Photo Friday: A New Home – and a New (Kind of) Church Paper – in Nappanee, Ind.

The first home of Evangelical Visitor Publishing House (later Evangel Publishing House) in Nappannee, Ind., where the Brethren in Christ Church relocated its press in 1919. Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives.

When Vernon Stump of Nappanee, Ind., succeeded George Detweiler as the editor of the Evangelical Visitor in 1919, the publication was just over thirty years old. Still in its infancy, the paper — which included “[n]ews of church life, sharing of personal testimonies and needs, promotion of common beliefs, and the publicizing of brotherhood enterprises” [1] — was fast becoming a critical component of denominational life among the geographically disbursed Brethren in Christ Church.

Today’s Photo Friday shows the first location of the publishing house following its move from Harrisburg, Pa., to Nappanee, Ind. — where it has remained (at various physical locations) for almost a century.

The move was precipitated by Stump’s installment as editor — by no means a minor transition. Stump’s move into the editorship followed the expulsion of Detweiler, an apparent political move meant to install as editor someone with significant sympathies toward the Wesleyan Holiness doctrine of second-work sanctification, which was quickly gaining ground with much of the denomination.

As Carlton Wittlinger reports:

The appointment of Orville Ulery to the Publication Board in 1916, and to its chairmanship the following year, set the stage for perfectionist influence of the church paper. There was little chance that Editor Detweiler, advocate of the historic doctrine of sanctification [as a process, not a second crisis], and Chairman Ulery, champion of second-work holiness, could coexist indefinitely in their respective offices. The fact that Vernon Stump, a gifted young man whose holiness views coincided with those of Ulery, was available for the Visitor editorship encouraged the perfectionists to raise the issue of Detweiler’s removal. [2]

When he was finally removed as editor by the 1918 conference, Detweiler was told that “the Publication Board has deemed it advisable for the future welfare of the Evangelical Visitor to shift the editorial mantle to younger shoulders.” [3] Though he doubted the total veracity of this claim, he graciously turned the editorship over to his “worthy successor,” Stump. [4]

After the handover to Stump and the move to Nappanee, Ind., Wittlinger recalls that

[t]he new editor forthwith converted the paper into a holiness journal. His masthead was more doctrinally oriented than that of his predecessor. It announced that the paper was:

Committed to the teaching of Justification, Sanctification, The Second Coming of Christ, Divine Healing, and all sacred ordinances and truth pertaining to the Christian life. . . .

This marked the end of an era during which the Brethren [in Christ] believed that vigorous presentation of differing points of view in the church periodical furthered truth and unity. [5]

As such, the move to Nappanee meant not just a new home for the Evangelical Visitor, but a new kind of church paper altogether.

Notes:

[1] Carlton Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience (Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel Press, 1978), 269.

[2] Ibid., 327.

[3] General Conference Minutes, 1918, Article 41, 43, cited in Wittlinger, 339.

[4] [George Detweiler], Evangelical Visitor, December 16 & 30, 1918, 3, cited in Wittlinger, 339.

[5] Wittlinger, 328.

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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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One Response to Photo Friday: A New Home – and a New (Kind of) Church Paper – in Nappanee, Ind.

  1. Ken says:

    Devin – Good & interesting piece.

    This bit made me smile: “. . .an apparent political move meant to install as editor someone with significant sympathies toward the Wesleyan Holiness doctrine of second-work sanctification. . .”

    A political move? Politics in church life? It’s nice to know that Solomon was correct about there being nothing new under the sun. :>)

    People are people with a mixed bag of motivations.

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