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Empey, Rev. Walter Bruce


Posted By: Linda Ziemann, Volunteer (email)
Date: 5/29/2013 at 19:51:36

Canada has given many noble sons to Northwest Iowa Methodism, but none of
recent years surpass Walter Bruce Empey in point of ability and depth of
character. Napanee was his Ontario home, but in 1885, when ten years of age,
the family moved to the Iowa homestead, near Battle Creek, and five years
later to Morningside that the children might enjoy the educational
advantages here offered. For two years the Longfellow teacher4s enjoyed his
boyish pranks and earnest toil. The his college career began.

Like every other ambitious boy, he now began to take life more seriously and
to cast about to know his real sphere. Up to this time the greatest
question in human existence had been left unsettled. From early youth he
knew that, if converted, he would have to preach the Gospel. Weighing his
opportunities, realizing his responsibilities and knowing that the world
would demand the best he could give, he faced the facts in a logical,
business like way. This resulted in his being soundly converted during that
first college year, and in his laying the only foundation worth laying.

Under the careful oversight of Rev. D. M. Yetter, his pastor, the following
six or nine months, proved to be a time of great spiritual development. In
this newly found, inborn, heart-satisfying peace, all of the former dread of
preaching completely forsook him, and he remained plastic in God’s hands.

Speaking of the final settlement of his life work, Mr. Empey said, “I have
had no great struggles, save the one when I gave up to preach—about a year
after my conversion. Since that decisive point there has been just one
rule—to know the voice of God.”

This question settled, God gently, yet definitely, pointed out where the
work should be. About this time a returned Missionary spoke one Sunday
morning in Grace church on India, and the message was sent by the Holy
Spirit into one heart at least. The call rang through and through his soul.
What was he to do? Ah! The most natural thing—“Tell Mother.” Then what?
Together they waited upon God to know His will. Then came the conviction:
“If ever I do anything, it will be in India,” with its counterpart. “I’ll
wait till I get through college.”

Someone has said that the voice of the Church is the voice of God. Be that
as it may, the Church recognizes men. She also knows when God has laid His
hand upon His child for service. A few months after Mr. Empey became a new
man in Christ Jesus, Bro. Yetter secured for him an Exhorter’s License, the
next year he became a Local Preacher, and the next he was appointed a class
leader. The church and pastor found in him a loyal worker and his class
mates a leader worthy of his calling.

But while the church was recognizing the power in the man, the school was
reaping largely from his influence. With his conversion came a deeper
thirst for knowledge. He always ranked high in his class work. The
Othonian Literary Society was impelled to some of its best efforts during
the four terms of his presidency. The religious work received his especial
notice; while athletics knew in him a friend.

But it was the last half of the last year that developed the man. Up to
this time, his life had been freely offered to his equals. Now God showed to
him “the Cross of Christ in the face of every man.” One Sunday afternoon in
company with a few Christian workers, he entered a little one-room house
where a lonely widow, with her four children bowed in earnest prayer.
Eternity itself was wrapped up in that service. That mother’s prayer was
another one of God’s doors opening into his heart. From that moment despite
very heavy school work, every Sabbath afternoon and evening was given whole
heartedly to the lowly poor. The following summer was devoted gratuously to
the gathering of funds that these less-fortunate children of the All-Father
might have the Gospel preached to them.

“Toward the close of the spring term,” said Mr. Empey, “I became uneasy
about India. I talked the entire matter over with Brother Trimble and Dr.
Lewis. My name was sent to the Missionary Society. After the case was
fully in, Dr. Leonard advised me to wait, so the matter was again dropped.”

The Class of ’99 showed their appreciation of Mr. Empey by making him their
president and conferring upon him the honor of being their valedictorian.
His graduating address was feighted with an intense desire for the elevation
of the masses and elicited much hearty comment from his auditors. His
degree, A. B., was the smallest attainment of his college.

Having completed the Local Preachers, course, Bishop Merrill ordained him
Deacon and received him on trial at the session of the Northwest Iowa
Conference, held in Sioux City last year. Being appointed to Seney, Ia., he
cheerfully took up the task assigned to him. “When I caught sight of the
little burg, I stopped my horse and asked the Lord to give it to me for Him”
At the recent session of Conference at Spencer, Ia., where he was ordained
Elder under the Missionary rule, he was able to report ninety-five
conversions, thirty-five baptisms, missionary apportionment doubled, and a
new $1600 church at Struble partly completed.

Mr. Empey found a neat little parsonage on the church lot at Seney. Again
his college experience helped him out. He used frequently to remark, as he
wended his way toward Trimble Hall, “Boys, its courtship under difficulties,
but faint heart never won fair lady.”

For three years the friendship between he and Miss Hattie Bartlett, which
culminated in one of the brightest, happiest, most joyous weddings we ever
attended, was ripening. January 3rd, last a score of more relatives and
intimate friends joined with the entire neighborhood to celebrate this
delightful even, at the Bartlett homestead. He who had called them
separately to definite missionary endeavor now permitted them to become one
in heart and one in aim, one for Him and one for others.

As to the last steps toward India, Mr. Empey remarked: “The latter part of
July, I visited Sioux City on some matters relating to the Struble church.
India was forgotten in the rush of business. When I arrived home, Mrs. Empey
handed me a letter from Bishop Parker asking if we would consider an
appointment to India. We wrote him that we would weigh the matter
prayerfully for two weeks. At the expiration of that time we answered,
‘Yes, we will go.’ Sept. 18, I was appointed by Bishop Thoburn to Moradabad,
India. We will sail Nov. 17. We rejoice in the opportunity.”

Source: Collegian Reporter
Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa
October 27, 1900


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