Ted Studebaker (1945-1971)

It may be unfair to say Ted Studebaker is a “hidden gem.” In the Church of the Brethren, anyway, he is a something of a legend. At the time of his death, Ted’s story even warranted a spot on the ABC news. He was anything but unknown. Still, as time passes and the wars of the last century become more and more distant in the cultural memory, it seems important to revisit the service of a man whose philosophy seems more relevant than ever in our conflict-ridden world. […]

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Rosa Page Welch

By Haley Steinhilber, archival intern “I enjoy loving the hate out of people.” Rosa Page Welch1 Born into a family of Mississippi sharecroppers in 1900, Rosa Page Welch grew up immersed in the Christian faith. Her love of music was inspired by her father, who was a talented violinist and tenor in Claiborne County.2 She attended […]

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Ralph Smeltzer and His Work in Selma

By Maddie McKeever Ralph Smeltzer was a member of the Church of the Brethren who worked under the Brethren Service Committee (later, Brethren Service Commission) in a variety of jobs from about 1944 – 1968. In addition, Smeltzer oversaw Brethren Service in Austria post World War II and worked within different capacities for the National […]

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Kermit Eby, the Church of the Brethren, and Politics

Politics and political involvement has, at times, presented various issues and challenges to the Church of the Brethren. How involved could a Brethren become in the political process while remain true to their faith? If the government used force and fought wars, should the Brethren hold any governmental office or even vote? The answers to this question have changed over time from the beginning of the Brethren to the present day. […]

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W. Harold Row: Servant and Bridgebuilder

Those who have grown up within the Church of the Brethren may recall the name M. R. Zigler. He was a man who served as the first executive secretary of the Brethren Service Committee and a Brethren leader who helped to found Civilian Public Service during World War II. Another prominent individual, although perhaps lesser-known today, was Rev. W. Harold Row – a Church of the Brethren pastor in Virginia and Pennsylvania, denominational leader, and, along with Zigler, something of a Brethren pioneer in ecumenical, service-oriented relationships. […]

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Sinking of the ZamZam

The date was March 27, 1941, eight months before the USA entered World War Two. The ZamZam was a rickety Egyptian freighter, sailing from New York bound for Alexandria by way of the Cape of Good Hope. On board were ambitious tobacco buyers, refugees from bomb-torn England, 136 missionaries and family members from 19 different faiths, a couple of dozen irreverent and high-spirited ambulance drivers, at least one noted scientist, and a motley multi-ethnic crew. The ZamZam took a zigzag course, running quietly so as to avoid running into any German commerce raiders. […]

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Minnesota Starvation Project

After the mistreatment of conscientious objectors by the military and government in World War I, peace groups such as the Mennonites, Society of Friends, and Church of the Brethren discussed the creation of a program that would exempt them from a future draft. Civilian Public Service was formed in 1940 as an alternative noncombatant way for conscientious objectors to serve the United States during World War II. Programs sponsored by CPS included work in agricultural service, mental hospital service, and numerous other projects supported both by the state and privately. The Brethren portion of the program was overseen by Brethren Service Committee. […]

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A Second Chance at Life: From Convicted Murderer to Brethren Service Volunteer

On March 13, 1958, Nathan Leopold was paroled from Statesville Penitentiary in Illinois into volunteer service work with the Brethren Service Commission in Castaner, Puerto Rico. He had formerly been imprisoned thirty-three years for his involvement in the 1924 murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks. […]

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