The Historical Society

of the

Bible Fellowship Church


June, 2005


    I will use this edition to give you a report on the memorial giving towards the purchase of fire resistant cabinets. I am very glad and grateful for the response.


    Before I jump into the giving, I will note that Ray and Mary Dotts located a good quality used cabinet for $225.00. We bought it and appreciate their donation of the delivery which is a sizeable matter when one speaks of a fire resistant cabinet. And so, a special thanks to them.


    The total giving received for the cabinets was $2730.00. Our goals were more modest than that so I am ecstatic that we received an abundance beyond our expenses. I have not yet written final checks but estimate our costs to be just under $2000.00. What remains after our expenses will be retained for storage expenses. At some point, a location for the archives will be established. While it is convenient to have them in my basement, I will not always live in this house and my wife will run out of patience at some point. At any rate, it will be helpful to start a fund for that purpose.


    I will begin by giving thanks to those who gave gifts that were not given in memory or honor but given nonetheless. We are grateful to each person for each gift.


Henry L. Blauser

A. L. Seifert

Bruce and Carolyn Ellingson

John and Carol English

Joseph and Doris Wire

Robert and Thelma Smock


    The following gifts were received in memory or honor:


Polly Thomann - from Faith Bible Fellowship Church, Lancaster.

Polly Thomann - from Ardella Bray

Richard Taylor - from Wayne and Jill Davidson

Jack Herb Sr. - from Ethel Herb

Nora G. Dreisbach - from Ardis Grojean

Bright Heist - from Joyce Heist

Byron Cassel and Alton Cassel - from Willard and Esther Cassel

H. K. Kratz - from Olive Rawn


1459mrmrshkkratz.jpgMr and Mrs H K Kratz

    Some chose to include a note or a word regarding


Olive Rawn wrote:

“Herewith a little. I thought of H. K. Kratz. He was pastor when Daddy got saved in 1914. He helped me when I was going to Bible School - advice of a father and pastor. 1946.”


Wayne and Jill Davidson wrote:


“We would like to honor Richard Taylor for his many years of service as Archivist for the Bible Fellowship Church.” [Since I am the only living person to be so honored in this giving, I have opportunity to say that I am both embarrassed and flattered by Wayne and Jill’s gift. I am embarrassed because I have always enjoyed what I have done and done it pretty much for that reason. I am flattered because it is always nice to be so remembered and so, because I am alive and can speak, I say a very big, “Thank You!”]


noragbrunner,circa1893.jpg

Ardis Grosjean, grandaughter of Nora Dreisbach, submitted a great memorial that you will enjoy reading. I thank Ardis for submitting this testimonial to a woman from our past and giving a taste of life as it was.





Memorial to Nora Gehman Dreisbach, nee Brunner (1870-1944)


Let us remember Nora! My grandmother Nora Dreisbach had for many years the best of memorials – she lived on in the memories of all who knew and loved her. Today there are not many of us left who still remember her huge Sunday-School class in Bethel Church in Allentown, or who can recall eating the delicious pies she baked in large numbers every Saturday morning. There is no one at all left who remembers Nora Dreisbach's sermons, but preach she did, and it is said that she preached well!


Nora and the church. To memorialize Nora Dreisbach is to survey a whole epoch in the church she loved and served. She grew up in the Zionsville area, which was the heartland of the Pennsylvania Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. Her grandfather, David Gehman, was one of the seven founders of the denomination, and was for two decades secretary of most of the church's Conferences. Her brother, C. H. Brunner, was Presiding Elder and founder of the Gospel Herald Society. Her Aunt Lucy Brunner married preacher Jonas Musselman and later became Gospel Worker Number One. Nora's aunt Hannah Brunner married preacher Able Strawn. Nora's youngest sister Sarah became a Gospel Worker. Her other sister Ida married preacher E. T. Schick. Presiding Elders W. B. Musselman and H. B. Musselman were Nora's first cousins.


Nora in Zionsville. Nora was only eleven when she lost her mother, Rebecca Brunner, wife of Joel Brunner and daughter of David Gehman. Having two older brothers and two younger sisters, it fell to Nora to take over the housekeeping duties. (She told her daughter Mae that she had to stand on a stool to knead the bread.) The meeting-house in Zionsville, only a mile or so from the farm where Nora grew up, was one of the focal points of Nora's life. Her father, Joel Sell Brunner, was "Vorsinger" there. Since there were no musical instruments used at worship, it was Joel who started off the singing of each hymn.


Nora the preacher. In 1892 Nora Brunner and her sister-in-law (who was also her second cousin) Sarah Catherine, nee Musselman, already the wife of C. H. Brunner, were licensed to preach, as was Nora's future husband, R. D. Dreisbach. These early women preachers were preceded by only one woman – their aunt Lucy Musselman, nee Brunner, who received a preaching licence from the denomination in 1890. Nora was about twenty-two when she was licensed, and it seems she continued to preach as long as her husband was in the ministry, or until about 1906. During those years she bore five sons, and lost one of them at the age of five months. Her daughter Mae once said in a recorded interview, "Sometimes she would preach. Then the boys would sit up on the pulpit platform. Roy and Paul. I remember hearing them talk about it."


Nora marries. At Annual Conference in February 1893, the young probationer for the ministry, Robert Dreisbach, was appointed as "helper" to assist the preacher at the Zionsville congregation. One wonders: did Nora preach in her home congregation? Did she preach at meetings elsewhere? Did she and Robert get to hear each other preach? In any event, one year later, on February 21, 1894, Robert Dreisbach, nineteen years old, occupation: "minister", living in Allentown, applied for a marriage licence together with Nora Brunner, twenty-three, living in Zionsville, her occupation: "housework". They were married the next day in Zionsville by Nora's cousin, Presiding Elder W. B. Musselman.


Nora the preacher's wife. The couple's first charge was the Erwinna and Bridgeton Mission along the Delaware River, near Upper Black Eddy. Here Paul was born. They must have lived frugally. This mission was financed by the Home Missions treasury at a mere $30 per quarter year. By 1897 they were in Terre Hill in Lancaster County, where Roy was born. In 1899 both husband and wife are named as serving the Royersford and Spring City circuit, which straddled the Schuylkill River. From 1900 to 1906 they were at Union Hill (Weissport) and Lehighton, north of the Lehigh Gap, where Nora gave birth to three more sons and lost one of them. However, husband Robert's status as a minister was changing. Up to 1903 he, like most of his fellow ministers, had "submitted himself unconditionally to the Conference", which meant he was available to be transferred to any church or mission. However, from 1903 to 1906 he is listed at Annual Conference as a "conditional" or "local" preacher. In fact, as early as 1903 a new minister was appointed to lead the two congregations. Robert seems to have become occupied with other things. In 1905 he and another preacher had not "satisfied the Conference entirely as to why they left the active work". By 1907 his name has disappeared from the Conference records. The Nora we knew and remember was never lukewarm where Christian service was concerned. Since, as we have seen, sons Paul and Roy remembered hearing their mother preach, we must conclude that Nora continued preaching at Weissport as long as circumstances permitted.


mizpahmotherscopy.jpg

Nora the family's mainstay. Robert went to work for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the early 1900's, and the family lived in Lehighton for a number of years Four more children were born, including a daughter who died at three weeks. (Seven of the nine children would grow to adulthood; six would found families of their own.) After a short stay in south Easton, the family moved to Allentown, where they would remain. For a while Robert continued to work for the railroad, but later had various occupations. "How poor we were!" (Daughter Mae's reminiscences from the 1930's and 40's continued.) "Mom paid all the bills. Mom did everything – and saved some money too. We all sort of idolized my mother, because she lived for the family."


Nora and the Mothers' Class. The Dreisbach family attended the little brick church on Gordon Street in Allentown until the congregation outgrew it. In the 1920's they could follow at first hand the construction of the spacious Bethel church just a block from where they lived on Eighth Street. It was inaugurated in 1924, and there Nora taught the Mothers' Class in Sunday-School. I remember Nora preparing her lessons using various printed lesson sheets and her Bible. I have that Bible. It is full of underlinings in blue and red pencil, and it was so close to falling apart that I have had it rebound. On one of the inside pages is written, "To Mrs Nora G Dreisbach from the Mothers Class Dec 25 1930". The Mothers' Class was one of Bethel's largest Sunday-School classes. If I remember correctly, it was so popular that the 'mothers' would not leave, and remained to hear Nora's teaching when they were well past child-bearing age!


Nora as we remember her. Nora had six daughters-in-law, and she was loved by all of them. She had twelve grandchildren, some of which did not get to know her before she died in 1944, but all of them have heard glowing words about her, and all have experienced the extension of her good influence through the kindness and generosity of their own fathers. The neighbors loved her too. An eighty-year old woman who grew up next-door to the Dreisbach family sent me this: "Nora was a second mother to me – she taught me to mend and darn, sitting on the front porch – and she gave me so many hints about cooking, and putting every bit of food to good use. In the summer she took me to camp-meeting along with the other Dreisbachs – nothing was too much trouble for her. I never heard her make an unkind remark about anybody – rather she would defend. She (was one of) the most generous, kind hearted people I have ever known."


Nora goes home. Robert Dreisbach and Nora Gehman Brunner were married for almost fifty years, and in 1942 Robert preceded his wife in death. Nora had made a long voyage from the farm in Zionsville where only Pennsylvania Dutch was spoken to a row-house in Allentown where her visiting grandchildren knew only English. When Nora began to preach in the 1890's, it is likely that she preached in the local variant of German. Gradually English replaced the dialect in her family, as it did in the denomination. The final stage of Nora's life was marked by a painful terminal illness, but Nora did not complain. She was headed for her true home, a home that is better than this one. When I went to prayer-meeting with her near the end of her life, that is just what she and the other older persons would sing about. It was a simple chorus, but it has stayed with me all my life:


Meini heemet iss net hie,

Meini heemet iss net hie,

Ich weiss ein' bessere heemet ass die,

Meini heemet iss net hie.



From Ardis Grosjean, nee Dreisbach, written in Stockholm, March 2005

 


 

 

Last month I included several of the stories and testimonies of some retired Bible Fellowship pastors. Richard Gehman responded with the perspective of a missionary.

 


 

 

    The Lord gave us 36 marvelous years of training servants of God at Scott Theological College in Kenya. There were many highlights, one of them being the eight years when God gave me the privilege of serving as Principal (President) of Scott.

725dic~1.gifGehman Family

     It all began in 1941 when the Lord saved me in the Graterford MBC; later baptized in the Perkiomen River by my father. During missionary conferences in our Mt. Carmel MBC the Lord began stirring in my heart a love for missions. It was at Mizpah Grove Camp Meeting that I dedicated my life to the Lord. A covenant was signed by yours truly and Walter Frank who spoke that day at Mizpah: “Dear Lord Jesus, all I am or ever will be, all I have or ever will have, I give to you, absolutely, now and forever.” By God's grace I was faithful to that promise. Somehow I always knew it was in Africa and with the Africa Inland Mission that I would serve. But doing what? That was the big question. During two summers when attending Berean Bible School I served with Home Missions, part of the time with Austin Shelly who, together with his wife, Ruth, was preparing to teach in a Bible School in Venezuela. That caught my imagination. When at Mizpah Grove I shared this sense of calling in 1961 with Sid Langford, Director of the AIM, he mentioned their plan to establish in the following year a national theological school for the Africa Inland Church in Kenya with 4,000 churches. From that day my eyes were set on that goal. Because my father suddenly died in 1963 and my mother became ill, I ended up teaching at Berean Bible School, something never planned because my desire was to go straight to Kenya. However, the Lord used that turn of events to lead me to Flo whom I married in 1964. In 1966 we both set sail for Kenya, East Africa for a life time of adventure in knowing and doing God’s will.

     After going through five different Principals during the first twelve years at Scott, the Chairman of the Board asked me to assume this responsibility. Fearing the responsibility, I suggested several other names to consider. In the in the Lord put me in that position.

     Those eight years of ministry (1975-1983) were wonderful when we saw God’s gracious hand of providence directing in so many ways. Our first graduates were going overseas for further training but we had no laid out educational program or college catalogue. So we developed a new curriculum based on an educational philosophy with objectives. ACTEA (the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa) was just then established so Scott staff agreed to work toward accreditation. This led to further refining and developing the educational program with a 298 page self study. We worked morning, noon and night to accomplish this. By God’s grace Scott became the first theological college in Africa to be accredited by ACTEA.

     No sooner had that been achieved than the college board requested that we develop a degree program. Through AIM connections we were able to work with Ontario Bible College to grant the degree for us since no educational institution was allowed to award degrees except the national university. We further developed the educational program. Many of those basic components including the college philosophy, objectives, field education, and college logo remain intact today. In 1982 we launched the first B.Th. degree program, the first in Kenya.

    This may all sound boring but it was truly exciting to see all that God did during those eight years. We had the finest of students and the greatest spirit within the college family. God gave us the privilege before retirement of visiting 175 of our graduates serving in 7 different countries. To see their lives of service and devotion was a priceless privilege.

 


 

 

Bert and Joan Brosius were on the “children’s circuit” for a number of years. Their ministry to children was popular and well received. Bert shared memories of this.

 


 

 

         I began my ministry in the Bible Fellowship Church when I was assigned to the new mission beginning at Denville, N. J. at the Annual Conference in 1957. The following summer was my first as a pastor at Mizpah Grove camp meeting. My wife and I were given the assignment to conduct meetings each morning for all the children and teens in the big tent. This was a huge challenge because we had over 100 kids for more than two hours in a hot tent that had straw on the ground. Therefore we began to develop a program which could hold the attention of the kids and yet be able to minister to them. This was the beginning of a ministry of gospel magic, puppets, illustrated bible stories, and ventriloquism. We were also able to put together a music ministry of our family singing together. I spent much time and money in gathering together all the props including illustrated lessons, a puppet theater, dozens of puppets, a vent doll, magic tricks, a mannequin from Sears and Roebuck plus trunks and foot lockers to carry all the things we used.. While I continued to pastor churches at Denville, N.J., Lehighton, Pa., Spring City, Pa. and Quakertown, Pa. my family including my wife, Joan; my two sons, Joel and Nate and myself conducted our own D.V.B.S. each year in the church that I was pastor. This was a children’s rally type school and all the teaching was done to all ages from the platform.As our program developed we began to get requests from other churches to come and hold a children’s rally summer bible school in their churches. Thru the years until I became Director of Pinebrook Bible Conference our family was privileged to minister in week long children’s rallies in many Bible Fellowship Churches. The following is a list of the churches that we were privileged to minister. Some of them was only one summer and several of them we returned to for many years.

 

Berean B.F.C. Denvile, N.J.

Salem B.F.C. Lehighton, Pa.

Faith B.F.C. Spring City, Pa.

Grace B.F.C. Quakertown, Pa.

Bethel B.F.C. Allentown, Pa. (8th St.)

Cedar Crest B.F.C. Allentown, Pa,

Faith B.F.C. York, Pa.

Trinity B.F.C. Blandon, Pa.

Ebenezar B.F.C. Bethlehem, Pa.

Faith B.F.C. Harleysville, Pa.

Bethany B.F.C. Hatfield, Pa.

Maple Glen B.F.C. Maple Glen, Pa.

Paradise B.F.C. Paradise, Pa.

Royersford B.F.C. Royersford, Pa.

Grace B.F.C. Wallingford, Pa.

Carmel B.F.C. (Mission) Carmel, N.Y.

Englishtown B.F.C. (Mission) Englishtown, N.J.

 

The Lord also gave us opportunities to have week long children’s rallies at the following:

 

1st Baptist Church Wolcott, N.Y.

Simpson Memorial Church Nyack, N.Y.

Cedar Grove Church Philadelphia, Pa.

Ben-Salem Baptist Church Philadelphia, Pa.

Grace Brethren Church Telford, Pa.

We also presented our program each summer at the following camps:

Mizpah Grove Camp Meeting Allentown, Pa.

Pinebrook Bible Conference Stroudsburg, Pa.

C.M.A. Camp Meeting Pittsburg, Pa.

 

We still have our vent doll, TERRY. He remains secure in his trunk and has not been used for years. We also have two large cases of illustrated bible stories. These are still used at times by my wife, Joan. All of the magic tricks have been given to another person who uses them with children and most of our puppets have been given away or remain at Pinebrook to be used in ministry. Many of the children we taught in the past are now pastors, missionaries and active inthe ministry of local churches of the Bible Fellowship Church and other churches.

 


 

 

R. C. Reichenbach is always good for a memory or a thought about the ministry. What he says deserves notice. He has attained a ripe age and has been to 72 Annual Conferences (if my memory is as good as his).

848readingcoursegroup1.jpgGospel Heralds

 


 

 

         How often we hear the statement, "Times have changed." Yes, they have in many ways. Let me illustrate by relating my own experience as a member of the Gospel Herald Society many, many years ago, contrasting with the present. Our present outlook as a denomination is centered on the opening of new areas for ministry. Our Director of Church Extension informs us that we are willing to expend the sum of $65,000.00 to open a new work or Mission Church, and further, we are willing to expend other monies to purchase land and to help build a house of worship for the people meeting in those areas. Also, our pastors in these new fields receive a stipulated salary and are full time at their appointed ministry.

 

289gos~1.gifGospel Heralds in Harrisburg

         Now let me relate my experience as a Gospel Herald endeavoring to likewise begin to establish a new Church in those early days under the Gospel Herald Society. During the winter of 1934-35 I was stationed at Elizabeth, N.J. with two other brethren, ministering at a Mission under the Gospel Herald Society. Invited by a young lady who had a previous contact with our Mission in Newark, N.J. we held cottage prayer meetings in her parent's home in Staten Island, N.Y. A decision was made to open up a work there the following Summer. I, accompanied by another brother, who is now with the Lord, erected a Gospel Tent in Port Richmond and held services nightly for two months with good results. We lived in a campmeeting tent in the rear of the Gospel Tent. We gathered a number of people together and a number were led to the Lord. We received NO FUNDS from the denomination but supported ourselves by selling the Gospel Herald publication, calendars, plaques, and by the offerings we received in the meetings. Our meals were sandwiches: the ends of balonies and cheese and bread donated by a local bakery store: also an occasional meal by some of the folks who attended the services. We had no salary. When the weather began to turn cold, we rented a storefront and a "railroad" type apartment above the store. The storeroom served as a Mission Hall for several years.

         I was joined in the work by a married man that I had led to the Lord in Elizabeth, his wife and two children. After two years of ministry I received members into the denomination, organized the work into a particular church which the denomination received.

         My associate became the pastor and I moved on to Trenton, N.J. to begin another new work for the Mennonite Brethren in Christ. Again, I received NOTHING in financial help from the parent denomination but carried on a literature sale distribution to support the work, assisted by another fellow worker who is also now with the Lord.

 

         What could have happened if the Mennonite Brethren in Christ, now the Bible Fellowship Church, in those early days would have supported financially the Gospel Heralds in their devoted service? We have awakened to the fact that advancement of the denomination has a cost, if it is to be successful.

 


 

 

    Willard Cassel spent a lot of time looking out from the parsonage. He was the son of one of our pastors (E. N. Cassel) and retired having spent much of his life serving as a pastor. His memories are always interesting and his stories often bring both smiles and nods. [In recent days, Willard’s health has been declining. He will appreciate your prayer for him. - Taylor]

 


 

684cassel,mrs.andwillard.jpgMrs E N Cassel and son Willard


I have lived in Graterford ten years of my life - five years as the pastor's son and five years as the pastor of the Harleysville-Graterford circuit.

A very devoted man, Mr. Michael Ziegler, was a member of the Harleysville congregation. He had a favorite expression which you could hear him use -- "Lord, help us." -- when the speaker made a challenging or blessed statement.

Both congregations desired to have tent meetings and during my pastorate we had a tent campaign in the Lederach community. At the close of the campaign on Sunday afternoon, the Evangelist, Lew Stewart, made a comment that he was going to speak on the Second Coming
of the Lord and that it usually takes him two hours to preach it. Those that were sitting close to patriarch Ziegler heard him say, "Lord, help us."

The next August, we had a tent campaign in Graterford in one of the parks. We secured the services of Evangelist Harry Ketcham of Iowa. One of the evenings, Evangelist Ketcham felt led of the Lord to preach on the passage in Genesis 6, "Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the
Lord." His development was good making it plain that our salvation is secure in the Lord. Michael Ziegler and his brother-in-law were present at the meeting. They were vocal in their praise until it was obvious that Evangelist Ketcham believed in the security of the believer, and
then their praise ceased. Evangelist Ketcham asked me at the lunch table that evening what happened in the service tonight. I said that the majority of the people that I serve here do not believe in the security of the believer.


 

 

Jack Dunn served many years as a Bible Fellowship Pastor. He is another of the veterans who began their ministry in the Gospel Heralds and lived to tell about it. He lives with his wife in Florida.

 


 

 

843gospelheralds-henrythomannheandunn.jpgJack Dunn (first on right)

WEST PHILADELPHIA

In May, l949, I was stationed to West Philadelphia for the first time. We worshipped and lived in a large three-story house at 62l4 Grays Avenue. The rooms were broken out on the first floor and we could seat about 60 for services. We lived on the second and third floors.

At a Quarterly Conference sometime in late l954, Betty Alshouse asked the question, "When are we going to get out of this chicken coop?" District C.E. Kirkwood seemed quite surprised by the question, but he appointed the three trustees of the church and myself as a fact-finding committee, and we were to report our findings to the next Quarterly Conference.

Now next door, the Roman Catholics had built the Our Lady of Loretto Church right on the party line instead of three feet back. One time they had a leak in the foundation on our side and they had to gain our permission to dig up our ground to fix the leak in their foundation. These folks were mostly Italian and easy to live with.

A pastor friend suggested that I talk to the rector of the church to see if they were interested in purchasing our property. We had four building lots. I talked to the rector without telling the trustees I was going to do so. He said they were very much interested, and how much
did we want for our property. I said I didn't know. But he kept asking me how much we wanted. So I said $25,000 with the idea in mind that we would settle for $22,500.

Now I told the trustees what had happened and they encouraged me to pursue the sale of our property. I also informed District Superintendent C.E. Kirkwood about my findings and he encouraged me to continue on with the negotiations.

As a result, in an act of faith, we sold the property for $22,500 cash at settlement with the provision we could use the building for twelve months free and three months at $50 a month. We now knew that we had to purchase a parsonage and build a church in fifteen months.

We began to look for property to build the church on, and at first, a single home for a parsonage. I reported to the trustees that there were no single homes for sale in our neighborhood, so I began to look for a half of a twin. None of these were available so we purchased a six-room house with an enclosed front porch at 6902 Chelwynde Avenue for $8,250.

Now we had one problem solved -- a parsonage. In the meantime we were looking for land on which to build the church. We finally purchased ground on Dickens Avenue just off 65th Street. We had contacted Rufus Swiley who had built Maranatha Tabernacle in Darby, Pa., and he was to
build the church.

1272philadelphiawissinominglowerlever.jpgInterior - Wissinoming, Philadelphia

One day I went to the lot, and I was filled with joy to see that the basement of the building was being dug. In a day or two the footers were started. In about a week, however, the work was stopped. The builder informed me that the Building Inspector was his friend, and he told him he could start even though he did not have the full permit to build. Now the Inspector told him to stop until he got the sewer permit.

After a few weeks, the permit had not been issued, so I went to Philadelphia City Hall to see a Mr. Brady who issued the permits. He informed me that there might be old pipes in the ground and until that was ascertained he could not issue the permit. I informed him that we were willing to do whatever was necessary to gain the permit.

Almost three months had passed and still no permit. The excavation was filled with water and we were afraid some child would fall in and drown. Now in the Evening Bulletin newspaper, there was a columnist named Mr. Fixit, so I wrote him explaining our problem and that I felt we were being subjected to religious discrimination. (We believed that Mr. Brady was expecting a bribe to issue the permit, and we were all agreed that we were not going to give one.)

After about a week, I went in to see Mr. Brady again. He was very agitated that one of our men should write Mr. Fixit. He said Mr. Fixit was in to see him and they did not want him poking around the Hall. I was informed that we would receive the sewer permit which we did
receive the next week.

Now the building began and in a short time we had a small church that seated about l50. Our faith was rewarded for in the allotted time of fifteen months we purchased a parsonage and built the church building.

 

WALNUTPORT, PA.

In October, l957, I was stationed in Walnutport, Pa. At that time there were quite a number of children in our Sunday School and also a great number in the borough. Dell and I began to have a burden for the salvation of these children, but we had no idea how to reach them with
the Gospel.

One day, after we were there about a year, David and Betty Schmoll, C.E.F. Directors for

751gospelheralds1.jpgGospel Heralds

Northampton County, stopped in to see us. They introduced us to the C.E.F. literature and we asked how we could purchase some. They said that they had a trunk full of the literature in
their car, so we purchased, with our own funds, enough to start a Bible Club.

In a very short time we had 35 to 40 children present at each session. I led the singing and told the continuing story each week. Dell taught the Bible lesson, and we had someone to play the piano. A secret of our success is that we also had handcraft which helped the children to be interested in the Bible Club.

 

WEST PHILADELPHIA, PA.

In l96l we went back to West Philadelphia for the second time. We now were experienced in conducting a Bible Club so we contacted Claire and Ruth Greiner who at that time were C.E.F. Directors for Philadelphia. We had previously met the Greiners in Walnutport. They supplied us with
fresh C.E.F. material and we started a Bible Club in West Philadelphia church. Again we had 35-40 children present each week, but this time we did not feature handcraft. Again I led the singing and told the continuing story. Dell taught the Bible story and Dorothy Zabala, Ross Rhodes' sister, played the piano for the class.

One night a rather attractive young lady brought her two sons to the Bible Club but did not stay herself. After a few weeks she asked if she could stay for the club. We were very glad for her offer since she would be another person to help keep order. After a few weeks, she told
us that when she was a child she had attended a Bible Club like ours. Elaine also informed us that she and her husband, Zeke, were members of the local Reformed Church and that Zeke was the treasurer of the church.

One Sunday morning Elaine came to our morning worship service. I was quite surprised but also very happy to greet her. I enquired as to why she came to our church alone and did not attend her church. She informed me that the pastor said that many passages in the Bible were not inspired and you could use your blue marking pencil to blot them out in your Bible. Elaine said that in the middle of the sermon she could take no more and walked out of the church service. Furthermore, Zeke was handing in his resignation as treasurer, and the whole family would be attending our church services. I had the great privilege of baptizing them and receiving them into church fellowship. They remained faithfully with us for a couple of years until they moved to Elverson, Pa., and united with a fundamental church.

Our membership in West Philadelphia was 60, and it was with great effort that we were able to keep that number on the church roll. Anyone who was financially able moved to New Jersey or out into the country, and since the area was highly Catholic, it was always difficult to replace
good members who chose to move out of the city.

 


 

 

For your calendar. The Historical Society will meet at its next meeting at the Bethlehem Church on October 29, 2005. We had moved our meeting a week earlier because of what we thought was a schedule conflict. We are back to our old time on the last Saturday of October and, of course, you are invited to be there. Go right now to the wall calendar and write this down. Don’t schedule anything else for that day because all your friends are looking forward to seeing you.

 

As always, I welcome any correspondence, relevant or irrelevant.

 

Dick Taylor

723 South Providence Road

Wallingford PA 19086

Telephone and Fax - 610-876-8725

Email - RETaylor@GraceBFC.org

Web site - BFCHistory.org