Meetings and Presentations of the Historical Society

 

In October, 2001, our meeting was held in Lebanon Pennsylvania. Mrs. Judy Althouse presented the story of the Lebanon Bible Fellowship Church from its Gospel Herald Roots in the center of Lebanon until the present day in its beautiful new location near Lebanon.

 

At this meeting, Richard Taylor gave the story of Mennonite Brethren preacher, George A. Campbell who survived a Confederate prison camp. His later days were a battle with the physical problems that resulted from those hard days in his life. If you would like to investigate further, you can see a Chronology of his life. For some of the research notes, go to Notes.

On October 27, 2002, Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, hosted our meeting. Pastor Randy Grossman read a paper prepared by Ruth Hartman which surveyed the story of the church from its beginnings in the 1880's until the present. If you would like to see some of the references to our work in Reading, go to
Reading Notes. For references to Berks County, go to Berks Notes.

Dr. Harold Shelly presented a paper on the life of
Charles Henry Brunner. Brunner was a pastor in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. He served as secretary of the Annual Conference for over 40 years. His work of preserving the stories and data of our church has helped greatly to preserve the story of our church's formation.

October 25, 2003, found our society meeting at the Wissinoming Bible Fellowship Church in Philadelphia. Wayne Clapier, pastor at Wissinoming, presented the story of the church and how it became part of the story of
Philadelphia. Robert Smock gave a presentation on some of our churches which did not survive and offered reasons for the closings. These two presentations gave valuable insights into the development of some of our churches.

For its October 30, 2004, meeting, the society traveled to Terre Hill in Lancaster County. The dreariness of the October day was replaced by the warmth of the hospitality from the Terre Hill folks and the excellence of the presentations. Kevin Kirkpatrick, pastor of the Terre Hill Bible Fellowship Church presented a
historical summary of the life and ministry of the Church. Jill Davidson introduced us to significant lay people who have been part of the legacy of the Bible Fellowship Church.

 

In 2005, the Historical Society meeting was moved to the Lehigh Valley area where it was hosted by Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church of Bethlehem on October 29. A beautiful fall day only added to the joy of the gathering. LeRoy Wilcox presented a paper that reviewed the history of Bethlehem and Ebenezer entitled, "The Church That Began at Camp Meeting." Dr. Harold Shelly took us to the formation of our denomination with a paper entitled, "Sivvah Mennah, kfild met em Hielicha Geisht" or "The Founding Fathers of the Bible Fellowship Church."

 

Berks County welcomed us in 2006. Faith Bible Fellowship Church of Fleetwood was our host on October 28. The church rolled out the welcome mat as we heard the story of the church and its formation from Jim Mortland, one of its elders. Jill Davidson dug into our history to find the story of women's apparel and what was proper attire. Her paper, entitled, A Feather in Your Cap,  raised the issues of legalism and how restrictive were the expectations for men and women regarding dress.

 

The society met in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, for its 2007 meeting.   At this meeting, Richard Taylor presented the history of Grace Bible Fellowship Church of which began in Chester and moved to Wallingford.  The paper briefly presented the history and provided analysis of evangelistic methodologies and changes in the last 25 years.  (A booklet on the history of the church is available at its website.  Carl Cassel, grandson of Emanuel N. Cassel, presented a brief biography of EN and a very helpful analysis of his doctrine and sermons.

 

In 2008, Fellowship Community, Whitehall, Pennsylvania was the meeting place on Saturday, October 25, 2008.  Richard Taylor presented a paper on William Brunner Musselman.  Andy Geissinger traced the development of the music and singing of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ before the publication of the hymnbook, Rose of Sharon, in 1917.

 

We were warmly welcomed to the Zionsville Bible Fellowship Church for our 2009 annual meeting, October 31, 2009.  Ron Hoyle presented a paper entitled Nummer Drei which recounted the development of our first congregation.  Jill Davidson walked us through the family tree of the Kauffman family and showed how the many branches have played a significant role in the Bible Fellowship Church.

 

In 2010, we journeyed to Emmanuel Bible Fellowship Church in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.  We met on October 30 and were able to enjoy the beautiful scenes on the drive through valleys and over mountains.  Pastor Charles Cole of Emmanuel presented a history of the Sunbury Church which had its roots in the Gospel Worker Society.  Pastor Ron Kohl, of the Quakertown Bible Fellowship Church, followed with a history of the Gospel Workers.  Hospitality in the Sunbury Church is alive and well.

 

The meeting of 2011 will be remembered for the freak snow storm which hit the Lehigh Valley and probably kept some from attending.  Those who attended enjoyed the presentations of Dr. Richard Gehman even though our time together was abbreviated.  His complete presentation is available to you here:

 

Reflections on Our Germanic Mennonite Heritage

 

One Hundred Years of Ministry of the Woodring cum Gehman Families in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church

 

Bethany Bible Fellowship Church of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, served as host church for our meeting in 2012.  Their superb hospitality set the stage for our presentations.  Pastor Ron Kohl and Jill Davidson presented a summary of our pacifist roots in a paper entitled From Pacifists to Patriots.  Richard Taylor did a survey of our history of church buildings entitled Simple Architectural Lines and Economic Necessity.

 

Our focus was on missions and expansion in 2013 when the Society gathered at Fellowship Community in Whitehall, Pennsylvania.  David Gundrum, Director of Church Extension Ministries for the Bible Fellowship Church, presented a paper on the ministry of Daniel Ziegler entitled, A Man for The Future.  Chairman of the Bible Fellowship Church Historical Committee, Jill Davidson, told of the ministry of the Women’s Missionary Society which she called Items of clothing, bandages, medicines, and gifts.

 

2014 found the Society at the Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church which was celebrating its 125th Anniversary.  Ron Hoyle reviewed the history of the Allentown Church in a paper entitled,  THE ALLENTOWN CHURCH’S 125 YEAR PASSION…GOD’S GLORY.  A biographical presentation on the life of B. Bryan Musselman was presented by Richard Taylor.  Following the meeting, a number of attendees visited Bethel Church on North 8th Street in Allentown where the Allentown congregation met for many years.

 

Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Quakertown PA was the host of the 2015 meeting.  Two very different themes were on the agenda.  Richard Taylor presented a doctrinal survey in a paper entitled, Doctrinal Footsteps:  Following the Doctrinal Journey of the Bible Fellowship Church. Ronald Kohl gave the stories of World War II veterans who were part of the Bible Fellowship Church.  His paper was Far From Home:  The BFC at War.

 

We returned to our roots for the 2016 meeting – to Zionsville Bible Fellowship.  Jill Davidson told us the story of the Sunday School movement in our church in her paper, Jesus Loves Me This I Know:  Sunday School in The Bible Fellowship Church.  Andrew Geissinger shared the somewhat complex genealogical connections between the original families who were part of our beginning – People Connections:  A Look at the Family Relationships of Some of the Early Members of the Evangelical Mennonite Society.