In Ohio after the Revolutionary War, it was common to have a preacher on horseback ride into an area and preach wherever he found a willing audience. It might be in a cabin, a store, a school, a tavern or even in an open field. These men were called “circuit riders” or “saddle-back preachers.”
In 1825, one of these saddleback preachers, David Montgomery Glancy (a.k.a. D.M.
Glancy), traveled across Licking and surrounding counties on horseback from his home in a log cabin in Rocky Fork, down the road a piece from Newark. D.M. Glancy, who was my great-great-great-grandfather, a physician and a licensed Methodist minister, handed out many Bibles and preached more than 2,180 sermons to his flock, which was spread out in Ohio.
Presently in Licking County, we have a modern day roving preacher who has been serving the churches and organizations in our community for more than 20 years. Jeff Gill’s life reminds us of the dedication of a saddle-back preacher, as he has served where called each week.
Maybe you’ve seen him educating a group about the Indian mounds, swinging a hammer to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, announcing in a boxing ring, mediating with local youth, serving on a community board or leading a group of Boy Scouts in song.
He always is there to support a charitable cause whether making fries at the Fourth of July celebration, serving as master of ceremonies at the Midland Theatre or even portraying a historical character dressed in colonial attire in a cemetery. He has preached in many different churches, assisted with various organizations, pitched in for numerous events and he has been available for the people. Fortunately for a local congregation, Jeff recently agreed to modify his itinerant ways and to serve as their minister.
A modern pastor who reads his Bible verses from a Kindle and is connected to the community and to the world by Facebook, Twitter and his weekly column in The Advocate, Jeff is a master storyteller and a historian capturing and holding the attention of his audience through current stories and parables.
We are having an installation service for him at Central Christian Church, 587 Mount Vernon Road, at the 10:30 a.m.
service Oct. 28. Please join us to congratulate Jeff as he continues his ministry.
I’m sure D.M. Glancy and the other saddle-back preachers from the past are proud to have him follow in their footsteps.
Janice Large Newark