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History Matters

Opportunities for Brethren in Christ Historians

Two Calls for Proposals

What Young Historians Are Thinking

The Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College is inviting proposals for the next “What Young Historians Are Thinking” symposium, to be held on June 5, 2017, at Ridgeview Mennonite Church in Gordonville, Pennsylvania. Also sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, the symposium encourages young historians to be engaged in original research and provides a venue to present their findings.

Invited participants include undergraduate and graduate students, those who have just started careers in history, as well as those just beginning scholarly historical study. The research must be original, using mostly primary sources. Participants must be part of an Historic Peace Church (including the Brethren in Christ) and the research must be related to this tradition.

We would like to encourage more Brethren in Christ participation in this event. If you are or know a young historian (as broadly defined above), please consider this opportunity. More information or contact Devin Manzullo-Thomas

MCC at 100

In 2020, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will celebrate 100 years of relief, service, and development around the world. The centennial conference, to be held October 23-24, 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, invites proposals that examine the past, present, and future of MCC.

Again, we encourage Brethren in Christ involvement in this event. The Brethren in Christ have been part of MCC since the early 1940s, many have volunteered with MCC domestically or internationally, served on staff in MCC national and regional offices, or served on one or more MCC binational, national, or regional boards. Brethren in Christ individuals have had significant impact on MCC over the years, and many Brethren in Christ people in other countries have benefitted from MCC relief and development efforts.

While the conference and the deadline for proposals is still a long way off, it’s not too early to begin thinking about topics that could be explored from a Brethren in Christ perspective. More information.

Give a Gift of Brethren in Christ History!

Help us clear our inventory of books while doing your Christmas shopping!

New in 2016: Planting Seeds: A Missionary Story, by Grace Herr Holland. Published as the August 2016 edition of the journal, the book is the story of Grace and Fred Holland’s wide-ranging ministry as missionaries, teachers, pioneers in Theological Education by Extension, and as trainers in urban church-planting. $10.00 each.

Buy any two of the following books for $15.00, or buy all three for $25.00.

  • Embracing Scholarship, Piety and Obedience: Biographies of Carlton Oscar Wittlinger, Martin Homer Schrag, and Owen Hiram Alderfer
  • Worthy of the Calling: Biographies of Paul and Lela Swalm Hostetler, Harvey and Erma Heise Sider, and Luke Jr. and Doris Bowman Keefer
  • Celebrations and Convictions: Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dr. Luke L. Keefer, Jr

Send your order with a check payable to the Brethren in Christ Historical Society to the editor (address above). Please add $3.00 for shipping.

Fellowship Chapel Celebrates Church's Bronx Ministry

By Mary Lou Ruegg

by Mary Lou Ruegg

What a surge of excitement at Glad Tidings Church in the Bronx on Saturday, April 30, 2016 as friends reunited. About 130 people attended the event celebrating the impact of Fellowship Chapel congregation and voluntary service unit. Fellowship Chapel formally closed its doors in November of 2014 after ministering in the inner city of the Bronx since 1960.

People came from California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania as well as upstate New York and the Bronx. Several former voluntary service workers attended, including Gloria and Dwight Zook from California. Gloria is the daughter of Paul Hill, founding pastor of Fellowship Chapel; her husband Dwight is a former VS-er from Kansas. Also at the celebration were people who attended Fellowship Chapel in the early days as children or youth, accepted Christ into their lives, and are still serving the Lord today.

Mike Holland with JoAnne McMillian
Mike Holland with JoAnne McMillian

After attendees enjoyed a delicious Italian buffet, a brief history of Fellowship Chapel was presented. Mike Holland, another former VS-er, led the group in some great “Fellowship Chapel singing,” reminding us of God’s faithfulness. Former chapel members presented special music. Joyce Merren Hayet was recognized for attending the chapel the longest period of time (44 years).

During the sharing time, many people spoke about the loving and caring pastoral staff, as well as voluntary service workers, some of whom became life-long friends. Some of the city people as well as former VS-ers heard the call of God on their lives at Fellowship Chapel and are now serving as pastors and church leaders. Some mentioned their involvement in Bible quizzing and their experiences at Camp Brookhaven, Spring Lake Retreat, and Kenbrook Bible Camp, where they committed their lives to Christ.

Gloria and Dwight Zook, Scott and Mimi Heisey

Mimi Martin Heisey passionately described how she was taught how to walk the Christian life at Fellowship Chapel. She gave her heart to the Lord at Camp Brookhaven, became a counselor at age 15, and later served as program director at camp. She was also involved in Bible quizzing and is a graduate of Messiah College.

A sampling of other comments:

“I am the person I am today because somebody chose to love me.”

“I could not have made it without Fellowship Chapel.”

“Everything about Fellowship chapel has made a huge impact in our lives. Whenever my mom and I don’t agree on church teachings, we always refer back to how lucky we were to have Fellowship Chapel as our first representation of Christ.“

“Fellowship chapel was the beginning of my walk with the Lord. It was the place I saw Jesus Christ lived out in the lives of the people. I wanted what they had—Christ.”

“Fellowship Chapel profoundly influenced me. I experienced a call to the ministry at Fellowship Chapel. People were vibrant in their faith.”

“You give and you get more back” (a former Vs-er).

“Fellowship Chapel holds a precious place in my heart. I appreciated the prayers there for me when I was going through a dark time in my life. I will always treasure my memories of you folks and the chapel.”

Atlantic Conference Bishop Bryan Hoke gave closing remarks, encouraging everyone to remember and continue to have an impact for Christ.

Ana and Gilbert Martinez, Mae Moton (recently deceased), and Mary Lou Ruegg
Ana and Gilbert Martinez, Mae Moton (recently deceased), and Mary Lou Ruegg

Although people who attended Fellowship Chapel over the years were greatly saddened by its closure, we know that it stood as a “pillar of hope” on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. We are so grateful to the Lord for the impact the chapel had on hundreds of lives over the 54 years of ministry in that community.

Mary Lou Ruegg attended and served at Fellowship Chapel for many years while living and working in New York City. She now attends the Harrisburg (PA) Brethren in Christ Church.

News and Notes

From the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives

Morris Sherk is currently doing research on church leaders and congregations in the Morrison Cove District in Bedford and Blair counties in south-central Pennsylvania. As part of his research, he has been visiting gravesites in the area and county historical society museums. Recently he donated to the Archives these photographs that he took this summer, along with the following descriptive report.

The Dick School







The former Dick School (pictured here), owned by the Blair County Historical Society, is located south of Roaring Spring in Blair County. A plaque on the side of the building, placed by the Martinsburg Rotary Club in 1975, states that it was built in the period 1830-32 as a subscription school. Daniel Dick donated the land. Following its close as a school in 1870, it was used as a dwelling, a slaughter house, and a church.

A number of denominations, including the Brethren in Christ, held worship services in the former school building. The Brethren in Christ started worshipping in the building in the 1870s, but the year they began holding services there and the year they discontinued use of the former school has not yet been determined.

Morris Sherk is the author of A Century on the Hill: The Story of the Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ Church and In the World But Not of the World: Rapho District (1872-1957).

Images from the Past

From the photograph collection of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives

Bro. and Sr. Reuben Asper and “Mom” Lenhert. “Mom” has given over 50 years in rescuing men from skid row. She loves the souls of the down and out.
Bro. and Sr. Reuben Asper and “Mom” Lenhert. “Mom” has given over 50 years in rescuing men from skid row. She loves the souls of the down and out.

Bro. and Sr. Adolf Jordon, who for the past year have represented the Brethren in Christ at the Door of Hope.
Bro. and Sr. Adolf Jordon, who for the past year have represented the Brethren in Christ at the Door of Hope.

In the 1950s, the Brethren in Christ in southern California participated in the Door of Hope Mission, located at 5th and Wall Streets in Los Angeles. A one-page article on the skid row ministry appeared in the Evangelical Visitor of June 4, 1956. At the time of the article, Reuben Asper and Adolf Jordon were Brethren in Christ members of the mission’s board of directors. The Archives Photograph Collection has several photos taken at the mission in addition to the three photos published in the Visitor. Among them are these two photographs and accompanying captions.