Dorothy wrote “The Bethel News,” a weekly column for the Versailles Leader-Statesman newspaper, for many years. It has been said (whether true or not, I’ll leave you to decide!) that the number of subscriptions to the newspaper dropped by half when Dorthy stopped writing the column! Many of the items covered by her column may seem mundane (for example, a list of who had whom over for Sunday dinner), but for people connected to the Bethel church community who had moved away, the news helped them stay connected. Furthermore, by gathering the news from the members of the church, Dorothy played a vital role in keeping people connected to one another in the church. Dorothy, you are missed!
By Elizabeth Groth
The little country church was young. It stood on a beautiful green and breezy prairie. There was no cemetery beside it. The people who came to it each Sunday in their buggies and wagons were full of life and hope. Enough people had settled on the fertile farmland to have a real community and a church of their own. Strong and sensible people, yet they knew they could never make it alone. And especially they wanted their children to know that in this beautiful new countryside they would need God beside them.
The little church thought, “This is the best time of my life. I may not always be needed. Soon there will be bigger churches in new towns around me. But now the old folks find comfort in me, the strong ones guidance, and the little ones joy and happiness. I will be what these dear people need.” So the families loved to come together each Sunday morning of the little church’s early years.
Soon the little church noticed that the old folks who found comfort each Sunday were growing tired, and a resting place was found for the worn-out bodies they no longer needed. The little church was glad that the cemetery was close beside it.
Sometimes storm-clouds hovered over the little church. Wars came, and a depression made the people very poor. But the little church said, “I may be needed now more than ever. I must still give comfort to the old, guidance to the strong, and joy and happiness to the little ones. Maybe this is the best time of my life.”
Often the little church opened its doors for sad occasions: a young mother grown to weary for the journey, a little one gone to heaven too soon, a loving father taken before his work was done. So the people came to the little church with broken hearts. And the little church said, “These are not happy times, but I am still very needed. I will do all I can to give consolation.”
A new cloud came over the little church and it said, “My young ones are leaving me, and soon I will not be needed anymore.” But new winds blew that cloud away, and the young ones began to grow up and marry each other in the little church, or to bring their brides home, and stay close by the little church. Then it said, “This may be the best time of my life. The young ones need me more than ever to help them with the little ones who will come.”
Then one day the sky darkened again. The little church said, “I have failed. Some of my young ones are not coming to me much anymore. Some of them even say they do not need God. This is not the best time of my life. I am not needed any more if I have lost my young ones.” But again, a new wind blew, and the young ones began to listen to God; one by one they came back to their waiting Heavenly Father, and the little church said, “This is, after all, the best time of my life, for my young ones are growing strong.”
The people young and old who loved the little church said, we should show our appreciation for our little church. It has meant so much to us, our parents, our grandparents, and our great-grandparents, for 120 years. We must stop and say thank you sometime. So one winter Sunday night they did. And the little church said, “I am not young any more, and there have been clouds. But the sun is still shining one me. I have always been needed, and I know I still am. The old ones and the strong ones and the little ones still need to come to me. This is the best time of my life. And perhaps the best is yet to be.”
These clips are taken by former Pastor Howard Raid in the early 1940″s. It was unheard of to have movie camera that early. Several of these clips are of the Hilty family. Howard Raid was a close relative.