Historical Society Newsletter
Winter is beginning to move on. The days are getting longer and warmer. You would think by this time I would have issued another volume of this publication for you. You do that sort of thing before winter moves on.
Actually, I have been very busy. I have my normal responsibilities, of course. But, my history activities have kept me hopping. Our project to preserve and make available the minutes of Annual and General Conferences is moving rapidly along. Diane and Roy Hertzog have been rapidly scanning and preparing the files. All of the Annual Conference minutes from 1896 - 1958 and 1984 - 2001 have been finished and are on line. I have finished the General Conference minutes up to 1947 leaving only 1951 to complete. This work serves two very important purposes. First, it preserves the texts in a computer format. Second, it makes the texts available to anyone who might choose to use them. You can access these texts on our web site at www.BFCHistory.org.
February is the cut off for renewing membership in our society. I have just removed several names from our mailing list. I do not like removing anyone. I would much rather add people to the list which leads me to remind you that you can add a new member at almost any time. You probably know someone who would enjoy reading these trips to our past. Why not sign them up as your guest. The cost is $10.00. Send your information to Ardella Bray. She would be thrilled to add you to our list.
For your first presentation of this issue, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church in Paradise. Jansen Hartman was a key figure in the formation of this congregation and took the time to write his recollections for them. Because he was kind enough to give us a copy, I will share it for you to see. We rejoice with the people of Paradise in this milestone and seek God’s blessing as they continue God’s work in Lancaster County.
THE BEGINNING OF THE BIBLE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH
IN PARADISE, PENNSYLVANIA
Jansen E. Hartman
America was still under a dark cloud of gloom and uncertainty in the early years of the 1950's. The end of World War II had not ushered in an era of peace. Instead, there was the cold war with Communist nations that resulted in a hot war in Korea. The military draft was still in effect, and the casualties of that war were staggering.
Despite the bleak scene nationally and on the international front, there were some encouraging happenings in the Church of Jesus Christ, The Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church shared in the upswing of revival. TheM.B. in C., however, withdrew from the denomination with which they were associated for over fifty years over doctrinal and policy differences. This step
led to a complete reorganization of the Faith and Order, and to the adopting of a new name, Bible Fellowship Church.
The spiritual renewal that often followed periods of hardship and war touched the B.F.C. as well. The founding of Berean Bible School for the training of youth for leadership at home
and abroad was one of the visible signs of new life in the Conference of churches. There was an immediate response from many who enrolled in the new school, I became Berean Bible School's first President, as well as Director of Home Missions. In 1953 the first senior class graduated.
I was asked in January of 1953, "Where will these graduates serve? Do we have a place for them in our church system?" To those questions I could not give a definite answer. This was a call for intense prayer for the future of those who had already signaled a readiness to go wherever the Lord would lead them. We prayed and waited for God's direction. One of the first indications of God's leading was to direct us to Paradise, PA.
The following is an account of that leading of the Lord to open a church in Paradise. It did not come as the result of a planned strategy or the vision of one man. It came by a series of doors opening providentially before us, leading to the door to Paradise.
This is how it happened. Pastor James Koch, organizing pastor of the B.F.C. church in Lancaster, asked me to go with him to look at pews that were for sale in a closed church in Paradise. We looked at the pews and decided that they indeed could be used in their new building. I was more impressed by the greystone church itself with its classical Episcopalian architecture. Pastor Koch told me that the church was for sale, and would probably be sold to a commercial business such as an antiques dealer. I thought that would be a shame!
Pastor Koch gave me the name and phone number of the Bishop of the Harrisburg diocese. I called the Bishop who informed me that the church was indeed for sale for $15,000. I told him we were interested in the property, but that we would need time to develop a plan for the use of the building.
The proposition to buy the church and gather a congregation together was presented to the Board of Missions. The building itself was in a condition superior to many of our own older churches. The Board authorized me to negotiate for the purchase of the edifice. After further waiting upon the Lord in prayer, I called the Bishop and told him that we were prepared to pay $12,000 for the building. I didn't know where that amount would come from, but if our offer was accepted, I felt that we would take it as a sign that the Lord would provided the needed finances. The Bishop called me a few days later to say that he would accept our offer.
Now, where were we going to get the money? We were able to set aside $3,000 from Home Mission funds for the project, but where would the remaining money be acquired? Just a few days after we made a commitment to buy the building, I was in the office of the Treasurer of Berean Bible School, Albert Wentz, conducting school business, when at the conclusion of
our session he asked, "Why are you so quiet? You seem to have something heavy on your mind." I then told him about the Paradise prospect and the problem of raising $9,000. I didn't ask him for help; I was not ready to be turned down. We parted without another word being said. Then, about four days later, District Superintendent F.B. Hertzog, called to say that Brother Wentz had talked to him, and that he was ready to advance $9,000 for a mortgage at 3% interest per year, with no time limit for repayment. Again a door had opened! The purchase of the Paradise property was consummated, and we took title to the land and the building.
I had visited Merle Le Fevre to inquire if he would be interested in joining our effort to open a church just two miles from his farm. He replied that he had been happy worshiping with the congregation in Terre Hill, until he was asked to join the group who were forming a B.F.C. church in Lancaster. He did so, and was satisfied with his present situation as a member of the Lancaster congregation. He seemed reluctant to commit himself to this new endeavor. However, he said that he would observe our progress for awhile and help where he could. Merle Le Fevre later became one of the leading lights of the Paradise B.F.C. church. His name and reputation were an asset to the new assembly.
The next hurdle was preparing the church for occupancy. Four students from Berean Bible School who had experience in the building trades were enlisted to do the cleaning and the redecorating work at the conclusion of the school year. Mr. Le Fevre agreed to provide housing for them in his own spacious home. Living with this truly Christian gentleman made for an unforgettable summer for these young men. They worked hard, painting and varnishing the interior and exterior of the building, until the church was completely refurbished.
While the work was proceeding on the church building, a tent was erected at the side of the church where nightly services were held. There was a significant enough response in attendance at these meetings to raise hopes for healthy growth in the near future.
At this point, I would like to present the reports that I submitted to the Annual Conference from 1953 to 1959. They will provide a brief chronology of the events that followed.
From the 1953 Yearbook, pp.48,49
An empty church on Route 30 in Paradise, was brought to our attention by Pastor James Koch of Lancaster. After prayer and inspection by the Home Mission Board it was decided that we should purchase the property as a site for a meeting place. Mr. and Mrs. Merle Le Fevre, members of the Lancaster class who live two miles from the chapel, volunteered to provide living quarters on their farm. Frank L. Herb, Jr. was appointed pastor. June the first, Bro. Herb, accompanied by Leroy S. Heller and two students from Berean Bible School, Robert E. McIntyre and Harold P. Shelley, started the tremendous task of cleaning, repairing, and redecorating the church. Much varnish and paint were donated for the project. In July a tent was erected and three weeks' meetings were held on the church lawn. In this way the presence of our testimony was made known. Many friends were made for the work. At the completion of the tent meetings, services were transferred to the church. This is the first time we were ever able to move into a church so beautifully decorated and prepared for the first meeting. Gradually this nucleus of believers is making its presence felt in the community. We are confident this work will grow.
From the 1954 Yearbook, p.50
This is the first full year to report for the Paradise Church. A healthy growth has been manifested. Pastor Herb and Leroy S. Heller, who came to Paradise in April, have been busy seeking to bring the lost to Christ. It has been encouraging to note the steadfastness and quiet consistency of the faithful group that the Lord has called together as a church.
From the 1955 Yearbook, pp.62,63
Paradise as its name implies is truly lovely for situation. God led us to Paradise in the Spring of 1953, and the passing of two years has not lessened the conviction that we are here for a reason. Yet in Paradise there are lost souls to be reached with the Gospel, To this end much effort has been devoted. Evangelistic services and tent meetings were conducted. A special drive was put on in the Sunday School which resulted in the winning of the Grand Prize as well as the Division Prize in the Conference-wide contest. God blessed His Word and honored the faith of the saints with the salvation of souls.
The Church was organized with nineteen members. Although few in number, yet in this group they have several qualified brethren whom God is going to use. Raymond E. Arnold has served as pastor since last conference.
From the 1956 Yearbook, p.57
This is the third year a report is given for Paradise. Although the work is small as far as numbers is concerned, yet there is stability and balance in the church program. The influence of the church is increasing in the community, with a growing Sunday School and an aggressive evangelistic program. Growth and development are in evidence. The future of the work is encouraging.
Carl C. Cassel has served as pastor during the past year.
From the 1957 Yearbook, p.63
Paradise received its fourth pastor in four years when George E. Herb was assigned there
last year. The past year has indicated that the work is not founded upon men but upon our
Lord Jesus christ. During the past year the attendance at the services has increased, with
the largest increase being realized by the Sunday School. The brethren with their faithful pastor have undertaken a remodeling project in providing for an addition to the front of the building. This addition will include a mothers' room and an entrance to the basement. The basement is to be cemented to provide classroom facilities for the Sunday School. It is marvelous to watch the Lord honor the faith of this faithful band of saints.
The 1958 Yearbook, pp.61,62
The renovations to the church building in Paradise which were in the planning stage last year are a reality today. Pastor Herb along with the brethren of the church have skillfully erected an addition to the front of the building providing a Mothers' room and an entrance to the basement. The basement has been cemented and as soon as finances are available, Sunday School rooms will be provided. The facilities are being taxed by the Sunday School which now has an enrollment of one hundred and twenty-three. An outstanding feature of the work is the number of young couples with children that attend the services. The Daily Vacation Bible School reached seventy-one with the Gospel.
The 1959 Yearbook, p.70
Paradise received its fifth pastor in a six year period when Pastor Harvey J. Fritz was assigned there last Annual Conference. Despite the handicap of changing leadership the work continues to move ahead. This is a good commentary on the faith and virility of the members of the congregation. The Sunday School now has an enrollment of 147. Offerings for all purposes have likewise increased. Renovations on the church continue on a pay-as-you- go basis. God is at work in Paradise.
Here are some personal observations I would like to add to the account presented. My six years of association with the church in Paradise have been some of the most enjoyable of my ministry as Director of Home Missions.
First of all, I see God's hand leading in all that took place. It was indeed the Lord's doing. Those of you who have persevered through the inevitable trials of sustaining the life of the church may have experienced difficulties of which I was unaware. However, the Lord was faithful in each new endeavor to win the lost.
The most frequently asked question about the Paradise church was, "How can a church grow when it had so many pastors serving so short a time?" I think that each man made his own unique contribution to the development of that work and some may have left when they felt they had nothing more to give. It seems to me to be evidence of the life of Christ Himself in the assembly, that the growth of the church did not depend upon men, but on the Lord.
There was also much support in prayer and giving from many outside of the immediate church family. During the time of renovation the York congregation sent a check for $1,000 to meet expenses. An electrical contractor from the Lancaster church donated labor and materials toward making the electrical system functional.
Soon after I came to Paradise, I met Mary Leaman, her sister, and Christiana Tsai (the "Queen of the Dark Chamber"). What a blessing it was to visit with them! They were always positive about the Paradise church and were supportive in their prayers. What a privilege it
was to accompany Moses Chow to the home of these godly women! These associations led to the development of the ambassadors for Christ headquarters being established on the Leaman farm property.
We also remember the prayer support and interest shown in the development of the Paradise testimony by the Lancaster church, as well as churches throughout the Conference.
I would like to add one more personal word. The night that the Board of Missions met to vote on the final approval for the start of the Paradise project, I was called to the phone to speak to my father. He told me that there had been a fire in his paint store, and that I was to come as soon as I could. I returned to the Board meeting for the vote, and then went to the place of my father's business to view the damage. While the main building was not destroyed, the paint stock was damaged. As we worked to salvage what we could I told him of my involvement with the acquisition of the Paradise church building. He offered to furnish all the paint and varnish we would need to redecorate the church from the stock which had been undamaged, without charge.
Again, here was another indication of the hand of the Lord providing for the needs of this fledgling work! Incidently, my father, Ellsworth Hartman, was the grandfather of Robert
McIntyre, one of the summer workers of 1953.
I thank God upon every remembrance of the Paradise Bible Fellowship Church, I wish to congratulate your pastor and congregation on the observance of fifty years of faithful service to the Lord and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. Be assured of my continued prayers for you as you hold forth the Word of Life until He comes!
The second presentation are the inventories and accounts of the estate of William Gehman. In my work as pastor, I have had many wonderful visits to people’s homes. Visiting is one of my favorite activities. When I visit people in their homes, I not only get to meet them but to see their home. You can learn a lot about people just by seeing what they have in their home.
Yes, I would love to have visited William Gehman. I am sure he would have set out some time to talk to me. My eyes would have been roaming while we visited. I would probably have asked for a tour of the house. The inventories provided give me just a bit of that opportunity. Perhaps you can enjoy wandering through the Gehman home. Maybe you will see something you remember.
The following are excerpts from the will of William Gehman.
Inventory of all the goods, chattels and credits of the above named William Gehman, deceased.
Bay horse $65.00
2 Buggy harnesses 10.50
Fly net 2.00
Harness parts .75
51 hens and 1 cockeral 68.00
Chest and contents 2.00
Sausage stuffer 2.50
Corn on the ear 8.00
Corn sheller 2.50
Top buggy 12.00
Open buggy 6.00
Light spring wagon 5.00
7 gals. Apple Butter 5.50
Home made soap 2.00
Oil heater 2.00
Large cabbage cutter .50
4 hams (smoked) 16.00
2 pieces bacon (smoked) 4.50
2 pieces dried beef (smoked) 7.00
Wooden chest and contents 4.00
Carpet 8 yards 5.00
Jellies and Preserves 1.25
Suit case .50
Coal Stove and Pipe 1.50
Carpets (10 yds) 4.50
4 chairs 1.00
Writing desk .50
Sing. Bar. Breed L. Gun 3.00
Wash stand 1.00
Bed stead .50
Carpets 12 yds. 2.50
4 chairs $3.00
Old Style Woolen Bdspr. 7.50
3 patch quilts 4.50
Woolen bed spread 5.00
2 White bed spead and comfort 4.00
3 feather pillows 5.00
Cradle and contents 1.00
18 yds. Carpet 6.00
Stair carpet and fixtures 1.25
Heater and pipe 20.00
Old style wool. Blanket .50
Table cover 1.50
8 day clock .50
3 chairs 1.50
Bookcase and contents 6.00
16 yds carpets 4.50
Kitchen cupboard 1.50
Extension table 3.00
White sewing machine 5.00
Wooden chest .50
Globe range & pipe 7.00
3 chairs .90
Cane seat rocker .50
Carpet and Oil cloth 1.00
Contents in cupboard 2.00
Cooking utensils 3.00
Corner cupboard & cont. 11.00
4 cane seat chairs and rock 3.00
2 camp chairs 1.50
Center table 1.00
Ingrane Parlor carpet 7.00
Wash boiler 1.50
Wooden flour chest .75
Apollo range 2.50
Barrel copper kettle & machine 2.50
½ Barrel copper kettle & machine 1.25
Circular spring balance 301 lbs. .50
Contents in cellar .50
Canned goods 10.00
2 stone crocks & vinegar .50
Shed at church 15.00
Odds and ends 4.00
Note, Edgar Kauffman 650.00
Note, Byron Engleman 30.0
Dep. Emaus Nat. Bank 233.00
Savings Acct. Emaus Nat. Bank 300.00
Brick dwelling house located at Vera Cruz 1350.00
Frame dwelling house located at Vera Cruz 800.00
½ int. in granite stone quarry located near Zionsville, Pa.
Containing 7 acres more or less 100.00
Real Estate 2250.00
Appraisement for Direct Inheritance Tax Purposes
(Property and Securities)
Deposited in Emaus National Bank 267.42
Savings Account in Emaus National Bank 300.00
Certificate of Deposit Emaus National Bank 300.00
Edgar Kauffman to Wm. Gehman 650.00
Bearing date May 1, 1914
Interest at 4% from May 1, 1917 to April 12,
1918 - 11 ms, 18 da.
Byron Engleman to Wm. Gehman 30.00
Bearing date Mar. 25, 1904 4%
Interest due from April 1, 1906 to April 12,
1918. 12 yrs, 11da.
(This note is considered worthless by executors)
A six room brick dwelling on the North side
of the Shimersville road in the village of
Vera Cruz, Lehigh Co., Pa. 1350.00
A five room frame dwelling situated on the
North side of the Shimersville road in the
village of Vera Cruz, Lehigh Co., Pa. 800.00
One-half interest in the granite stone quarry
located near Zionsville, Pa., containing 7 acres
more or less 100.00
1 horse 65.00
2 harnesses 13.25
Top buggy 12.00
Open buggy 6.00
Spring Wagon 5.00
Open buggy 6.00
Spring Wagon 5.00
52 Chickens 68.00
Corn, Oats, and Wheat 33.75
Ham, Bacon, and Dried Beef 27.50
Chest and Tools 8.50
Apple Butter, Soup, etc. 14.00
-Contents of Second Floor of residence-
consisting principally of furniture, carpets,
jam, jellies, bedding, quilts, heater 100.00
-First floor contents consisting of chairs,
mirrors, tables, clock, chandalier, cupboard,
sewing machine, carpet and range, cooking
utensils, oil cloth, lounge and lard 90.65
-Miscellaneous articles - wash boiler, coffee
kettle, flour chest, crocks, table 25.75
-Shed at church 15.00
The FIRST AND FINAL ACCOUNT OF HENRY M. GEHMAN, FRANCIS M. GEHMAN, ALLEN M. GEHMAN AND WILLIAM G. GEHMAN, executors of the last will and testament of WILLIAM GEHMAN, late of the Township of Upper Milford, Lehigh County, deceased.
The said accountants charge themselves as follows, to wit;-
May 2 Amount of inventory and
appraisement of the personal estate of said
decedent filed in the Register’s office, May
2, 1918. Increase in sale of personal
Apr. 28 Beneficial fund 70.00
Apr. 30 Edgar Kauffman, int. 13.00
May 4 Amelia Gehman, cash 25.00
May 24 Eggs sold 21.87
May 24 Schoenly, three months rent 18.00
May 25 Eggs sold .17
May 25 Received on account of quarry
May 27 Schoenly rent 6.00
June 29 Schoenly rent three months 18.00
June 29 Benner rent 2.50
June 29 Heist cash 36.67
June 30 W. G. Gehman, int. 75.00
Sept. 14 Shankweiler rent 5.00
Oct. 17 Schoenly three months rent 18.00
Oct. 17 Shankweiler rent 5.00
Nov. 1 Kauffman int. 13.00
Nov. 30 Rent 14.00
June 11 Rent 13.00
Feb. 27 Shankweiler rent 5.00
Mar. 2 Schoenly rent 16.00
Mar. 29 Aaron Hassler, int. 50.00
Apr. 12 Schoenly rent 8.00
Apr. 26 Wm. G. Gehman, int. 75.00
May 3 Shankweiler rent 5.00
May 3 Kauffman int. 15.00
July 5 Rent 5.00
July 26 Rent 5.00
Aug. 16 Rent 10.00
Sept. 10 Rent 5.00
Oct. 31 Kauffman int. 12.00
Dec. 27 Rent 10.00
Jan. 31 Balance for quarry tract 80.00
Mar. 20 Ed. Heist, cash 50.00
Mar. 30 House sold to Kline 625.00
Mar. 30 House sold to Mengel 1125.00
Apr. 1 Aaron Hassler 1030.00