Friday, May 30, 2008

Visiting Grand Junction

Come to Grand Junction, MI with me, site of our early Church of God publishing ministry. Had we been able to publish the second issue of Reformation Witness, it would have contained this in expanded form.

In July-07, Digital Historian Dale Stultz introduced The Book of Noah and led conferees at Warner Camp in discussing the early days of our publishing work. Pastor Don Hendrix chauffeured the 40-passenger Allegan church bus. Dale led illustrated on-site lectures and I joined the group as an area native.

Using enlarged digital photos to illustrate, Stultz took conferees to several village sites at the West end of village center, Grand Junction. He gave page references from The Book of Noah and gave his audiences time to mark their books and ask questions with each lecture.

Sites included the Trumpet Office, the Trumpet Family residence, the E. E. Byrum home, and the Hooley House. Stultz identified each site for his audience, inspiring heightened appreciation for those hearty pioneer workers. What it did for participants could not be purchased at any price.

The village offers little, but it served as the site of Gospel Trumpet Company for twelve years--1884-1896. Those years cradled the publishing ministry into a tiny religious movement with a viable publishing ministry. Those years allowed those reformers to coalesce into what people now know as the Church of God, with general agencies in Anderson, IN.

Joining Stultz’s was my 40-year friend, Camp Evangelist Luz Gonzales. Luz found it “an incredible experience.” He later wrote: “I bought 'The Book of Noah" and enrolled as a member of the Historical Society. When I returned home, I shared with Carol the wonderful blessing that I had received,. . .She . . . read it and she wouldn't put it down until she finished it. She was very touched, too, seeing what a great legacy these pioneers left us. . .”

The lesson I get is this: very simply, they did a whole lot more then with what they had than we do today with what we have today. Tiny Grand Junction formed the hub from which our “Quest for Holiness and Unity” became a global ministry. It went global with people like G. T. Clayton and party, evangelizing up and down the Ohio River from his “Floating Bethel“ barge. Men like W. T. Carter of Saint James, MO came to Grand Junction, then founded ministry centers in places like Dodge, KY--a rail junction adjacent to Winchester (close to Lexington).

The daughter of Sebastian Michels’, one of the Grand Junction leaders, solicited my father to help her start the Sunday School that now serves in nearby South Haven, MI. She later returned with her husband to assist the newer children‘s home at Spokane, WA. She and her husband ministered in the Northwest, but that little Sunday School nurtured me for my first eighteen years. They will celebrate 85 years of service July 20.

When Gospel Trumpet Company left in 1898 (Warner died 12-1895), they went from “no modern conveniences whatsoever” to coal-powered electricity and modern facilities. From there, they moved to Anderson, IN and in the thirties era they were one of the America’s largest religious publishers.

When Stultz returned home to Anderson, IN, he found ”Noah” preceding him. The Historical Society sold more than six cases of books at Park Place Church where former classmate, Dr; Donald Johnson-- retired Missionary Board Executive--prepared a teaching guide on Church of God beginnings. He used “Noah“ as a text book for his Sunday School class.

A sampling of photo’s (if I get this right) show Gonzales clowning on the bus, the GT Co in Grand Junction, and a conference at the Warner House at camp (hope I have this right.....taken by SOT student, Jonathan Cox, prepared by Stultz). At the upper right of this page, you will also find me in the red cap, with Dr. Leslie Ratzlaff, retired founding Dean of WSC (original site of GT Pub. Co. that burned).


Debt Defender said...

I'm looking for more info on the Floating Bethal. I am working on a Wikipedia article on an area where it stopped called rush run. Do you have any references that mention it stopping there?

Wayne said...

"When the Trumpet Sounded" by C. E. Brown, Warner Press, Anderson, IN., 1951, pp 183-84 is a direct reference to Rush Run. If you don't have access to it, email me and I will type it in for you.
When I pastored in the Ohio Valley--mid 50s--there were congregations at Tiltonsville (pastor Leroy Koch) and I think Rush Run. Leroy preached at both places. His son is Ed Koch-- I've emailed Ed and another source. That is the best I know currently. Riggle refers to traveling on the Bethel but makes no reference as far as I know about Rush Run. I found none in Smith's centennial history and similiar resources.

Wayne said...

Did Debt Defender get my message from Ed Koch? It reads as follows:
Dad pastored at Tiltonsville for twenty-two years. The church relocated while he was there. They bought land outside Rayland and built a new church and parsonage. It is now known as Meadowbrook Church of God, Rayland. When we moved to Tiltonsville, it was a "gentlemens" understanding whoever pastored at Tiltonsville would also pastor the church at Rush Run. So Dad preached at Tiltonsville in the AM, drive to Rush Run for services in the afternoon (including Sunday School) and then back to Tiltonsville for the PM service. I can remember when Dad & Mom wanted to take a Sunday away, they would have to find someone to preach three services, teach three Sunday School classes, (I taught the youth class), a Sunday School Superintendent, a song director, and a bus driver.( Dad had to drive the Rush Run bus to pick up most of the people who attended.) All the others would walk in the hollow where the church was located. It was named appropriately because on Sunday it always was "Rush & Run" for our whole family. That's back when we kids had to attend all the services too. This continued for many years. I don't remember the time table when Rush Run finally closed and the congregation began attending at Tiltonsville. Almost all of them from Rush Run came to Tiltonsville and were very faithful, some who are living remain at the Rayland Church.
Now, regarding The Floating Bethel. I heard about it many times growing up from many of the older saints who recalled those days when the riverboat made its way up and down the Ohio carrying preaching teams and singers. I know there is some written history because I read it but I can't lead you to it at the moment. If I find it or remember, I'll contact you. I believe the boat continued its ministry until it was finally destroyed by fire. . .It was so good to talk with you at Anderson. It had been so many years but I remember your time when you was pastor in Wheeling.
Edmund Koch

Science Guy said...


Here is a very short clip that has a shot of Leroy Koch in it. This came from my grandfather's home videos. Leroy was the paster a Meadowbrook until I was about 6-7 years old.

I tired to email this to Ed but the message bounced.

Best Regards,

Science Guy said...

Here is the video

Wayne said...

Thanks, Science Guy. It was easy to identify Leroy at the beginning of the video. I'm sure Ed would enjoy a re-run on that. I'm not currently in touch with him since being hacked back in the summer, but maybe we can catch up with him.