A Brief History of the New Market (
William F. Hunter, PhD - firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of the Missionary Church Archives, Mishawaka, Indiana
In 1893, a new religious denomination, Mennonite Brethren in
Christ, was introduced to New Market,
The Mennonite Brethren in Christ had come westward from
their eastern centers, primarily in
|“Entire sanctification necessarily follows justification and regeneration,|
|for by it is implied a setting apart for the continual service of God the|
|individual justified and regenerated; also a cleansing from inbred sin or|
|original depravity, which is removed only by the application and cleansing|
|process of Christ’s blood. It is an instantaneous act of God, through the Holy|
|Ghost, by faith in the atoning merits of Christ’s blood, and constitutes the|
|believer holy.” (quoted in Huffman, pp. 162-163)|
Entire sanctification was thus considered to be a crisis experience in the Christian life, a full surrender to the Holy Spirit allowing one to arrive at a state of sinless perfection. A prime biblical reference for the experience was “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man but God, who hath also given us his holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, KJV).
It was typical of the holiness movement of the times that its revival meetings were characterized by dazzling displays of religious ardor and intensity. Mennonite Brethren in Christ meetings were typically highly emotional and exuberantly noisy. Holiness people thoroughly enjoyed their religion. They were demonstrative in their services as they laughed, cried, wept, clapped, waved their hands, leaped for joy, walked up and down the aisles while exclaiming “Amen,” “Bless God,” “Glory,” “Hallelujah,” or “Praise the Lord.” Sometimes those who were so overcome with conviction fell into a trance-like state. Little wonder that this approach met with considerable opposition from the more staid churches in New Market, though a similar form of revivalism had been something of a hallmark of post-Civil War Methodists and other mainline denominations.
The description of Evangelist A. A. Miller’s preaching gives
some insight into holiness preaching styles of the era: “A favorite evangelist and pioneer of the
district was A.A Miller, a fiery preacher whose presence in tent or schoolhouse
meetings generally meant that the whole community attended. A man of ‘powerful frame, towering physique
and stentorian voice,’ his reputation as a great preacher
traveled like a dust storm over the prairie. … One who was to come under
conviction through his preaching in the 1890’s wrote: ‘After hearing him for
some time, we decided to go one Sunday night in company with some other young
people and see him preach. He was
conducting a revival meeting in a sod church.
The walls were dark. A few small
kerosene lamps served to light the room. … ‘The preacher spoke with great power
and the demonstration of the Spirit. He
shouted and leaped for joy, his head nearly striking the poles overhead. Some responded to the call for seekers at the
altar and one was slain under the power of God.
I remember one statement Brother Miller made: he said that if he had the power he would
shake everybody over hell until they felt the need of being saved” (from the
Harvest Fellowship of Shambaugh, Iowa website, with the quotes taken from Lageer,
E., Merging Streams.
The ultimate goal of the evangelists and workers was to fill the altar with those who would “pray through” to receive the blessing of entire sanctification. Converts who had the experience spoke of it as being both “saved and sanctified.”
From their beginning in June 1893, there was a continuing series of protracted meetings in New Market lasting a number of weeks and with a regular stream of visiting ministers of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ. There were significant results from the meetings which featured such preachers as New Market village blacksmith and lay preacher Charles. H. Herriman, and traveling evangelists A. A. Miller, Andrew Good, Jacob Hygema, Jacob Hostetler, Omer B. Henderson, A. Prior Utter, Homer. J. Pontius, Claudius K. Curtis, Sheridan Green, Nicholas Rice, Joseph Persell, Abraham B. Yoder, and others. Several of these men later became pastors of the MBC churches in Shambaugh and New Market and even Presiding Elders of the denomination. The Shambaugh and New Market churches were a relatively few miles apart from each other.
As a result of the initial evangelistic meeting in New Market, an MBC church (sometimes referred to as a “class”) was organized in fall, 1893 with the following charter members: Charles H. Herriman, Maggie Herriman, G. R. Parson, Mrs. Vill Parson, Mrs. Minnie Johnson, Maude E. Godfrey, Miss Edith Herriman, Miss Grace Herriman, Mrs. Mary E. Journey, and Mrs. Lyda Parson.
The church was incorporated in 1894, with nine church
members named in the Articles of Incorporation and G. R. Parson, J. L. Parson,
and C. H. Herriman cited as the church’s first trustees. The newly organized congregation constructed
a church building in 1894 that was dedicated by Rev. Andrew Good. Rev. J. J. Hostetler was designated to be the
church’s first pastor. G. H. Herriman
was elected as Class Leader, G. R. Parson as Deacon and Steward, Maud Godfrey
as Sunday School Superintendent and Edith Herriman as the church’s Librarian. The church was placed in a circuit with the
Shambaugh Mennonite Brethren in
There was considerable opposition from the other churches in New Market because of the church’s holiness doctrine and what was considered to be “sheep-stealing.” Some of the members of the town’s older churches had accepted the sanctification teaching and joined the new church declaring they were now “saved and sanctified.” John Petit Brooks, a pioneer holiness preacher, had opined earlier that it was the carnal spirit of a “weakened and deteriorated Christianity” that was the reason holiness teaching had not made significant headway in the major denominations. His scathing indictment was that, “Carnal preachers stand in carnal pulpits, and preach carnal sermons to carnal hearers, who sit with carnal ease to hear, and then go out with carnal desires and carnal purposes to live a carnal life.”
Evangelist A. A. Miller would have heartily approved of this estimate and applied it to the churches in New Market when he wrote in the Gospel Banner (January 9, 1894): “The churches in this town let nearly everything that comes along into their churches except the Mennonites. They even voted us out from having prayer meeting because some of their members were sanctified. They say, You came into our house and gave one of our children poison (that is, sanctification), we will not let you in to poison any more with sanctification.”
Though it had been organized in the fall of 1893, the New
Market church was not formally incorporated until
Rev. H. J. Pontius was the pastor in 1897 when John Godfrey
was elected Deacon, an office he held continuously for 54 years. J. R. Hunter remembered and referred to John
Godfrey in his letter on the occasion of the
Following the ministry of the first pastor, Rev. J. J. Hostetler, succeeding pastors were Rev. A. B. Yoder, Rev. H. J. Pontius, Rev. S. J. Green, Rev. L. D. Whitcom, Rev. P. Utter, Rev. J. A. Persell, Rev. E. J. Menaugh, Rev. C. I. Scott, Rev. J. Hygema, Rev. J. H. Hess, Rev. J. K. Myers, Rev. E. D. Young, Rev. T. J. Overholt, Rev. J. B. Starkey, Rev. C. W. Severn, and Rev. Sherman Mills.
A parsonage was purchased in 1938 and another in 1952. The Women’s Missionary Society was organized
in 1937 with Mrs. Glen Godfrey serving as President and Mrs. Luie Slaight as
Secretary. At the time of the church’s
60th Anniversary in 1953, it was noted that one of its members, Ronald
Harper, had entered the ministry and had become pastor of the
Because of New Market’s population decline and the church’s
decline in membership, the
My personal interest in the New Market church came about as
a result of research into the life and ministry of my father, Rev. John R.
Hunter. By 1897 both Ralph Olin Hunter
and his younger brother and my father, John Roy Hunter, had been converted and had
become members of the
J. R. Hunter also wrote an anniversary letter to the
J. R. Hunter’s association with the MBC church in New Market was to have a life-long effect on his life and ministry. It was there that he was cradled in the faith and made the cardinal emphasis on entire sanctification his doctrinal position, one to which he adhered without wavering throughout his lifetime. The style of evangelism that he saw and participated in with the Mennonite Brethren in Christ was to be his approach all through his ministry. His years in New Market were years of learning and observing at the feet of A. A. Miller, A. B. Yoder, and others. It was there he received his basic theological education as he was never able to obtain formal biblical or theological training. .He made up for the lack through informal study and association with godly preachers and leaders. There can be little question of the influence on his life of such mentors as A. A. Miller, A. B. Yoder, and others. The influence of his brother Ralph also seems also to have been crucial in his development as an evangelist and preacher. Surely J. R.Hunter saw what had happened to his older brother and was encouraged by what he saw and heard from him.
J. R. Hunter began his ministry with the Mennonite Brethren
in Christ. He was certified as a
Conference Worker by the Nebraska Conference in 1905 and 1907. After his marriage in 1908 to Dollye Bell
Brooks, J. P. Proceedings
of Holiness Conferences Held at
Gingerich, M., & Shambaugh, B. F. The Mennonites in
The Gospel Banner, weekly paper of the
Mennonite Brethren in Christ denomination.
Huffman, J. A (ed). History of the Mennonite
Hunter, J. R., 60th anniversary letter,
Hunter, R. O., 60th anniversary letter,
Lageer, E. Merging Streams.
The Mennonite Brethren in
Website, Harvest Christian Fellowship,
Copyright © 2008 by William F. Hunter