Sunday, May 29, 2011

Southern Indiana Amish

Southern Indiana Amish

Southern Indiana has some of the most beautiful farmland in the country. And where there are good farms you will usually find the Amish. While visiting in this area we visited the Gasthof Amish Village for a remarkable lunch. Their 92 acres include a hotel, a restaurant, antiques and craft shops, and access to a 25 acre lake.

When we arrived it was sprinkling, and first stopped at a building with things from yesteryears. Because of our hunger, we viewed this building but for a short few minutes and moved over to where the restaurant was.

The large buffet with the authentic Amish recipes prepared by Amish women was fantastic and worth the trip. The meal is served in a rustic building, constructed by Amish carpenters in traditional mortise-tenon joints and pegs style, using Indiana oak and poplar timber. Their bakery had fresh homemade pies, bread, noodles, cookies and cakes every day.

The gift shop has locally produced Amish crafts and food. And the lodging and meeting facilities offered a distinctive banquet and retreat space for most any kind of group.

A visit here will give you the experience of a blend of Amish history and heritage found only at Gasthof Amish Village.

Amish tradition is alive and well in the growing Amish community of Daviess County, Indiana. Theirs is a story of tradition and faith; of family and time-honored values, with roots running deep into the very soil that sustains them.

The young Amish girl who waited on us told us that just north of the village were at many Amish homes, farms and businesses. She gave us a map of many in the area. After leaving we decided that we would drive into this area and to our amazement saw many buggies and men working in the fields.

We also found a store owned by an old order Amish family with many Amish coming in to buy. This was a very interesting experience as we assimilated it with people of another culture.

Many Amish consider themselves to be of the Anabaptist religion, a group which participated in the Christian reformation. Originating from the teachings of Menno Simmons of the Mennonite faith, the Amish parted ways with the Mennonites in the 17th century.

The history of the Amish in this area is very interesting and I will share some of the things I learned. An Amish gentleman at the store and I struck up a conversation, whose his name was Wagler, which is a common name in this area. History reveals that Eli Wagler, an Amish preacher in Daviess County, holds fast to his Amish roots and is considered a kind of historian of this community. “The Amish grew out of the Anabaptist religion,” said Wagler. “We believe in a simple life; we have little use for the modern technology and conveniences used outside of our community.” He added that the Amish school of thought also promotes the separation of church and state, and dictates standards regarding clothing and method of worship.

According to Wagler, ancestors of Daviess County’s original Amish settlers came from Canada to settle in Northern Indiana in the early 19th century. In this 20 square mile area is now home to some 7,000 Amish people living a mostly Old Order Amish life. Names like Stoll, Graber and Wagler are common in the community and they can trace their ancestors back to France, Switzerland and other areas of Europe in the 19th century and earlier. However, another lady of whom I conversed said she was Mennonite and not Old Order. Only the color of her dress and prayer covering was different.

Amish families observe a strict adherence to not conducting business on Sunday. Church services are held in different Amish homes twice monthly and use a liturgy that is centuries old. Along with churches and businesses, Amish schools are scattered about the community to serve its educational needs. Students study in private Amish schools through the eighth grade. The Amish of Daviess County treasure their German heritage, with German often the first language learned by many Amish children.

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” -Isaiah 58:12 (KJV)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No Sunday this week


The most remote area of the world I've ever visited was an island known as the Republic of Kiribati. Six years ago my wife and I arrived on this island that had no electricity, no running water, and no sanitation. The people were unaware of most advances in the world.

Kiribati lies 228 miles north of the equator. That's 153 miles northwest of Christmas Island, 260 miles a little east and north from Jarvis Island, 75 miles southeast of Washington Island, and 200 miles southeast of Palmyra Island. That didn't help you with its location, did it?

Try this. The first dawn over land to begin our new Millennium just 11 years ago, was to break near remote Dibble Glacier in icy Antarctica at 12:08 a.m. local time, but Kiribati was to be the first country to witness the sunrise of the third Millennium at 5:43 a.m. on January 1, 2000.

Sometime on Saturday, a group of people on the ship learned that I was a minister and asked me to conduct Sunday services. I made the necessary preparations. When we arrived for service, I was surprised to see the island was filled with activity by the local population, but the church was empty. The problem? We had crossed the International dateline the night before. That was the first time in my 70 years that I lost a Sunday because we had docked on Monday.

After a day on the island, we started our trip back northward and re-crossed the date line. We left on Monday and the next day we had another Monday. It appeared unusual as I recorded in my notebook the notes of my journey: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Monday, etc. But, no Sunday! A day I will never regain. However, they did get a Sunday service. But it was on Monday.

Since I have traveled much of the world, I have a hobby of always mailing myself a card. So on Sept. 26, 2004 I mailed it with a Kiribati stamp, but did not receive it until Feb. 26, 2005. That means it took 153 days or just over five months to arrive to me in Farmington, Missouri where I now live.

This caused me to remember that every day passes and what we have done cannot be redone or relived. This should remind us that we should live everyday like there is not going to be a next day.

Psalm 113:3 “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised.”

The Lord’s Prayer below is in the language of these little islands add to the remoteness of this area of the world:
Tamara are i karawa, a na tabuaki aram. E na roko ueam: E na tauaki am taeka i aon te aba n ai aron tauana i karawa. Ko na añanira karara ae ti a tau iai n te boñ aei. Ao ko na kabara ara buakaka mairoura n ai arora ñkai ti kabara te buakaka mairouia akana ioawa nako ira. Ao tai kairira nakon to kaririaki, ma ko na kamaiuira man to buakaka; ba ambai te uea, ao te maka, ae to neboaki, n aki toki. Amene.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dreams Still Exist

Dreams still exist

Returning to Ohio has afforded me the opportunity to see many of my dreams started in the decade of the 70's, not only continuing, but many times larger than when I left.

One such event is the annual Minister’s and Laymen retreat started in 1975 where a small group of 45 attended at Big Prairie at an older winterized camping facility. Our speakers were Henry Van Kluve, Herman Hersey and Roy Thomas. The latter two have moved on to their reward, but I remember this meeting well. Men from our Akron church prepared the meals and the services were in an informal fashion, but it was the beginning of something that would bring our men together. And it has!

This year this continuing event, now called Ohio Men’s Retreat, had 518 (Shown Above) who attended at Heartland Retreat Center in Marengo, Ohio.

Over these 35 years this retreat has had great speakers and continued growth. It grew steadily in those early years until 1993 when I moved on. To say the least, God has honored this

yearly event.

I am so thankful that my successor, Rev. Edwin Hayes, has had the remarkable growth he continues to have.

This event is made up mainly by Christian laymen from every stratus of employment

-Bankers, Insurance executives, plant employees, ministers and down to bikers and those retired. But since everyone is casual no one knows the others role in life, but that his spiritual responsibility is the same before the Lord.

For 18 years I have been away from Ohio and was amazed at the new retreat facilities that house this growing group. As in times past the preaching and music were fabulous creating a closeness of all the men and bringing an in-depth inventory of their spiritual condition.

The speakers this year were both friends of mine and for whom I have great respect. This made me want to go even more.

The speakers were the Rev. Henry Horne, a native of North Carolina, who attended Bob Jones University and Free Will Baptist Bible College. In 1987 he became the Pastor of Union Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Chocowinity, North Carolina, where he has served the past 23 years. He has had a remarkable ministry at this church.

Dr. Danny Dwyer has been pastor of the Cramerton Free Will Baptist Church (North Carolina) since 2004. He holds a B.A. from FWB Bible College, a M.A. and PhD from Columbia Pacific University. Dr. Dwyer is a founding board member of Southeastern Free Will Baptist College. Not only have I known them for a long time, I have also had the privilege of speaking in both their churches. Their ministries have been fruitful ones giving them the credibility to be heard.

Even though my health was weak, I called my son and asked him to go and he prepared by leaving his successful insurance business to take me. We were both blessed. These services were filled with many surprises. One was the testimony of Jose Luis Rivera, a former light heavyweight champion of the world, who gave his testimony at the retreat.


Jose Luis Rivera grew up in the Cleveland FWB Church. He started boxing when he was very young, becoming the light heavy weight champion of Ohio and then world champion. What a great 18 minutes of acknowledgement this was. To hear his commitment to Christ was well received after being introduced by my lifelong friend, Robert Pritchard of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Cleveland where I have spoken countless times. Likewise, I have served with him in state leadership roles for many years.

At the last nights service, the Executive Secretary requested every group gather together in their room and discuss the retreat and what it had done in changing their lives.

As I entered one of the two large rooms where the men of our church slept, I immediately noticed the soberness of the occasion. As I sat down, looked over and noted a retired banker friend of mine as he gave his testimony. Another, an insurance agent responded and wept pleading with God to help he and his family. An engineer expressed his nearness to Christ because of the meeting, while a commercial painter was filled with the goodness of God. Thereafter, in a spontaneous review, many stated their blessings and later many began to reveal their spiritual needs and asked each to pray for them.

What a blessing for me to listen and feel these responses and what the retreat was to them.

Yes, what was started years ago has grown to endear the hearts of these men who return year after year and bring new men every year to share in His abundant grace. And this is because everyone knows he will one day meet a righteous God.

“The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”-- (Ruth 2:12)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Largest Pottery in the United States

Our Senior group takes monthly trips and our leader has always come up with usual place to visit.

Recently we visit the largest remaining pottery plant in the U.S. A. It is in Zaneville, Ohio which was among the first areas of the nation’s interior to be settled in the late 1700’s following the Revolutionary War. The Ohio River Valley was a path for early pioneers and a birthplace for pottery given its accessible water transportation and availability of essential raw materials, clay and sand.

Ohio’s pioneer farmers, construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal, and the production of pottery shaped Zanesville, a river town founded in 1797. Zanesville’s pottery industry grew out of necessity, the pioneer farmers’ need for inexpensive containers and tableware, made possible by rich local clay and sand deposits. Watertight containers were necessary to transport crops, grains, and other farm products up the Ohio & Erie Canal destined to the eastern markets of Philadelphia and New York, and as far south as New Orleans.

By 1850 as many as 41 potteries owned my farmers were producing in the Muskingum County area, at which time full-time commercial pottery manufactures began to emerge.

During the early 20th century, the Industrial Revolution took hold of Zanesville, coal-fired steam operations developed, electricity became available and the ceramics industry grew. Factories producing all types of household stoneware products grew rapidly, feeding a consumer demand across the nation.

Hartstone was first produced in 1976 in Chatham, New Jersey. Pat and Sharon Hart’s goal was to create beautiful, handcrafted quality articles for the preparation and presentation of food. Hartstone’s first product was the stoneware cookie mold. This product allowed home cooks to create beautifully shaped, three-dimensional cookies. The Hartstone cookie molds were an instant hit, and Hartstone grew quickly.

In 1983 Mr. Hart moved his manufacturing facility to Zanesville, Ohio because of its known pottery heritage and the availability of a facility to expand his growing business. In 1983, Hartstone began producing hand-decorated gift and tableware. As with the cookie molds, this segment of the business grew quickly and now makes up the majority of Hartstone sales.

Hartstone Pottery now operates in a building that was once operated by the JB Owens Pottery
Company, built in 1902. This beautiful old post-and-beam building, fleeced in brick, shows the scars of many alterations, including that of fire.

In the mid-1990s, the Harts sold the business to Carlisle Home Products, USA, Inc. Carlisle operated the business for approximately eight and a half years. Carlisle stopped plant production in the spring of 2005, and most factory employees found themselves without jobs.

In June, 2005, the pottery was reborn. A group of investors from Zanesville and other locales around the country, having heard the story of Hartstone, and recognizing the plight of its employees, negotiated with Carlisle for the purchase of the 12 acre pottery and all of its equipment. In the next few days rehired former employees, restarted the manufacturing processes, and reopened the on-site factory store where people can buy their pottery at reasonable prices.

Within days, loyal Hartstone customers returned to the factory store, some of them just wanting to share their enthusiasm about the reopening of a treasured landmark.

Today, one company with 1100 stores keeps the company busy producing for them along many other stores purchasing as well.

Our group enjoyed this trip and so did I.

The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. --Proverbs 17:3 (KJV)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ashlawn Home of James Monroe

Since we had visited the home of James Madison the previous time we were in the area. We decided that we would visit the home of James Monroe. Of the three presidential homes in this area, it seems to be the house that is the least impressive.

Also located near Charlottesville, Virginia, and adjacent to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, is the estate of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States. Purchased in 1793, Monroe and his family permanently settled on the property in 1799 and lived for twenty-four years. Personal debt forced Monroe to sell the plantation in 1825.

President Monroe simply called his home "Highland." It did not acquire the additional name of "Ash Lawn" until after his death.

Encouraged by his close friend, Thomas Jefferson, Monroe purchased a deed for one thousand acres of land adjacent to Monticello in 1793 for an equal number of pounds from the Carter family. The land formerly had been a part of the Blenheim Plantation owned by Champe Carter. In 1800, Monroe described his home as: "One wooden dwelling house, the walls filled with brick. One story high, 40 by 30 ft. Wooden Wing one storey high, 34 by 18 ft."

Following I am including some of the history of this estate.

Over the next 16 years, Monroe continued to add on to his home, adding stone cellars and a second story to the building. He also expanded his land holdings, which at their greatest included over 3,500 acres However, by 1815, Monroe increasingly turned to selling his land to pay for debt. By 1825, he was forced to sell his home and the property.

Edward O. Goodwin purchased Highland from Monroe at twenty dollars an acre and often referred to the property as "North Blenheim." At the time of the purchase, Monroe described Highland as containing: "a commodious dwelling house, buildings for servants and other domestic purposes, good stables, two barns with threshing machine, a grist and sawmill with houses for managers and laborers . . . all in good repair."

Goodwin sold the house and six hundred acres in 1834 and it was sold again in 1837 to Alexander Garrett. Garrett gave the property its second name which remained with it to the present day, "Ash Lawn." Over the course of thirty years, Ash Lawn–Highland was sold numerous times until 1867, when John Massey purchased it. It remained in the possession of the Massey family for the next sixty-seven years. In that time period, the family added to the house, whereupon it took on its present day appearance.

Ash Lawn–Highland was sold for the last time in 1930 to philanthropist Jay Winston Johns of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Johns family soon after opened the house to public tours and upon his death in 1974, Johns willed the property to James Monroe's alma mater, the College of William and Mary.

This house seems to be more remote than the other two presidents, but I am glad I can say we visited it. The drive is a few mile farther for the Jefferson house but was a beautiful route.

While another couple, who travels with us often, viewed the interior of the house, I soon departed the tour to sit down and later walked the grounds.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.-- John 14:2 (KJV)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Charlottesville is a Must see

A trip to Charlottesville, Virginia offers you the opportunity to visit the homes of three early American Presidents, namely; James Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson. No one should ever visit this area without taking two or three days just to visit the homes and plantations.

This was my second trip to the area, and we had planned to stay at a local hotel near the University of Virginia so we would be able to see this unusual city and the beautiful surroundings.

The first day we took an intimate look at the extraordinary house Thomas Jefferson built and furnished for himself and his family. The guided house tour covers the rooms on Monticello’s first floor and lasts about 30 minutes. The entrance hall contains recreations of items collected by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. The floor cloth here is painted a "true grass green" upon the recommendation of artist Gilbert Stuart in order for Jefferson's 'essay in architecture' to invite the spirit of the outdoors into the house. Your admission ticket also includes access to the grounds and two optional outdoor guided tours, of the Plantation Community and of the Gardens and Grounds, which are offered daily. The main house was augmented by small outlying pavilions to the north and south. A row of functional buildings (dairy, wash houses, store houses, a small nail factory, a joinery etc.) and slave dwellings known as Mulberry Row lay nearby to the south. A stone weaver's cottage survives, as do the tall chimney of the joinery, and the foundations of other buildings. A cabin on Mulberry Row was, for a time, the home of Sally Hemings; she later moved into a room in the "south dependency" below the main house. On the slope below Mulberry Row Jefferson maintained an extensive vegetable garden. The house was the center of a plantation of 5,000 acres tended by some 150 slaves.

It is a historical site and was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia. Because of his importance in our early history, this place is a must see.

It is situated on the summit of an 850-foot peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. Its name comes from the Italian "little mountain."

Work began on what historians would subsequently refer to as "the first Monticello" in 1768. Jefferson moved into the South Pavilion in 1770. Jefferson left Monticello in 1784 to serve as Minister of the United States to France. During his tenure in Europe, he had an opportunity to see some of the classical buildings with which he had become acquainted from his reading, as well as to discover the "modern" trends in French architecture that were then fashionable in Paris. His decision to remodel his own home may date from this period. In 1794, following his service as the first U.S. Secretary of State (1790–93), Jefferson began rebuilding his house based on the ideas he had acquired in Europe. The remodeling continued throughout most of his presidency (1801–09).

Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, and Monticello was inherited by his eldest daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph. Financial difficulties led to Martha selling Monticello to James T. Barclay, a local apothecary, in 1831. Barclay sold it in 1834 to Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish American to serve an entire career as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy. Levy greatly admired Jefferson. During the American Civil War, the house was seized by the Confederate government and sold, though Uriah Levy's estate recovered it after the war.

Let me mention a few tid-bits you may have forgotten. An image of the west front of Monticello has been featured on the reverse of the nickel minted since 1938 (with a brief interruption in 2004 and 2005).

Monticello also appeared on the reverse of the two-dollar bill from 1928 to 1966, when the bill was discontinued. The current bill was introduced in 1976 and retains Jefferson's portrait on the obverse but replaced Monticello on the reverse with an engraved modified reproduction of John Trumbull's painting Declaration of Independence instead. The gift shop at Monticello hands out two-dollar bills as change.

Monticello, the only private home in the United States, along with the nearby University of Virginia, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

This stop is always a highlight for me due to its historical significance.

Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places. Job 25:2 (KJV)