The Historical Society of the Bible Fellowship Church
The summer came quickly and is moving quickly. I play mental games with myself I suppose. In the winter, I think of the end of February as the bottom of the valley of winter and March 1 is the beginning of the climb to spring. July 31 has a similar significance. The bottom of the valley of summer has come. August 1 starts the climb to the fall. Obviously, spring and fall are my favorite seasons. You don’t have to understand all of this. It is my way of saying August has arrived and it’s time for another of the Society’s occasional publications.
Our last issue brought some comments that were interesting and worth sharing.
R. C. Reichenbach commented on the article concerning Annie Heffner, “I wanted to mention to you that Annie Heffner visited her brother in Harrisburg a number of times while I pastored there. When we built the Church on Colonial Road, she was instrumental in a gift from the Union Gospel Press, a gift of $10,000. At the dedication of the Church they also sent a tremendous altar bouquet of red roses.”
Royal Kramer writes of Pastor Gehman,
I was under the ministry of Pastor Gehman for two of the four years that he served at Salem, South Allentown. (1954-56) In January of 1957, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and by the time I returned home in December of 1958, Pastor Donald Schaeffer was the pastor. However, the comments Richard made regarding the Salem congregation are very true. We did have our problems with some of the members and they were quite embarrassing and sinful to say the least. However, on the brighter side, Pastor Gehman was the one who married Charlotte and I on January 7, 1956 in Bethel, Allentown since Salem Church was too small for the wedding as we invited quite a few folks to that wedding. Pastor Walter Frank offered a prayer during that wedding ceremony. This past January, we celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary.
Rudy and Dora were very humble people and we loved them dearly but back in those days, as I recall, the membership voted as to whether they wanted to retain their pastor and if not, he was moved. While in military service, in October of 1958, the membership voted and elected to have him moved as he was no longer wanted at Salem. The conference delegate from Salem, Merle Achey, had to stand in front of the congregation and read the division of the house as far as to keeping him or not and he said afterwards that it was the most difficult thing that he had to do in his entire life and promised that he would never be a delegate to Annual Conference again as he never wanted to go through that experience again and, true to his word, he never serve as delegate again. This was his first and only time that he served as a delegate as G. Louis Baumgardner had moved to the Emmaus area and transferred his membership to Bethel, Emmaus. However, Rudy and Dora accepted it as of the Lord and they silently left Salem for Lancaster where he continued his ministry.
When he passed away in August of 1961, Don Schaeffer, knowing how many members loved and cared for him, canceled church service that Sunday night so that a number of us could drive to Lancaster to attend his viewing which was held in the church.
Yes, we have very fond memories of him and will always remember him and Dora.
Mildred Musselman of Coopersburg writes, “Enjoyed reading Dick Gehman’s writing of his father’s life and ministry but want to call attention to a date error on pg. 32, 1st paragraph, 3rd line – R. L. W. was Not pastor at Coopersburg from 1911-1914. E. N. Cassel was pastor at that time - Cassel performed my parent’s marriage ceremony in 1912 and I was born in 1914. E. N. C. Was moved in fall of 1914 and H. K. Kratz became pastor at Cbg 1914 - 1918 and then R. L. Woodring became Cbg pastor in the fall of 1918-1925, start of a 7 year cycle. If the date is not typo error but what Dick actually has, then he got the wrong info somewhere (I hope it was not from me - Ed.). I know 1918-1925 is the correct date since I was there!! One of my quirks is that I’ve kept a running list of Calvary’s pastors and so far have lived through the ministry of 14 pastors plus 6 or more interims. It’s quite interesting.”
I find the clash of these two titans interesting. If Dick Gehman ever made a mistake, it is so long ago that no one, not even his wife, can remember. Mildred is incredible. I quote her at length, not to embarrass Dick or Mildred, but to show how much people care about what happens in our churches. Mildred has been greatly blessed with long life and sharp mind. I can’t tell you her age but it has been rumored that she attended nursery school with Moses. Her handwriting is as clear as her memory. Thanks for your letter, Mildred.
Elizabeth Tyson Gehman
1st My Aunt
2nd My Mother
Mildred Gehman Henry
(Continued from the last issue)
Let’s now evaluate Elizabeth's character - first education - of her childhood I know sadly too little, but know that she was a very lively tomboy, climbing trees and generally running about the farm and a little pesky sister to her older brothers, especially Sam. Why she never told us about her childhood and
pranks etc, was first, I believe, her English taciturnity. The second I am inclined to think was because if she told her pranks she may think we think less of her or will take license to excuse ours. However, I think kids love to hear from their parents - the tricks, pranks, bloopers they commit. We are all human. Why hide them? I told my children freely the troubles I was into as a kid, so we could all laugh together. Anyone who cannot take a joke on themselves or laugh at themselves, is sunk to begin with. That is what I liked about Dad, he would tell us the funniest things about his childhood and I loved him for it. She was an alumnus of the eight grade one room schoolhouse which prevailed in the late 19th century. I remember her telling about the immoralities that took place behind the schoolhouse... Sin has always been in the human heart since Adam and Eve. Elizabeth was 15 when Dad married Emma, but of these working years of hers it is only vague what I tell you, think she was working in a factory when living at Charley Yergers, and then as she learned to cook from Aunty Pear - Mrs. Fairheller in her boarding house, maybe she boarded there (any news on this will be welcome) She was born musical as were all the Kinsells. She played the mandolin and also the piano, the latter only with chords but she enjoyed playing and singing every day, and at the Nazareth Home the folk fondly tell me how she would go to her piano, which she took there, and start to play chords. The folk would gather round and she would urge them to sing with her.
Elizabeth was basically the silent type. She was not garrulous or facetious, was the perfect complement for her hustle bustle husband. I can vividly see my Dad chattering away to her in Pennsylvania Dutch and she answering him "nary a word" but she surely understood what he was saying. Doubtless this was meant for secrets, but kids soon catch on and ths parents have to find another system. We say the English are unemotional, cold as a slab of granite, unexciting in that they tell us nothing. True - all humans are emotional, but some cannot let them out. I say, a kiss, a hug, pat on the back, a word of praise which was mostly unknown in our home. None of these are criminal, but the oil that makes the machinery go smoothly. Is it too much to ask that a parent gives children these emotions? If we are cheated of these, all our life we do not know how to love. Joe and I raised two of the finest sons and I showed them all kinds of emotions, so that I was no mystery to them. All censure and never a word of commendation is no incentive to better ones self and destroys self esteem. I know that when raising children life can get very complex and grim, but once in a while a little credit given when we work like slaves, will not be amiss. If parents are good providers of a home, food, clothing, etc, but no emotional showing of love, the children are forever starved and the home closely resembles a boarding house. And in a big family, no two children are alike in their emotional needs. The warm emotional ones need lots of show of love to prove it, while the cold type couldn't care less about it. I know my own
heart as no one else. If each child is not dealt with as a separate individual and personality, he or she will be irreparably harmed. Elizabeth was an organizer. She would not have lived her 94 ½ years was she not. If she had had a dozen children, she would have known how to manage and delegate to each their work, and she saw to it that every day after noon lunch she got her one hour nap and rest, which makes good sense. But be assured, we worked like slaves - up at five AM to darn stockings. Many is the time I near fell asleep atop the pile, and to get the wash on the outdoors line before going off to school or work. No matter if it was zero weather, the wash must be hung outdoors and then to come home and help with the housecleaning of that cavernous 1136 Northampton Street house. These are my painful memories. We were taught to make our own clothes by 15 or 16 years of age and I am thankful for this. We had one or two dresses fit to wear to church and not many of other kinds, but maybe other families had somewhat similar systems. When company came there was plenty of chicken in the pens and we knew how to scald and pluck them and eviscerate them too - a smelly job.
Elizabeth was a disciplined person. When she was about 50 years of age and both she and Dad weighed about 200 lbs. She had some sort of a spell which was a warning that she needed help, and so began her start with Dr. Buller of Allentown. Religiously following his treatment to lose weight by diet and vitamins, she was able for the remainder of her years, to maintain a fine figure, always erect and proud. Among us, some had differing views about Dr. Buller, osteopath, but he was the perfect therapy for her...and we say "It was God first. Dr. Buller next.''
And what a good driver mother was, as good as any man. Every two weeks she drove over here to Allentown to the Doctor, no matter what the weather. She drove in conditions I would never think of. I believe she absolutely knew no fear, and she was doing air travel when it was still very new...and she got in plenty of pleasure travel.
Elizabeth was a financier. When Dad died she was 55 years old and one would think, what would she know but raising children, total of 8, babies, nursing, diapers, etc, housework? But NO! We are wrong. She set right to running the book store Dad left, and for 14 years she successfully ran it and became quite well fixed selling World Books like hot cakes. She was born with a keen finely honed mind and was shrewd in money matters. No emotions entered into it. She had you signing on the line before you were aware of what you were doing. I could never go out and sell as I would be pitying the people, though they may be paying on their second big car and third TV. No that is not my long suit. She was a very stylish dresser, with her regular perms, etc. Had Dad been here in these later years, he would not have approved unless he would have drastically changed from his strict Puritan ideas on dress, from which we suffered so much. I mention SHREWD. The connotation to me of that word is not exactly good, it is not direct dishonesty, but a wiliness, trickiness, slippery, coldly analytical. I remember one time she told me that she does not pay bills until the last minute due, so that the other fellow cannot get the interest. I had never thought in this way. It is not a dishonesty, but a thought. I always had the sneaky feeling she did not in our childhood approve of all the fanatical extreme notions that prevailed among preachers and in the church. It is only lately that I found she did not, but likely went along with it in silence to keep peace. She had lately told her pastor some funny things and he too concurs she did not agree with many things, nor did we in our hearts but any verbal dissent and we would have been at the altar in a minute, sorry or not, which I say, is hypocrisy, a perfunctory gesture.
Elizabeth was a learned and lover of beauty. She was always an avid reader of good things. I remember Dad on one occasion beaming on her saying she was a learned person. Life is in itself a great education if we are awake and alert and curious and filled with harsh wonderment. As iron sharpeneth iron, so we sharpen each other. To live with Dad was education enough. Of course he travelled much, and anyone can educate themself, just read and read and read - good stuff, and you will have a vocabulary to be proud of. I look at folk who do not like to read. They are the dullest and the most boring of mortals, most uninteresting and usually couldn't care less. They have chosen to sink into the morass of the dullards. Mother was very ambitious, did not just sit staring into space as do some senior folk. She made the most beautiful handy work, which proved her artistic nature. She did crewel, needlepoint, Afghans, and was always busy with her hands. Read Proverbs 31. Of course for this she had to have good eyes and she did till near the end. While in the Nazareth Home she could still read and do crossword puzzles. She enjoyed life to the full.
While she still lived in Easton I gave her a sheet to fill out telling me about her side of the family, births and where, deaths, when and where. Later she gave it to me, some way back stuff she did not know. But my hungry heart was not satisfied. I wanted to get more out of her about her childhood and family, so one day when I went to Nazareth to visit her she was so happy and ushered me into the lounge and we sat side by side and I happened to hit upon the right question to open her up to tell me history. "Where did Uncle Sam and Uncle Isaac get their higher education?" This did it, she put her head back and was lost in reverie about her childhood . It was in Philadelphia where they got their education. She told me about Sam's illness. He was out in buggy and got soaking wet, then became ill. It must have been polio or a related disease as he was from then on a cripple and walked with crutches. She used to tease him so and get him mad. He would run after her to give her a whack with his crutch, but Lizzie being a fast little kid, outran him. Once Ethel came to visit me and we went over to Nazareth to visit her. She was overjoyed. She was in that small room with a woman near 100 years old. Mother so wanted to entertain us as she used when she had a home, but was helpless. She had on bed a picture of her childhood home and over and over she said to us "This is the tree I climbed, this road goes to Phoenixville, this one to Philadelphia." She had her own TV in the room, but could not turn it on when she wanted to because she was so considerate of the other woman. I say that was prison and my heart went out to her. Truly I was sure that confinement would take her off as soon she did not want to get out of bed, or go to the dining room. She was giving up on living.
But James and Gail Beil in their kind Christian way coaxed her out of that thinking and later that woman died and she was put into another room with a very pleasant woman. But it was real prison after her long life of independence, going and coming as she choose, driving anywhere. The food was excellent, but that room, it would have killed me outright. The proud private person she was, to have all this privacy taken away - I can think of nothing worse and I often say. There are many things that are worse than death- that is, to the Christian. On another occasion when I came to Nazareth, she wanted me to stay and eat with her. I said, “Mother, it doesn't work that way. I must tell Fay Williams the day before if I want to eat with you.” She said to the nurse "Set a plate for her." I winked to the nurse and then promised Mother I would sometime call Fay and then next day dine with her. It was so sad. She was feeling around to find her wallet, wanted to pay as in so many former years. I, always the one to kid, said, "Don't they give you any spending money to go to the corner store?" I was always glad that I went there betimes when her mind was still quite clear. She spent 1 ½ years in Nazareth and then 1 ½ years in the Peter Becker Nursing Home, Harleysville, and then to heaven which "is far better."
Joe and I had just been newly married - Nov. 11, 1927. Then Uncle Sam died, he had worked in the Custom House in Philadelphia. Joe and I went to his funeral at Oliver Baer’s parlor on Chestnut Street. He died far away from the Lord, but I know that "The Judge of all the earth doeth right" and He is more merciful than we are. We rest on that. He delights in mercy. One time at Nazareth she said over and over, “I was born 1886,” counting on her fingers. Her mind was then starting to go.
An omission - When Mrs. Fairheller was matron at our home for the aged in Centre Valley, Dad used to take Lizzie and her little chicks to see her. She loved Lizzie. I can still see her sweet face and smile.
Was Elizabeth pretty? This sounds very fickle. I thought so, but she didn't like her nose Thinking about it, I don't like mine either, but it is better than having no nose at all, I say. Mother was a real lady and Dad loved that. And after the death of Dad, she never gave a thought to another man. This was the one true love of her life, and tease that I am, on one occasion I teased her about a man I was sure cared for her. She did not think it funny, my funniness was not her kind. This was Edgar Kauffman, who is still living and right next door to me here at Cedarbrook. He is at least 97 years old, must go see him and get more history. His pretty wife was Lucy Moyer, sister to Mary Shelly, Sarah Bean, Katie Shelly, Eunice Rawn, and others, a big family.
In retrospect, I say, how did she live with him? In his many years of traveling over his district and to the Gospel Herald Missions, and when the children were grown and sons married, she traveled with him everywhere to the Quarterly conferences 4 times a year and through all kinds of weather. Come "hell or high water", blizzards, nothing could keep Dad from his appointments. 'Tis a marvel that Dad's rugged body lived even to 67 years, and how she took some of those trips which seemed to sensible folk nonsensible, But faithful she was in sticking with him.
It was a true LOVE marriage as also his marriage to Emma, and you can never fool a child. They know love or its absence. Read S of S. 8:7. Also read verse 6. In marriage, they say "Opposites attract." This is only partly true. In disposition mostly, had Dad picked a woman his type the sparks would have flown all day and every day, but he didn't. But likes and dislikes must coincide very much. I mean they must have a lot of things in common. Their big goal was God's work and they were united in doing it. We are very fortunate, blessed in having this great heritage. And so we are glad Mother had a good long life with not too much of pain and suffering and that she passed away quickly. She did not have to linger in bed or in and out of hospitals. Solomon says "Love is strong as death" and "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."
Death is an enemy - dark, deep, determined and despicable. To the child of God, however, death has lost its terrors - Psa. 116;15
Its sting was removed at Calvary - I Cor. 15;55-57
With imperious disdain for feelings or fears, he forces his way into our homes, with no respect for age or station in life. 4/10/68, Alliance Witness, Dr. V. Raymond Edman
Of stepping on shore and finding it - Heaven
Of taking hold of a hand and finding it - God's Hand!
Of breathing new air and finding it - Celestial air
Of feeling invigorated and finding it - Immortality
Of passing from storm and tempest to - Unbroken calm
Of waking up ana finding it - HOME!
Mother drove nearly 30 years till she was 84 and here is an episode showing her courage;
After Joe's death I was housemother at Columbus Boy Choir, Princeton, N. J. and used on my time off to come here to Grace in Allentown, Pa. That was the school year Sept. 7, 1962- June 1963 One Monday afternoon I was returning to Princeton and was sailing along on route 22 when ahead I saw a State police in the road directing traffic around an accident. Being very intent on my driving I could not take in the full details of it, but remember seeing a car sitting off the road to my right. It was not till much later that I got word that Ma was in an accident. She was hurrying along on her usual trip to Allentown and a man ahead of her made a U turn where there was a sign, "No U turn" and she ploughed into him. The car - I mean mother's, was very badly damaged. She sat in the police car till he got all details. The man had just moved and his mind was overfull(l know all about that, having just moved) and most humbly and contritely he insisted to the officer that he was totally the offender and was all his fault. Mother was not hurt, but most certainly shook up, but nothing daunting she insisted she did not want to get the car repaired, but would buy a new one, which she did. I was going on 60 years of age, which would make her 77 (my present age). What a strange coincidence that I should pass her accident, not knowing it was she until she wrote me later about having an accident. She also had no idea I had passed it. No, she wasn’t going to give up at that YOUNG age.
I never go to funerals if I can avoid going, which I mostly manage. I want to remember folk in their living state and so it was with her. I determined I did not want to see her in the casket, so I told Woody. He thought that was awful and really gave it to me. He said, "This is no ordinary clod we are laying away." Both he and Don were so fond of their Gram. I said, “I know, I know,” and repentantly promised to go to the cemetery for the final service to show my respects. How thankful we should be that she has reached heaven and is with the Lord and her loved ones who have gone on before. We have the hope and confidence that we will see them again and be with them forever and ever.
Was it Paul Dudley White who I think was the heart doctor for “Ike" who said “I have two doctors - my two legs.”
That would mean Elizabeth had three doctors - Buller and her two legs. She was the disciplined walker to end them all, and am sure that contributed to her long life. There was no stopping her even when the Dr. did not want her to walk out alone. When she lived on Lehigh Street, at 19th, she walked to the A & P and back - any commiserating we extended to her, she would resent with the attitude “I know what I’m doing." And how she loved to work in her flower gardens which were all around the house. She had flowers like no one else. She knew all there was to know about them. She never had a closed mind to anything. The English cannot live without their gardens and she was a real English lady.”
Here is a little episode of one of my visits to her in Nazareth. It was when her finely honed mind was just starting to go. She had around her a very elegant shawl which I was sure was an import. Some of the family gave her very exquisite gifts. I said to her, "What a gorgeous shawl you have on, it must be imported.” She became flustered and confused trying to recall who gave it to her. She was still at the stage when forgetting something distressed her greatly. She came up with this, “O, I believe it was Sam who gave it to me.” I was greatly amused as my Uncle Sam had died 50 years ago, but managed to restrain a smile till I got into my car. But when in Harleysville and her mind was completely unreliable, I could not go to see her. It was too depressing to me. I could not cut through the gloom when I left her and it was no point. She would not know if I was there or not though she had known me when I came in. How sad! Something always goes. With some the legs. They can no longer get about. With others the eyes, and so on. Sometimes now I feel as if my mind is gone due to moving, but I think I may recover and live a good many more years, by the grace of God.
Every Christmas for 23 years we and all the children and their families went home to celebrate. It was a noisy riotous happy time we had, all trying to speak above the din. What food and what singing! We each brought food, some cakes and pies. Others the salad, others the celery and olives, etc, but the brunt of the whole affair was on Mother, she furnished the grand turkey, and now she had to tell us that she no longer could do it. Likely a sleepless night before. NOW we all understand, but not then. It saddened me greatly that we could no longer get together, but just nothing goes on forever. And the singing of the carols I will never forget and was what I loved most of the whole party. How thankful I am that no rain, sleet, blizzards, or illness prevented us Henry's from going home for those many Christmases. It was a crowd of about 30 who gathered about that table to enjoy the great food and, Elizabeth, we all thank you for this happiness you gave us.
Some time ago, Paul Shelly sent me a copy of a presentation at the Sunday Convention of 1906. I discovered that I had scanned it but never shared it. I can correct that now. I find records like these very interesting. Sunday Schools were very important to our churches. The conventions, with their opportunities for learning and encouraging fellowship, were a vital part of the training that took place. We can hear about their methods and approach to teaching.
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A SUCCESSFUL
SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT
Presentation by Howard T. Shelly (age 20)
18th Annual Sunday School Convention
May 30, 1906
Bethel Mennonite Church
The value of Sunday School itself has been proven repeatedly. Started only about one hundred and twenty-five years ago by Robert Raikes, who had the work of the Lord at heart -- God Blessed and prospered it, and it has been the means of leading many souls to Christ.
The Sunday School, in order to do effective work, must have a superintendent or, in other words, a leader. No organization of any kind whatever, whether social or religious, can be a success unless it have a leader, one to conduct its affairs, and the Sunday School is no exception. The success of the leader or Superintendent of a Sunday School depends a great deal upon the qualifications of that Superintendent. It might be well to state here that not everything that the human mind calls successful or prosperous is really successful in the eyes of God. An unsuccessful superintendent need have no qualifications at all.
We will consider a few of the qualifications necessary. First and above all, he must know that he has been brought from death unto life and was born into the Family of God and filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the most essential. Not any man in the class will make a successful Sunday School Superintendent. Such a man should be selected who stands by the Lord’s work under all circumstances; a man who can be depended upon at all times; one that is loyal to the truth. He should be a MAN in every way. The Lord is looking for MEN; men whom he can trust and in whom he can place confidence. The Prophet Jeremiah says, “Run ye to and fro, Find me a man,” Jeremiah 5:1. Not self-made men, but God-born men. Men who are always at their posts and stick to them. They are not too plentiful in these days.
A man who yet feels it is his "duty" to visit his "Freundschaft," saved or unsaved, every once in a while on Sunday, letting the Lord’s work go to nothing in so far as he is concerned, or one who goeth around among the Brethren sowing strife and discord, Proverbs 6:19, or trying to drown the Pastor’s influence in the class, etc., is not a very fit subject for the office of Sunday School Superintendent.
A successful superintendent will be present every Sunday except in cases of absolute necessity and he will work in perfect harmony with the Pastor. He is elected to his office as an assistant to the Pastor, not his overseer. One small act of disobedience or disloyalty on his part has more than once been the cause of wrecking a whole Sunday School.
He will be a man who can manage the affairs of his own home and family well. If he cannot manage the affairs of his own home and family well, can we reasonably expect of him to manage the affairs of a Sunday School? If he runs into debts on his own account so he cannot pay them, would it not be quite probable that he would do the same with the accounts of the Sunday School? Debts are more easily gotten into than out of. He will watch the finances and interests of the Sunday School as though they were his own and use discretion in his expenditures. Not spending so much money on Christmas and Easter that he will not have enough to buy quarterlies, etc. He should see that all scholars and visitors are well supplied with quarterlies, though not giving them out promiscuously or wastefully; that is, if left lay on the bench one Sunday, by throwing them away or allowing them to be lost, but collect them and use them the following Sunday.
He should keep an eye on the other officers of the Sunday School; see that the Secretary keeps his records straight and true and that his Quarterly Conference and Sunday School Convention reports are correct.
He should have backbone enough to say yes when he means yes or no when he means no without beating around the bush for a while for fear of losing his influence or his office at the next election. His word should be Yea, Yea and Nay, Nay. If he allows people to squeeze and shape him as they think and allows everybody to sit all over him, he will very soon become the favorite roasting place for such stock that will not be any to his credit in the Lord's eyes and who will finally devour him altogether. He should be as clay in the potter's hands, providing the Lord be the potter. While the Superintendent should not listen to everybody for advice, he should never think he himself knows it all, or that he can do it. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." On all matters of importance, if necessary, let him call two or three or more of the spiritual members of the church, interested in the Sunday School together, including the Pastor, let them talk the matter over and then decide on the proper course to pursue. Let him trust in the Lord to guide and help him and he will surely carry through.
The correct placing of teachers and changing of classes is an important question and can only be arrived at after prayerful meditation and waiting upon God. In this matter particularly he should always consult the Pastor. If he sees that one teacher does not work well with one class, don't hesitate to change him or her, and should the teacher be found unfit for any class, have him or her removed at once. This may seem hard, but can we afford to take any risks on having any of our scholars spoiled or lost who possibly might have been saved had they had the right teacher and instruction? To put the new converts in for teachers is a good plan if any are at hand and thus get them busy.
While the responsibility of each class separately rests partly on the teacher, the Superintendent still has a very large part of it upon himself and he should continually bring the school before the Lord in prayer, for "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," James 5:16. He should learn to know the name and face of every scholar in the school room. This is possible even if the school numbers several hundred. When he meets the children out on the street, recognize them and sometimes speak a few words to them. This will encourage them and if he has anything to say to them in the Sunday School, he will not have much trouble in gaining their attention,
Whether he can talk a great deal or not so much is not material. The biggest talkers sometimes say the least; though, in reviewing the lesson after the classes, a good story with a moral, or to explain the lesson will often work wonders and draw their attention. If you can draw their attention, you can get their hearts; and if you get their hearts, you have them. Talk mostly to the children, The older scholars and parents should have about enough to do if they follow the light they get in their respective classes. The Sunday School should never become a dry and formal affair, but make it so they children will gladly come and are interested. You cannot talk to children as you would to older folks, but become child-like yourself. The children may become wild or restless once in a while. You cannot put old and quiet heads on young shoulders, but what we want is good clear young heads on young shoulders.
He should be at his place on time and open and close the school on time, even if only half of the scholars and teachers are there. If he adheres to this practice, it will soon spread and instead of some coming five or ten minutes late every time, they will arrange to be there on time, but if the leader himself is tardy, the others will be the more so. Rather ten minutes early than a minute late. The dismissal of the school should be as orderly as the opening. When the scholars leave, do not allow some of the smaller ones to be almost taken under feet by a few larger ones in back of them pushing. If necessary, call on the trustees to stop it.
As he expects the teachers to study their lessons, so he should study them himself. If he has time to loaf in the grocery store around the corner an hour or so every day gossiping about the neighbors or about the crops, etc., and come to the Sunday School without knowing his lesson because, as he puts it, "He had so little time," he has a very poor excuse. He ought to know his lesson.
He must have plenty of grace and patience; not that when a little thing takes place that does not exactly suit him or go the way he thought it should go, chuck the whole thing overboard, want to resign, etc., all on account of one little fly in his dinner. He should be established and stand even if things seem to be crumbling under him. Be courageous. David had a great God. If he could not see how to get around a wall, God helped him over the top of it and this same God is able to take us through to victory today.
You will never find a successful Sunday School Superintendent at a saloon or at a club room playing pool, nor at the County Fair watching the races or side-shows along the fronts, but you will find him in the House of God, among God's children and in the prayer meeting, regularly and taking an active part in all that is done. When he gets up in front of his school as well as at any other time, he will be dressed up decently, not in the height of fashion, nor will he dress up sloppy either, but neat, plain and clean, The wearing of white vests or large bouquets in the button holes, shows lack of good judgement or, probably, no judgement at all. White vests cannot cover up some of the black things he may have in his heart. A moustache is not a qualification. It may be all right in its place, but its place is certainly not in the face of a successful, Mennonite Sunday School Superintendent. Use good common sense in all of these matters.
He should walk around in the Sunday School and see what is going on, not himself teach a class but listen to some of the teaching the children get. If there is any wrangling in the senior classes, it should be stopped, especially when such questions are at issue that do not in any way concern the lesson. Such wrangling will result in the distraction of half of the school sometimes, and no one gets the wiser for it. The grading of scholars needs the Superintendent's particular attention. Grade them according to ability, leaving due allowance for size. In this he will have to use his judgement to suit the case in question.
Keep the missionary spirit stirred up in the children; remind them of
their barrels occasionally. On Missionary Day, make the exercises a little special in the way of singing and probably have two or three short talks on mission work. If they will give more money by having two missionary days in a year, make two, by all means.
The literature in the Sunday School needs careful consideration, We are living in a day when the devil is trying to poison the minds of our boys and girls. If they once get a taste for these obnoxious stories, it will be hard to cure them, They will take them along to school and study them in back of their books if there is no other way.
Some of these qualifications may seem small and not essential, but they are, nevertheless, all valuable requisites in the make-up of a successful Sunday School Superintendent. He should be continually planning for the betterment of the school and, if necessary, willing to use of his own means to further the Lord's cause in the Sunday School. His highest aim should not be a larger school, but to get them or win them to Christ. After all, this is the true work of the Sunday School. The Sunday School is the nursery to the church and upon the success of the Superintendent and the School depends, largely, the future church,
Summer used to mean camp meeting. Most of us know little of the excitement and preparation for spending a week or two in a tent. And we don’t know much of the joy of the sweet fellowship of those special days. For those who still itch for Mizpah Grove, here are the Gospel Banner accounts of the first meetings at Mizpah in 1911.
July 13, 1911 - (Gospel Banner, page 10)
Glorious Time Expected.
The First Camp Meeting of the Pennsylvania Conference was convened in “Mizpah Grove” between Allentown and Bethlehem on July 1. One hundred and fifty-three tents have been erected and a glorious time is expected. C. H. Brunner
August 10, 1911 - (Gospel Banner, page 10)
Throughout this encampment the attendance was larger than we had expected. The meetings were glorious. The Lord was present in His power and the preaching was declared by many to be the most powerful they ever heard. Indeed the Lord gave the Ministers great liberty, and blessed truths were brought forth.
All told, there were nin[e]ty- eight tents occupied. Every day except the first evening souls were at the altar. Some came from a distance. One broke together (down) in the morning praise meeting and got right with the Lord. Thirteen were baptized Saturday afternoon, and went on their way rejoicing. This being a rather missionary District, the influences of this Camp-meeting will be excellent.
Members of the various Classes of the Bethlehem District were present (some tented) and all united in giving the Lord an opportunity for victory.
No district or any other factious spirit was dominant but all united in making the Camp-meeting a success. To Him above be all the glory and praise.
W. G. Gehman, P. E.
September 7, 1911 - (Gospel Banner, page 12)
This was the second Camp- meeting for the Bethlehem District, and the third for the season. One hundred and sixty-five tents were pitched in our beautiful grove in East Allentown, Pa., all of which were occupied. The charges comprising the Camp-meeting were: Allentown, South Allentown, Coopersburg and Springtown, Emmaus and Macungie, Zionsville, Gratersford and Harleysville, and Seigfried. The weather was delightful the fore part of the week while the latter part it was very wet and damp, raining about every day.
The attendance was large throughout, both of members as well as strangers. Many people from far and near came to enjoy the camp with us. Brother Williams from Pittsburg, Pa., through the influence of the Gospel Workers, came to Camp the first Saturday evening and stayed with us throughout the entire camp. His presence with us was an inspiration to us. He certainly enjoyed himself with us as was manifest by his
very earnest listening as well as his hearty “Amens”, “Praise the Lords”, etc. to the Word preached. On rainy days, when we were obliged to hold the services under the tabernacle, our large and spacious tabernacle was crowded to its utmost capacity. On the last Sunday, in spite of the rain falling heavily, scarcely knew how to accommodate the people. We had two large tabernacles (which were placed side by side) full of people. For unity amongst the ministry and in general; for strong, forceful and inspiring preaching as well as for actual results, this was one of the best Camp-meetings the writer has ever attended, and he has been attending Camp-meetings every year for as far back as he can remember.
The preachers were very well united working together harmoniously without a jar or friction. A stranger could certainly not detect from which District they were as the idea of Districts was all submerged into a concern for the work. The preaching was simply powerful and grand. We were highly favored to have Rev. G. Verner Brown, of Wilmington, Del., who labors for the Lord in connection with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, with us Wednesday afternoon and evening, and for one service on Thursday morning. He preached with great boldness and joy, and his message were sound, inspiring and helpful. We enjoyed his presence and messages very much, and he enjoyed himself among us.
The Lord graciously worked upon hearts from beginning to end. The Word spoken was fruitful and the efforts put forth were effectual. Many were saved, reclaimed, sanctified and healed. From the very beginning of the Camp; until the very close, souls were at the altar. Sometimes our large altar, consisting of a sixteen-feet long plan, had to be enlarged to accommodate all the seekers. Many were saved, a large majority of which were young folks. Many dedicated their lives to God and received the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Quite a number were healed by the power of God. The altar was filled with seekers the last Sunday night of the Camp. We had no baptism owing to the fact that we have far to go for water, but a few pastors expect to have baptism the first Sunday following Camp when quite a few will be baptized.
Yet one other note-worthy fact is the fact that in spite of the very hot days and cool nights the fore part of the Camp, and the very wet and damp weather the last part of the Camp, we had very little, if any sickness. The Lord kept us all well and strong, and there were quite a few babies on the ground too.
Then, too, we should mention the spirit of prayer and praise as well as of general interest manifested by the dear pilgrims. They did not come to Camp to sleep and loaf but to work. The early prayer services at 5:30 were largely attended, while in the evening, at the altar services, they remained with but few exceptions, and prayed and sang and in some way or other sought to promote the best interests of the Lord as upheld by the Camp. Our dear Presiding Elder, H. B. Musselman, was very much used by the Lord in conducting the Camp successfully. His messages in the early morning service, in general as well as the sermon preached by him the last Sunday morning, were heart-searching and edifying. Truly the Lord gave him a keen eye to detect what was to the best interest of the Camp, a wise heart to direct, and a strong purpose to carry out his God-given convictions. The expenses of the Camp, although high, were also very easily met. We took only one special offering for the same.
We learned afresh at this Camp what God can do when He has a chance. For it all we praise God in Jesus’ name.
We all say the Lord has done great things for us.
W. S. Hottel, Chairman
A conversation at a recent Historical Committee meeting got me to thinking about who were the people who served with us as Gospel Heralds. We have very few of the minutes of the Gospel Herald meetings which would have noted who were members. With the help of former Gospel Heralds R. C. Reichenbach and Jack Dunn, I have compiled a preliminary list which I will share with you. Some of these men are just names and little is known. If you know some of these men or have a memory of them, I would appreciate what you might share. If you know of a Gospel Herald whose name does not appear, send me the name.
John T Anderson
Ernest W Bean
Clyde N Bonnet
Kenneth E Cole
H N Foulk
Walter H Frank
Rudy H Gehman
James P Haan
Ernest B Hartman
Herbert W Hartman
Jansen R Hartman
Wilbur W Hartman
William A Heffner
William F Heffner
Joseph B Henry
S O Johnson
William E Keeley
Clarence E Kirkwood
G M Kohr
E F Lakjer
James B Layne
J E McClain
C L Miller
W Bruce Musselman
William B Musselman
Menno M. Myers
R C O'Donnell
E D Rapp
John H Riggall
M K Ruth
E J Rutman
P K Schuler
Arlington L Seifert
A C Shutt
R O Snyder
Joseph I Somers
Arthur M Sprock
David E Thomann
Thomas F Thompson
Thomas E Turnbull
A C Wieand
Norman H Wolf
Harold D Yarrington
That’s enough for now. I hope you enjoyed these articles. I welcome comments, questions, memories and irrelevant ramblings.
You can direct them to me, Dick Taylor, by old fashioned mail, at 723 South Providence Road, Wallingford PA 19086-6940. Or you can email me at RETaylor@cavtel.net. If you want to telephone, you will often reach me at 610-876-8725.