Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Our Heritage

By Dr. Milton Loyer

November - 100 years ago
November 1915 was a big month for Central Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre and its pastor Elmer E. Helms. Admitted on trial by the Genesee Conference in 1891, E.E. Helms soon became one of Methodism’s “big church” preachers. He came to Wilkes-Barre in 1911 from Buffalo, and had been invited to accept an appointment to Chicago’s prestigious Park Avenue Church at the October 1915 session of the Rock River Conference. When he decided to remain at Central, the congregation gave him a hearty and well-attended reception. This was followed by a previously arranged series of nine lectures November 7-14 by Dr. John Price Durbin John, former president of DePauw University and now a lecturer-at-large for Methodism. While in Wilkes-Barre, Dr. John also lectured before the Methodist Ministers’ Association, the Federation of Churches, and Wyoming Seminary. Dr. Helms, as it happened, remained in Wilkes-Barre for only one more year – in 1916 he moved on to Calvary Church in Philadelphia, and in 1921 to Los Angeles First. The Wilkes-Barre Central congregation erected their first building on Ross Street in 1857 and moved to their current Academy Street location in 1901. The large stone structure in which Dr. Helms preached and Dr. John lectured in 1915, however, was destroyed by fire in 1975 and replaced by the present modern building.

December - 50 years ago
An all-day Methodist-EUB “Christmas Conference on the Ministry” was held Wednesday, December 29, 1965, at Dickinson College in Carlisle. Planned by a joint committee representing the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Church and the Susquehanna Conference of the EUB Church, the event was designed “to initiate and maintain a continuing fellowship of those preparing for the ministry” within the two separate denominations that would soon be united. Participants in the program included bishops Newell Booth (Methodist) and Hermann Kaebnick (EUB), Lycoming College president D. Frederick Wertz and United Theological Seminary professor Harry DeWire. Invitations were extended to high school, college, and seminary students who had indicated an interest in the ministry – and high school students were asked to bring their pastors with them.

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