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The Best Laid Plans

From 1927 until 1937 Kenneth and Margaret Landon were Presbyterian missionaries in Siam, present-day Thailand. While there Margaret became interested in missionary history. After her arrival she realized that she was part of a much larger community and a continuity of ministry that went back many years.

Edna ColeMargaret became interested in three missionary women that traveled to Siam on the S.S. Peking in the fall of 1878. Interestingly all of their surnames began with “C.” These women were Belle Caldwell of Wheeling, West Virginia, Mary Margaretta Campbell of Lexington, Indiana, and, Edna Sarah Cole of St. Joseph, Missouri. Campbell and Cole, former schoolmates, were assigned to work in Chiengmai in northern Siam and Caldwell to a girls school in Bangkok. In 1880 Caldwell married fellow Presbyterian missionary John Newton Culbertson. They left the field in 1881. That same year, in February, Edna Cole’s partner, Mary Campbell, drowned while a brief vacation. This left Cole as the last of the three to remain in ministry in Siam.

Edna Cole graduated from the Female Seminary in Oxford, Ohio (later absorbed into Miami University of Ohio) and remained on the field until 1923. She later moved from Chiengmai to the Wang Lang School for Girls–where Caldwell had served. The Wang Lang School was succeeded by Wattana Wittay Academy. Landon saw Cole as the true founder of women’s education in Siam. This is what prompted Landon to write her first book on Cole after her own return from Siam in 1937. Landon had access to all of Cole’s correspondence to her sister while in Siam, but only if she would use them in St. Joseph, Missouri. With a family that included three small children and a husband seeking permanent employment after resigning from missionary service staying in St. Joseph to conduct research was not feasible.

Margaret had to give up her project on Cole (who died at 95 in 1950), however, several years later, once settled in Washington, D.C. Landon was able to complete another book project. Anna and the King of Siam was not the story that Landon wished to write. It was not her best laid plan, but it was the one could be completed. Landon’s interest in Siam missions history had been aroused and continued throughout her writing career. She found the missionaries in Siam to be some of the most interesting and unusual people. Landon’s second book, Never Dies the Dream, a semi-autobiographical story of a female missionary running a girl’s school in Siam, was a way for her to sustain that interest.

Jesus Freaks

Jesus PeopleThe late 1960s and early 70s were years of tremendous ideological upheaval in the United States, not only in secular culture but also within the church. Christian youth, frustrated with staid worship and lifeless routine, longed for energetic, artistic expression. The Jesus Freaks were not seeking new content for their faith, but instead desired a re-packaging of traditional messages with brighter, hipper wrappings. An example is Larry Norman’s widely-popular song, I Wish We’d All Been Ready, its lyrics lamenting the absence of the unsaved in Heaven after the Rapture of 1 Thess. 4:16-17, the instantaneous “catching away” of Earth’s Christian population immediately preceding the worldwide Tribulation. Norman sets to music doctrines advanced in Hal Lindsey’s best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), which attempts to succinctly outline biblical end-time events from a premillennial perspective. Another influential text of this time-period is Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible, a paraphrasing of the scriptures in modern idiom. Jesus PeopleIn his autobiography, My Life: A Guided Tour, Taylor expresses satisfaction that his work spoke to this audience: “These were the early days of the Jesus People Movement and, concurrently, the charismatic movement. One leader of the charismatics gave me his opinion that Living Psalms was one of the chief sources of nurture within the movement…This youth rebellion took some destructive and damaging forms, but at the same time it produced a sort of counterrevolution…Suddenly great numbers of young people in their late teens and twenties were turning to Christ for the answers they were so sincerely seeking…[They] were a receptive target for the fresh, up-to-date vocabulary and contemporary style of the Living version of the Bible.”

Recently an individual wrote to the Special Collections with appreciation for the influence of the Living Bible: “As a high schooler from 1970 to 1974, [Ken Taylor’s] Reach Out version of the Living Bible made a big difference in a lot of the young people of that era, me included. [H]is dedication to having the Bible in an easy to read format was so novel, so new, that it seems hard to believe now in the 21st century! So praise be to our Lord for using Mr. Taylor to bring the Good News to so many young, impressionable people who are now aging ‘young adults’!”

From Five Cents to Fifty Thousand Dollars…

When Jonathan Blanchard came to Wheaton he was brought to the Illinois Institute to resurrect the failing school. He was known for his connections and his fund-raising–having saved Knox College from financial despair and leaving it with hearty reserves.

Thaddeus StevensIn February 1868 Blanchard wrote to Thaddeus Stevens, the radical Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, “…I am building a college building as a breakwater against secret societies and all like abominations, for which I want fifty thousand dollars more than are provided: and if, after providing for those who have been faithful to you and your principles, you have any sum from five cents to fifty thousand dollars to leave for the erection of the main building of Wheaton College Ill. and I survive you, I will see every cent you give sacredly devoted to that object and if you leave and (sic) considerable sum the building will bear your name.”

Under Jonathan Blanchard’s plan the completed limestone building atop the hill of center-campus would have been called Stevens Hall and would not have borne his own name. A newspaper report indicates that the completion of the tower was marked by shouting, cheers, a “comparatively feeble” ringing of the bell, and a raising of “the glorious old stars and stripes.” Jonathan Blanchard’s office was “elegantly fitted up” the same day as a surprise for the president.

When Jonathan Blanchard retired as president in 1882, the building remained asymmetrical–built out mainly to the west. In 1890 the east side of the building was flanked with an addition with a full wing, to complement the west wing, being added in 1927. The 1890 addition included a museum, laboratories, and the first library. Other portions of the building contained the above mentioned president’s office, a prayer room, laundry, apartments and classrooms.

So Send I You

So Send I You

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

So send I you — to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known;
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you — to know my love alone.

So send I you — to leave your life’s ambitions,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long and love where men revile you,

So send I you — to lose your life in mine.

Margeret ClarksonThis hymn, So Send I You, has been called the greatest missionary hymn of the twentieth century. A lonely and scared young teacher wrote it as she contemplated her isolation — a loneliness that pervaded her heart and soul. Margaret Clarkson experienced loneliness of every kind — mental, cultural, and spiritual — as she began teaching at a logging camp during the depths of The Great Depression in northern Ontario, Canada. She wrote these words of pain and suffering.

However years later she would see the “one-sidedness” of this hymn and compose a newer version — one that reflected her growth and rest in Christ.

So send I you — by grace made strong
To triumph o’er hosts of hell,
O’er darkness, death and sin
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer
So send I you, my victory to win

Lawson Field

Victor LawsonThe tract of land called Lawson Field was the gift of Victor Fremont Lawson (1850-1925), friend of Wheaton College and proprietor of the Chicago Daily News — known as a publisher with a conscience. In 1900 when the field was dedicated, acreage, fencing and stands cost about $1500. For the following 90 years Lawson Field was the on-campus home of Wheaton baseball; it now functions as training grounds for various intramural sports programs. Another landmark named after the philanthropic publisher is the Lawson YMCA, a 25-storey art deco structure located at 30 W. Chicago Ave, erected in the early 1930s. The elegant River North edifice, once the flagship for the Metropolitan Chicago Y, was utilized from time to time as additional off-campus housing for Moody Bible Institute students. On the Southside, the University of Chicago’s Divinity School boasts Victor Lawson Tower, designed as a compromise between the classic church-style spire and traditional square-style educational architecture. The chapel’s windows are patterned after the stained-glass in Chartres Cathedral in France; and its cloisters display stones from Christian sites the world over. Lawson met his wife, Jessie, an aggressive real estate developer, in a church choir at Green Lake, WI. After honeymooning there in 1888, they purchased for their summer home 10 acres of land once occupied by Winnebago Indians and settlers. Initially calling it Lone Tree Farm, the Lawsons gradually added more properties until their vast estate, now called “Lawsonia,” comprised 1,100 acres. After the death of its owners, Lawsonia fell into various hands until the General Baptist Convention bought it in 1943 for $300,000. The GBC currently manages the grounds, known as Green Lake Conference Center. As a youngster Lawson attended Chicago’s first Norwegian Evangelical Church; as an adult he took active membership in The New England Church. During his career he was a generous contributor to the Congregational Missionary and Extension Society. A civic and ecclesiastical benefactor, Lawson’s kindness extended to the workplace as well. Historian John J. McPhaul writes in Deadlines & Monkeyshines: The Fabled World of Chicago Journalism, that the pious, fair-minded Lawson “…gave his staffers turkeys [at] Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Victor Lawson’s grave, located in Chicago’s famed Graceland Cemetery, is marked with a granite crusader bearing sword and shield, symbolizing his sacrificial, militant spirit. It was sculpted by Lorado Taft, who oversaw all stonework for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Lawson’s papers are housed at the Newberry Library.

Casual Worship

V. Raymond EdmanI recently drove past a church and its sign said “Casual Worship, 9:30 a.m.” I know what they meant as they placed this message on their sign, but it also can communicate something completely different. The sign could have some unintended consequences. Evangelicalism is exhibiting signs of broad differences of opinion in the area of worship. As one segment goes further into minimizing worship styles to appeal to a wider unchurched public another segment seeks to retain or heighten the liturgy that has been a part of the church for over a millennia.

V. Raymond Edman’s last chapel address, and his last sermon, was also his last moment on earth. On September 22, 1967, unbeknownst to him he made the topic of his address the topic of worship and how one enters into the presence of a king. The story of this event has reached hagiographic proportions as the fuller story is not told. Edman was preaching about being in the presence of the King, but he wasn’t preaching about this as he faltered and fell to the floor. He had been chiding students about their casual worship–about their wearing ball-caps into chapel, about their chatter as worship began and about their general sense of informality “in the presence of the king.” He was preaching against those who would use the chapel time, and pulpit, to advance their own agenda.

After Edman’s death an edited pamphlet was produced that emphasized the better parts of this final address–the parts that Edman certainly meant to the primary focus of his talk. His biography, written by Earl Cairns, was titled In The Presence of the King.

The Archives & Special Collections has placed the text of the pamphlet online, along with a link to a fuller recording.

Francis Schaeffer And the Shaping of Evangelical America recently published

Francis Schaeffer And the Shaping of Evangelical AmericaContinuing the Eerdman’s Library of Religious Biography series (edited by Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch and Allen Guelzo), Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America seeks to provide a ciritical biography of this noted evangelical figure.

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was probably the single greatest intellectual influence on young evangelicals of the 1960s and ’70s. He was cultural critic, popular mentor, political activist, Christian apologist, founder of L’Abri, and the author of over twenty books and two important films. It is impossible to understand the intellectual world of contemporary evangelicalism apart from Francis Schaeffer.

Barry Hankins explains how Schaeffer was shaped by the contexts of his life — from young fundamentalist pastor in America, to greatly admired mentor, to lecturer and activist who encouraged world-wary evangelicals to engage the culture around them. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including personal interviews and materials housed in the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections, Hankins paints a picture of a complex, sometimes flawed, but ultimately prophetic figure in American evangelicalism and beyond.

This volume should provide more information into the life of Francis Schaeffer–in addition to the recently published Crazy for God, the autobiography of Frank Schaeffer, Francis and Edith Schaeffer’s son.

Grand-Papa Hemingway

Blanchard RecommendationRecently, the Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections obtained a letter penned by Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard as a recommendation for alumnus Anson T. Hemingway, grandfather to Ernest Hemingway. The College Archives purchased the letter and photograph of Anson in his later years from a dealer via eBay (a great deal of history goes up for sale on this site daily). The letter makes a strong connection between Jonathan Blanchard and Anson Hemingway, as well as helping establish the context in which Ernest Hemingway grew up.

Anson Tyler Hemingway, the son of Allen Hemingway and Harriet Louisa Tyler, was born in East Plymouth, Connecticut in 1844. The family came to Chicago in 1854 and within ten years all three Hemingway brothers had enlisted in the Civil War. Anson served in the Army as a private with the 72nd Illinois Regiment and fought in the deadly Battle of Vicksburg. He later re-enlisted in Company H, US Colored 70th Regiment as 1st Lieutenant and also served as provost martial of the Freedman’s Bureau in Natchez. Anson’s other two brothers died during the war.

Anson T. HemingwayAfter his time in the military, Anson attended Wheaton College. After two years of study, as a friend and admirer of Dwight L. Moody, he went on to serve as general secretary of the Chicago YMCA for ten years before establishing a real estate business in Oak Park, Illinois. Anson married fellow Wheaton student Adelaide Edmonds, who graduated in 1867. Together they had four sons and two daughters. An avid outdoorsman, Anson gave his grandson Ernest a special tenth birthday present of a 20-gauge shotgun, believed to have sparked the future author’s lifelong hunting pursuits. Anson Hemingway passed away in 1926 at the age of eighty-two.

Humble Beginnings

Today, December 14th, over one-hundred and fifty years ago the first classes were held in the basement of a yet-complete building atop a hill in section 16, township 39. Milton Township in Dupage County, like many other townships in the burgeoning Midwest, took advantage of legislation that enabled townships to use land in section 16 for schools.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church was begun in 1843 as response to ambivalence over slavery by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Founders of this church were Orange Scott, Lucius Matlack, Luther Lee and LaRoy Sunderland. In the late 1840s the Illinois Annual Conference of the Wesleyan Methodists sought to establish a school where they could educate their children and advance their reform beliefs, especially against slavery. Since Wheaton offered favorable terms, according to Rufus Blanchard, it was chosen as the seat of this school. He further notes, “Preparations for building began by the founders kneeling in the prairie grass on the summit of the beautiful hill…and dedicated the hill and all that should be upon it to that God in whom trusting they had boldly gone into the thickest of the fight, not only for the freedom of human bodies, but of human souls as well.”

View of campus, from the southwest cornerEventually, the stone building, built with limestone excavated from a quarry in nearby Batavia and hauled to the site from the train station by Gaius Howard, measured forty-five feet by seventy-five and consisted of two stories above the basement. The cost of the structure was about $10,000. During the first year the student body numbered 140 students and the second year the number rose to 270.

The first instructor and President was Rev. John Cross. Little is written about Cross, but much could be noted. His work in establishing the Underground Railroad in the Midwest is cited in short entries in dozens of works. His fuller story awaits a proper telling. The following year, after Cross left to help begin Amity College in Iowa, Rev. C. F. Winship took the helm for a year, after which he became a missionary to West Africa. Rev. George P. Kimball, fresh from Amity serving with Cross, taught alongside Miss Pierce and Rufus Blanchard until1855 when, as Rufus Blanchard relates in his county history, Rev. J A. Martling became “Principal of the first collegiate year,” as the Illinois Institute had bee chartered by the State of Illinois as a college in 1855. Professor Freeborn Garretson Baker filled in, as well, until September 1856 when Rev. Lucius C. Matlack, who had been chosen president some years before, took on his role as president.

During the early years of the Illinois Institute the school rested on a solid financial foundation having designed to secure a permanent endowment fund of $100,000, by the sale of scholarships. However, like many schools of the time, particularly Wesleyan schools, thousands of dollars in pledges went unpaid for scholarships that had been redeemed. The Illinois Institute began receiving transfer students from other Wesleyan schools, like the Leoni School in Michigan, that were struggling financially. Shortly after Matlack became president the United States underwent a significant financial crisis, which later prompted a national revival. Matlack did all he could to raise funds but was unsuccessful and the trustees pressured him to resign as the school consumed its endowment and was thousands of dollars in debt. Not wanting to leave the school adrift Matlack suggested bringing in Jonathan Blanchard who was known as a strong leader and fundraiser–having brought Knox College from the financial brink to solvency. Matlack resigned in 1859 noting: “I have no salary, no revenue, and am in debt.”

The trustees agreed with Matlack’s idea and approached Blanchard to lead the school forward if he would continue the school’s anti-slavery, temperance, and oath-bound societies beliefs. Blanchard agreed and stipulated that the charter should be changed so that the trustee board be self-governing and composed as Blanchard saw fit. The transition was smooth and the board expanded. The Wheaton College minutes declared “The college hereafter is to be under the control of Orthodox Congregationalists with the cooperation of its founders and our friends, the Wesleyans.”

In January, 1860, President Blanchard entered upon the duties of his office. The name of the institution was changed to Wheaton College, and the charter was amended by the Legislature of 1861. The first class of seven young men, all of them from the regular college course, graduated on the 4th of July, 1860. Wheaton would reconnect with the Wesleyans decades later when the Wesleyan Theological Seminary opened in 1881. It closed in 1889 after financial and personnel difficulties.

Cramped Quarters

Siberian SevenImagine that for five years you are living in a dirty cramped 12-foot by 20-foot basement room that is heaped full of boxes and other material in an office building in a major city. In this room are six others who must live and sleep together and with only two beds.

This was the experience of seven Siberian Pentecostals who sought refuge from religious persecution in the American Embassy in Moscow in 1978. It would 1983 before even one of them was able to leave. That one person was Lida Vashchenko.

In 1978 seven Siberian Pentecostals crashed past Soviet guards and into the United States embassy seeking help in emigrating from the Soviet Union because of religious persecution. Pyotr Vashchenko, Augustina, and their three daughters, Lidiya, Lyubov and Liliya along with fellow Christian believers Mariya Chmykhalov and her son Timofei had traveled 2,000 miles by rail from the Siberian town of Cherno-gorsk.

Starting in 1961, Siberian officials began harsh anti-Christian campaigns and routinely disrupted Christian worship services and jailed many Pentecostal leaders. The Vashchenko children faced harassment at school — ridicule, ostracism and beatings. The following year the Vashchenkos decided to educate them at home, but the state ruled them unfit and removed their daughters from the home and placed them in state homes until they turned 16. In January 1963, while Pyotr was in prison, Augustina and fellow Pentecostals made international headlines for forcing their way into the U.S. embassy seeking asylum. When they were promised better treatment they left. However, the Vashchenko’s home was confiscated, their jobs were lost and they were imprisoned.

Known to the outside world as “the Siberian Seven,” they lived as uninvited guests in a grubby 12-foot by 20-foot room in the basement of the U.S. embassy on Moscow’s bustling Tchaikovsky Street. They shared two beds and earned small change around the embassy washing cars, knitting garments, cleaning rooms.

Inspired by Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov, after three and a half years in the embassy basement Augustina and Lidiya Vashchenko began a hunger strike — stopping their eating in a desperate bid to win world attention and shame the Soviets into relenting. Their health failed quickly. Their plan worked as the severity of their situation gained international attention and the hunger strike became life-threatening. However, Pyotr Vashchenko was opposed to their tactics because of his understanding of the Christian teaching against suicide.

While in the embassy, the group completed a 225,000-word account of their heart-rending saga, reworked by John Pollock as The Siberian Seven. Their experiences reveal the sufferings that Christians behind the Iron Curtain had been compelled to bear. It has been noted that the case of the Siberian Seven is a good example of the gravity of the human rights situation that existed inside the Soviet Union.

Kent HillThe Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections acquired the papers of Kent Hill that related to the Siberian Seven. Hill, former president of Eastern Nazarene College and former director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, was studying in Moscow on a Fullbright scholarship when the seven sought refuge. Hill eventually received, and later translated, copies of their papers that they had compiled to document their charges of persecution and oppression. These papers tell a story of human rights violations and religious persecution. The collection (SC-52) contains diaries, correspondence, photographs, and other manuscript material.