The Historical Society
The Bible Fellowship Church
I enjoy preparing these newsletters. For the most part, I do it because it is fun for me. I can’t explain why but I don’t worry about that. But, there is more to it than fun. I like to make comparisons between what was and what is. I like to see how things have changed and ask whether we are better or worse for the change. I like to see what was important to those who went before and wonder whether they were doing better than we.
The first of our interesting articles is the minutes of the Sunday School Convention of 1932 held in Easton. I am struck by the care taken with the organization, procedure and record keeping of such an event. Were we obsessed with organization? Why did they keep careful minutes of such a meeting? Why did they insist on such careful order in the meeting itself? Take a look inside the work of Sunday School in 1932.
Sunday School Convention Report
The Forty-Fourth Annual Sunday School Convention of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ, Easton District, was held in the church on Race Street, near Sixth, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, May 18, 1932.
All the pastors, superintendents and delegates of the convention registered at 9:30.
The morning meeting was opened at 9:45 by the chairman, P. T. Stengele, by singing the convention hymn, “Longing to Go.” [see end for chorus] Rev. J. G. Shireman of Shamokin, Pa., then led in prayer. After which, Rev. P. T. Stengele, the chairman, read the scripture lesson from Phillipians 3, 1 to 14.
The question, who should be members of the convention was discussed, being properly moved and seconded that the pastors of the Easton District and the pastors present from the Allentown District, Superintendents, Delegates and essayists should be admitted in the Conference Bar.
Roll call was take with all the pastors, superintendents, delegates and essayists present. The rules of the convention were then made as follows: Resolved that the chairs in the front and the first two rows of pews constitute the convention bar. Anyone desiring to speak must respectfully address the chair and speak not over ten minutes on any one subject. No one dare leave the bar without permission, with the exception of pastor T. D. Gehret and superintendent A. F. Smith.
Next on the program was the appointment of
committees. Resolved that a committee of three each be
appointed on Publication, Finances, Resolutions and
each on Auditing and Minutes and a
The committees appointed by the chairman were publication, Paul E. Baer, J. B. Henry and J. G. Shireman. Finances, W. W. Hartman, M. M. Meyers and E. E. Kublic. Resolutions, J. G. Shireman, H. W. Hartman and C. L. Miller. Statistics, E. George, J. B. Henry and R. H. Gehman. Auditing, E. J. Rutman and R. H. Gehman. Minutes, E. W. Bean and J. B. Henry. Timekeeper, E. George.
At this time a selection was rendered by C. L. Miller and E. George, entitled, “He Will Understand.”
The various reports of the Sunday School superintendents were as follows:
Newark, N. J.
The superintendent reported that this Sunday School was gaining steadily and that new scholars were being brought in by a contest called “The Great Lakes Trip” which has created a stir in the Sunday School.
The outstanding event they had in their Sunday School was Decision Day in which many of the scholars yielded their life to Christ. They are now having a contest called A Trip to Palestine in which the boys are at present ahead of the girls. A very helpful aid to them in class work is the class mottos for each class, such as “Fishers of Men,” and “The Good Samaritan,” and in the Primary Department “Buds of Promise.”
Camden, N. J.
The superintendent also reported having the contest, “A Trip To Palestine By Airplane.” The Sunday School is divided into two sections with each one trying to win the contest. The teachers are very faithful and have very little need of substitutes. They have organized a Men’s Bible Class which is encouragingly progressing. Each Sunday they start their Sunday School session by singing a theme song.
The average attendance during the past quarter was 147 which is a very high average. A woman in this school who has much work at home, made it her aim to bring 14 new members into the Sunday School, although she did not succeed in bringing in this amount all in one Sunday she did bring the greater majority. On the day that the missionary barrels are collected each member of the school pledges himself to pray every day for the next six months for a certain missionary of his own choice and supported by our denomination which results in constant prayer being offered daily for every missionary supported by the Mennonite Brethren in Christ.
Although it is a newly organized school it is progressing very rapidly. The first Sunday afternoon the heralds from Chester motored to Wilmington and went into the streets inviting every one they met to come into their Sunday School which resulted in bringing nineteen into the school. But as is always the case in the Lord’s work some of the children were not allowed to return and others did not care to. Thus the attendance dwindled away until finally one Sunday only one girl was present. Courage was kept up and the streets were once more scoured in the hope of bringing in new members and thus with the aid of prayer they now have a very thriving school. One of the most strictly enforced rules is that each pupil must carry a Bible or Testament.
Mt. Carmel, Pa.
There has been a fluctuation in attendance due to the fact that many of the scholars have moved to various other towns and cities and also due to some of the children whose parents do not come and make no special effort to have their children come. They are blessed with a group of Spirit-filled and faithful teachers.
A goal is set each Sunday for a certain number of attendance and if this goal is reached each individual present is awarded a prize. The goal for a certain Sunday was 125. When the report was posted it showed only 121 present. However the situation was soon remedied for a few of the scholars went out into the streets and brought in four more members which resulted in the goal being reached. The teachers help to bring in a good number of new members by canvassing from door to door.
West Philadelphia, Pa.
A new home department has been organized which is growing very encouragingly. They had an airplane contest in which every one on the purple as well as on the orange side worked hard to win. All children are given the privilege of securing Bibles by making a small payment of ten cents each week until the Bible is paid for. Thus many are enabled to possess Bibles which otherwise would be impossible.
At this time all stood and sang the chorus, “Only Believe,” which was followed by the report of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
The Sunday School was given two bushels of popcorn and not knowing how to dispose of so great an amount a Bible drill was decided upon and each one finding the verses called for was given some popcorn. Most of the scholars have far to come which is a slight hindrance to the attendance.
A deep interest was created in this school by means of an airplane contest between the boys and girls. An apparatus was arranged to move the planes which sounded like a real airplane motor. Instead of the teachers giving object lessons some of the scholars are called upon to do so.
This Sunday School meets in the morning at Chester, Pa. and in the afternoon at Trainer, Pa. Seventeen scholars were baptized last Sunday. A contest is now on in the Sunday School in which the school is divided the one side being called the Faith side and the other the Hope side.
At present a contest is on to get new members, the one bringing in the most scholars will receive a prize and the one obtaining the most visitors wins a prize.
The Bible is honored above all other things in this school. The Bible is taught instead of things which of no spiritual help to the scholars. Many new scholars are being brought in by the radio broadcasting.
Following this report, the chorus, “Lord Keep Me Shining For Thee,” was sung.
Rewards are given each year for reading the Bible through. The teachers study helpful Christian books in order to better fit themselves for their duty. The cradle roll which has been organized only two years ago now numbers 77.
Jersey City, N. J.
A new building has just been built and there is plenty of room for new scholars, also much new territory in which to carry on the work. During the past year they had an average of 13 cents per person for offering.
The teachers speak Sunday on the different missionaries who have gone to foreign lands and laid down their lives in the Lord’s work. Last summer for three months a contest was held for the scholars being present every Sunday and being there on time. Bible drills were held. This past year there has been an increase of 16% in attendance over last year. During the airplane contest thus far there has been an average of over 75% of the pupils carrying their Bibles.
The teachers and officers are workers in their school. The Sunday School is growing through the primary department. At present a contest is on for bringing new scholars and the one bringing the most will be rewarded.
After the Sunday School reports were finished, the chorus, “I Will Praise Him,” was sung.
Brother Gehman was called upon to give an inspirational talk on any subject of his choice. He gave a few comments on what was said about the various Sunday Schools which finally ended in the subject of an offering. While the offering was being lifted a new piece was sung entitled, “Watch for the Bridegroom.”
Brother Gehret gave an address of welcome and invited all to the basement for a good dinner.
The morning meeting was dismissed by Rev. E. N. Cassel at 12:02 o’clock.
The afternoon meeting was opened at 2:10P. M. By singing the convention Hymn, “Longing to Go.” We were led in prayer by Rev. H. K. Kratz.
The roll call was then taken with all pastors, superintendents, delegates and essayists present which was followed by the reading of the minutes of the forenoon meeting.
Reports of the Committee on Statistics
Total enrollment of officers, 109, of teachers, 195, of scholars, 1827, making a total of 2131. Home department, 481. Cradle roll, 424. There has been an increase of 257 scholars since last year or a 12% increase.
Report of the Finance Committee
Total Offering for convention - $248.20
Total amount of Expenses - 236.26
Balance - 11.94
Report on Auditing
The committee for the financial and statistical reports correct.
A solo, “Gather the Children,” was given by Brother Rutman which was followed by a duet by R. H. Gehman and C. L. Miller, “What a Wonderful Savior is Jesus.”
Essay - Requisites of a Spirit-filled Sunday School
To have a Spirit-filled Sunday School we must have unity. In unity there is strength. Let nothing be done in strife or vain glory. We should have one spirit and one mind to get effectual work done. We must be in accord with Jesus, as the tire of the wheel keeps the spokes in the wheel. I f the superintendent, teachers and officers are filled with the Holy Spirit progress is made.
We must be willing to go to God for things we cannot do ourselves. We should not wait for feeling or overcoming joy but do what Jesus tells us to do. The result of being Spirit-filled is heart-giving and thankfulness.
As a little leaven leaveneth a whole lump so we if we are Spirit-filled can win many scholars to Christ, but if we quench His Spirit we refuse His call and so we cannot do any good work for the Lord. The opposite of being Spirit-filled is strife. The Prophet said, “Do nothing through strife or vain glory.” Christ came to humble us therefore let us not think of ourselves. A superintendent and teacher must love the scholars to be Spirit-filled. The teacher that is full of the Spirit is fit to teach the scholars.
A scholar often thinks, “Does my teacher care for me?” A teacher should show deep concern about the scholars by shaking hands with them and inviting them to come again. A teacher should not teach of every day affairs but should teach the Bible. Prayer must be made without ceasing by the superintendent and teachers.
Teacher, did you ever weep over any of your unsaved scholars? To be a successful teacher you must have a longing to see all your scholars saved. A teacher should think, “How can I bring my scholar to Christ?” If a Sunday School is to be Spirit-filled it must have the power of God back of it.
Discussions on the Essay were then opened with the following points being given.
We should have the spirit of love and the thought of prayer for nothing can take the place of prayer. We should act first and then see the results. A teacher should think like boys and girls.
There is a need of more Spirit-filled Sunday Schools. We should always try to get more scholars. Each one of us engaged in this work should be yielded completely to the Lord. We must consider the little ones, welcome and encourage them. Best impressions are made when children are small.
Following the discussions all stood and sang, “I Long to Be Holy.”
Address by E. E. Kublic
Romans 12:11 - Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
We should not be slothful in business. Business is not a recreation but is a duty and work. The sluggard likes summer better than winter because in the summer he can get plenty to eat and when winter comes he has nothing stored up therefore it is hard to get anything. There is only one way that a sluggard can rid himself of this terrible condition and that is by yielding himself completely and fervently into the Lord’s work.
Address by P. T. Stengele
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Training children is a very important and necessary question today. There are two capacities that we possess - first the capacity to have the Holy Spirit dwell in us - second the capacity of heritage. In the home a Bible is necessary. A home without a Bible is dangerous at all times. We should train our children because of society, should teach them to be honest, loving and just. A child should be brought up in good sentiment instead of feeling. The reason for untrained children is that we do not depend on God and ask Him for guidance. If we train our children in the will of the Lord He will take care of them.
While the offering was being taken, Brother Gehret invited all present to stay for supper. The meeting was dismissed at 4:40 o’clock.
The evening service was opened at 7:20 with congregational and special singing. Rev. J. B. Layne led in prayer. The address of the evening was given by Presiding Elder Brother Gehman of Easton, Pa. on “The Christian Warfare,” the scripture being found in 1 Timothy 6:12. The evening service was dismissed by Rev. J. G. Shireman of Shamokin, Pa. At 9:00 P. M.
LONGING TO GO
If Jesus should come, If Jesus should come,
I'd welcome the call from on high,
There's nothing could hold me, not money nor home,
I'd leave without saying good-bye.
I'm longing to go,
(I'm longing to go, I'm just longing to go).
I'm longing to go,
(There's nothing, there's nothing can keep me below).
When the trumpet shall sound
From the mansions on high,
I'd leave without saying good-bye.
I'm tired of things earthly of everything here.
There's nothing could hold me, I know
This world is a wilderness, naught I hold dear,
I'm longing, just longing to go.
I've laid aside weights, and I've washed my robes
And the blood's flowing over my soul
The way seems so dark and so long is the night,
But faith keeps its eye on the goal.
I may not look princely, you mock at the thought
That I claim I'm a child of the King,
My garments within with fine needlework wrought
Make me meet with the ransomed to sing.
You laugh at me now but some day you will long
To have chosen your lot with me here;
You'll wish for a mansion, a robe and a crown,
But 'twill be too late then, I fear.
(Copyrighted by H. S. Hallman)
LeRoy Wilcox tells me he is retired now. It sounds like he is pursuing his love of chasing details and putting stories together. He has shared the background of a couple of pastors who served with our denomination. Thanks, LeRoy, for sharing your work.
MARKS DRUMHELLER HAWS
1838 - 1915
Marks Haas was born on June 9, 1838 at Lobachsville, Pike Township, in Berks County, to Peter and Susan (nee Drumheller) Haas. He was the youngest son and the sixth child born of seven. Peter was born on September 22, 1901 in Cumru Township and died on September 12, 1884 in Oley. His father, Frederick, was born around 1765 and his mother, Cathereine, was born around the same time.
Marks is listed in the 1850 Census as living in New Hanover, Montgomery County, with Rev. Conrad Miller and his wife Hannah. In the 1860 census he listed as living with his maternal grandmother, Susan Drumheller, in Earl Township, Berks County. His mother and father, Peter and Susan, together with three of his siblings, were also living in the area, probably next door. The census taker spelled the name ‘Hahs”.
Marks served in the Civil War with the PA 32nd Regiment .The men gathered in Philadelphia on May 30, 1861 and the group then traveled to Easton by rail. They trained at Camp Washington, located just west of Easton, in what is now Wilson Boro. His commanding officer wanted him to anglicize his surname so he changed it to Haws. The 32nd was ordered to Washington D.C. and later assigned to General George Meade’s brigade, where they saw heavy fighting around Richmond. His term of service ended on June 17, 1864 but Marks reenlisted with the PA 54th Regiment on July 4, 1864 and served in West Virginia. After the war he married Esther A. Parker, of Oley Township, who was known as Hettie. The marriage was performed in Kutztown on November 7, 1868 by Rev. A.L. Leupold. Eight children were born to them but two died when quite young. Hettie was born on March 24, 1851 to Aaron and Hettie (nee Gambler) Parker.