The Historical Society of the Bible Fellowship Church
I will begin with a confession. This is the last thing you might expect to hear from me. If you are braced, here it is. I am not a collector. You hear me ask for old pictures and documents and suppose that I am. Even my enthusiasm for things of the Civil War does not give way to a collector’s urge. I have a few nic nacs that friends have given me but that is as far as it goes.
Why am I confessing this to you? Good question. I get and keep anything I can that relates to our history and our heritage. But my goal is not to collect things for the sake of having a collection. I collect what I think will help us to know and understand our past. Something like a missionary barrel can be invaluable. Buttons from Gospel Herald uniforms are great when you want to picture the Heralds in uniform. Pictures give the faces of people long gone. My goal is not simply to fill our file cabinets with documents.
Get to the point. We have been collecting documents which I have carefully catalogued and stored in fire resistant cabinets in a room with relatively low humidity. While we have stored the documents, I would like to get the information out of the cabinets into your hands. I have made it a point to start looking for materials to reprint in this newsletter. The net effect will be to take the information stored away and get it out. The originals will always be there. Now you will have access to what is in the files. I have made list of items to share and will be endeavoring to reprint them through this newsletter. That will not eliminate my desire for your stories. Please send them. They have top priority when I put one of these publications together
Before you read too far, I want to remind the few of you who may not have renewed your membership for the coming year. If you have not renewed, I will remove your name from our mailing list. I won’t do it happily but I will do it. Send your renewal to Ardella. You have the paper somewhere. If you don’t let me know and I will send you another.
My first offering this issue comes as a result of the letters of F. B. Hertzog which I sent to you. I had many comments of appreciation for them. Royal Kramer followed up with some worthy remarks. Royal is from Allentown. By the way, Royal has been helping prepare minutes for our web site. His computer help is invaluable.
THE GREATEST GENERATION
Recently I completed reading Tom Brokaw’s book entitled “The Greatest Generation.” At present, I am just about 75% complete of his second book entitled “The Greatest Generation Speaks.” I found both books to be very interesting which brought back vivid memories.
I was eight years old when World War II began and although I was not a member of the Bethel Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church on North 8th Street in Allentown, my mother was and I recall the days when many of the men from this church went into the military service. There was 38 men and 1 woman who served.
In reading your latest article regarding Pastor F.B. Hertzog and the encouragement he was to these men and women and to the parents of these people reminded me of the time when being a member of this conference you took a passive attitude toward serving in the military.
This brought back memories of the time I was drafted into the U.S. Army five days before my first wedding anniversary. It was in January of 1957. The Korean War era had ended and the Vietnam War had not begun. I was in during the so called “Cold War period.” No one was shooting at anyone and the world at that time was considered fairly peaceful.
I was in my third or fourth week of basic training down at Ft. Benning, GA when, during a formation period right after lunch, I was told to report to our Battery Commander immediately. Instant panic set in as you never reported to him unless something drastic, tragic or some earth shattering incident occurred. With fear and trembling, I made my way to his office wondering what happened. Immediately I thought something happened to my wife or my parents back home here. After arriving at his office, I was told to stand at ease but my knees were still knocking. Captain Koop was an excellent officer and leader. Everyone just thought he was the greatest as he was more like a father to us guys than a Battery Commander. He was earnestly concerned about us and our welfare as he knew we were raw recruits, all draftees and really not wanting to be there but at home instead. He told me that he was looking over our records and he saw that I was a Mennonite. When entering the military, your name, serial number and religious denomination was stamped on your dog tags. Since I was the only one that was a Mennonite, I was the only one called into his office. He told me that he knew quite a bit about the Mennonite denomination and how they opposed serving their country as they were conscientious objectors and opposed to warfare. He said that when I spoke to my parents and wife again, I should tell them that he would do his best to have me released from the military on these grounds. I told him I appreciated his concern but that the Mennonite Brethren in Christ denomination was not tied in at all with the Mennonites and Amish in Lancaster County who were opposed to this. I told him that I felt the Lord wanted me serving in the military at this particular time in my life and I was willing to serve my two years just like all the other guys in my unit. I also told him that no matter what our denomination or religion was, deep down inside we were all opposed to warfare. No one wanted to fight and kill. He continued telling me that he would do his best to get me out if my family requested it but I thanked him very much for his concern and said that I would remain for those two years.
As it turned out, I eventually ended up in Germany in a Signal Corp battalion serving there for 18 months. As I look back on those days which occurred over 40 years ago, I can honestly say that I never regretted my decision to stay in for that period of time. I got involved with the chapel ministry on post, I had a wonderful Christian chaplain who was of the Presbyterian faith but could preach as good a salvation message as any Baptist or BFC pastor. I can honestly say that the Lord was closer to me over there in Germany than at any time in my earlier Christian life. He was with me every step of the way and I have to thank Him from the bottom of my heart for keeping me from harm and all the other forms of evil so prevalent in the military service. I feel those 18 months were the richest 18 months of my spiritual life. I met quite a few other Christian men involved in the chapel program and in our Adult Bible Class, which was held every Sunday morning prior to the morning worship service, there were at least eight different denominations represented there but we were only there for one purpose; to honor and glorify Jesus Christ our Savior. Denominations were more or less swept under the rug in that chapel program. They did not mean a thing.
When it came time for me to rotate back to the states, I can honestly say I was filled with mixed emotions. After 18 months, I was ready to come back to the greatest country in the world but at the same time, I was sad and broken-hearted because I would definitely miss my Christian buddies and our wonderful chaplain who had been a very close friend of mine as well as a counselor and I knew I would definitely miss his excellent and challenging messages on Sunday mornings. I do not know how many men who served our country in past wars were ever in combat, but I am quite sure there were quite a few of them, who never saw combat or had to carry or fire a weapon, yet they served their country honorably and courageously. The Lord had a position for them in places where they were needed and at places where they could feel His presence all the time. Incidentally, the 38 men and 1 woman from Bethel church who served our country all came home alive. God did and still does answer prayers.
Thanks, Royal, for your thoughts and memories. The importance of the men and women who lay their lives on the line for our freedom and protection has come to us in many ways since the awful events of 9/11.
Next, a mystery for those who enjoy such things. First, the object of the mystery, some notes in German. (Thanks to Marian Gerber of the Wallingford congregation, whose native tongue is German, for doing the translation.)
Dienstag, den 28ten August 1888
Auf der Kestenberg Lagerversammlung.
For. Eldester Wm. Gehman. Predigte ueber den gegenstand von der Taufe und in Seiner Predigt fuehrte volgendes ein:
Jahre zurick, wurde eine committee von drei manner erwahlt in der stadt Philadelphia von den unerschiedlichen Gemeinden, der kindertaufer, um die drei besten grunden hierfuer zu bringen aus der Heiligen Schrift, die aufzuweisen sin, in bezug der bestatigung der Kinder-Taufe.
Die Committee brachte volgendes:
Der Erste: “Lasset die Kindlein und wehret ihnen nicht zu mir kommen den solcher ist das Himmelreich. Matt. XIX.=14.
Der Zweite: “Den euer und euer Kinder is diese Herheiszung und aller, die ferne sind. Welche Gott, unser Herr, herzurufen wird.” Apost. II.=39
Der Dritte: “Seid unterthan aller menschlichen Ordnung um des Herrn will, es sei dem Konige, als dem Obersten.” I Petri.=II.=13
Written Sunday - Sept. 9. 1888.
M. A. Zyner
Tuesday, August 28, 1888.
At the Chestnut Hill Campmeeting.
Pres. Elder Wm. Gehman preached about the subject of baptism and included in his sermon the following:
Years back in the city of Philadelphia a committee of three men was chosen from different churches which were baptizing children to show the three best reasons from the Holy Scriptures regarding the baptism of children.
The committee brought the following:
First: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matt. 19:14
Second: “To you and your children is the promise, and all, those who are far off, which God, our God, shall call.” Acts 2:39
Third: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme.” 1 Peter 2:13
Written Sunday - September 9, 1888.
M. A. Zyner
Mysteries are like “connect the dots” puzzles. The clues are the dots. The lines are to be drawn together. In this case, it is very hard to find any way to connect the dots. Here are the clues:
●David E. Thomann gave the document to the archives, a fly leaf from a minute book from Terre Hill.
●M. A. Zyner, the author, was assigned in 1888 as a probationer to serve with W. B. Musselman on the Coopersburg / Bethlehem Circuit. He lived in Center Valley. He served in several capacities in the Annual Conference beginning in 1880 as the assistant secretary. He is listed as a preacher for the years 1889 through 1894. In 1895, Zyner was accused of "disloyalty, untruthfulness and more or less conspiracy." Since he refused to humble himself, he was dismissed from the Conference.
●Baptism was a matter of controversy in our early days. The minutes of Tuesday, November 5, 1861, record, "Then the article on baptism was discussed somewhat at length in brotherly love and it was unanimously Resolved: That God's Word and the teaching of our author Menno Simons in this as well as in all other articles of faith shall be taken as our fundamental rule and way."
●William Gehman preached on baptism at the Chestnut Hill Camp Meeting on Tuesday, August 28, 1888, and shared the story of polling churches of Philadelphia concerning baptism. Almost two weeks later, Zyner recorded the information in the fly leaf of a Terre Hill minute book.
The questions are like a riddle:
●What is the link between Terre Hill, M. A. Zyner, a sermon at camp meeting, and the controversy on baptism?
●Why did M. A. Zyner record this note believing the record of Gehman's story about baptism significant? There is no mention of any baptism controversy in any of the minutes, either annual or general.
●Was Zyner a "troublemaker" who wanted a record to support some sort of charge against Gehman?
●Does the note indicate that Gehman was being criticized or praised?
I have none of the answers. What do you think? What questions are raised in your mind?
There's no mystery about the use of instruments in our churches at the turn of the century. Worship and music are very hot topics in many of our churches today. These were issues of concern. The following is a tract prepared by H. B. Musselman to address those concerns and give support for the view that musical instruments do not belong in churches. The tract has no date. My guess is that it appeared sometime around the turn of last century (1900 - 1910). Clearly, a century later, another view prevails.
VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
ACCORDING TO GOD'S WORD
H. B. Musselman
"And these are they whom David set over the service of SONG in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest. And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation with SINGING, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and then they waited on their office according to their order" (I Chron. 6:31, 32).
David was raised up on high to be the sweet Psalmist of Israel (see II Sam. 23:1); not only to pen psalms, but to appoint the singing of them in the House of the Lord, and this he did after the ark had rest. These appointed singers kept up that service in the tabernacle till the Temple was built, and then they waited on their office there (see I Chron. 6:32). In I Chronicles 6, we have an account of the three great masters who were employed in the service of the sacred song, each with their respective families, for they "waited with their children," that is such as descended from them, or were allied to them (see vs. 33).
In I Chronicles 9:33, we read, "And these are the SINGERS, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night." It would seem that these were continually employed in SINGING His praises. Thus was God continually praised, as it is fit He should be, who is continually doing good. Thus devout people might at any hour have assistance in their devotion. No doubt this also prefigured the Heavenly Temple, where they rest not night and day from praising God (see Rev. 4:8).
Thus singing as a prominent part of worship is brought before us in the New Testament. "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I SING praise unto Thee" (Heb. 2:12). "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, SINGING and MAKING MELODY in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5 :17-20).
Drunkards are wont to sing obscene and profane songs. The heathen in their Bacchanals, we are told, used to sing hymns to Bacchus, whom they called the god of wine. Thus they expressed their joy, but the Christian's joy should express itself in songs of praise to his God. In these they should speak to themselves in their assemblies and meetings together for mutual edification. "Singing and making melody in your heart" – the heart always going with the lips, for "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." It is a shocking profanation of Divine worship to draw nigh unto God with the lips, while the heart is far from Him. True worship in prayer or singing must be according to the will of God. “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" (I Cor. 14:15). "Of all the liberal arts surely music is the least useful, however ornamental it may be" (Clarke).
Spiritual singing is commanded in God's Word. Over one hundred and seventy times we find singing referred to in the Word of God. We are told to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. All true worship must come from the heart, and must not be brought forth mechanically. Thus we see that singing takes a prominent part in the worship of God, as taught in His Word. Who can tell the difference between the heathen's prayer in using the prayer-wheel, or the Christian's worship in using wooden or metal instruments that have no life.
The history of music, or its origin does not commend their use in spiritual worship.
The history is brief in this: Unto Adam and Eve were born Cain, Seth and Abel. The sad history of Abel is well known. Of Seth's descendants it was early said: "Then began men to call upon the Lord." But of Cain, a murderer, a fugitive and vagabond, it is said: "He went from the presence of the Lord." Of Cain's descendants we have Lamech, who invented polygamy, and Jubal, the father and inventor of the harp and organ. To be consistent in Bible teaching, we must admit that Cain's course with that of his descendants was the course of the flesh.
It has been said that David, of whom it is said that he was a man after God's own
heart, used musical instruments, and therefore their use should commend itself to the Christian worship also. Let us remember that not all of David's acts commend themselves for our imitation, but rather serve us as a warning, to guard against falling into the same sins.
Let us briefly refer to this matter of David with reference to his introducing musical instruments for worship. Of course God's Word is the only safe guide in all such matters:
In I Chronicles 23:5, we read that “Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments of music, WHICH I MADE, said David, to praise therewith." David made this distribution according to his own judgment, from the dictates of his own mind, and it does not appear that he had any Divine authority for any such arrangements. As to the instruments of music which he made, they are condemned in plain language elsewhere (see Amos 6:5).
Again read II Chronicles 29:27, with reference to this matter: "And Hezekiah com-
manded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments of music ORDAINED BY DAVID, King of Israel." As to the trumpets (see Num. 10:2); the necessity of such instruments will at once appear, when the amazing extent of this numerous army is considered, and how even the sound of two trumpets could reach them all is difficult to conceive. As the trumpets were to be blown by the priests only, the sons of Aaron, there were only two such persons to use them at this time, Eleazar and Ithamar. In the time of Joshua there were seven trumpets used by the priests, but these were made of rams' horns (see Josh. 6:4). In the time of Solomon, when the priests were greatly increased, there were one hundred twenty priests sounding with trumpets (see II Chron. 5:12). Read what Dr. Adam Clarke says on this:
“It was by the hand or commandment of the Lord and his prophets that the Levites should praise the Lord; for so the Hebrew term may be understood; and it was by the ORDER OF DAVID that so many instruments of music should be introduced into the Divine service. But were it even evident, which it is not, either from this or any other place in the Sacred Writings, that instruments of music were prescribed by Divine authority UNDER THE LAW, could this be adduced with any semblance of reason, that they ought to be used in CHRISTIAN WORSHIP? NO; the whole spirit, soul, and genius of the Christian religion are against this: and those who know the Church of God best, and what CONSTITUTES ITS GENUINE SPIRITUAL STATE, know that these things have been introduced as a substitute for the LIFE and POWER of Christianity. Away with such portentous baubles from the worship of that infinite Spirit who requires His followers to worship Him in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH, for to no such worship are those instruments friendly.”
Now turn to Ezra 3:10, "And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, AFTER THE ORDINANCE OF DAVID, King of Israel."
Lastly, read Amos 6:1-5: “WOE TO THEM that are at ease in Zion, * * that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and INVENT TO THEMSELVES INSTRUMENT S OF MUSICK, LIKE DAVID."
I shall close with further submitting the words spoken by Dr. Adam Clarke, the noted commentator, on this Scripture text, which are indeed worthy of our prayerful pondering:
"I believe that David was not authorized by the Lord to introduce that multitude of
musical instruments into the Divine worship of which we read; and I am satisfied that his conduct in this respect is most solemnly reprehended by this Prophet; and I further believe that the use of such instruments of music in the Christian church, is WITHOUT the SANCTION and AGAINST the WILL Of God; that they are subversive of the spirit of true devotion, and that they are SINFUL. If there was a WOE to THEM who INVENTED instruments of music, as did David under the Law, is there NO WOE, NO CURSE to them who invent them, and introduce them into the worship of God in the Christian Church? I am an old man, and an old minister; and I here declare that I never knew them productive of any good in the worship of God; and have had reason to believe that they were productive of much evil. Music, as a SCIENCE, I esteem and admire: but instruments of music IN THE HOUSE OF GOD I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music; and here I register my protest against all such corruptions in the Worship of the Author of Christianity. The late venerable and most eminent divine, the Rev. JOHN WESLEY, who was a LOVER OF MUSIC, and an ELEGANT POET, when asked his opinion of instruments of music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists, said, in his terse and powerful manner, 'I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither HEARD NOR SEEN.' I say the same, though I think the expense of purchase had better be spared."