A Visit to Waterloo

Report from Lydia Hoover, Herald of Truth, Elkhart, Indiana, 15 March 1892.

tn_Berlin Meetinghouse

Benjamin Eby Meetinghouse in the centre of the town of Berlin, in the 1890s.

On the 28th of January, 1892, I left home ((Lydia travelled with A. Erwin and Phoebe (Hallman) Hoover, who lived on the original David Hoover homestead, next to the Rainham Mennonite Cemetery on Lakeshore Road.)) accompanied by my nephew and niece to spend a few weeks among the sisters and brethren in Waterloo. We were looking forward to this event for some time, with a great deal of pleasure, and it is needless to say that our hopes and expectations were fully realized. We are not slow to say we never enjoyed ourselves so well. Bro. Solomon Gehman met us at Galt and conveyed us to his home some five miles distant, where we found the family enjoying tolerably good health.

The 29th we reached Bro. Noah Stauffer’s ((Noah Stauffer (1842-1928) married Barbara Betzner and they lived first at Strasburg, south of Kitchener. But after Noah’s ordination to the ministry, he served the Church in many places, including Western Canada. They moved to Waterloo where they lived at the time of Lydia Hoover’s visit in 1892. Noah Stauffer was the first minister of the Ontario Mennonites to use the English language while preaching.)) ; had a very nice time there, and from thence to Berlin the 30th. The same day Bro. David Hostetler, from Wayne Co., Ohio, arrived and held meeting in the Berlin church in the evening. The following day he and Bro. Moses Bowman preached the funeral sermon of Sister Shantz. ((Hannah Bauman Shantz. From the Harold of Truth: SHANTZ.–On the 28th of January, 1892, near Berlin, Waterloo Co., Ont., of paralytic stroke, Hannah Shantz, widow of Noah C. Shantz, aged 72 years and 11 months. Her remains were laid to rest on the 31st in the Mennonite Cemetery, Berlin. Funeral services were preached by Moses Bowman, Sr., in German, and Bro. David Hostetler, Wayne Co., Ohio, in English. Sister Shantz was a consistent member for over 50 years. She had a desire which the writer feels to add, that is, that her dear children who have not made their peace with God might turn to Jesus who is waiting to give them this new life, and oh, that they may with the rest of the family live Christian lives, so that we may all meet as a dear family in the City of God. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5:1. E. H. )) She was a Consistent member of the church for many years. We have good reasons to believe she is free from all trials and is now resting with her Saviour. A large number of sorrowing friends and relatives followed the remains to their last resting place. May the comforting remarks spoken by the brethren have taken deep root in the hearts of the afflicted that they may live nearer to their Saviour to meet the loved one gone before. “Whom have I, Lord, in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”

StaufferNoah

Noah Stauffer (1842-1928). After a long eventful life, Noah died in peace, and his widow, Barbara née Betzner (1844-1928) followed him two days later.

The week was spent throughout the different churches in the County, having services once, and several times twice a day. Bro Hostetler is an able speaker in both languages; that gives him peculiar advantages. He was an entire stranger in Canada. I believe he felt at times as the Psalmist, said, “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” He has a voice of excellent strength truly, and the energy he puts forth to explain the Scriptures will not admit of any dormancy under the sound of his voice, neither to the eye nor to the heart. Most of his sermons were preached in the daytime, affording the aged people a good opportunity to get out to meeting. Occasionally some infirm people were visited. and a season of prayer and church services were held with them to the honour and glory of God.

He was joined Feb. 6th by Bro. J. S. Coffman, of Indiana. They held their first meeting at Berlin in the evening. The house was filled to the utmost, and I trust the hungry souls that were seeking after righteousness had their capacity bountifully replenished. Bro. Coffman’s friends and acquaintances seemed to welcome him warmly, he having been in their midst about a year previously. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy fruitfulness to all generations.”

The home brethren decided to have a series of meetings near Preston. One week was spent there, in labouring for the cause of Christ. The meetings were well attended, and a lively interest was felt for those who are yet straying about like lost sheep, and have no Shepherd to care for them. If a complaint was made in distress, I fancy it would be after this manner: ‘O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee, let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry: for my soul is full of troubles.” As a result thirteen souls were fully persuaded, over which there was great rejoicing, and we have good reasons to believe that many more were almost persuaded to break away, but the chain had become so iron-bound that it is as yet unbroken. May our united prayers ascend heavenward, that such souls may yet be rescued before it is too late, not merely that their souls may be saved, but that they may labour in the vineyard, as the real labourers indeed are few.

The following week was spent in the vicinity of Berlin. It was truly a time of rejoicing here to see so many ministers, yes, well-known faces, assemble to take an active part in these services; the members also assisted cheerfully. The precious truths of the Bible were revealed to us in many particulars. I feel safe to say that we will not soon forget the sermon we heard on Sunday evening, the 14th, from John 11:44. But we only heard: who will be obedient to do? It was in such perfect harmony with the Scriptures that no one can refute the statement.

tn_Eli Hallman

Eli S. Hallman (1866-1955) and Melinda née Clemens of Berlin, Ontario, at the time of their marriage in 1893. Eli first joined the Methodists but after J. S. Coffman’s revival in Ontario, he returned to the Mennonite Church. He served as a minister, and later bishop of the new Mennonite congregations in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He was the brother of Phoebe Hallman Hoover of Rainham Township.

On Wednesday, the 17th, Bros. Hostetler and Gingrich started for Markham to remain perhaps ten days. Bro. Coffman preached a funeral sermon the same day, — the infant child of Bro. Frank Shantz. He comforted the bereaved parents by the text that plainly tells us, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” May they become as their little children their end will surely be peace.

The next day the instruction meeting was held, which was to me the most important of all. I was just anxious to know how some very eager hearers could get around such a sermon, especially some who were brought up in this way, but it being too narrow they deviated somewhat. “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Let us at all times be honest with ourselves. We cannot deceive God, if we may man.

The meetings closed on Saturday evening. The converts numbered about forty-seven. We had great reasons to rejoice and pray for these souls, and may our prayers be unceasing for those who are yet to be gathered into the fold of Christ. I feel thankful toward the good people of Waterloo for their kindness, and hope we may be spared to meet again.

We left for our homes Feb. 20th, accompanied by Isaac A. Wambold, ((Minister of the Cressman Mennonite congregation at Breslau, Waterloo Township, east of the Grand River.)) as it was his appointment in Rainham the next day. He held four meetings while here. We are always pleased to have strangers call on us. The grace of God attend you!

Lydia Hoover.
Selkirk, Haldimand County, Ontario