"Rose Jelly Jakie" Moyer
November 5, 1994,
Isaac Clarence Kulp, Jr.
Jill Davidson: Clarence was born and raised in Vernfield, which is just a few miles from Graterford. He lives in the same house today where he was born and raised. He is highly literate. You can tell that when you listen to him speak. He's well-read, a local historian. He is a co-founder of the Goshenhoppen Historians. Clarence was raised in the Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Vernfield, but he is now a lay preacher at the Amwell Church of the Brethren in Sergeantsville, NJ. Clarence's mother was a friend of several daughters of "Rose Jelly" Jakie Moyer and it is from his mother's experience and acquaintance with the Moyer family that Clarence gets his stories about Jacob Moyer.
Clarence: It's a great pleasure for me to be here. This is the first time in my life that I've been in this meetinghouse although my great-great-grandfather was here at the dedication in 1892. I'm going to tell you a little bit more about that in the second lecture of the day what his impressions were- the impressions of an old Dunkard in an Evangelical Mennonite Meetinghouse.
The topic of the morning is "Rose Jelly" Jake Moyer as I learned to know about him. When I was a child, the language of my home as well as almost all of the homes around me in the Vernfield/Harleysville area was Pennsylvania Dutch. I heard the old people referring to him as the "Hart Haerich" Jakie Moyer, the "hard-of-hearing" Jakie Moyer, though I am much too young to have ever seen him, I feel that I know him because of all the stories that my mother told me. My image of him is a story that my mother told. When she was a girl, he would often come if there were special meetings of some sort at the Indian Creek Dunkard meetinghouse where my people were members. Or he would sometimes appear on a Sunday morning at regular meetings. And being hard of hearing, they would carry a rocking chair, the rocking chair that was in the "kuch," in the kitchen of the meetinghouse which is where the women hung their bonnets and shawls. This rocking chair was often used for the nursing mothers. They would carry that rocking chair out and set it in front of the pulpit in the very front of the meetinghouse. He would sit in the rocking chair and turn his ear trumpet up to the preacher's mouth and so the preacher would shout into Jakie's ear trumpet. In that way he was able to hear the sermon.
I like what Ward Shelly had to say in the paper that he delivered on Jakie Moyer at our Delp Meetinghouse a few years ago. He said he embodies the Scripture, "He being dead, yet speaketh." Although he is gone all these many years, dying in 1914, when my mother was thirteen years old, all of his descendants embody many, many workers in the Lord's Kingdom: preachers, and missionaries, Gospel Workers. All represent that testimony, the witness that he left.
You may read about his story in What Mean These Stones? which has republished his autobiography in which he tells his story. I consider that a precious document.
Jacob H. Moyer, son of Jacob L. Moyer who was born in 1808 and died in 1887, and of Sarah Heckler, who were Dunkards at Indian Creek. So I feel that we Dunkards produced Jakie Moyer. Now he got mixed up on baptism somehow. He got to doing it in the wrong direction, but at least he did it under the water. He tells us in his autobiography that his mother died in 1842 when he was just five weeks old, and then he went to be raised by his grandparents who were Mennonite. And so his upbringing was Mennonite. His grandparents who raised him were Abraham H. Moyer and Barbara Landis. Abraham H. Moyer was the son of Abraham Moyer and Catherine Hagey. So he has a long history, a long genealogical background of Mennonite and Brethren forebears in the Franconia/Salford area.
He was a sickly young man. He had a lot of health problems. One time he tells the story that he almost drowned. He was playing in the creek and somehow fell in and they thought he was dead. And then he had diphtheria, which affected his voice and his hearing throughout his life. It affected his voice in that, though he loved to sing, everybody that I talked to said that he couldn't sing very well. He was not very melodious. One of the old people in the neighborhood said that they complained to him about it, not just the fact that he didn't sing well, but that he sang so loud. His answer was, he said, "well, the Scriptures say we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord." And he said, "Well, it's joyful." The others agreed that it was a noise.
He tells a story that when he was eighteen years old, he went to cigar making, which was a common trade among the Pennsylvania Dutch people in our communities in those days. When he was twenty four years old, he went with his brother Abraham to Canada where he continued his trade of cigar making and also got into all sorts of worldly pursuits and sinful pursuits; drinking, gambling and what would have been regarded as a fast life. Then, in 1870, a revival broke out among the old Mennonites in the Waterloo Community of Canada. There were several famous preachers who caught the revival spirit. There was Daniel Hoch who later became the founder of the portion of the Mennonite Church in Canada which then became part of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. There was Amos Bowman and there were others. Under that influence in attending those meetings, Jacob Moyer was gloriously converted. But that just began the struggle he had. He would say that the devil was just determined to defeat him and to drag him down and to defeat his Christian testimony. But eventually, through much spiritual struggle, he won the victory and became a very active Christian worker.
He believed very much in the leading of the Lord. I appreciate very much the papers that were written by Valeria Boyer, and Willard Kaufman and Ward Shelly and others that Valeria supplied to me and some of the insights that they give to Jacob Moyer. The fact is that he, like so many of our spiritual ancestors, lived very, very close to God. They were on intimate terms with God, with Christ, and with the Holy Spirit. Today we are apt to take all kinds of other things into consideration when we're planning our lives: What will the neighbors think of it? What is the popular thing to do? But Jacob Moyer was a Christian of the old style. His first thought was to talk to the Lord about it. Even when his daughters wanted to go out or go away or do something, he would say, "First, we'll have to see what the Lord has to say." And he would pray about it. And reading those intimate glimpses was very, very inspirational to me.
I want to say some of the things that I learned from my mother and from some of the other older people in my community about Jacob Moyer and the Jakie Moyer's Leit, or the Jakie's Gemee, Jakie's Church, Jakie's congregation, Jakie's Meeting. How many people here today understand Pennsylvania Dutch? Do you speak it or understand it? Well, now, that's pretty good for a group of Bible Fellowship people. Of course, you have a good Pennsylvania Dutch background. I am Pennsylvania Dutch. It is my first language. As long as my parents lived, it was the only language that we spoke. English is acquired for me. I still think English is an awfully inadequate language. There's just a lot of things you just can't say in English, but you can say them in Dutch.
My mother told me a story which is on of my earliest recollections of my mother My mother was born in 1901, on the banks of the Indian Creek, Insching Grick, in Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County. I like to give this illustration because I think this is why I grew up interested in history. My mother lived on the Southeast bank of the Indian Creek in the house where she was born. Then in 1929, my father built the house where I was born on the opposite bank of the Indian Creek less than a quarter of a mile away. In all my mother's life, she only lived in those two houses, less than a quarter of a mile apart. She moved once, from the one bank of the Indian Creek to the other. And in that house where I was born my mother died. Between those two houses was the little brick schoolhouse where she received all of her formal education and also the Indian Creek Dunkard meetinghouse where she worshipped for the 85 years of her life. Hers was a rather small, circumscribed life. Some people today would say, "How unfortunate. She never got out into the wide world." Well, she did travel some when she got older. But her living, her worship, and her education were all in that small area. I don't think that was unfortunate. It has given me a root system, and a stability that I prize. She was able to tell me these stories, all kinds of stories about the community. Among them were the stories about "Rose Jelly" Jake Moyer. She said when she was a girl, you see, we Dunkards, we were pretty stick-in-the-mud conservative types. Now your people were conservative, too, but in a little different way. The Dunkards didn't have evening meetings in those days, no Sunday Evening meeting. They didn't believe in that. However, the Jake's Gemee had Sunday evening meeting in Jakie Moyer's house. So the Dunkard girls from Indian Creek would walk the less than a quarter of a mile back along the Indian Creek to Jakie Moyer's house to Sunday evening meeting. They attended at times prayer meeting, and different things that went on there. My mother got to be very close friends with several. I'm never sure which ones of Jacob Moyer's daughters that my mother was a close friend of? [Valeria Boyer: Probably Lucy and Mary.] I think so. The Dunkard girls would walk back there and sometimes the Dunkard boys would walk back there and the Mennonite boys would walk there. It was worship but it was also a social event and a lot of people met their eventual life companions in that setting.
One thing that my mother said over and over again that impressed her so much about the Evangelical Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren in Christ or what they called the Jakie Moyer's Leit was their wonderful singing. The Jakie Moyer "Gemee" was known for its beautiful singing. How they sang like the angels. And, of course, what they sang were the old Dutch choruses.
O wie lieblich, wie lieblich, wie lieblich is Jesus.
Er is mein Erlaeser, mein Herr und mein freind.
(Oh, how lovely, how lovely, how lovely Jesus
He is my redeemer, my Savior and friend)
Ich waer so gern, Ich waer so gern, Ich waer so gern dort, hin
Ich waer so gern wo Jesus is, Ich waer so gern dort hin.
(I want to go, I want to go, I want to go there, too.
I want to go where Jesus is, I want to go there, too.)
My mother remembered Jacob Moyer. I was very glad to get a Xerox copy of the front of that little autobiography of him with his picture. He looks like a Dunkard preacher. Of course, the old Evangelical Mennonite preachers looked like Dunkard preachers. They wore coats like this [pointing to his own], they had beards like this [pointing to his own]. There was a great deal of good feeling between Brethren and Mennonite Brethren in Christ. Now we did get off a little bit when it came to the mode of baptism, but we'll go into that more this afternoon. My mother said she remembered, when she was young, Mrs. Jacob Moyer wearing a big black bonnet with a long cape on it and that when she was older she wore what the Jakie Moyer people called a plain hat. My great-uncle Rein Gottshall used to talk about the Charlie Hat. When they laid aside the bonnets, they still kept an order of dress but they were called Charlie Hats.
She remembered the preaching, the enthusiastic preaching of brother Woodring. My great-uncle Rein Gottshall was present when Emmanuel Cassel was made class leader, Glassfieher. Now we have some Dutchmen here. De Glass versammling. Now sometimes, of course, the old Jakie Moyer's people got a little enthusiastic, a little more enthusiastic than some of us were used to, and some wondered a little bit about that. I know an old informant of mine in Vernfield who said that he was there on one occasion in Jakie Moyer's house when they had meeting and a number of the people got happy and they started jumping and shouting and one of them rutched into the pewter cupboard and upset it and all the pewter dishes bounced out onto the hard wooden floor and made quite a racket. The boys thought that was just a wonderful thing to behold!
I talked to many people who were customers of Jacob Moyer for his rose jelly. Valeria [Boyer] gave me a tin of rose jelly, a later make than Jacob Moyer's product, but the same. They loved to await his coming, and they loved to hear him talk. He was a character of the old style. He left quite an impression on the community. The major impression that he left was of a man who was thoroughly committed to the work of the Lord, to the work of the church.
I remember talking to older people. They would speak of spiritual healing. In his autobiography you can read about his testimony concerning the anointing service. When he was very ill at one time, he called for the elders of the church and was anointed with oil for healing. He said, at first, maybe his faith wasn't as strong as it might have been so he got anointed but then he went to the doctor. Then he said he received this strong impression that he wasn't trusting the Lord enough. So he gave up the doctor. He gave up the medicine. He put it all away and trusted the Lord. He was marvelously healed. Of course, sometimes people thought, "Now what is this person who believes in spiritual healing doing pedaling rose jelly?" "Well," he said, "That's for the people who don't have enough faith. They need the medicine."
It's a wonderful thing to me to think about Jacob Moyer and many of those old brothers and sisters. They lived close to God. In our materialistic age today, as I said, we have so much in the way of great advancements of science. I have nothing against all the advancements of medical science, but somehow I think it has eroded our trust in God. That's something Jacob Moyer had all of his life. He knew God on intimate terms and trusted Him. And God spoke to him. One of the wonderful things that I realize in talking to older people is that when you live close to God He tells you stuff. He lets you know what's going on. A lot of the older people, I don't know if this was true of Jacob Moyer, but I know a lot of the older people in your church and in my church when they got to be older, lived close to the Lord and lived so much in His Spirit that when it came to die, they knew when they were going to die. They made preparations.
One of the things that Jacob Moyer was accused of by his accusers in the community who didn't understand his enthusiasm and who didn't understand his getting happy and getting blessed of the Lord, was that he and his group were entirely too noisy.
I thought I would close with this as a tribute to him. About ten years ago, I guess, I was able to acquire what for me is one of the most precious items in my historical library, and that is a copy of Elder W. B. Musselman's Ebenezer Hymnal. Wonderful book. In the front of the book are all the German hymns and choruses. The "Frohe Botschaftslieder," the hymns of happy messages. "Botschaft" means "a message." ["Frohe" means "joyful, happy," and "lieder" means "hymns" - Clarence added later] In the back the Ebenezer Hymnal which are the English hymns and choruses. I sing out of this a lot in my personal devotions and when some of my friends get together. One of the great joys that I have in connection with studying the Jakie Moyer tradition, and the Jakie Moyer people and the Evangelical Mennonite History was that I had the great opportunity, wonderful opportunity, 25 or 30 years ago, when I first got a tape recorder, to tape the late Howard Shelly and his friend from Coopersburg, Ira Bright, and his daughter, Esther, and his niece, Miriam Horn, singing the old Dutch choruses of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ. I have hours and hours of tape, singing those songs, the melodies of which have never been written down anywhere. And I hope some day to publish that material because it's a marvelous, marvelous historical and religious document. I'll say a little more about that this afternoon. But there's a song in here in the English part, and whenever I read it I think of Jacob Moyer, number 93 in the old Ebenezer Hymnal of Elder W. B. Musselman. I'm sure he sang this. It's not one that I heard people say he sang, but I'm sure he sang it. To me, this is what he would have said when he was accused of being too noisy. I like this song:
I am a Christian soldier, one of the noisy crew
I shout when I am happy and that I mean to do
Some say I am too noisy, I know the reason why
And if they felt the glory, they'd shout as well as I.
They sing and shout in heaven, it is their hearts' delight
I shout when I am happy and that with all my might.
I've Jesus Christ within me, He's turned the Devil out
And when I feel the glory, it makes me sing and shout.
My sins are all forgiven, which did as mountains rise.
My title's clear for heaven, your country in the skies.
God's saints are my companions, I'm bound for endless day.
And though the storms are raging, I'll sail along the way.
I'll sail o'er life's rough ocean, with Glory's port in view.
And Calvary's royal pilot will steer the vessel through.
I'll shout o'er death's dark river, but when I join the throng
Forever and forever, I'll roll the theme along.
We're marching on to war, we are, we are, we are.
We care not what the people think, or what they say we are.
We mean to fight for Jesus who did salvation bring.
We are hallelujah Christians, we are going to see the king.
Jacob Moyer was a Hallelujah Christian and I'm sure he's with the king.
[Reminder from Jill Davidson to tell about Jacob Moyer's house.]
Jacob Moyer's house is still standing. We're not sure the exact date it was built. Presently it is occupied by Miss Dawn Freed who is interested in restoring it. It makes us very happy that this landmark, local landmark, is going to be properly restored. There is a wonderful thing about it. I had been in it years ago and yet I never knew about the old arrangement for meeting. It is the only house that I know of in this whole corner of Southeastern Pennsylvania, outside of Lebanon and Lancaster Counties that has the old folding doors that were opened to make a meeting room to hold religious meetings, to hold services. It's built exactly like the ones out in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. Some of these are old log houses in which you have the panel doors that are hinged with hand-forged iron strap hinges. This allows the partition between the schtubb and the kammer, the schtubb being the downstairs formal room and the kammer being the downstairs sleeping room, to be opened up into one big room so that the whole downstairs is one room, with the exception of the kitchen. Those doors are still there and they're still in perfect condition. My mother could tell me about the meetings that went on. Those doors are still there. That they will be properly restored is a very good feeling for me.
The house is on Indian Creek Road about a quarter mile East of Vernfield. It is within good walking distance of my mother's home and of my home. I walk by it many, many times. The house was in very, very poor condition when the present occupant moved in but she is very interested in its restoration so we're very happy about that.
[Reminder from Jill Davidson to mention the community opinion of Jacob Moyer]
All of the Brethren at Indian Creek, the Dunkards at Indian Creek, respected him. They didn't agree with him on everything, but then we don't all agree with him on everything. They agreed on the major tenets of God's Word and they respected him. There were those, I suppose, probably some who he had gotten under conviction who just didn't like him. They didn't like his testimony. He and others in the community would tell the stories about throwing stones at their carriage when they were driving, and playing tricks on them at their home. There was some persecution because of his religious testimony.
[Question from Jill Davidson about Jacob Moyer holding meetings at the Delp's Meetinghouse]
I don't know the exact dates, but after they no longer met in, or, I think, when they were only meeting occasionally in his house, they began meeting at Delp's meeting house, or what we call the Herre-heisli, the little Herrite Meetinghouse in Franconia Township which was used by a number of Mennonite schismatic groups over the years, beginning with the Funkites and the Herrites and others. But at the time that Jacob Moyer was holding meetings there was no group using it regularly so they, the Jakie's Gemee, used the meetinghouse on a number of occasions. I've spoken to older people, now most of them passed on, who remembered attending meeting there in that little meetinghouse. From there they went to the Centennial school house in Harleysville, along Main Street, which still stands and is now a dwelling. The next step was the Harleysville Union Sunday School chapel which was purchased by G. Henry Hildebrand for the Mennonite Brethren in Christ in 1914, which was the same time that Jacob Moyer died.
My friend, Robert Bucher, who is a friend of mine and associate historian and folklorist, told me I should not forget to mention that he was in the Centennial schoolhouse, in that little school house on the hill in Harleysville at a Mennonite Brethren in Christ meeting. Those who didn't like your people called it "holy roller meeting." That was one of the slang terms that people who didn't like that approach would use. Bob Bucher said he was there as a young man. I don't know what his age was, a boy, I suppose. He said he will never forget it as long as he lives. He said, "The Mennonite Brethren in Christ were singing 'Christ Receiveth Sinful Men.'" He said that the building literally shook. He said he never heard singing like that before in his life or after. He doesn't expect to hear singing like that until he gets to heaven.
Jill Davidson: Now, you said some people didn't like Jacob Moyer and they did some petty persecutions but what was it they said about him after he died? They didn't say bad things about him. He was a good man. That surprised me that some people didn't like him. Perhaps they were under conviction. But when he died they just said good about him. [Clarence affirms the statement]. He's buried at the cemetery at the Delp's Meetinghouse but I don't remember why he's buried there. Was there a family connection there?
Clarence: Family. He comes from the Moyers who are buried there from back into the early colonial time. At one time, years and years before, it was called Moyer's Meetinghouse, and that was called Moyer's burying ground. So it was the old family burial ground. That's why he's there. There's a row. He's buried there and his wife Jane Blackburn and their young son Menno who died, I believe, at seventeen years of age and other children are buried there in one particular row.
Dick Taylor invited questions and comments.
Dick: The question that's on everybody's mind, the burning question: what is rose jelly?
Clarence: It's a salve, a salve for cuts and burns.
Dick: What was it made of?
Clarence: It was technically an ointment. I don't know what it was made of. I don't think they ever divulged that. That was a secret.
Dick: But it worked.
Clarence: It worked. There was a number of those products when I was a boy, and, of course, my parents talked about them. There was one called malina. How many people remember malina? No one? Maybe it wasn't sold in your area, but it was in ours.
Dick: So it was just a salve, for whatever ails you?
Clarence: Yes, for minor cuts and bruises, burns.
Dick: Let me throw this question at you again. I think you've said it but I'll push you a little bit on it. Why was Rose Jelly Jakie Moyer remembered so well. It fascinates me that your mother told stories about him. He obviously made an impression on people. Was that because he was a character or because of his commitment?
Clarence: Probably the combination of the two. Being a character, he got their attention and then, apparently, he always was sure to deliver his message. There was never a doubt in people's mind as to where he stood regarding his testimony.
Dick: Like you said, that probably annoyed some people, and made other people appreciate him.
Clarence: As Jill reminded me, when he died, people realized that he was a good man and a great soldier for Jesus Christ. A lot of people that were nasty to him when they were younger, later realized the type of man that they had known.
Dick: You used the phrase "getting happy" or "getting blessed" Obviously there were some pretty significant differences of view about that. What do you mean by that? What did that mean, "getting happy" and "getting blessed?"
Clarence: Well, it was something that didn't happen in the Dunkard Church.
Dick: That's why I'm asking.
Clarence: But I remember, you know,... I'll say more about that this afternoon. I'll save the answer to that for this afternoon.
Dick: This might go along with that comment, too. There was this "us against the world" attitude. That kind of thinking and a couple of things you said talked about like that were a big part of our church. We were separated. "Us against the world." Just comment on that a little bit, would you? Maybe that's going to be this afternoon, too.
Clarence: Probably, but I think that was definitely a part of your Anabaptist heritage, your Mennonite heritage in the beginning. Although when William Gehman and his associates formed the first conference of the Evangelical Mennonites there was a great deal of Methodist influence, revivalistic influence with the system of class leaders, class meetings and the camp meetings and so forth. But, at least for quite a period of time you were also very much Mennonites. You were plain Mennonites who jumped and shouted like Methodists. There was very much in Mennonite tradition that when one is totally committed to Jesus Christ that one will then be out of place in society, that one will have to separate himself or herself from the world in general because the world in general is not committed to Jesus Christ. So there was that doctrine of separation. I heard it in sermons and in Mennonite Brethren in Christ people speaking years ago, and what my mother said and other older people said. That was very much a part of it.
Dick opens it up for others' questions.
Dan Ziegler: I met Clarence some years ago, in fact, he gave us some of the documents which were included in "What Mean These Stones?" and allowed us to copy them, which we really appreciated. About that feeling of separation and alienation from the world and opposition, did the old Brethren have that same feeling?
Clarence: Oh, yes. That's something that our people and your people share. The concept that we are strangers and pilgrims, aliens in the world, that our citizenship is in heaven. Look at the old hymns in the Ebenezer Hymnbook which very much express that feeling.
Dan: My family roots, of course, go back into the Church of the Brethren.
Clarence: I know, I know. You people got some good preachers from us.
Dan: Clarence, I have another question. Do you remember Mike Ziegler?
Clarence: Very well.
Dan: I remember, as a boy, I've seen him get happy at camp meetings.
Clarence: I'll be talking more about Mike Ziegler this afternoon.
Dick: I have a vague recollection, and, Jill, this comes right out of the meetings from which the Graterford church formed. I'm going back to the house with the folding doors. They met in the home of a man named George Detwiler and didn't he have folding doors?
Jill: Yes. But those folding doors might not exist in that house today. I think that what makes the Moyer home different is that they're there today.
Clarence: Yes, there were a number of places like that but it's the only house that I know of in this area that still has them. If there are any others, I would be very interested in knowing.
Jill: Well, I think that George Detwiler home is in Skippack Township, the best I could figure from maps, land ownership maps, and such. It's on the same road as the Lower Skippack Mennonite Church, just down the street a little bit, if I pinpointed it correctly. But it looks like it's been remodeled a little bit.
Dick: Alright. We want to welcome any questions or comments that you would like, and again, we just want to get you on tape. so if you could raise your hand. We welcome comments, too. Identify yourself, please.
Valeria Boyer: Can you describe what a foresinger is?
Clarence: What a foresinger is. A song leader. In the old Dunkard church and the Mennonite church, the hymns were lined. The preacher would read or actually intone or chant the first line of the hymns. Then the foresinger would raise the tune and the congregation would sing it and the preacher would read the next line and the congregation would sing the next line. Our melodies were very slow and had a lot of hooks and crooks and turns and a lot of tune ornamentation. We were slow singers. That's what was so appealing, I think, to our young people and to a lot of people, the lively singing of the Evangelical Mennonites. These choruses, were snappy and easy to learn. They were repetitive, not a lot of words to learn. You sang the same words over and over again, but they were catchy. That was both appealing and the reason for some of the criticism that the singing was too light. It didn't have any substance. I know one of our old preachers once said, "when the music gets so lively that it gets into your toes, it's probably not reaching your heart."
Dick: Those of you who are descendants of Jakie Moyer, would you tell us something that came down through your family. We're outside the family. What were some of the things that were important in your family? Why did you talk about him?
Bruce Ellingson: I'm hearing people say things behind me and around me as you're talking about this controversy of music. What is it the Bible says, "there's nothing new under the sun." It sounds like the same thing we talk about when my generation listens to the music of the young people today.
Dick: That's what my children tell me today. I thought you were talking about what goes on today. They say, "oh, Dad, your music is so dead."
Paul Shelly: I am a grandson of Jacob Moyer. I think that in spite of Jake Moyer's peculiarities, the most powerful statement he would make was the life he lived. As he lived, so he died, on his knees, in prayer, in front of his desk.
Clarence: I agree. Thank you.
Dick asks for more comments, especially from Jakie's descendants.
Olive Rawn: I am granddaughter. Mother always told us granddad died on his knees. He had sent grandma out first of all to deliver something. It was camp meeting time. She didn't want to go because she didn't think he was that good. But he wanted her to go. She came back and found him gone, on his knees. Eunice, my mother, and Katie and Sarah were at camp meeting. Word came to them that their father had died. Katie Moyer Shelly is still living. She was just 95.
Clarence: Yes, I do realize that. Thank you very much. That tradition of dying on one's knees in prayer is something that also goes back very much in our Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. Christopher Dock, schoolmaster in the Skippack was found dead on his knees in prayer. One of the old Bishops in our church, James Quinter, who was from Central Pennsylvania but preached many times at Indian Creek, was at annual meeting and died on his knees in prayer. What a more beautiful position for a Christian to pass from this world into the next than in the attitude of prayer.
Valeria: Something my mother told me was my father built the house in Coopersburg. It was a larger house than he had been accustomed to. When our grandfather came to the house for the first time, he asked as he walked in, "wohnt Gott do?" "Does God live here?"
Clarence: That's very good. That reminds me of a story of an old Elder in our church who was taken into a modern house with a lot of overstuffed furniture. He went around and was pinching the furniture. He muttered something about Deel Leit wolle ihr Himmel do mache. Some people want to make their heaven here.
Dick: Any questions or comments? Harold Shelly, does Jacob Moyer appear among our list of preachers?
Harold Shelly: Jakie Moyer was listed among the preachers who were itinerate evangelists. Reise Prediger. He started out as a Reise Prediger, I think in Canada, and then came to the United States. Eventually they got rid of the category of itinerate and he became a quarterly conference licensed preacher. Clarence, I was going to ask you a question. We've talked about this a number of times: the Church of the Brethren has a pietistic revivalistic background and the Mennonite Brethren in Christ were Mennonites who were affected by the tradition that was part of your tradition. So there is a commonality there. But how did the Mennonites come to that tradition? I know your mother had been Mennonite, was that right?
Clarence: No, my grandmother was Mennonite.
Harold: How did the Mennonites generally respond because they didn't always share with this idea of you can know that you're saved. That's "Der Hochmuth" or pride to know that.
Clarence: Yes. Well, the Mennonite attitude about the mode of worship would have been that it was much too emotional. Mennonite worship was very staid and sober, somber. The Mennonites accused us Dunkards of approximately the same thing of which they accused the Evangelical Mennonites We were too emotional. Now we weren't as emotional as you folks were but we were already a little bit over the line. John Ruth tells me that his grandmother referred to the Dunkards as De Lockige Dunker. "De Lockige" in German is "to entice, to subvert." ["Seductive Dunkers" is the most accurate translation, Clarence added later] Of course, Dunkards were out trying to convert people just like Evangelical Mennonites. The old Mennonites did not do that.
Harold: What would have been the point of tension, beside baptism, between them?
Clarence: The tension between Dunkards and Evangelical Mennonites would have been the mode of baptism. Also there was much more overt emotionalism in the Evangelical Mennonites. The Brethren were more emotional. The preacher sometimes got quite emotional but you wouldn't have the shouting of "Amen." You wouldn't have the "getting happy."
Harold: What about the style of preaching?
Clarence: I don't think would have been that different.
Byron Cassel: You alluded this morning to baptism. Am I correct that the Brethren took the one who is being baptized and laid him forward into the water?
Clarence: Yes. Three time, face forward. That was the Brethren, still is the Brethren.
Byron: Here's my question: where did the Bible Fellowship Church get the idea of laying them backward in the water? I think it's the correct mode since I believe...
Clarence: We'll agree to disagree about that.
Byron: I think it's the correct mode because I believe it pictures death and burial of the Christian.
Clarence: That was the explanation.
Byron: My question gets down to this: Mennonite Brethren in Christ/Evangelical Mennonites were greatly influenced by the Methodists who didn't immerse at all. So there's different things going on here. I'm interested in where it came from?
Clarence: I really don't know. It is the English Baptist mode. It comes out of the English Baptist, the Anglico-Baptist tradition. But how it came to your people, I don't know. With your relationship with the Dunkards, I would have thought that you might have taken the Dunkard mode, because the Brethren in Christ and the River Brethren did through that influence, but somehow, there must have been some influence somewhere through British Isle Baptists, because that is where that mode derives, as far as I know.
Dick: When they developed their doctrinal document in 1864, they had extensive discussion on baptism, but we don't know what that discussion was. We know they talked about it. It was one of those where they paused and apparently spent some time and did some research, but we don't know what it was all about.
Dan Ziegler: Eusebius Hershey said that he preferred the Trine Immersion mode in one of his writings.
Clarence: That's interesting.
Dick: I want to throw just a final question. This is a wrap-up question. And I'm not sure where this question will take you. What does Jakie Moyer represent?
Clarence: You could have come up with an easy question. I don't really know how to answer that in a few words. I could probably talk several more hours to try to explain it. I think he represents the coming together of the Anabaptist Mennonite tradition of separateness, and plainness and intense obedience to the Word, to the Scriptures, Scriptural literalism, with the Methodist revivalist American tradition. He stands in a long tradition of plain, revivalism, for want of a better word. That's what the old Evangelical Mennonites were. They continued to look like Mennonites. They continued to be, for some time, actively opposed to participating in war, to taking the oath, re: the early discipline. It sounds like Mennonite discipline. But the worship and the spirituality were that of later American pietism, revivalism. There were several groups that took that approach. The United Christians who are still in existence in Lebanon County, the Hoffmans Leit. Of course, the United Brethren Church in Lebanon and Lancaster Counties, but for this part of Pennsylvania, from Montgomery and Bucks counties basically, there were the old Mennonite Communities. This was that expression, and he represents that to me, combining the Biblicism and the principles of separation and so forth, of the Mennonite tradition with a very lively pietistic spirituality. To me, he's the embodiment, the incarnation of that.
Jill: Thank you, Clarence. I just want to read to you a resolution of respect which I found in our quarterly conference records for this congregation, Graterford, when they were in circuit with the Harleysville congregation. The quarterly conference, as the name suggests, met four times a year. It was basically a business meeting. Most of this book is just attendance figures, offering figures, and the like. But then I came across this entry in 1914 soon after Jacob Moyer died. It says:
"Resolutions of respect. Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to remove from our midst brother Jacob H. Moyer, therefore, be it resolved that deeply as we miss him at our conference we bow to the will of him who doth all things well, feeling that our loss is his gain and further, be it resolved that we cherish the memory of our departed brother as one in whom we recognized the Christian fellowship and qualities necessary for a good and useful life. Again, his sudden departure has given us a solemn warning of the uncertainty of life. In his passing away we feel we have lost a faithful co-worker in the Lord's vineyard, the church a faithful member, the widow a loving husband, the children, a kind father, and the community a respectful neighbor. Resolved, that we give expression to our deep feeling of sympathy for the surviving family, commanding them to take comfort and consolation in the words of our blessed Lord when he said 'He that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live.' And be it further resolved that these resolution be spread on our minutes and a copy of same be handed to the bereaved family as a token of respect."
The committee was E. T. Shick, who was the pastor at the time, A. A. Wismer, who was a deacon, and G. Henry Hildebrand who was from the Harleysville congregation.
Dick: I have placed our books back here. It's been a while since I've brought them along with me. I have them back there. We have three books. If you don't have them, don't go home today if you don't have them. That's all. People who thought it important to come to a historical society meeting need to have these three books. We have "What Mean These Stones?" which contains the autobiography of Jakie Moyer and other characters, William Ellinger, the first doctrinal statement of our church, there's lots of things in there. We have Verhandlungen which is the minutes of our church from 1859 to 1895 and they really are good reading. I've had some people come up to me and say. "I thought this was going to be..." you know, they were buying the book from me to be nice. But they read it and said, "you know, this is actually good!" So you will enjoy that. Then, of course, our latest publication is by Dr. Harold Shelly, The Bible Fellowship Church.