Photo Friday: A Home For “The Needy, Aged, Feeble, and Friendless”

The Messiah Rescue and Benevolence Home in Harrisburg, Pa., circa 1901. (Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Dedicated in 1896, the Messiah Rescue and Benevolence Home was begun by the Brethren in Christ as a means by which to reach “the needy, aged, feeble, and friendless” in Harrisburg, Pa. Adults and children alike were invited into the home, where they received physical and mental care, and were invited to “a program of Christian worship, witness, and nurture.”

According to Carlton Wittlinger’s history of the Brethren in Christ,

The home accepted as its first member a non-Brethren woman thirty-three years of age, who had been ill for thirteen years. She had no financial resources and was dependent for her support upon a brother and sister who were themselves in destitute circumstances. By the beginning of July [1896], the number of members had increased to six. Three were children and three were adults. . . . [1]

Around 1900 or 1901 (the time at which today’s photo was taken), the Home realized its need to create a special facility dedicated solely to the care of children. At the same time, it faced an already-overwhelming debt and little ability to raise more funds.

Assistance came in the form of benefactress Barbara Kern (in above photo, far right) of Indianapolis, Ind., who donated more than $3,000 for construction needs. Wittlinger describes her thusly:

Herself an orphan, Miss Kern acted from a sense of appreciation for the kind of care given to her sister by a member of the Brethren in Christ Church. [2]

When the new wing of the Home was dedicated on May 19, 1901, the following statement was read:

Before we separate we will, in the fear of God, . . . set apart and dedicate to God this house . . . for the destitute and homeless children,  . . . Here may they be cared for. Here may they receive physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual instruction . . . [3]

For the complete story of the Messiah Rescue and Benevolence Home, see Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind: Evangel Press, 1978), 278.

Notes:

[1] Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel Press, 1978), 273.

[2] Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel Press, 1978), 275.

[3] Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel Press, 1978), 275-276.

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About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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2 Responses to Photo Friday: A Home For “The Needy, Aged, Feeble, and Friendless”

  1. Pingback: Photo Friday: “The Good Old Days” « the search for piety and obedience.

  2. Pingback: Photo Friday: Building Messiah Village | The Search for Piety and Obedience

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