Religious faith was always a priority in our family. Sabbath days were for rest, going to church at Nortonville Seventh Day Baptist Church. One Sabbath morning I decided to declare my independence. I said to Mom, “I’m not going to church today.” She calmly replied, “Of course, you’re going to church! We always go to church.” No argument from me. Actually, I liked the atmosphere of the sanctuary and worship. The symbolism in the stained glass windows and the architecture of the interior seemed holy and uplifting to me. I had some pretty distorted ideas about God in my early years, but I held Him in desire and awe.
For children and youth, there was Christian Endeavor whose motto was “For Christ and the Church.” Meetings were on Sabbath afternoon. Though we had an adult sponsor, the plan was that we young people take turns leading the meetings. We would hand out related subjects to other members to speak on the next week. I enjoyed that a lot when my turn came to speak – though I was generally bashful.
The earliest pastor I recall was Reverend Cottrell and the next was young Pastor Duane Ogden. He was high life and jolly, a handsome fellow. He did what was uncommon in those days. He bought a new 1929 Model A Ford coupe, and he liked to drive fast! He had a Boy Scout troupe, and they built a meeting cabin at our Wheeler timber. He and Margaret Stillman fell in love, to the dismay of some other young women in our church. Their romance was the object of loving curiosity and they were the romantic young couple on their marriage. After a short pastorate, he left the Seventh Day Baptist Church to pastor a Congregational Church. Some members thought he made the change for the money, but I am certain he had other legitimate reasons. (When I was pastor in Denver, Duane and Margaret were retired and lived in our area. They attended church often and we enjoyed having them for many family meals in our home after church. It was an inspiration and a blessing to get reacquainted and share memories.)
Pastor Lester Osborn was our leader during my impressionable years – and those of several other young people in our church. Four of the boys went into pastoral ministry, no doubt inspired by him as I was. The Osborns had “Open House” on the night after Sabbath right along (Saturday night). They were great times! They had two boys, one adopted, and later adopted a girl. Mrs. Osborn always had interesting projects, like making taffy. She read us a chapter at a time of “In His Steps,” by Charles Sheldon. We played games and Pastor Osborn led us in worship at the closing.
I think I was about twelve years of age when I was baptized. That was a significant step then, and has continued so through the years. Several adults were examples of encouragement to us youth. Nanny Greeley, a maiden teacher who transferred from the Methodist church in town, was a wonderful Sabbath School teacher. Old, dignified Jesse Maris; quiet, meditative veteran Earl Stephan; jolly, friendly Allie Stephan; and many others were models to us.
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