Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus by David R. Kenney

The lyrics to “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” according to Praise for the Lord, was written by Louisa M. R. Stead c. 1880, and was set to music by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1882.  The song first appeared in Songs of Triumph in 1882.  The song has been recorded by several popular recording artists such as Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Alan Jackson, and Amy Grant to name a few. 

Louisa M. R. Stead (c. 1850-1917), Lyricist

Louisa Stead was born in Dover, England around 1850.  She migrated to America at the age of 21.   She was married and had a daughter named Lilly.  Her family was out picnicking on Long Island when a young boy screamed that he was drowning.  Stead’s husband drowned trying to save the young boy.  Life was difficult for them, but others helped them along the way.  It is believed that the lyrics to this song came out of her experiences at this time.  The two would go on to serve as missionaries to South Africa.  She remarried Robert Wodehouse while overseas, but she returned to America in 1895.  She then went to Zimbabwe in 1901.  She died January 18, 1917 in Penkridge, Zimbabwe and is buried there. 

William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921), Composer

William James Kirkpatrick (February 27, 1838 – September 20, 1921) was born in Keerogue, County Tyrone, Ireland.   His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Storey Kirkpatrick.  The family migrated to the United States settling in Philadelphia in 1840, but William did not immediately come with the family.  They wanted to get settled in the New World, and then they planned to send for William.  Incidentally, the mother had another child, a daughter, on the journey to America.  William’s parents were schoolmaster and musician, so he received musical training at a very young age.  He traveled to America in 1854 where he learned to play the cello, flute, organ, violin, and other instruments.  In 1855 he used a lot of his talents and education with the Methodist Episcopal Church, plus he joined Hayden Sacred Music Society that broadened his exposure to composers.  He also wrote under a pseudonym of Annie F. Bourne.

He helped publish his first work, Devotional Melodies, in 1859.  He married Sara Lankford Kellog in 1861.  He enlisted in the 91st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers as a Fife-Major shortly after his marriage, but the position was terminated in 1862.  He continued his work with the Episcopal Methodist Church.  He would eventually go into the music business with John R. Sweeney and they published over 49 major works together.  When Kirkpatrick’s wife died in 1878, he devoted his time to music composition.  He re-married in 1893 and traveled the world.  He continued to publish compositions, over a hundred.  One night, he had a tune he wanted to write down, so his wife went onto bed.  She found him dead the next morning, September 20, 1921. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

He left us some wonderful music we often sing:  “A Wonderful Savior Is Jesus My Lord,” “Lead Me To Calvary,” Lord, I’m Coming Home,” “He Hideth My Soul,” “O To Be Like Thee,” “We Have An Anchor,” “Stepping in the Light,” “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” and others. 

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Jesus and Joshua are the same name.  Joshua is the Hebrew form and Jesus is the Greek form.  Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Brown-Drivers-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Jesus’ name means “Jehovah is salvation” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.  Recall the words of the angel to Joseph:  “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)  The salvation of souls is the reason that Jesus came to this world.  His coming was planned before the foundation of the world, prophesied in the Old Testament, confirmed in the New Testament, and He continues to be the Savior of the world to those who obey Him.

When Jesus was preparing to ascend back to Heaven, He encouraged His followers with these words:  “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18–20 NKJV) The word for age (αἰών aiṓn) can refer to the end of the world but also include into eternity.  In other words, Jesus promises to be with us forever.

We can trust Jesus!  He has made the way of salvation and provided an abundant entrance into Heaven–“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10–12 NKJV)  It is sweet to trust in Jesus, and we can have confidence in His word because of His divine demonstration and compassion!


Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“”Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

“William J. Kirkpatrick,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

“Louisa M. R. Stead,” No pages. Cited 30 July 2017. Online:

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Work For The Night Is Coming by David R. Kenney

The song “Work, For the Night Is Coming,” according to Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, was written by Annie Walker Coghill 1854, and the tune by Lowell Mason called WORK SONG was composed in 1864.  The meter is D, where D means “doubled” so this pattern repeats.

Annie Louisa Walker Coghill (1836-1907), Lyricist

Annie Louisa Walker Coghill was born at Kiddermore, Staffordshire, England in 1836.  She married Harry Coghill in January 29, 1884 who was a widower.  He passed away in 1897.  They had no children.  She passed away in Bath, England on July 7, 1907.

She moved with her family to Canada as her father worked for the Grand Trunk Railway.  She and her sisters, Isabella and Frances, opened a girl’s school that operated until the deaths of her sisters.  She spent time writing while in Canada and published some of her writings there in 1861 under the title of Leaves from the Blackwoods.  After this, her family returned to England where her parents shortly passed away.

She was a prolific writer of novels, children plays, and magazines.  The words for this hymn were published in the Canadian paper in 1854 as a poem entitled “The Night Cometh.”  The text that she wrote also appeared in her Oak and Maple: English and Canadian Verses which was published in 1890.  It appeared in Ira D. Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos; however, her name is not listed in the acknowledgements which she mentioned in Oak and Maple.  The poem would be set to the music of Lowell Mason.

Lowell Mason (1792-1872), Composer

Lowell Mason was born January 8, 1792 in Medfield, MA.  He became a music director at the age of 17.  He moved to Savannah, GA when he was 20 years of age; although the reason is uncertain.  While there, he was known to educate black children, even establishing a Sunday school to educate them.  He would return to Boston, MA in 1827. 

He was married to Abigail Gregory Mason who died in 1889.  They had 4 sons: Daniel Gregory, (b. 1820 in Savannah, GA); Lowell, Jr. (b. 1823 in Westborough, MA,); William (b. 1829 in Boston, MA) and Henry, (b. 1831 in Boston, MA).

To say that Lowell Mason was a popular music composer would be to put it mildly when one considers the songs to his credit including “Joy to the World,” “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.” He was considered one of the greatest music educators of the United States.  He was the co-founder of the Boston Academy of Music in 1833.  He was a major educator of musicians, and his reputation only grew as time went on.  He is sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Music Education”.  He not only composed music, but he also published many musical compositions.  He loved the works of Handel and Mozart and published hymns with their musical works in 1822.

In 1851 he retired and moved to New York to work in the music industry with his sons, David and Lowell Mason, Jr.  He did a major tour of Europe which ignited his interest in congregational music.  He accepted the position of Music Director for the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1853.  He retired again in 1860 and moved to Orange, NJ.  Mason died August 11, 1872 and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.

Work, For The Night Is Coming

Jesus stated before he healed the blind man–“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 6:4–5 NKJV).  Jesus cared for the lost of this world. He cared then, and He cares now.  Notice this account from Matthew:  “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35–38 NKJV).  He made the following statement at the sending out of seventy:  “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:2–3 NKJV) 

Clearly, the work will not be easy; however, the work remains to be done!  It is still light and work can still be done, but will we do it!


Cook, Ramsay and Hamelin, Jean, Editors, McMullen, Lorraine. “Walker, Anna Louisa (Coghill).” Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1901 – 1910, 13, Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1994, 1068.

Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“Lowell Mason,” No pages. Cited 25 June 2017. Online:

“Lowell Mason,” No pages. Cited 25 June 2017. Online:

Sankey, Ira D. Sacred Songs and Solos. London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1921.

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Walking in the Light of God by David R. Kenney

The song “Walking in the Light” or “Walking in the Light of God” was written and set to music in 1911.  The lyrics were written by James Rowe, and the music by Samuel Beazley.

James Rowe (1865-1933), Lyricist

James Rowe was born in Horrabride, Devonshire, England on January 1, 1865, but came to America in 1890.  He worked for the railroad and the humane society in New York.  He began hymns around 1896 and completed some 9,000 compositions of hymns, poetry, etc.  Some sources stated he also used a pseudonym, James S. Apple.  He worked with music publishers such as A. J. Showalter Music Company and others.  He would move to live with his daughter in Vermont where she designed greeting cards and he would write the verses to go with the cards.  He died November 10, 1933 and was buried in Wells, Rutland County, Vermont.

Samuel William Beazley (1873-1944), Composer

Samuel William Beazley was born 1873 in Sparta, Virginia.  He wrote over 4,000 songs (some estimates as high as 5,000).  He taught singing schools, and also taught at Shenandoah College in Winchester, Virginia.  He wrote lyrics in addition to music composition.  He owned a publishing business and published several hymnals in Chicago, Illinois.  He died September 16, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois of tuberculosis, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery. He was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1992. 

Walking in the Light of God

In the security business, there is no doubt about the presence of light as a solid security measure against crime or nefarious activity.  While some studies show that crime can be reduced as much as 50 percent through lighting, it does not eliminate the possibility of break-ins since the majority of home burglaries are actually done in the day time.  Still, light is a deterrent to those who seek the shadow of darkness.

Light is the absence of darkness as seen in Genesis 1:1-5.  The Bible uses light as the absence of darkness as metaphor for the domain of Jesus in comparison to the domain of Satan.  In the gospel of John, Jesus is pictures as light that overcomes darkness, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5 NKJV).  The expression “did not comprehend it” means that the darkness could not overcome the light.  There is no doubt that the coming of Jesus brought light to people who were in darkness as prophesied in Isaiah 9:1-2 and fulfilled in Matthew 4:15-17. 

There is no doubt that evil prefers to conduct its business under the veil of darkness.  Jesus plainly stated:  “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 NKJV)  He goes on to state that evil hates light and prefers darkness:  “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20 NKJV)  Jesus offers us the security and safety of light with the primary focus being for eternal life:  “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)

We have to choose whether we will be people of light or people in darkness.  The apostle Paul stated such:  “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14 NKJV)  While we have associations with those who are in darkness, we have the responsibility not to participate in the darkness but to show them the light of God’s word.  The Psalmist wrote “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV) and “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130 NKJV)  If we want to be people of light, we must walk in the light of God which is from God’s word.


Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“James Rowe.” No pages. Cited 24 March 2017. Online:

“James Rowe.” No pages. Cited 24 March 2017. Online:

“Samuel William Beazley.” No pages. Cited 24 March 2017. Online: http

“Samuel William Beazley.” No pages. Cited 24 March 2017. Online:

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Beauty for Ashes by David R. Kenney

The song “Beauty for Ashes,” according to Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, was written by Grant Colfax Tullar in 1948 and copyrighted that year by the Gospel Advocate Company.  According to Praise for the Lord, that copyright was renewed in 1976.  Copyright law is complicated.  Prior to 1978, it was common for a song to have its copyright renewed after 28 years.  If the song had been copyrighted after 1978, then there would be no need for renewal of copyright since the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation (whichever expires first.)  It was explained to me that to use a hymn on a TV program, it had to pass a two-part test:  (1) the copyright of the one who wrote the hymn, and (2) the performance of the hymn that I wanted to use.  And people claim the Bible is hard to figure out!

Grant Colfax Tullar (1869-1950), Lyricist & Composer

Grant Colfax Tullar was born in Bolton, Connecticut on August 5, 1869.  His first name came from President Ulysses Grant, and his middle name was from Grant’s Vice President, Schuyler Colfax.   Of course naming a child after a President was not new, but one wonders how many children’s first and middle name come from the President and Vice President’s names?  His father fought in the Civil War and was among the wounded at Antietam, which was one of the bloodiest conflicts in the War.  His mother died when he was but 2 years old.  He had no formal education and worked in the mills and as a shoe clerk.  He became a Methodist when he was 19 years old at a camp meeting.  He would go on for training to become a Methodist minister at Hackettstown Academy which he did for about 10 years.  In 1893 he co-founded the Tullar-Meredith Publishing Company of New York where they published several gospel hymns and hymnbooks.  There is no record of him marrying or having any children.  Tullar died May 20, 1950 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey and is buried in Restland Memorial Park in Hanover, New Jersey.  So we know the hymn was from near the end of his life.

Tullar wrote both the lyrics and the music which appear in some of our hymns.  He wrote the music for “Face to Face” and “Nailed to the Cross”.  Beauty for Ashes has a meter of 99.99, and the tune is entitled TULLAR.  It is believed that L. O. Sanderson secured this song as the Music Editor for the Gospel Advocate.  The song is believed to have first appeared in their 1948 Christian Hymns, No. 2, and it also appears in Christian Hymns, No. 3 in 1966.

Beauty for Ashes

With the song is a scripture reference of Isaiah 61:3 which reads:  “To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes ,the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV)  Notice the contrasts:  beauty|ashes, joy|mourning, and praise|heaviness.  It was not uncommon for those weeping to wear sackcloth and sit in ashes and pour ashes over themselves.  Jeremiah wrote Lamentations which was a funeral for the destruction of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.  He included this phrase:  “Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; those who were brought up in scarlet embrace ash heaps.” (Lamentations 4:5 NKJV)  Ashes denote total loss and intense grief. We have different ways of expressing grief. 

The two verses prior to this, Isaiah 61:1–2, were quoted as being fulfilled by Jesus (cf. Luke 4:18–21).  There is no doubt that Jesus is applying these words forward to the ministry He had begun.  There is no doubt that many spiritual blessings reside in being a member of the Lord’s church.  That being said, not all the spiritual blessings reside in the church alone on the earth.  To be clear, all spiritual blessings are found in Christ alone, but we will receive spiritual blessings both in the church here and ultimately in heaven where Christ reigns from.

The Lord had made great promises to the children of Israel when they were about to enter the promised land of Canaan and these promises were conditional (cf. Deuteronomy 31:19–21).  The generation that came out of Egypt perished in the wilderness because of their breaking of the condition of faithfulness.  Now, their descendants were about to enter and they were given the same condition of faithfulness to keep the precious land.  God worked with them through many ups-and-downs including a cycle of apostasy recorded in the book of Judges.  They would eventually lose the land at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians because of violation to the condition of faithfulness.  There would come a time when they would be allowed to return and rebuild, but their unfaithfulness would still cost them the land with the rejection of the Messiah. 

The Bible talks about a rest to come:  “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.  For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.  For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”  (Hebrews 4:1–3 NKJV)  What “rest” is the Hebrew writer speaking of?  Canaan?  No.  I believe the Hebrew writer is talking about Heaven, not Canaan.    The ultimate rest is in Heaven where the redeemed ones of Heaven go to live eternally evermore. 

Some quote 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”(NKJV) but fail to notice that this has been revealed:  “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10 NKJV)  Some state that these matters do not relate to Heaven as these have been revealed; however, could it not be that just because something has been revealed it has not been realized fully?  Among the last words written by the apostle Paul were:  “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6–8 NKJV)  Certainly sounds like the apostle Paul had hopes greater than life here on this planet! 

The chosen people of the Old Testament failed to achieve the full blessings God had in store for them because they failed to remain faithful.  The chosen people of the New Testament, Christians, must remain faithful if they are to achieve the full blessings that God has in store for us.  How God accomplishes these matters is difficult to explain, and I do not understand these matters myself. I do know this–I do not want to miss what the Lord has provided for His people!


“Grant Colfax Tullar 1869-1950,” No pages. Cited 27 May 2017. Online:

Hamrick, David, “Beauty for Ashes,” No pages. Cited 27 May 2017. Online:

Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

Hans DePold “Grant Tullar, Music Publisher,” Bolton, CT: Bolton Historical Society, No pages. Cited 27 May 2017. Online:

Sanderson, L. O., Editor. Christian Hymns Number Two. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1948.

Sanderson, L. O., Editor. Christian Hymns Number Three. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1966.

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Forty Years A Christian by David R. Kenney

Page 1 of "The Voice of Truth" church bulletin which was then completed by Ralph Miller.

Page 2 of church bulletin with the announcement of David Kenney's baptism.  Bulletin from the personal collection of Warren F. Kenney

Page 3 of New Philadelphia, Ohio church bulletin.

Page 4.  Some of these are still serving the church on Commercial Avenue faithfully.  Some have gone onto their rewards.  Precious memories of precious people.

Forty Years A Christian
By David R. Kenney

July 29, 2017 marks 40 years ago that I was immersed into Christ by my dad at the church of Christ in New Philadelphia, Ohio. My dad was the first to congratulate me, then Ralph Miller, then other brothers and sisters in Christ who assembled that Friday afternoon. The church on Commercial Avenue remains dear to my heart even though we had lived in several places prior, and there would be several places to follow. Hopefully without sounding pretentious, I would like to share some thoughts I have been having reflecting upon.

The Plan of Salvation Is Easy to Understand. Some have made the plan of salvation a confusing matter to some by their misplaced emphasis on grace (alone) or faith (alone), but the plan of salvation is not difficult to understand if one reads the New Testament. Being a preacher’s son, I knew the plan of salvation from a very young age. I could draw the “steps”, give you “book-chapter-verse” for each one, and quote each passage from the KJV. Before I became a Christian, I could name all the books of the Bible and more through the fortification of my mother’s instruction too. It seems that some have trouble knowing what to do because they have had their minds cluttered with various teachings and concepts of men; but an honest reading of the book of Acts will remove that clutter! Never be ashamed of taking time to explain to others the steps they need to take to have eternal salvation, and never shame someone for taking the time to do so either.

Avoidance of Hell Is Motivational. I have heard some say preaching about Hell is not only unpopular but also an improper form of motivation. There is an old country term for that theory–hogwash. Should we be motivated by God’s love? Absolutely. However, different things motivate people at different times. I have no problem admitting that a healthy dose of fear of the second death provided me with additional motivation to obey the gospel. Perhaps some fail to realize that Jesus preached and warned about Hell more than anyone else in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews certainly believed in this warning–“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26–27 NKJV). Will the desire to avoid Hell motivate someone during their complete Christian walk? Maybe not all the time, but it would be unwise to dismiss this motivational force on those who may need to come to their senses on the spiritual condition of their souls.

Deciding to Be Baptized Is Not Exactly Easy. Now, I just said that learning the plan of salvation was easy; however, making the decision to be baptized was another matter. Some may say “You’re a preacher’s kid. It had to be easy,” but they would be mistaken. Did my parents want me to become a Christian? Absolutely, but they did not want to make that decision for me. They respected that it was my decision. When I made the decision, I did not know how to tell my mother (not to mention my father.) She knew something serious was on my mind, and eventually I was able to tell her. She was excited. I told her I did not know how to tell dad. She asked if I thought he would not be excited. I assured her I did, but I just did not know how to broach the subject. She told me to go to his office (which was across the breezeway to the church building), and she would call him and tell him I was on my way to talk with him about being baptized. It may sound rather silly, but remember several dynamics were in play here. I was ready to become a child of God, but I was also still a young person in the care of my parents. Be patient with your children and let it be their decision.

Staying Faithful Can Be Easy If You Keep Your Decision. Do not underestimate the power of making a decision on one’s ability to remaining faithful. We never had a discussion in our house whether we were going to attend evening worship services or midweek Bible Study. Some may be tempted to say “Your father was a preacher, so you had no choice but to come.” (Such comments may reveal an unhealthy view of preachers and their families.) But when my wife and I were married, I worked in the business world. Even then, my wife and I did not have discussions about whether or not we would attend services. Why? Because we had both made that decision back when we became Christians.  Making a decision and making it with commitment is a powerful force to remaining faithful when difficult days come, and difficult days will come.

Becoming Unfaithful Can Be Easy If You Allow It To Happen. The writer of Hebrews stated: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1 NKJV). The word for “drift away” (παραῤῥυέω pararrhyéō) includes the idea of slipping away or getting away from us.  Such is easy to do, if you allow it. How? Well, everyone has demands on their time, even teenagers. For me, I allowed school, work and the circle of friends from these two areas crowd out service to the Lord and the circle of Christians. I allowed Christianity to be crowded out by things that were not bad, but left little room for faith. The more faith was crowded out, the further I slipped away. When I graduated from Centralia High School, I just let work dominate my schedule. Soon I had other commitments, other friends, and other things to do. I had not exactly forgotten, but like a boat that is slowly moving away from shore and out of my reach, I was allowing the important matters, the eternal matters, slip away.

The Church Is A Perfect Institution Made Up of Imperfect People. This is a phrase my father taught us.  My parents tried to shield us from what some call “church politics,” but some matters are impossible to protect against. Sometime we are not as careful about our interactions with one another as we ought. We may be unaware that, as my parents often said, “Little ears are listening.” We need to be more careful that we emphasize the perfection of the church by minimizing our view of the imperfections of one another (cf. Proverbs 10:12). If you think children are not watching and listening, then you are gravely mistaken. It could be one of the reasons that children leave the church and want nothing more to do with it—we have overshadowed the perfect with our imperfections.

Christians Help Christians Grow. My parents wanted me to go to Freed-Hardeman College so much. They knew I was having difficulty, and I knew I was too. But I just did not know what to do about my future.  I kept on pushing aside the question “Why don’t you go to FHC and find what you want to do there?” Dad even came back from the Bible Lectureship and told me that President E. Claude Gardner, whom I had never met and did not know, said I could come to FHC and they would find a way to make it possible. Finally, my mother asked me after several weeks “Do you have anything better in mind?” I did not, so I agreed to go. It was the place I needed. I was able to find a Christian wife and make lifelong Christian friends.  I was able to develop skills I would need in the business world, but I was also able to see Christianity in a new light. I saw a depth to Christianity that I had underestimated. It was not that my parents did not teach me; it was just that I allowed peers to cloud my vision. When I had a new set of peers, Christians, my perspective changed. It is sad that parents say they are willing to do anything for their children except when the tuition bill comes due. Parents sometimes make the mistake of going with price over value when it comes to Christian Education, and by the time they realize the mistake it is too late. Thankfully my parents did not make that mistake.

How Can I NOT Preach the Gospel And Serve the Lord. I have had a “career of careers.” One of the reasons I did not want to preach was all the relocations our family had experienced. So, I decided to major in Management. Wanting to be a preacher, just like my father, my whole life was a difficult matter when I decided otherwise because of circumstances outside of my father’s control. What I found was I still was over worked, laid off, misrepresented, displaced due to corporate relocations, nearly fired for trying to do the right things, and more. While this was going on, I noticed the church was struggling, and I just could not stand by and do nothing. Don’t take this wrong. I do not consider myself any kind of “Champion to the Cause.” I just know that I am somebody, and as somebody I can do something. My wife and I decided it was time to do what we could for the advancement of Christianity in our part of the world. Many may accomplish more than we have, but sadly there will be many who never try. We are trying, and it has made the difference to ourselves and our children. Am I saying one has to become full-time minister to serve in the Kingdom? No, but one has to serve where they are at. Are you serving where you are at? Service matters–not only for others but for you too!

Forty years being a Christian! Saying it sounds impossible!  I can honestly say I have never regretted that decision. I may not have been consistent. I certainly had my share of mistakes. But looking at the lives of others outside of Christ has shown me how important it is to have life with Christ.

Monday, July 3, 2017

PROFILES IN RESTORATION HISTORY: The Last Will & Testament of the Springfield Presbytery - June 28, 1804


The Last Will & Testament of the Springfield Presbytery
JUNE 28, 1804

By David R. Kenney

On September 7, 1809, Thomas Campbell presented his restoration manifesto, The Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington, to the Christian Association who had requested he draft a formal declaration of their intentions to pursue New Testament Christianity. The Christian Association approved it for distribution to all religious bodies in Washington County, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1809.  At the time, these men were probably unfamiliar with others who likewise saw the need to return to the New Testament pattern. 

Barton Warren Stone (1772–1844) was born in Port Tobacco, Maryland, so he certainly was in the United States prior to the Campbells (actually before the founding of the Republic.)  He was taught by the Presbyterian Church in the United States as the Campbells were in Ireland (and Scotland).  Stone was educated at David Caldwell’s Log College, which was considered one of the more prestigious schools in the South.  He was licensed to preach for the Presbyterian Church by the Orange Presbytery of Orange County, NC on April 6, 1796.  He would make his first visit to Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, KY later in 1796.  He was already having misgivings of the doctrines of Calvinism.  In fact, when he was encouraged to seek ordination, he stalled because of persisting doubts.  After much encouragement, he decided to proceed.  He was asked one question–“Do you accept the Confession as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Bible?" He replied­–"I do, so far as I see it consistent with the word of God.”  His answer was accepted.  He soon learned there were others that were having misgivings about elements of Calvinism.

As time goes by, there would be associates of Stone who were brought up on charges of teaching doctrines contrary to the Presbyterian Church.  The trial was in September 1803, and the proceedings against John Thompson and Richard McNemar by the Kentucky Synod left little doubt what was coming.  So, on September 10, 1803 they issued An Apology for Renouncing the Jurisdiction of the Synod of Kentucky To Which Is Added a Compendious View of the Gospel and a Few Remarks on the Confession of Faith.  Ministers and 15 congregations banded together and formed the Springfield Presbytery.  They selected the name “Springfield” for Springfield, Ohio where Richard McNemar was first tried for preaching against Calvinism.  The publication created quite a stir and pamphlets were made to counter, so the “battle of pamphlets” was waged in pursuit of the truth.

Sometimes we may seek to break away from a “bad” system and not realize that it is not just that the system was bad but the system concept itself is likewise deficient.  This happened to those who formed the Springfield Presbytery.  What real difference did Orange Presbytery have from Springfield Presbytery?  The whole concept of having such an organization came into question.  There were no such organizations in the NT, so why did they need such today?  Still a vital question today!

With these thoughts in mind, they drafted one of the great classics of the Restoration Movement, The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery on June 28, 1804.  Some excerpts show the spirit of this restoration movement:

Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.

Item. We will that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's heritage, and his name one.

Item. We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Item. We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the Holy Scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, without any mixture of philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

There is more, and the document is well worth reading in its entirety.  It was signed by Robert Marshall, John Dunlavy, Richard M'Nemar, B. W. Stone, John Thompson, and David Purviance. On October 16–23, 1804 the Kentucky Synod expelled Barton W. Stone and others.  It mattered little as they were now en route to “the old paths.”  Sadly, there would be those that felt the pressure to return to Presbyterianism (Robert Marshall and John Thompson).  As some of the Disciples who followed Campbell were caught up in Mormonism, there was a similar type of thing happening in Kentucky with the Shakers who claimed both John Dunlavy and John McNemar.  David Purviance remained true to the cause; however, he relocated to Ohio in 1807.  Barton W. Stone once lamented “I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.” 

Stone persevered and came to realize that he was not alone in his quest for New Testament Christianity.  In 1824 he would meet, for the first time, Alexander Campbell and they would begin a conversation that would result in one of the great testimonies for Christian union in 1832.  Barton W. Stone began his paper, The Christian Messenger, in 1826 in an effort to continue this quest.  There was much to do, the road would be difficult, but these men desired to be restored to the church of the first century and follow the apostolic order.


Dickinson, Hope S., Editor, The Cane Ridge Reader:  The Biography of Elder Barton Warren Stone, Observations on Church Government, Last Will and Testament of That Reverend Body; History of the Christian Church in the West, Paris, KY:  Cane Ridge Preservation Project, 1972.

Doran, Adron, Restoring New Testament Christianity, Nashville, TN:  21st Century Christian, 1997.

McNemar, Richard. Observations on Church Government by the Presbytery of Springfield, To Which Is Added the Last Will and Testament of That Reverend Body. Cincinnati, OH: John Brown, 1807.

Thursday, June 15, 2017



Commemorative Badge for the Centennial Celebration of the Disciples of Christ.  The top depicts the years 1809 to 1909.  The image is of the Brush Run Church Built 1810.  The lower medal reads Pittsburgh October 11 - 19, 1909 Disciples of Christ Centennial.  Those depicted include Thomas Campbell (top left), Barton W. Stone (top right), Walter Scott (lower left), and Alexander Campbell, (lower right).  On the reverse it reads THAT THEY ALL BE ONE, THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE. In small print at the bottom is THE WHITEHEAD & HOAG CO. NEWARK, NJ
By David R. Kenney
While doing some research on a person buried in the cemetery in Bedford, Ohio who attended Bethany College and graduated under Alexander Campbell, I came across the following information relating to the church of Christ in Wadsworth, Ohio. I thought you might find the following of interest as well.
Amos Sutton Hayden (1813-1880) wrote one of the classic texts on the Restoration Movement in Ohio entitled Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio in 1876. Hayden includes an account of the establishment of the church of Christ in Wadsworth, Ohio including a visit by Alexander Campbell. The following is Hayden’s account nearly in its entirety (except for a story of one of its members):
The church of Wadsworth was formed in February, 1829. The first day there were eight members: Obadiah Newcomb; his two daughters, Statira and Matilda, recently baptized; P. Butler, Samuel Green, A. B. Green, and John and Sarah Bunnell. Bro. Newcomb was appointed elder, and John Bunnell, deacon of the new organization.
This church soon became a strong pillar. William Eyles, late judge of court, soon united with his family. Conversions were almost constant. The opposition was active, vigilant, and often virulent, but overall the gospel made steady and triumphant progress.
The first yearly meeting held in Wadsworth was in September, 1833, in a new barn belonging to Bro. William Eyles. The meeting was noted for the numbers who attended it, and for the stimulus it gave to the cause of reformation. Being quite removed from the sources and center of the work, the proclamation was new to large numbers who came a long distance to attend it. A. Campbell was present; also William Hayden, John Henry, Marcus Bosworth, E. B. Hubbard, J. J. Moss, and many others. There were many converts.
An incident occurred at this time which displays Mr. Campbell's character for discernment and candor. Aaron Pardee, a gentleman residing in the vicinity, an unbeliever in the gospel, attracted by Campbell's abilities as a reasoner, and won by his fairness in argument, resolved to obtain a private interview, and propose freely his difficulties. Mr. Campbell received him with such frankness that he opened his case at once, saying: "I discover, Mr. Campbell, you are well prepared in the argument and defenses of the Christian religion. I confess to you frankly there are some difficulties in my mind which prevent my believing the Bible, particularly the Old Testament." Mr. Campbell replied: "I acknowledge freely, Mr. Pardee, there are difficulties in the Bible—difficulties not easy to explain, and some, perhaps, which in our present state of information cannot be cleared up. But, my dear sir, when I consider the overwhelming testimony in their favor, so ample, complete, and satisfactory, I cannot resist the conviction of their divine origin. The field of prophetic inspiration is so varied and full, and the internal evidences so conclusive, that with all the difficulties, the preponderance of evidence is overwhelmingly in their favor." This reply, so fair and so manly, and so different from the pulpit denunciation of "skeptics," "infidels," etc., to which he had been accustomed, quite disarmed him, and led him to hear the truth and its evidence in a much more rational state of mind. Within a year he became fully satisfied of the truthfulness of the Holy Scriptures, and apprehending clearly their testimony to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the anointed Son of God, he was prepared to yield to him the obedience of his life. At a two days' meeting held there by Bro. A. B. Green and A. S. Hayden, Mr. Pardee and four others were baptized….
The congregation in Wadsworth has been a light to all the region round about. It is mother of churches, and mother of preachers. The following proclaimers of the gospel received their earliest aid and encouragement there, and some of them were brought forth almost exclusively by this church: A. B. Green, Wm. Moody, Holland Brown, Philander Green, B. F. Perky, and Pardee Butler. Bro. L. L. Carpenter, also, from the church in Norton, a daughter and dependency of Wadsworth, gained his guiding impulse there to his distinguished usefulness. (Hayden, 366-368)
Notice the year was 1829 when the church began at Wadsworth. One may wonder what happened that the church of Christ which now meets at Good Avenue was started in 1955 by a group of Christians from the Kenmore congregation. Tragically, the church of 1829 did not remain true to the old paths in at least two particulars—music in worship and the missionary society.
There was no missionary society in the early days of the Restoration Movement, and when some advocated the formation of one, several opposed stating that such a society’s structure and mission usurped the work of the church. In spite of objections, Alexander Campbell reversed his prior convictions and served as the first president of the newly formed American Christian Missionary Society in October 1849 and served as its president until his death in 1866. According to Buckeye Disciples:
On May 7, 1850, at a special gathering of the preaching and teaching brethren held at Hiram it was decided to take steps to organize a Western Reserve Missionary Society. A delegate convention was announced for September 5, at Wadsworth. At the Wadsworth meeting, attended by thirty delegates, it was decided to have a plan or assembly to promote the gospel. (Shaw, 163)
Tragically, this course led to the establishment of the Ohio State Missionary Society in 1852. In the “List of Delegates and Congregations Represented at the First Convention” is the name of Aaron Pardee representing the church of Wadsworth from Medina County (Shaw, 171). This is the same Aaron Pardee who was converted by Alexander Campbell. Many churches were swept away in the missionary society movement including the one in Wadsworth nearly 25 years after its establishment. Those who opposed the missionary society were forced to leave congregations who advocated this arrangement.
Perhaps no greater issue divided churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) than the introduction of instrumental music. As some writers have noted, one can overlook a missionary society but one cannot ignore the instrument playing in their ears as easily. In the early days of Alexander Campbell, there were no churches of Christ utilizing the instrument. In fact, among the earliest recorded dates of the introduction of the instrument include the melodeon in Midway, KY by L. L. Pinkerton in 1860. According to Buckeye Disciples, the use of instrumental music became a major issue in the latter part of the 1960s. Some attempt to claim there was really no opposition to introduction of the instrument which is clearly false or chide those who opposed it. Notice this contradictory statement within the same paragraph:
Isaac Errett, who had no objection to the use of instrumental music in worship, nevertheless counseled his brethren to abstain from its use rather than divide a church over it. Though the older Disciples in Ohio, many of them, went to their graves protesting against mechanical music, most of the churches gradually began accepting it. Largely due to the constructive leadership of Errett, Garfield, Robison, Moffett, et. al., the organ controversy had no disastrous effects in Ohio. A few isolated rural churches, however, that had never cooperated with the brethren anyway, became anti-organ churches. (Shaw, 223-224)
The fact remains that many faithful members of the church were forced out of buildings they had labored to build by those who supported the digression brought by the instrument. It is apparent from the statement in Buckeye Disciples that the congregation established in Wadsworth in 1829 was swept away both by the missionary society and the use of the instrument in worship. The first step away from the New Testament pattern came 25 years after the church’s establishment with the missionary society and the other step occurred some 30 years later with the instrument. Thankfully, the church returned to Wadsworth in 1955 and continues to oppose both of these innovations seeking to continue in “the old paths” (Jeremiah 6:16). We plead with others to follow the New Testament pattern in worship and lifestyle! While some may think this history is unique to Wadsworth, in reality the same scenario played out in many churches across the land from this period of time.  The names and places may be different, but the results were mostly the same.
Hayden, Amos, S. Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio; with Biographical Sketches of the Principal Agents in Their Religious Movement. Cincinnati, OH: Chase & Hall, 1876.
Shaw, Henry K. Buckeye Disciples: A History of the Disciples of Christ in Ohio—A Centennial Publication of the Ohio Christian Missionary Society 1852-1952. St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publication, 1952.
Wilcox, Alanson, A History of the Disciples of Christ in Ohio. Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company, 1918.