church, Sunday school, and other religious privileges;
none has stood more decisively for social and civil
righteousness; none has come nearer planting a church in
every city, village, and rural settlement, and thus bringing
the gracious influences of the Gospel within the reach of
every inhabitant of the state.
An epochal event in history of the
Methodist Episcopal church in Nebraska occurred in the year
1912, when the Nebraska the North Nebraska, and the West
Nebraska Conferences united and became one big, powerful
conference. This body now has a ministerial membership of
about 500, and is the third largest conference in Methodism.
There is but one other conference in the state, namely, the
Northwest Nebraska, with a ministerial membership of about
In these later years an advanced step
for the adequate care of retired preachers has been taken.
This is the result of education and agitation through a long
number of years. Some of the men prominent in the work
achieved are: Rev. W. B. Alexander, Rev. P. C. Johnson,
D.D., deceased, Rev. A. C. Crosthwaite, deceased, Rev. F. M.
Esterbrook, Rev. C. M. Shephard, D.D., and others, both
ministers and laymen. In the year 1916 it was decided to put
on a campaign to raise a total of not less than $500,000 as
an endowment fund for this cause. Dr. J. R. Gettys was
selected corresponding secretary and placed in charge of the
campaign. In a little more than a year the task was
accomplished, and the fund stands now at a little more than
$530,000, and is steadily growing. When the program is fully
completed, and the entire fund on interest, the church will
be able to pay its worn-out heroes around $600 a year. If
anyone questions the wisdom of this matter, let him remember
that these ministers gave their services sacrificially and
received but a scant living. Therefore they are facing the
sunset with no means of support.
In 1908 Chancellor D. W. C. Huntington
resigned his position in the university because of advancing
age. After a short interval Clark A. Fulmer, dean of the
college and one of the best educators of the state, was
elected chancellor. He was the first layman to enjoy that
distinction. Under his leadership the school grew in numbers
and influence until it became widely and favorably known not
only over the state but throughout the country. The
university now has three fine buildings and an endowment of
$250,000. This school is destined to render great service to
the state and nation, and to exercise an influence of
Just fifty-six years ago the Nebraska
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church was organized.
The first session was held in Nebraska City in 1861. At that
time there were only twenty ministers and nine hundred and
twenty-eight church members. Then there were but
twenty-three Sunday schools with a membership of eight
hundred and thirteen.
The purpose of the Methodist Episcopal
church is not to claim for itself all virtue and all truth,
nor to be a rival to other churches. Its divine aim is to
preach and spread the Gospel of the Son of God, and to
coöperate with every other body of believers in
promoting the kingdom of God among men. We as a church,
would build lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
BY REV. HARMON BROSS, D.D.
The history of Congregational churches
in Nebraska covers a period of half a century, but the
springs of their power and influences were far back in the
hills of Connecticut and
Massachusetts in the early days of the last century.
REV. HARMON BROSS, D.D.
lodged in my mind as a seed drops into the ground. That
seed germinated, that thought grew in my mind all the way
and Rev. Mr. Leach of the Baptist church in the place.
They had appointments, one in the morning, the other in the
evening, and I took the afternoon. There was no church
organization in Omaha except a Methodist of about six
members, We began with a union Sunday school, which we held
for a time in the state house or in the dining room of the
hotel. Having no suitable place to hold our meetings, we
were compelled to arise and build. This work began in 1856,
and the house was completed and dedicated in August,
REV. REUBEN GAYLORD
On the 4th of May, 1856, a
Congregational church of nine members was organized with Mr.
Gaylord as pastor. Of the membership, two were from
Michigan, two from Illinois, and five from Iowa. Eight of
these were from Congregational churches and one from a
Presbyterian. The following Sabbath -- May 11th -- Mr.
Gaylord organized the church at Fontenelle, with twenty-four
organized the General Association of Nebraska.
REV. ISAAC ERVING HEATON MIRANDA N. HEATON
river, arriving at Omaha on the 3d of July. We attended
the Congregational church the next day. Rev. Father Gaylord
was pastor. It was a very solemn and interesting occasion.
It was the day for the celebration of the Lord's Supper. It
was also a day of great anxiety. It was known that a great
battle was impending near Gettysburg and surmised that the
same might be true at Vicksburg. I can remember well how our
hearts were encouraged and our faith in God's providence and
care for our nation strengthened by Mr. Gaylord's earnest
prayer and timely words. I remember there were no deacons
left in his church to officiate at the communion service.
All were away in the service of their country. From the
peculiar circumstances I remember the occasion left a deep
impression on my mind. We had driven out the rebels from
Missouri, and I was out on furlough, but it seemed to us the
darkest time of the Rebellion. We were greatly cheered and
strengthened by the faith of Father Gaylord, and the next
day we had the news of the victory of Gettysburg and the
capture of Vicksburg. Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord called on us the
next day at the hotel and told us something of the history
and struggles of the little pioneer church. The incident
would, of course, appear trifling to others
but it impressed me deeply. I shall never forget the
fervor of Mr. Gaylord's prayer for President Lincoln, for
the soldiers in peril, and for our government and its
institutions, nor the earnest words of his address, which
gave evidence of such a calm, unfaltering trust in God. I
have always looked back upon that occasion as one of the
deepest religious experiences of my life, and felt for Mr.
Gaylord a peculiar affection, though we never met but once
SAMUEL ALLIS MRS. EMELINE ALLIS
new settlement, and Mr. Gaylord was always counted upon
for helpful services. At the home missionary anniversary in
Omaha, in May, 1894, Dr. Geo. L. Miller, who settled in
Omaha as a practicing physician about the time of Mr.
Gaylord's coming, paid a glowing tribute to the devotion and
energy of this pioneer church worker. Mr. Gaylord makes
mention of Dr. Miller in the following paragraph:
dered about the house aimlessly, not knowing what to do
with the care and love which had been given to the lost one,
or sat down dazed with grief and folded her hands in
silence. But some of these sad thoughts, were destined to be
soon diverted into another channel. It was in the afternoon
of one of those severe days, early in the month, that Dr.
Miller, a young physician, who had made his home in Omaha
two years before, called to tell of a case of suffering
which had just been discovered by him. In one room of an
unfurnished house on Harney street a father was lying very
ill with inflammatory rheumatism, and in the bed with him
were his two little girls, one two and the other four years
of age. During a heavy fall of snow the wind had burst open
the door and fastened it open with a snow drift, so that the
little girl of four had tried in vain to close it. For more
than twenty-four hours they had been without food or fire or
care of any kind, and had not relief come soon they must
have perished. A few weeks previous the wife and mother had
died, and a little babe of a few days old soon followed.
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH BUILDING IN OMAHA
in gathering and establishing churches. With the removal
of the capital to Lincoln, the South Platte country
attracted wide attention, and from Cass and Otoe counties
westward soldier colonies and others began to take
possession of the rich valleys and to dot the prairies.
REV. AMOS DRESSER
REV. CHARLES LITTLE
REV. A. F. SHERRILL, D.D.
REV. C. S. HARRISON
the denomination, was carefully fostered by Mr. Gaylord.
During a visit to the East in 1864, he spoke before various
Sunday schools, interesting them in the work of the West,
and helping to lay the foundation for that wider interest
which has resulted in the organzation (sic) of schools
numbering now nearly 20,000 members. Rev. J. D. Stewart was
for twenty-four years the devoted and efficient
superintendent of this work among the churches.