four tents, including the large tabernacle, and hundreds of pilgrims, whose faces shone with joy and gladness, and bright anticipation of a glorious time. Glory to God, the pilgrims were not disappointed. The camp-meeting proved a success from beginning to end. The power of God was manifested more or less in every service. The prominent feature of the meeting were justification, sanctification, and faith healing. Many experienced a change of heart. Christians were sanctified, and the sick were healed by faith in Jesus. Eighteen were baptized (by immersion of course) and came up out of the water shouting. One sister fell under the power of God after she got to the shore. She was then taken on the carriage and driven 2 ½ miles, which did not bring her to consciousness of this world, but the next day she was as nappy (happy?) as an angel. Praise and glory to the God of Abraham.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 28th, the camp-meeting was brought to a close by forming a ring and bidding farewell. Many tears of love and gratitude were shed, while giving he parting hand; quite likely with many never to meet again in this world. Then after this was done perhaps for the last time in this life, we came around the altar once more and a parting prayer was offered up to God to keep us from the evil of this world, and bring us safe home to Jesus. Then the bell was rung, which meant, take down your tents, and move home.
After we left the camp-ground, I visited Coopersburg, Bethlehem, Allentown and Quakertown. At the latter place I had the privilege of attending the communion meeting over Sunday, Sept. 1st, and preached twice. On Monday I visited Upper Milford. Preached once in each place.
In conclusion I would say, in honor to God, and for the encouragement of the pilgrims in Pennsylvania, you have abundant reason to be encouraged to labor on in your holy calling. The cause of God has wonderfully increased among you, the last five years especially. Therefore keep down at the feet of Jesus.
May the Grace of Christ our Savior,
And the Father’s boundless love;
With the Holy Spirit’s favor,
Rest on us from above.
Thus may we abide in union,
With each other and the Lord;
And possess in sweet communion,
Joys with earth cannot afford.
I left home August 19th, and came home Sept. 10th.
The Writings of J.C. Roth
I found a file of short writings or devotionals by J. C. Roth. John C. Roth was a M. B. C. preacher from 1900 to 1942. Huffman’s History (1920) offers the following brief biography:
Roth, John C. — Born at Leesport, Berks County, Pa., July 14, 1876. Parents were Marcellus and Helen S. Roth. Attended the common school.
Converted when a young boy; entered the ministry in 1900, and was ordained in 1903 by the Pennsylvania Conference.
Married to Mary Esther Gamler on March 5, 1896. Two children: Olive Clair and Erma Myrtle.
Held pastorates at Hatfield and Quakertown, Allentown, Reading, Bethlehem, Spring City and Royersford, Lehighton, Emaus, and Macungie, Pa.
What Is In Thine Hand? —- Exodus 4:2
by J. C. Roth
This is the question God asked Moses when He called him to go to Pharaoh and plead with him to let the oppressed go free. After Moses had said, “They will not believe me nor hearken unto my voice, for they will say, the Lord hath not appeared unto thee.” Then God asked Moses “What is in thine hand?” Moses answered, “A ROD!”
A little switch! That was all he had– to drive cattle; but God said, “Take that and go.” Go do what I tell thee; a rod with Almighty God behind it is mightier than all the armies and chariots of Egypt. So it has been down the pages of history; when God gives a man something to do He wants him to do it with the means he has, and not to plead that he cannot do it unless great means be given him. When God says, “Go,” go with whatever you have in hand.
When God asks us to do something, He does not ask us to do it with what we have not but with what we have. If there be, first, a willing mind, it is accepted according to that which a man hath and not according to that which he hath not.
When it comes to feeding the hungry, a little measure of need and a few drops of oil, three barley loaves and a few small fishes are an abundance if we consecrate them.
What has that shepherd lad, David got to kill that mighty giant with? A bird sling and some pebbles from the brook! What nonsense! – some would say. What is that in thine hand, David? A sling and some pebbles. That’s enough; down goes the giant.
Moses starts out to God’s command with his rod and the omnipotence of God flows through that rod.
The woman goes to bake a cake for the hungry prophet and the whole infinite bounty of God is in the handful of meal and the few drops of oil.
Thousands of people surrounded Jesus and His disciples and they were faint and hungry. “How shall we feed this multitude?” asked His disciples. There is a lad here with a few loaves and a few fishes. “But what nonsense to think of feeding such a crowd on that meager supply.” “Bring them to me,” said Jesus. That is, give me what you got! – and what is the result. The multitude were fed and there was an abundance left over.
Some people excuse themselves from doing anything at all because they can do so little. As if Moses had said, “All I’ve got is a rod and what can a fellow do with a rod?” IT is well to remember the parable of the talents and of the man who, having only one, hid it in a napkin and did nothing with it.
Oh friend! – is there not something that God is calling you to do! and you, like Moses are holding back and saying that it is impossible for you to do it? Is not God asking you as He did Moses, “What is that in thine hand?” Has not God given you hands to work with, a heart to love with, and feet to walk with? Then why are you holding back from that work to which he is calling you? Give yourself and all you have to God and do it now.
HOW SHALL THE PASTOR PROPERLY UTILIZE HIS TIME?
By J. C. Roth.
Some one has said that next to the blood of Jesus, the most precious blessing we possess is time. In Psalm 89:47, the Psalmist call our attention to “The Shortness of Time.” “How short mine time is.” In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5:16 and in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 4:5 we are exhorted to “Redeem the time,” he also stating the reason why- “Because the days are evil.” Time is divided in three continents. Upon two of them we have already lived. Whether we shall explore the third only He knows who holds our times in His hands. Now my subject is. “How shall the Pastor properly utilize his time? I shall call your attention to only three ways in which he can properly utilize his time; there may be more, but these three I think are the most important.
First: In the studying of God’s Word so as to be fully equipped in the work to which he is called.
Second: In prayer and supplication to God, first for himself and second for the people entrusted to his care and for whom he must give an account.
Third: In visiting his flock so as to get in touch with them and find out their needs.
FIRST: IN THE STUDY OF GOD’S WORD.
Paul wrote to Timothy, l Tim. 2:15 . “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” It has been remarked that the office of a lawyer is important because he watches over our property; and the work of a physician much more so, because he guards our health. “For the life is more than meat and the body more than raiment.” But even these are nothing to the soul and eternity. The soul and eternity alone are great. What can equal the mission we have received of the Lord Jesus, “to testify the Gospel of the grace of God” and to show unto men the way of salvation? No angel ever came from heaven to earth on so mighty an errand as ours. “I send thee” says the Lord Jesus “to open their eyes to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God,” “that they might
receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Our aim is nothing less than to rescue guilty and depraved sinners from the lowest hell, and conduct them to the heaven of heavens, and to transform them from the resemblance of the
devil into the perfection of the invisible God. And when the Lord comes, what is your hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?” Are not even they in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For they are our glory and joy. Again in the Word of God, we are described as being:-
“A Soldier”.”but it is in the good fight of faith.”
“As a fisher” but “a fisher of men.”
“As a laborer,” but “a laborer together with God.”
“As a builder,” but “it is in God’s building.”
“As a watchman,” but “watch for souls.”
So the pastor can properly utilize his time in studying the Word of God, so as to be fully equipped for this great work to which he is called.
SECOND: IN PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION TO GOD
The life of a Pastor should be eminently a life of prayer. We will give ourselves continually to prayer!
It is essential to spiritual life and to growth in grace. Pray is so much a duty that spiritual life cannot possibly exist in those by whom it is disregarded. As well might the body live without the soul as any one have spiritual life without prayer. The sun cannot shine an give no light; a fountain cannot spring up and send forth no stream; nor can a Pastor be spiritual and not produce habitual prayer.
A prayerful spirit breathes humility, indicates a sense of want and acknowledges dependence upon God. On the contrary, the neglect of prayer invariably evinces the influence of pride or carelessness or self-ignorance and generally of all these evils combined.
Prayer is the telephone of faith and the pastor should spend much of his time talking to God through this phone.
Prayer is the telegraph of love and the pastor should be kept busy sending messages over this wire.
Prayer is the key of power and the more time the pastor spends in using this key to open heaven’s storehouse of blessing, the more power he will have with God and man.
THIRD: IN VISITING HIS FLOCK
It has been said that a house going pastor makes a church-going people. Here is where a pastor may utilize a great deal of his time and that very profitably. The closer he gets in touch with his people the better he becomes acquainted with their needs, but great care should be taken in when, how, and why he visits. Not only go to those who want him most but to those who need him most. Every pastor must be with the families of his flock in sickness, danger and affliction. He must stand by the bedside when flesh and heart are failing, when earth is receding and the awful portals of eternity are opening, he must accompany many a trembling pilgrim to the entrance of the dark valley, and as it were, go down and dip his own feet in Jordan while the dying, who cling to him are torn from his side and sink in the cold flood. He must be able to point them to Him who has said that He would go with us even through the valley of the shadow of death and that they need not fear any evil; that He would be with them and that His rod and staff would comfort them. Every hour of the pastor will be well filled up if he attends strictly to the various duties of his office.
I came across the first Sunday School convention held by our church in 1885. A first impression of the people who formed the beginnings of our church is that they were a simple lot with agricultural roots. It is clear that they were committed to serving the Lord in a simple way but also that they were committed to learning together about how they could better serve the Lord. The pastors gathered for ministerial conventions where they learned from each other. Lay persons were given opportunity to grow and develop in their teaching ministries through the Sunday School Conventions (both English and German).
[Gospel Banner, September 15, 1885, page 12]
Report of the First Sunday-School Convention of the Pennsylvania Conference of the M.B.C. Church.
The first S. S. Convention of the M. B. C. Church commenced at Quakertown, Bucks County, May 30th, 1889. The meeting was opened at 10A.M., by William Gehman, P. E., by reading the 5th Chap. of Hebrews, singing and prayer.
A. Kaufman was then chosen secretary.
The first subject on the programme was: Is the S. School a part of the church, or an institute by itself? By G. A. Campbell.
The following brethren took part in the discussion: Jacob Horn, Wm. B. Musselman, J. C. Krupp, Joel Rosenberger and John Knaus.
The second subject on the programme was: What should be the principal object of the school? By M. A. Zyner. The following brethren took part in the discussion: – Jacob Horn, W. B. Musselman, and Wm. Gehman.
Resolved, That the principal object of the S. School should be to bring the children to true conversion, and win them, not only for the church, but for heaven. The session now closed.
The afternoon session was opened by singing and prayer, led by Eld. A. Kaufman.
The third subject on the programme was now taken up.
How can we keep the youth in our S. Schools, and win them for the church. By A. B. Gehret.
The following brethren took part in the discussion: – M. A. Zyner, H. B. Musselman, W. B. Musselman, A. Strawn, C. L. Kauffman, J. H. Moyer, J. Rosenberger, E. C. Hollenback, and W. Gehman.
Resolved: That the principal cause that the youth are not kept in the S. School, and won for the church lies with the parents, leaders of the S. School and church members because they show no love for, nor interest in them, and are too indifferent concerning the S. School and all public worship and church affairs.
The fourth subject was: Why are revivals so seldom, and when they do take place, so many so shallow? By W. B. Musselman.
The following brethren took part in the discussion: G. A. Campbell, J. H. Moyer, M. A. Zyner, J. E. Fidler and W. Gehman.
Resolved: That the lack of the Holy Ghost power, and the union and sympathy among the ministers and members are the cause.
The afternoon session closed by singing and prayer led by W. D. Haws.
Evening session opened by singing and prayer, led by Oswin Hillegas.
The fifth subject was: The good and evil results of the S. School. By A. Kauffman.
The following brethren took part in the discussion: W. B. Musselman, and M. A. Zyner.
Resolved, That if the S. School is not kept pure from worldly conduct, the spirit of the times in dress and festivals and all such conduct that has more tendency to feed the carnal mind than the spiritual, the evil results will over balance the good.
The sixth subject was: How to keep the school in an enthusiastic and lively state. By J. E. Fidler.
The following brethren took part in the discussion: G. A. Campbell, M. A. Zyner, J. H. Moyer, A. Kauffman, H. B. Musselman, O. Hillegas and France Hofman.
Resolved, That the principal thing, to keep the S. School in such a state is the united effort of the whole congregation filled with the spirit of God to carry on the school to the honor of God and salvation of souls.
Eld. Wm. Gehman gave a brief closing address to the convention thanking God for the blessings we realized during this convention, and closed with singing and prayer.
Wm. Gehman, Chairman
Abraham Kauffman, Sec’y.
I had better bring this issue to a conclusion or it will become a book. You can at least see my problem about looking through files and doing research. Every tidbit of historical data produces a new story. I love it.
An additional note: Our condolences to Clayton Dietz on the death of his wife, Kathryn. An empty chair is a difficult thing. Take comfort from God’s word, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve as those who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
Send me your questions and ideas for stories. I will be glad for them.