Thursday, May 20, 2010

Faith Works 5-22

Faith Works 5-22-10

Jeff Gill


A Long and Winding Road Through History



We clergy can find ourselves bemoaning, on occasion, our lot in life with the travel we have to do through the week.


Pastoral care today can take a fairly modestly-sized congregational leader, in any random week, to four or five different hospitals across multiple counties, and in and out of nursing care facilities on main streets and hidden off country roads.


HIPAA has taken away our ability to use the phone as a tool to save steps and trips (if you don't know what a HIPAA is, think the "hippopotamus" of legislative unintended consequences), and health care consolidation means parking garages are often the size of urban shopping center complexes, while the office to get your clergy parking permit stamped is often better hidden than the patient complaint and refund department.


The schedule can get weird, too, but that's more and more something people deal with in a variety of vocations as more and more of us do three people's jobs and are thankful for the work at all. What isn't as common, even for those situations, is to have to take your car in a route that would do justice to a delivery service driver, planning out how save miles and time without going through any particularly infamous speed traps.


We do have that car, though, and not a mule. It's always eased my irritation at the amount of time I've spent sitting in traffic to reflect on my forebearers in ministry, and what they had to do just to preach on Sundays, let alone call on families when they could.


In my own tradition through the Restoration Movement, Alexander Campbell rode out of Bethany, (now West) Virginia above Wheeling, and with the occasional help of riverboats traveled from New England to New Orleans and back again. Horses when he could get them, mules when he had to, which was often, and not occasionally on foot.


Francis Asbury, the pioneering Methodist bishop, left journals which detail the thousands of miles he covered over decades of ministry. It is truly awe inspiring to read, if a bit mind-numbing (which is not all that probably went numb for Bishop Asbury). Philander Chase, an early bishop of The Episcopal Church in Ohio & Illinois, traveled to do fundraising for what became Kenyon College and a few other higher ed institutions, not only all across this continent, but frequently crossing the Atlantic to England in the early 1800s.


"The Amazing Race," indeed.


So I'm looking forward to hearing tonight, Saturday evening at 6:00 pm, from Rev. James Quinn. He died in 1847, which means this is a quite a trip for him, but as an old circuit riding preacher he's up to the challenge.


Tonight at Centenary UMC in Granville, in Shepherd Hall, Rev. Quinn will get a little help from Rev. David Maze, a former pastor at Heath UMC, who will talk about the circuit rider days in Licking County, and as part of Centenary's bicentennial, will preach tomorrow at 8:00, 9:20, and 11:00 as Rev. Quinn.


On pg. 565 of Hill's 1881 "History of Licking County," it's recorded that Rev. "James Quinn … took his place on the Hock-Hocking circuit [in 1804]. There is no record they preached any where else in the county [previously] than in the little church at Hog Run [now White Chapel UMC], but it is presumable that they occasionally preached in Newark, but if they did they must have held the service under a tree, or in the cabin of some settler, as no building had been erected for church purposes, and was not erected for years afterwards."

"Mr. Quinn was continued upon this circuit, being re-appointed in 1805, but he was sent to the Scioto circuit when about one-half of his second year had expired, making his whole service on the circuit, a period of eighteen months, running into the early part of 1806. Before he left the village Newark was attached to it, and his congregation usually numbered "from fifteen to thirty persons," says Mr. Smucker. Here then is the first evidence of the establishment of the first Methodist class in Newark. A small class existed here which Mr. Quinn left in 1806, composed of five or six persons, who met at the cabin of Abraham Wright, esq., an emigrant of 1802, from Washington County, Pennsylvania, who was at this period, and had been for some time, an acting justice of the peace."


All I can add to that is: "there were giants in the earth in those days."


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio, but he's no circuit rider; tell him about your travels in faith at or follow Knapsack

Monday, May 17, 2010

Knapsack 5-20

Notes From My Knapsack 5-20-10

Jeff Gill


Enduring Grace & Lasting Values



This week, I'm happy to celebrate, is the 25th time the Lovely Wife and I remember our wedding day back at University Church, across the street from the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. It was and is an ecumenical campus ministry, and we met there at a church committee meeting (yes, you can flirt at a committee meeting, it just takes a little more couth and caution).


Historically speaking, 25 years isn't all that much, though today it's a little more remarkable. I think about James & Euphemia Reeder, now gracing the Avery-Downer House in a pair of Amzi Godden portraits I've already mentioned, married in 1801, together 51 years until his death in 1852.


Jonathan & Margaret Benjamin, early pioneers (Lillie Jones was their daughter) were married for 76 years until Margaret's passing in 1835, with ten children, 77 grandchildren, and at least one great-great-grandchild to hold before they died.


76 years. Whoa.


From page 602 of Hill's 1881 "History of Licking County," about the Benjamins: "Having passed through the French and Indian wars, and through the war of the Revolution, and having suffered much and long by Indian depredations, both in the loss of friends and property, the finer feelings of his nature had be come blunted to such an extent that lie seemed to have lost most of his sympathy for his fellow man. Still he was a man of religious habits, and of good morals, but was generally considered to be a man that was naturally morose and unsociable, and was not known through life to leave expressed his forgiveness of the Indian race. He was not a reading man, hence what time he gave to social intercourse with his neighbors, was given to the relation of personal experience or to business matters. He was a soldier, or frontiersman, most his life. It was not until he was about eighty years old that he consented to settle himself for the balance of his life. He bought in the woods and cleared up his last farm after he was seventy-eight years old. Notwithstanding this life of hardships, the iron constitution of himself and his excellent wife sustained them to a great age. Mrs. Benjamin possessed social qualities that in a great measure compensated for the lack of them in her husband. They lived together as man and wife nearly eighty years…"


They became part of the new Methodist class meeting formed in Granville in 1810 by William & Sarah Gavit, themselves married more than 50 years before her passing. James B. Finley, himself married to Hannah for 56 years until his death, was an early Ohio preacher who supported the fledgling congregation of Gavits, Benjamins, and Montgomerys when he passed through as the assigned "circuit rider."


James Quinn followed Finley, and it's to celebrate the Centenary 200th anniversary that he will return to preach this weekend – a neat trick given that he died in 1847. Not much stopped those olde circuit riding preachers, though, and with the help of Rev. David Maze of today's West Ohio Conference, we will hear from Brother Quinn at 8:00, 9:20, and 11:00 am this "Heritage Sunday."


Come hear about some enduring grace and lasting values this Sunday!


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he's aiming for that "almost 80 years together" mark. Tell him about what's enduring to you at or follow Knapsack @Twitter.