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Following in His Steps

I entered the building and proceeded to climb up the very steep and palpitation-inducing steps that led to the library. I was totally ignorant of the historical worth of everything in that building. There was the great lecture hall across from the library that I soon discovered may have been rattled by the voices of famous men like “William Jennings Bryan, Wendell Phillips, and Horace Greeley. The visit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as Governor of the State of New York [years before had] marked an outstanding event in the history of College Hall.”[4] I didn’t know then I was walking on the very steps that only a century before the likes of Jessie Belle Rittenhouse,[5] Frances Willard,[6] and Belva Ann Lockwood[7] had ascended. Indeed, those very stairs had been traversed by the prominent figures in my family—namely, my grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, sisters, and brother.

My assignment was not to write about my grandfather. I was hired to write about the continuation of EBI and EF’s history since his death in 1970. The librarian, however, thought she needed to expose me to the entire history of Elim. As a result, she compiled a trove of antique treasure with documents, letters, periodicals, and pictures many even predating the founding of Elim. I will forever be grateful to her for her kindness and foresight.

Ivan and Minnie Spencer with a car needing repair in the background.

Sitting down at the table prepared for me, I began to organize the treasure—sorting items by subject and chronology. Over to my left were the documents about Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, and next to them was an outline of the history of Lima, New York, written for its 175th anniversary celebration. On the title page of the latter document, I read, “The Crossroads of Western New York.” Up until that point, I had never known Lima as the “crossroads” of anything other than “Routes 5 & 20.” Off to my right were the Trust magazines from Rochester Bible Training School (RBTS) of Rochester, New York.[8] Dead center in front of me was a pile of The Elim Pentecostal Heralds[9] dating from 1931 on to the 1990s.

I decided to look first at the Heralds from the initial two decades. There, I discovered editorials written by my grandfather Spencer. I became immersed in his theology, in his heart, and in the history of this early Pentecostal minister with Methodist Episcopal roots.

I had heard stories from my mother, Ruth Spencer Veach, and my father, George Veach, throughout my life. My parents were ministers, serving in missions to Latin America and in pastorates in the Eastern United States. I had always thought their lives exemplified my grandparents’ lives—lives that emphasized surrender to the will of God, obedience to the call of God, and life full of the Spirit of God. I had heard Mom and Dad tell me stories of things my grandfather Ivan had said—insights he had given them that helped them during difficult times in the pastorate. He had warned them about not allowing hard circumstances to “get into their spirits.” Grandpa Ivan was known for his uncomplicated wisdom. In fact, he had shared with my parents how he learned the difference between the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. According to his story, his car had broken down as it often did, and he had climbed out of it in order to assess what was wrong. He had asked the Lord to help him, and the Lord had told him what was wrong with the car. “That,” he had said to my parents, “was a word of knowledge. But then the Lord showed me how to fix the problem, and that was a word of wisdom.” I also had heard about his homespun humor. There were funny and loving stories of his and my grandmother’s interactions with each other and their children and grandchildren. They smiled and laughed together. They sang and worshiped. My grandmother’s two favorite hymns were “O, I Want to See Him” and “Sweet Will of God.”

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Edie Mourey is the owner and editor for Furrow Press, a boutique self-publishing company. She is the youngest granddaughter of Ivan and Minnie Spencer, the founders of Elim Bible Institute & College and Elim Fellowship of Lima, New York. She authored Elim: Living in the Flow (1999) and compiled Faith: Living the Crucified Life (2008) and Daily Seedings: A Devotional Classic for the Spirit-Filled Life. Edie edits and writes in New York State’s Southern Tier where she, her husband, and daughter reside. Twitter: @EdieMou

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