The Life and Experiences of a Layman by Charles Boller

Pages 48 - 52

all, especially the children; many others enjoyed the tricks performed before our eyes.

Twice a week the flees were fed and they were housed in a cotton-filled little box. "One cannot teach all flees these tricks," the professor said.

There are many boys and girls in the Sunday school for whom the loving God cannot be made into an everyday thing.

Moral: If one can teach such a tiny animal this art how much greater is the possibility of eliciting something extraordinary from small boys and girls when they apply themselves.


16. The Birthplace of the Sunday School Convention in the Evangelical Community in the Year 1867


People were of the opinion that more could be done concerning issues of the Sunday schools in the New York Conference, thus a minister was assigned to the task and all his time was devoted to this work in somewhat the same manner as Brother Berger dedicates all his time and efforts today.

In order to fulfill this goal a petition containing the names of one hundred members of the First Church of the Evangelical Community in Buffalo was sent to the conference being held in Liverpool, N.Y. The petition contained a promise to provide full financial support for said minister and Sunday school missionary. Brother G. Hofheins and I were sent to the conference in order to promote our interests in the matter. As we entered the general conference hall Minister J. Siegrist, Secretary of the conference and former minister of the First Church in Buffalo, was reading the petition. When he finished he went to the chairman, Bishop Lang, who was presiding as chairman for the last time over the New York conference. He spoke the following words: "Worthy Bishop Lang, here are two brothers from Buffalo who can give you further information on the affair we read about." The Bishop rose in a serious and patriarchal manner and said, "When such brothers have sufficient moral conviction to stand before such an august body, give them the opportunity to discuss the matter further." With this remark from the Bishop the brother, who was supposed to lead the discussion, had a dreadful case of cannon fever and just wanted to crawl into a mousehole.

In the end however he did not throw his rifle into the field, rather he bounced back, reloaded and returned to his post. The Lord gave him power and lent him His Holy Spirit so that he was able to speak with a joyfilled heart for approximately twenty minutes on the subject which made a firm and good impression on the members of the conference as well as the beloved bishop. "Brother," he said in an other-worldly tone, "Brother, we should be doing more for our youth. My heart rejoices that this movement is being called to life by the laity and that it is beginning to kindle." A lively discussion followed and a committee was appointed which was to report the next day. The report stated: "We are of the opinion that this matter is a noble and a timely one. We thoroughly regret that at present there is no man who is eligible and qualified at the conference. At this time we do not have enough men to work in all the workman's fields." Alas, the thermometer plummeted to zero. The beautiful balloon burst. What now? Good advice was priceless. We privately went to the most influential men in the

conference and also for the last time to the bishop, who gave us good promises for the future but we were not pacified. "George, what shall we do now?" I asked my traveling companion. He responded, "We go home." To this I replied, "No Sir, no Sir!" A remarkable thought occurred to me, namely that we have a Sunday school convention for the conference, thus making a start. Perhaps, I thought, this will find approval. Through the bishop we were given permission to lay this notion before the men of God. The bishop delivered a brief, approving speech concerning this matter and a brother made a proposal, which was seconded by another that as a conference we hold a Sunday school convention. Thus the first Sunday school convention in the Evangelical Community was born. Praise God!

Many asked: "Where should it be held?" The Bishop answered, "There, where the fire burns! At the First Congregation in Buffalo, N.Y." The time was set and we worked with great diligence for it. Annoucements were sent out. We invited the brothers

and friends in Canada to attend the conference. Special emphasis was placed on inviting the editors. R. Dubs and R. Yäckel accepted the invitation. We met the brothers at the train station. As we were leading the way to the convention they asked us, "What will happen tomorrow? What agenda have you prepared?" I had to answer, "We have nothing to give to you editors. That's why we've come to you." That will make a good impression, I thought to myself. No one knows anything. In the end, when need is the greatest, God is nearest. The Lord was present at the beginning of the convention. The Holy Spirit worked mightily in the first assembly right up to the end. The chief men of the Sunday school represented the conference district. The brothers from Canada were also plentifully represented. Two bishops honored the convention with their presence and participation. Every seat in the church was filled. Everyone rejoiced over the newborn child and the privilege of attending a Sunday school convention. It was decided to hold a united Sunday school convention next year at the Canada conference.

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Text provided by Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo, BX8080.B65

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks