The Historical Society of the Bible Fellowship Church.
This issue grows out of pictures. The Bible Fellowship Church archives has nearly 1800 pictures in its collection. I enjoy looking at them and studying them. They are like a window into the past. Our earliest photo is probably the wedding picture of Jonas and Lucy Musselman dating back to 1868. A photo of John William Brunner may be next in line. I confess I sometimes get wrapped up in studying the pictures and lose track of what I am doing. I love to share them.
The first two articles are centered around two of these pictures. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures and reading about them. I would be glad for any feedback you send. I am always delighted by those who have information that fills any of the many gaps in our information.
The third article takes you into the world of the Gospel Heralds as you hear their regulations as they were prepared in 1938. Dave Thomann who was new to the Heralds but serving as secretary preserved the regulations in his personal typewritten copy. Their rules show that serving in the Gospel Heralds was not for the faint of heart.
For the last several years, I have written a synopsis of the Annual Conference held 100 years before to share with the members to this year’s annual conference. The following is this year’s edition.
The delegates and pastors were in their seats and ready to begin. It was 8:00am, Thursday morning, October 11, 1906. Chairman W. G. Gehman banged the gavel on the pulpit. The Twenty-third Annual Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ was underway. They were meeting in Reading at the Mennonite Brethren in Christ meeting house at Tenth and Oley, the “Four Day Church,” so called because it had been built in four days.
Much of the business of the day was routine. Reports were offered, committees were appointed, and resolutions were passed. Special things were happening. On March 28, 1906, $9000.00 had been paid to purchase a farm in Centre Valley, a place where the church could obey God by providing for widows and orphans. There were loose ends to tie up.
The pastors gave their 8 minute oral reports. The secretary recorded, “These reports were very encouraging and spoke well for the zeal, devotion and untiring labors of the pastors. A large number were saved and baptized. A number of remarkable cases of healing were reported. The offerings were larger than ever before, signifying an increase of consecration and interest in the Lord's work. The Sunday School work is very promising.”
The Gospel Heralds were beginning to make their presence known. Tent meetings were being held - Philadelphia, Washington, NJ, and Stroudsburg. Camp Meetings were springing up. Reading and Wescoesville had been big successes. Wescoesville had needed 136 tents to accommodate the families who came to seek the Lord’s blessing. The printing house was now remodelled and Gospel Banners and gospel tracts were rolling off the new “ up to date” Babcock Optimus printer.
These things were special, no doubt. But what made the 1906 Annual Conference memorable was the picture. On Friday morning, the conference passed the following resolution from their time of meeting as the Committee of the Whole, “Resolved, That we ask the Conference to procure a photograph of the whole Conference and secure a half-tone cut for the Conference Journal.” It was a first. While photographs had been taken of General Conferences, none had been taken of the Annual Conference. So, when the conference was ended, they came together again to sit for the picture. Finally, everyone could see them and look in their faces and see the men who to that point had only been names in the minutes.
Risers were assembled. Chairs were gathered. The backdrop was in place giving vague shape to what might have blank space. Rugs were thrown over the chairs and benches to give some continuity to the seating and cover any shabbiness. The windows were covered.
When all was ready, the men took their positions. They were all there except two. J. H. Rittenhouse, representing the Norristown mission had never arrived and sent an excuse for his sickness. J. A. Sassaman of Athol had become sick and left on the last day of the conference. The photographer stepped behind his camera. Everyone looked into the lens. No one smiled. It would be inappropriate to appear anything but sober. They were a serious and intense group anyway. Together they waited for the flash.
At the edge sit two men in what may be places of honor. From the right, William Gehman gazed into the lens. Fifty years earlier, he had been embroiled in a struggle with his church over whether there was freedom to pray and preach the gospel. His point of view had been rejected. His conscience could not accept the other side and he left and joined with others to form a new church. All who had joined him were gone but he was still going strong at age 79 and had another 12 years to go before the Lord would call him from his labors. He was there to listen and look at what had been raised up around him.
On the left sat Lewis B. Taylor. At age 72, L. B. was a relative new comer to the ministry in spite of his gray hairs and beard. His involvement in the church was not new. He was a widower twice over. His first wife Susannah was a daughter of Heinrich Gehman of the Zionsville Church. She was a third cousin to William Gehman. L. B.’s father, Joseph Schneider (Taylor) had been an original supporter of the new movement. L. B.’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Annie, Leidy Sell, was part of the conference standing in the back row second from the right.
At the center of the photo was the new generation of leadership. W. G. Gehman sat in the center as the chairman. Not too many years before, he had been helping his father on the farm on Vera Cruz Road. He had then become a teacher at the Shimerville School. And then, he received a call to preach. He was bright and articulate and bore leadership responsibility for years to come. To his left was H. B. Musselman. He later became the steady chairman of the Annual Conference. For 44 years, he would wield the gavel. W. G. Gehman would later show his leadership at the head of the Gospel Heralds where he would have influence on the geographical edges. H. B. would have the leadership at the center and be a source of stability. To the right of W. G. the secretary, C. H. Brunner had taken his seat. C. H. was an intellectual, committed to learning. He had no formal training but he was a reader and a learner. He did not go to school but made sure that school got to him by taking correspondence courses from the Internation Missionary Training Institute where he came under the sway of A. B. Simpson and what was later known as the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Directly behind them were the two look alikes, G. A. Campbell and W. Steinmetz. Campbell, to the left of Steinmetz, had been a soldier in the Civil War though he couldn’t talk much about it in his pacifist church. He had been part of the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery which had been mobilized as infantry in an attempt to end the war. In September of 1864, he had been part of an attack on the fortress perimeter of Richmond and had been taken as prisoner. He spent 6 months at the Confederate Prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. He was paying even now for those 6 months. While he looked healthy enough, heart ailments and catarrh (chronic bronchial irritation) limited his activity and qualified him for a government pension. He was a good preacher. He had led E. R. Hartman to the Lord. Hartman was also a member of this conference and stood on the top row second from the left.
L. Frank Haas stood over the shoulder of William Gehman. He had been the presiding elder of the Heavenly Recruits of Philadelphia. In 1890, he found the Mennonite Brethren In Christ and for a while had a home. For four years he accepted assignments and was serving in 1906 on the Quakertown / Hatfield circuit. Four years later, he was a real estate agent living on North 11th Street in Reading.
The seating and standing arrangements were clear. Preachers were in the front and middle. They wore their starched clerical colors which seem somehow out of place in these plain men. Laymen were in the rear and moved to the edges. The laymen were the supporting cast. Their attire was varied with an assortment of ties and collars. They were a mixed group - some gray hairs but many young faces - many occupations - tailors, a tanner, laborers, a farmer, a puddler.
Leidy Sell of Bucks County stood in the top row second from the right. He was a mill owner, a well known business man who was doing well. He had married Anna Taylor, daughter of L. B. Their daughter Ada was 12. They were helping to raise their niece, Harriett Taylor. To his left was G. K. Himmelwright, a puddler by trade. The puddler was the highly skilled man who was in charge of the furnaces at the steel mill. His presence and skill were highly valued in the steel mills where he worked. He was converted at Coopersburg under the ministry of Jonas Musselman. He moved to Blandon and was a charter member of the Blandon Church. On his left was Henry H. Bergey. His neatly trimmed beard and glasses give him a scholarly look. He was a bookkeeper by profession. For many years to come, he would serve as the delegate of the Quakertown Church. To the right in the third row stood Martin M. Ziegler, a sign maker. Next to him on the left stood Granville O. Billig of Allentown, a tailor. In the third row, third from the left, W. D. Evert, a tanner from Mt. Carmel, looked into the lens.
Allen M. Gehman stood next to G. O. Billig. He was as close to the inner circle of leadership as it was possible to be as a layman. The son of William Gehman and older brother of the chairman, he was a farmer living in Macungie. He often served on important committees like the Foreign Missions Board.
Second from the left in the top row, stood the 24 year old Ellsworth R. Hartman. Originally from the Harleysville area, he had been brought to the Lord through the ministry of George Campbell. He married Nora Weidner and moved to Royersford where he was a foreman in a planing mill. Later, he would operate a paint store. He had no idea of the legacy he was building when he prepared himself for the click of the camera shutter. He and Nora would produce four sons among their children. All four sons would be called to the ministry of the Bible Fellowship Church.
These laymen were a committed lot. Vacations and leaves of absence were in the future for most of them. Time off from working meant time off from a pay check. But, they did it gladly for the chance to serve their church.
The shutter clicked. They said their good byes and went back to their homes and occupation. The picture allows us to see them. They would testify that not many were mighty nor noble. But we appreciate them all the same.
Photograph Indentification (left to right)
Row 1 - L. B. Taylor, W. S. Hottel, J. G. Shireman, E. T. Shick, H. B. Musselman, W. G. Gehman, C. H. Brunner, E. N. Cassel, J. C. Roth, J. F. Barrall, William Gehman.
Row 2 - C. J. Edwards, P. J. Musselman, R. L. Woodring, E. E. Kublic, G. Campbell, W. Steinmetz, O. S. Hillegas, R. Bergstresser, C. W. Stine, L. Frank Haas.
Row 3 - J. A. Kern, F. P. Bobst, W. D. Evert, H. L. Musselman, H. F. Meltzer, W. W. Zimmerman, W. J. Fretz, Allen M. Gehman, G. O. Billig, M. M. Ziegler.
Row 4 - C. W. Teel, E. R. Hartman, Adam Keller, R. D. Hollenbach, O. C. Kistler, B. Engelman, H. H. Bergey, G. K. Himmelreich, Leidy Sell, J. M. Oplinger.
The second article is one that I enjoyed immensely. Ardis Dreisbach Grossjean has her roots in our church. She lives in Sweden and is full of information. Her research is always well done and on target. She wrote an excellent article on David Gehman a couple of issues ago. Now, she fills out our knowledge of the Brunner family.
Ardis began with the picture of Johann William Brunner. I was given the picture by Reuel and Joyce Musselman and know little beyond that. I have used it a couple of times just because I so enjoyed the picture. While I knew that Johann William was the grandfather of C. H. Brunner, I knew nothing about him. The picture comes to life as Ardis tells the story.
John William Brunner, Unwilling Patriarch
Reflections inspired by an old photograph
In the archives of the Historical Society of the Bible Fellowship Church there is a photograph of a portly white-haired, white-bearded man in a waistcoat and longish jacket. It is a studio photograph taken, apparently, in the 1860's or 1870's. The man stands erect and dignified, one hand on the fringed back of a studio chair, while the spread fingers of the other hand rest upon his weskit. This man looks at once self-assured and at ease, and his gesture is one that is sometimes associated with sincerity and probity. This is John (Johan) William Brunner, formerly a farmer in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh Country; but at the time of the photograph a resident of Emmaus or Allentown. Why is his photograph in the Society's archives?
John William Brunner is not known to have played any part in the history of what is now the Bible Fellowship Church. He lived from ca. 22 March 1796 to ca. 20 December 1878, and today there is little to remind us of him or his family, unless it be the address "Brunner Court", next to Fellowship Manor. If this long-gone Brunner is remembered at all, it is mainly because he was the grandfather of the multi-faceted C. H. Brunner (1864-1948) who has been described as "one of the most significant, influential, formative leaders in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ for more than fifty years" (Harold Shelly, in his paper, "Charles Henry Brunner", presented at the Historical Society's meeting in Reading on October 26, 2002).
2. A Lutheran among the Mennonites. So there we have it. John William's photo is in the Society's archives because it was probably among the papers left by C. H. Brunner. But is that all there is to it? Is there any more to tell?
There is this: whereas the Gehmans and the Musselmans can trace their origins back to persecuted Swiss Mennonites in the 1600's, the Brunners seem to have been Lutheran. When 1731 immigrant Johan Jacob Brunner settled in the Upper Saucon area he found himself among many Mennonite families. Even the Lutheran Church his descendants attended, St. Paul's (Blue) Church near Coopersburg, was built on land obtained from Mennonite Philip Geissinger. Three generations later there was still a strong Mennonite presence in Upper Saucon and the adjoining Upper Milford Township, and John William Brunner would have to engage with various Mennonites throughout most of his long life, especially within his own family.
In the beginning, John William Brunner's world was primarily Lutheran. Having lost his father in 1800 when he was only four, John William seems to have grown up among his mother's extended Lutheran family, the Schaefers and the Horlachers. These are families that occur repeatedly in the records of the Blue Church. John William had a special fondness for his mother's brother, George Schaefer – to such an extent that in later life he asked to be buried near him.
3. First round: the Lutherans win. It is in finding a bride that John William may have won his first 'battle' with the Mennonites. Having acquired land in Upper Saucon in February 1818, the following year he married a well-connected Mennonite girl from the Saucon congregation in Coopersburg, Maria Sell. She was 18 ½ and he a few days short of 23. Maria thus married outside the Mennonite fold. Her maternal great-grandfather, Georg Bachman, had once owned most of what is now Coopersburg, and her grandmother Esther Bachman had been somewhat of a Mennonite heroine during the Revolutionary War (but that is another story).
Maria's and John William's first child was called Peter, perhaps in memory of Maria's Mennonite father, Peter Sell, who had died earlier that year. On the other hand, the name could also honor John William's deceased father, Johan Peter Brunner. The infant was christened Petrus on 29 October 1820 and surprisingly, as can be seen in the Blue Church records, the baptismal sponsors were "the parents". Maria, who had grown up in a religious tradition firmly grounded on the baptism of adult believers, was now performing the function of sponsor at the Lutheran baptism of her three-month old son.
What we might call John William's next victory took place just one year later. On 24 November 1821 Maria herself was baptized into the Lutheran communion of faith. (How she could have been a baptismal sponsor the year before without having been baptized herself is a question best left to Lutheran theologians.) Of the next five children born to the couple, the St. Paul's records show that at least three had their own parents as baptismal sponsors.
4. Second round: the Lutherans lose. Something must have happened in the Brunner household in the 1830's. There is no record of the baptisms of the following five children, the last of which was born in 1842. Why is that? For one thing, the family had moved to neighboring Upper Milford Township, settling near Vera Cruz. (A land draft in the name of John W. Bruner is dated May 26, 1828.)
Now the name Vera Cruz should ring a bell with those who are acquainted with the history of the Bible Fellowship church. The area, notwithstanding its Catholic name ("true cross" in Spanish), was home to a considerable number of Mennonite families – Musselmans, Kauffmans, Shellys and, from about 1848, the young William Gehman. Did John William and Maria stop having their children christened because Maria had had a change of heart? We cannot be sure. It is possible that someone will locate records of their younger children's baptisms in an Upper Milford church, perhaps Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Old Zionsville.
Consider this, however: of the eight children who are known to have grown to adulthood, at least five became active members of the Evangelical Mennonites (later the Mennonite Brethren in Christ), including two who had been baptized as infants, with the parents as sponsors. To that, add an oral tradition within the Brunner family. The present writer has heard this from a great-granddaughter of John William and Maria Brunner: "John William was not a religious man, and he strongly objected to his wife's religious involvement." The speaker was Sally Bieber, nee Brunner, granddaughter of Joel Brunner, the next youngest of John William's and Maria's children.
5. Third round: Hannah, Joel, Lucy – the Mennonites take the lead. After 1850, changes came swiftly in the family. Up to then, only three of the Brunner children had married and moved out, while five were still at home on the farm, ranging in age from twenty-three to eight. However, within a few years all the children had left home. The various choices which these Brunner offspring made would directly and repeatedly influence the course of the church body that is now the Bible Fellowship Church.
Hannah and Abel. First out in the 1850's was Hannah. She married Abel Strawn and moved to Haycock Township, east of Quakertown. Abel came of Quaker stock, but his mother was Catherine Fretz of the Mennonite Fretz's. Some will recognize Abel Strawn as a preacher of long standing in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. When Hannah and Abel married there was no thought of the new religious movement that would one day become the MBC. However, if the following story is true, then Abel was not indifferent to religion. He is said to have erected a chapel in Haycock Township in about 1856 together with Henry Diehl. They did this out of gratitude after their miraculous deliverance when a tree fell between them as they were driving in a wagon. (The chapel was dismantled some years later and moved to Quakertown to house the meetings of the Evangelical Mennonites there.) In 1858 Henry Diehl was at the historic meeting in David Musselman's house, where he became one of the seven founders of the new Evangelical Mennonites. Whether Abel Strawn was involved in the prayer-meeting movement that preceded and in part gave rise to the formation of the Evangelical Mennonites is not known. Elsewhere, Abel Strawn has been proposed as the 'Friend' reported to have been converted during the evangelistic campaign of Edwin Long and Jonas Schultz in Quakertown in the last three months of 1858. In any event, Abel Strawn soon began his long preaching career among the Evangelical Mennonites, later the MBC.
Joel. We cannot know what John William Brunner thought of Abel Strawn's chapel building, but Abel and Hannah were at least living at some distance from the Brunner farm. Youngest son Joel, however, was still at home, and there is no doubt that he was converted by means of Jonas Schultz at one of the Quakertown revival meetings. In later years Joel often spoke about it. Here is the account Joel's eldest son, C. H. Brunner, published in the Gospel Banner in 1909: "We have often heard the story as repeated by father how he said (then young) Schultz embraced him and never relinquishing his hold until he was found crying for mercy in that meeting." (Quoted by Harold P. Shelly in The Bible Fellowship Church, page 56.) Joel turned nineteen during the time of the Quakertown meetings. One would wish to know how his youthful testimony was received at home.
Lucy and Jonas. Joel had a sister, Lucy Ann, the youngest of the Brunner children. Was she also touched at an early age by these fresh religious currents? Were any members of the Brunner family involved in the prayer-meetings and the evangelistic fervor that was beginning to blaze among their Mennonite neighbors in the 1850's (non-religious John William excepted, of course). In 1857 the prayer-meeting issue was causing the Mennonites of south-eastern Pennsylvania to take sides, upsetting some and inspiring others. As we have seen, on September 14, 1858 Henry Diehl was at David Musselman's where, a mile or two south of the Brunner farm, the new Evangelical Mennonite followship or Gemeinde came into being.
An interesting question has been raised recently by Richard Taylor. Were there only seven persons present at the founding meeting of what was to become the Evangelical Mennonites? The only names that have come down to us, apart from the host himself, are those who emerged from the meeting holding some kind of office in the new Gemeinde. We do not know if anyone else was present. We do know, however, that David Musselman had a son who was still at home. He was eighteen going on nineteen, his name was Jonas, and within a few years he would become one of the new group's most active preachers. Moreover, just a year and one month later he would be a married man. His bride, 17 ½ years old, was Lucy Ann Brunner, youngest child of John William and Maria. After the wedding Lucy Brunner Musselman became part of the larger Musselman establishment along Vera Cruz Road, which included elder William Gehman, his wife Nancy Musselman and their four children.
The Mennonites, one might say, were closing in on John William Brunner. By 1860 he had two Mennonite sons-in-law, a whole colony of Mennonite in-laws down the road, and a newly converted son. What is more, on November 1861, the records of the Evangelical Mennonite semi-annual conference list among the preachers present both Jonas Musselman and Abel Strawn!
6. Fourth round: John William withdraws to Emmaus. Almost immediately after Lucy's marriage, John William and Maria left the farm and moved away. The 1860 census gives their ages as 64 and 59, and shows them living by themselves in the Borough of Emmaus. John William is described as a retired farmer; his property is valued at $1400. Further, he has a personal estate of no less than $9000 – a decidedly comfortable situation. Moravian Emmaus, or Emaus, had been opened to settlement by non-Moravians in 1848. The attraction of moving to Emmaus was probably that eldest daughter Sarah and her husband Martin Kemmerer were farming nearby, in Salisbury Township, since at least 1850.
Family tradition has retained nothing about Maria Brunner, except that her religious convictions were not shared by her husband. For most of her life she was a farmer's wife. Between the ages of nineteen and forty-one she gave birth to eleven children, and she lived to see seven of her eight surviving children married and settled. Perhaps she was not in good health and farm life was too demanding. We do not know why the Brunners left the farm, but we do know that Maria Brunner did not live long in Emmaus. She died on February 21, 1862, and her tombstone gives her age as 63 years, 4 months and 7 days.
There is a small oval photograph of Maria which was formerly in the possession of her granddaughter, Nora Gehman Dreisbach, nee Brunner. Maria seems to be a slender woman and her age is difficult to judge. Her smooth shiny hair is not grey, and she is wearing small earrings. (One of them was in Nora Dreisbach's possession, but was later stolen.) There is just a hint of a smile round the mouth, and one wishes more were known about her, her beliefs and the influence she had on her children.
Now comes the question of Maria's burial. John William intended his own remains to be buried at the Blue Church, but that is not where he had Maria buried. As for the burial ground next to the new Evangelical Mennonite meeting-house in Zionsville, in 1862 it was functioning and receiving burials. Notwithstanding Joel's and Lucy's worshiping there, Maria was not interred there either. This implies that whatever funeral rites were performed for Maria, they did not take place in Zionsville. Maria is buried in the cemetery of Jerusalem Union Church of Western Salisbury, between the confines of Emmaus and south-western Allentown. The building and churchyard were shared by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. Was the decision John William's? Or the Kemmerers'? (The Salisbury church had members who were Kemmerers.) Was it a practical solution, or Maria's wish? We do not know.
7. Last round: Allentown – far from the Mennonites? Widower John William moved in with Sarah and Martin Kemmerer. As early as 1860 Martin Kemmerer was a justice of the peace in Salisbury Township, owning property worth $33,000! By 1870 the Kemmerers, their 17-year old daughter Leah and John William Brunner were living together in Allentown. The census shows that at 49 Martin was a retired farmer owning property worth $50,000 and having a personal estate of $36,000. There are no financial figures for John William, 74, "at home", but we may assume that, staying with the Kemmerers, his last years were spent in ease.
Living in Allentown, John William had the Mennonites at a distance. Or were they? Look at the church conference records for 1872 to 1875.
November 1872: "In the city of Allentown a door was opened for us. A hall has been rented where preaching takes place every two weeks. Seven persons were baptized and with former members a congregation was founded." 1873: "Resolved: That the congregation in Allentown be included in the Quakertown district and that the Brethren William N. Shelly and Jonas Musselman shall supervise. However, other brethren shall also visit Allentown if so desired." 1874: "Brother William Gehman – to supervise the work in Allentown" 1875: "The Allentown Mission shall be served voluntarily by different preachers since Brother Daniel Reichenbach has offered his hall for the use of open worship serives."
So son-in-law Jonas Musselman had partial charge of the Allentown mission from November 1874 to November 1875. The work petered out, however, and at the November 1876 conference there is no further mention of Allentown. Apart from this episode, John William probably did not have to deal much with Mennonites. None of his children with Mennonite involvements lived nearby.
Joel, who was now married to the daughter of Zionsville deacon David Gehman, had his own farm near the Zionsville church. Lucy and Jonas had left the Vera Cruz Musselmans and moved in 1868 to Richland Township near Quakertown, and Jonas was so busy travelling and preaching that it fell to Lucy to manage family and farm. Leah and her husband Owen Heller had left their farm in Upper Saucon and moved to Bethlehem before 1870. Son William, who would later be instrumental in founding the South Allentown congregation, was farming near Rittersville between Allentown and Bethlehem as early as 1860. So by and large John William had no near family members affected by Mennonite zeal and enthusiasm.
At the end of December 1878 John William Brunner died. He had lived to be 82. As he had requested, he was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Paul's Blue Church near Coopersburg. He had come full circle, and was back among his Lutheran forefathers.
Thanks to the full-length photo that was most likely taken at some time after his retirement from farming,
we know how this patriarch looked. And patriarch he was – a Mennonite patriarch (albeit unwilling) at that. Had John William Brunner not married Maria Sell, moved to Upper Milford and raised eight children, the Bible Fellowship Church would not be what it is today.
● It would have lacked the wives who enabled the evangelizing and church planting of Abel Strawn and Jonas Musselman.
● It would not have had either the Gospel Workers Society or the Gospel Herald Society as they developed with the remarkable participation of Lucy Musselman, and under the leadership of John William's grandsons W. B. Musselman and C. H. Brunner.
● It would not have had camp-meetings as they first took form if Jonas Musselman,Abel Strawn, three of the Brunner sisters (Lucy Musselman, Hannah Strawn, and Leah Heller) and John Traub of Zionsville had not gone to Indiana in 1880.
● It would have known little of its own history as a denomination without the writings of C. H. Brunner.
● It would have lacked an impressive number of presiding elders, ministers, ministers' wives, Gospel Workers and active laymen and women. Determining how many they have been, and still are today, is a challenge almost impossible to meet.
For a man who was not religious himself, and who objected to his wife's religious involvement, this is an unforeseen legacy of impressive proportions.
Ardis Grosjean, nee Dreisbach
Stockholm, February 2006
Our third article comes from a small three ring note book which belonged to society member, David Thomann. Dave served as the secretary of Annual Conference of the Gospel Heralds which was held that year in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Dave is retired and living with son David and and daughter in law Pat in Lancaster County where he attends the Lancaster Church which son Dave pastors. At church, he goes by the name Model T.
RULES AS REVISED AND AMENDED BY THE COMMITTEE ON REVISING THE RULES. NOV. 9, 1938.
Section I. NAME.
The name of this society shall be the Gospel Herald Society.
Section II. OBJECT.
1. The salvation of sinners, for which purpose halls or chapels shall be rented or purchased where services shall be held daily as far as advisable and in as many places as the Lord nay open, and supply with true hearted, spirit filled workers. Street meetings shall be held as often as practicable. Also jail meetings, etc.
2. The edification of believers.
3. The visiting from house to house as far as advisable.
4. Colportage work from house to house, in public places and in business places.
5. The training and teaching of such young men whom the Lord may send to us, in house work, Christian life and service and in active and practical missionary and pastoral work in all its departments.
Section III. MEMBERSHIP.
1. The Society shall consist of single and married men.
2. The members shall consist of full members and probationers.
3. Applicants desiring to enter the Society shall be examined on "Questions for
Applicants" by the President and after having expressed the nature of their call to the
Conference may be referred to a Committee appointed by the President, for the examination of Applicants.
4. Probationers after having been in the active work of the Society six months shall be examined by a committee appointed by the President and if approved may become full members according to the decision of the Annual or Semi-Annual Conference.
5. Probationers shall have all the privileges of full members except voting.
Section IV. NAME OF MISSIONS.
Each of our Missions shall be called the Gospel Herald Mission, Tabernacle, Chapel, Hall, or Church, according to the decision of the President and Mission Leader.
Section V. OFFICERS.
The officers of the Society shall be President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer,
Mission Leaders and Helpers.
Section VI. DUTIES OF OFFICERS
1. Duties of the President.
(a) He shall have the superintendence of all the Missions.
(b) He shall be the treasurer of the society.
(c) He shall station the workers.
(d) He shall have the power to change any workers any time he may deem profitable to the Society and to the work in general.
(e) He shall have authority to appoint a committee over any unruly or disobedient workers if he deem it necessary, according to his discretion.
(f) He shall have the authority to suspend or dismiss any unmanageable workers if a majority of the leaders are agreed.
(g) He shall rent Halls and Chapels, where necessary and practicable, and also furnish the same with furniture etc.
Whenever practicable and necessary he shall in conjunction with the Mission Leaders under the sanction of the Executive Board of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ of Penna., buy lots, chapels, or other properties, and these shall be deeded to a board of trustees elected at each Annual Conference, or to the President to hold in trust, in such cases as the above named parties may deem it advisable.
(h) He shall visit each Mission as often as practicable, and examine the workers orally, settle the accounts and pay the rent monthly.
(i)He shall supply the various missions with literature for colportage work.
(j)He shall see to the printing and getting of all report blanks, stationery, records and account books.
2. DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY,
He shall record the minutes of all the official meetings of the Society.
3. DUTIES OF THE TREASURER.
See Art., b, h, j, of President's duties.
4. DUTIES OF MISSION LEADER.
(a) He shall have charge of all the meetings in the absence of the President.
(b) He shall see that all the meetings shall be opened and closed at the right time and conducted properly.
(c) He shall see to the finances, have charge of all the collections and see that all accounts are properly recorded and that all expenses are met.
(d) He shall see that the home and hall are kept in a clean and tidy condition, and the hall as comfortable and attractive as circumstances will permit, and keep up repairs.
(e) He shall see that all dishes, "baskets, etc., are weekly returned to their proper places.
(f) He shall bring the Rule book, Minute book, Property account book, Annual Stock Account and Stock Account book, and Statistical report to the Annual Conference.
(g) He shall see to a general house cleaning in hall and home every spring and fall.
(h) He shall see that all blankets after having been used during the winter months, are washed and all quilts thoroughly aired in the spring and then securely packed away.
(i) He shall keep a revised list of Herald customer at his Mission.
(j) He shall take stock account of literature once a year up to and including Sept. 30.
(k)He shall keep a strict account of stock on hand at full retail price and record in full detail each article received from time to time, in full retail price, from which shall "be deducted monthly the amount sold, at full retail price and balance the same monthly. This book shall be brought to Conference.
5. DUTIES OF MISSION HELPERS.
He shall assist his Leader with a cheerful heart and a loving spirit in all his labors
and responsibilities and take willingly his full share of the burden of the work.
Loyalty and obedience to those over us and love and kindness and consideration to all is especially enjoyed upon every one.
Section VII. ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
W, G, Gehman, shall be President and Treasurer, and H. B. Musselman shall be Vice-
Pro sident by virtue of their offices, and the Secretary and Board of Trustees shall be
elected by ballot at the close of each Annual Conference.
Section VIII CONFERENCES.
The Society shall hold their Annual Conference about the first week in November and the Semi-Annual Conference about the first week in May. The President shall have charge of the business meetings or Conferences of the Society.
Section IX SPECIAL SERVICES.
1. Sunday Schools may be organized whenever the President and the Mission Leader deem it advisable.
2. Children's Meetings may be held when practicable.
3. All Day Meetings and Conventions may be held according to the decision of the President and a Mission Leader.
4. Tent Meetings and Camp Meetings shall be held whenever practicable.
Section X VISITING.
We strongly recommend that attention be given to visiting new places, or order to get new people to come to the Mission. Emphasis should be laid on cases, or sickness or spiritual indifference. The regular attendants may not need so much visiting. Workers shall use good judgment where they visit and how often.
They are not supposed to be led by the flock but to lead them.
Workers shall be cautioned against making loafing places.
Section XI COLPORTAGE WORK.
1. The Workers shall receive of all literature sold 40%, or as nearly so as possible, ex-
cept on Oxford Bibles on which 30%. The balance shall go to the President.
2. All literature sold whether paid for or not shall be recorded in the account book at
once and settled for on or about the first of each month.
3. Literature delivered and not paid for when Workers are changed shall be collected by
the remaining workers and equally divided among the Workers concerned, and the
changed Workers shall receive one-half of their share, the other half shall be equally
divided among the remaining ones.
4. We shall regard the “Gospel Herald" as our official paper and shall endeavor to recommend it and sell as many copies weekly as possible.
Section, XII COLLECTIONS.
1. All money left from the General Collections after all the expenses are paid shall be divided among the workers; single workers to receive one (1) share and married workers a share and a half (l ½)
2. The total offerings of the first Sunday of each month, not including the Sunday School offering, shall be given to the President of the Society.
3. Each Mission Leader shall take up a liberal offering in October and April respectively
to defray the expenses of the Conference.
4. Wherever the Conference is held the collections from Monday until the end of the Conference and Convention shall be deposited in the Conference treasury and after the expenses of the Conference are paid and one third (1/3) month's rent is deposited in the mission treasury where the Conference is held, the balance shall be deposited in the Conference Fund.
5. Whenever the balance of the monthly cash contributions for general expenses in any mission, after the general expenses, such as light and rent are deducted, exceed twelve dollars ($12.00) and eighteen dollars ($18.00) for each married couple, and family, the excess shall be placed in a sinking fund treasury of which the President shall be the Treasurer, who shall divide those funds equally among the missionaries.
6. The Society shall have missionary barrels for the members of the Sunday School, and shall receive and open them on the last Sunday in March and September, respectively.
7. Each Mission Leader shall take up a liberal offering in the month of December for the Gospel Herald Society Headquarters' Fund.
Section XIII. DONATIONS .
1. All gifts of money received by workers on their mission districts shall be deposited in the treasury.
2. All gifts received after marching orders are received, shall belong to the recipient.
3. All donations of eatables, clothing, etc., received at each Mission shall be appraised and the value of the same recorded in a book especially kept for that purpose.
Section XIV. GENERAL RULES.
1. Being convinced that it is for the best of the work, we have decided not to make a practice of eating meals away from home.
2. We strongly recommend to have all our meals regularly as much as possible.
3. Workers shall not be allowed to correspond with the opposite sex, except with relatives or by permission of the President. Business matters written on postal cards and undersigned by name and address of mission may be allowed.
4. Workers of the society shall not be allowed to take any steps toward any engagement to courtship and marriage without first consulting the President.
5. Workers shall not be allowed to contract debts without the consent of their respective Leaders or President.
6. Workers may have a furlough of three (3) days (not including going and returning), once a year. Exceptions in cases of serious sickness in the family or other causes shall be left to the discretion of the President.
7. All jesting and foolish talking and nicknaming shall be carefully avoided.
8. Workers shall maintain a dignified and business-like air.
9. Workers shall not substitute citizen's clothing for their uniforms to go places they would not like to go while in uniform.
10. Workers shall insist upon personal neatness and cleanliness, such as brushing of the shoes and clothing, combing the hair, a weekly bath, the daily cleansing of the teeth, expanding of the lungs in the morning air, and generally deep breathing are also recommended.
11. Workers shall avoid anything that will injure their bodies which are the temples of the Holy Ghost, or anything that will bring disgrace upon them or the work.
12. Workers are expected to reckon themselves dead to the old man and purified by the Word. Whenever a Worker manifests the carnal mind in stubbornness, harshness, evil speaking, murmuring, fault finding, touchiness, love of praise, jealousy, unkindness, lightness, love of flattery, selfishness, laziness, love of ease, fear of many, shrinking from reproach, transgression of the rules, such an one shall be corrected and rebuked by any of the workers.
See Paul’s advice to Timothy. (I Tim. 5:20,21)
13. Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, There is one body and one spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, (Eph. 4: 1-4).
14. Should however, any grievance occur between any of the workers, they shall be settled alone if possible by parties concerned.
In case this cannot be done, then the matter shall be fully and correctly stated before the President, who shall at once endeavor to adjust matters in the most satisfactory manner.
15. Never retire with a murmuring spirit or fall asleep without having Jesus in your mind,
peace with every one as far as lieth in you, ready for His coming.
16. In case of any Worker becoming dissatisfied concerning any one or more of these rules and is tempted to act in anything contrary to these rules, he shall do nothing contrary to these rules or speak anything against them before consulting the President.
17. Workers shall not employ any outside help selling papers, taking up collections, etc.
Well-known reliable preachers may be used according to the discretion of the President and Mission Leader.
18. Workers that have musical instruments shall learn to play them and workers that have none shall as soon as the Lord opens the way get one and learn to play thereon.
19. Whenever a worker leaves the Society, he shall turn over to the President all uniform buttons, and badges, and take off all trimmings before leaving the mission.
20. Whenever a worker is disabled by sickness for more than one week he shall have his share from the balance from the treasury, but not for the literature. He shall pay for all his luxuries, doctor bills, medicines, etc.
21. Each mission shall have a systematic daily routine most suited to their location and environment.
22. No rules shall be changed at the Semi-Annual Conference.
23. These are some of the principles and rules which we believe the Lord by His help and grace and thru the power of the Holy Spirit wants us to uphold, defend, and keep.
24. The following full members of the Society subscribe their names to the rules as revised and amended at the Annual Conference held at Elizabeth, N. J., on November 7th, 8th, 9th, 1938.
W. G. Gehman, Chairman
D. E. Thomann, Secretary
J. T. Anderson
E. J. Rutman
T. E. Turnbull
C. E. Kirkwood
J. I. Somers
R. C. Reichenbach
G. C. Watson
J. E. Golla
J. R. Hean
P. K. Schuler
M. K. Ruth
I hope you enjoyed these articles. If you appreciated them, you should consider sharing this with someone you know who might also appreciate them. Better yet, invest in a new membership for them. It is only $10.00 for an individual.
In our last issue, we shared some of the writings of W. S. Hottel. If you would like to read more of his writings, go to our website, www.BFCHistory.org. Look under “Pamphlets.” You will hear more of what he had to say in his writing.
As always, I would be glad to hear from you.
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Wallingford PA 19086
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