The Life and Experiences of a Layman by Charles Boller

Pages 153 - 157


to succeed in this the teacher must himself, by a personal experience, know the way to the Saviour, and he must be enabled to say with our dear brother Paul: The love of Christ constraineth us.

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69. Address given at the Sunday-School Convention, Niagara Falls, August 10

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"The Sunday-school in 1849 in the New York Conference, and the Sunday-school in 1910."

The deaconess work is a German plant and succeeds best upon German soil. The Sunday school is an English plant and succeeds best upon English soil. The wise can read between the lines. I say this because I cannot go into details.

The first Sunday after my conversion, attending the Sunday school, I found the same in a very primitive state, struggling for its existence. The congregation held four quarterly meetings annually, at which occasions almost the entire circuit met, having a glorious time. However, the Sunday school had to be discontinued and no Sunday school was held


when quarterly meetings were held, and hence, very little attention was given to the lambs.

In those days it was an exception to find a Sunday school connected with a country appointment, and it required a great effort to induce a Presiding Elder to address a Sabbath school. My spiritual father, who was elected Presiding Elder, when asked to speak to the school replied: "I have not the gift to speak to Sunday school scholars." At that time a timely and salted article appeared in the "Botschafter" headed: "Our children have no minister," by Bishop J. J. Esher. It was in the year 1868 when the opinion was strongly expressed that more could be done for our children if a minister would be engaged who could devote his time to the best interest of the Sunday school cause and work, sonewhat as General Secretary, F. C. Berger, is now doing.

To accomplish this, a petition, containing 100 names from the 1st Church in Buffalo, was sent to the Annual Conference, convening in Liverpool, N.Y., with the promise that they would pay the expenses of such a man. Brother G. Hofheins and myself were delegated by the congregation to attend the Conference for the


purpose of advocating the matter. Entering the church, Brother J. Siegrist, Secretary, was reading the petition sent to the Conference. After the reading of the same, addressing the chair, Bishop J. J. Long, (who was then presiding for the last time in the New York Conference), said: "Worthy Bishop, two brethren from Buffalo just entered the room and they can furnish us with all the necessary information concerning this petition." In an earnest manner the Bishop arose from his chair as a patriarch and said: "If the brethren have enough moral courage to stand before such an esteemed body, they are now at liberty to do so." This remark, made by the chair, caused the Brother, who was to address the Conference, to have an attack of "Canon-fever," so that he felt that he would rather crawl into a mouse-hole. However, he soon revived and was ready to fire. The Lord gave strength and the Holy Spirit to speak for 15 minutes, with great freedom concerning this matter, in a clear and convincing way making a good impression upon the members of the Conference, and especially the Bishop. After the Brother had finished his speech the Bishop replied in such a


forcible way as if it came from the upper world. "Brethren, we should have done more for our youth than what he [sic] have done till this present time. I am glad that such a movement has been called into existence, especially because it has been brought about by our lay members and is burning."

After due deliberation this matter was referred to a committee, which reported the next day as follows: "We consider the matter as a very desirable and timely movement, however, we regret to report that in view of the fact that the appropriate man for this work is lacking in our Conference, and furthermore,
Whereas, We need all the men we have to fill the appointments, it is impossible to comply with the request of the petitioners at the present time." Lo, the thermometer pointed suddenly to zero, and all our grand air-castles vanished. What now?

We then approached the influential men of the Conference and the Bishop privately. However, we had to content ourselves with the good promises they gave for the future. Not being satisfied with promises, I said: "Goerge, what will we do now?" "Go home!" "No


Sir - No Sir - Never!" Suddenly the thought arose in me. Why not suggest to Conference to hold a Sunday schol Convention and get the ball a-rolling. Perhaps Conference will endorse it. Knowing that the Bishop favored a convention, the chair granted us the privilege to submit to the Conference our request, when we asked the chair for permission to address the body. After speaking three times, explaining to Conference the great need of such a convention, a brother made the motion, which was seconded, that the New York Conference hold a Sunday school Convention this year. The motion prevailed without a dissenting vote. This was the birth of the first Sunday school convention in the Evangelical Association. Praise the Lord!

Suddenly two or three brethren raised the question: "Where is the Sunday school convention to be held?" The Bishop answered: "There where the fire started to burn. In the First Church, Buffalo, N.Y." Also the time of the convention was then appointed.

We, with renewed courage, continued the work, making it kown, [sic] wherever we could, that


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

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks