Rev. Vanderhoof and FBCS
Personal memories of a pastor and missionary
I have many experiences in and memories of my pastorate and my Colporter-Missionary work, too many to write near all of them here but a few.
I preached in a little community church in a small town of mostly Mormon residents and while I was preaching saw some boys outside looking in at the windows and disturbing the service somewhat. Our transportation back then was a wagon pulled by a team of black horses, Matthew and Luke. Our bed was in the back of the enclosed wagon. When we went out to retire, after everyone had gone from the church, we found that the boys had poured a bucket of water over our bed and our books and our Bibles. There was no hotel in the town and the only woman who said she would like to entertain us said company had come and even some of them would have to sleep on the floor. With one spare blanket on the shelf and 2 horse blankets that smelled of horses, we turned our mattress over and slept quite well.
Mrs. Elsie Severance presenting picture of Chaplain Scott to Mary Lou Van Slyke for the church, 1950s. From the left: Rev. M.E. Van Slyke, Rev. V.A. Vanderhoof, and Lloyd C. and Leslie Elliott, brothers of Mrs. Severance holding evening services in the Episcopal Guild while their church was being moved.
He had invited a Campbellite preacher to bring the message but he introduced me first for a few remarks. I prefaced my talk with story of a boy trying to sell a pup to a Methodist man saying, “These are Methodist pups.” Later he heard this same boy tell a Baptist, “These are Baptist pups.” The man said to the boy, “You little rascal, you told me they were Methodist pups.” The little boy said, “Yes, but they got their eyes open now!” The next day I was calling in homes and I found the Campbellite preacher stopping with some friends. He said, “You should be ashamed of telling that story to those Methodists last night!”
In Globe that Summer for the first time, we camped under some shade trees in Ice House Canyon. Three cowboys rode by on their horses with their spurs jingling and one asked, “What is that outfit?”, the second one said, “I don’t know.” The third man stopped his horse and read on the side of the wagon, ‘American Baptist Publications Society, Colporter no. 13, Bibles, Books, Good Literature.’ He touched his spurs to his horse and called to the other two, “I know what that is. It is one of those traveling preachers.” The first man said, “Oh yeah, there has been more of them fellows through here this summer than I ever saw before.” The second man said, “Yeah, it is the worst I ever saw it.”
I asked a woman with a remarkable religious experience if she could talk to an infidel neighbor or hers and she said, “No, he just cusses when I mention scripture to him.” I said, “I will have to see him I guess.” She said, “Jesus said not to cast your pearls before swine lest they turn and rend you.” I said again I would have to see him. She finally said, “I admire your pluck, but I don’t think much of your judgment.” Some time later she asked if I had gone to see Frank. I said, no but he had come to see me with no well defined reason for doing so. I had dealt with and prayed for him, after which he gave his hand and thanked me saying, “I want to talk to you again.” She said, “Can you beat that, and he let you pray for him?” Frank left the community soon after and 12 years later I heard from him over near Sacramento, California. He had joined a Congregational church and said, “I don’t see why I was such a fool all of those years.”
There was an old Norwegian bachelor here, who called himself an atheist. He was reported to be so rabid that a man said that if he was with me and we met the old man and I was going to mention religion to him, I should give the man time to get away because he did not want to see what the old man did to me. Later I saw him and asked if he would like to help build a new Baptist church in Scottsdale. He said, “No I got all dat out of my system thorty years ago.” But he removed his hat and let me pray for him. At a later date when Mrs. Vanderhoof and I called on him in a hospital in Phoenix where he had been taken with a broken leg, he said we could read to him from the Bible and we prayed for him. He said, “If there is any peace for a man like I am, I want it.” Some time later when we were absent from Scottsdale, he fell and never regained consciousness. I expect to see him in heaven someday.
A woman asked me to call on an old German professor, “If you can stand to be cursed at,” she said. I did call but he said he did not want to talk about anything religious because he did not want to shake my faith, so I did the talking. I told him of my call to the ministry. Our Doctor had told Mrs. Vanderhoof that I could live about 3 hours but he would get a trained nurse and hurry back. Before he returned a light shone from above to my body and I was healed instantly. The doctor returned, examined me and said, “Something has happened since I left you. You are as sound as a bell. I won’t be back unless you call me.” A series of visions followed in which I saw my past life pictured. The next day, Sunday, another series of visions pictured the mission work to which the Lord was calling me. I then asked the man to remove his hat while I prayed for him. He did so and thanked me and asked me to return. I returned on 2 occasions but he was not at home and I never saw him again.
Sunday Dinner behind the church at Brown and Indian School about 1950. Rev. Vanderhoof, then a senior deacon, is standing with the familiar suit.
We visited a Baptist Church in Phoenix one Sunday morning and the pastor asked me to give an illustrated talk at the opening of the Sunday School. I did so and asked for a show of hands. So many hands were raised that the pastor gave an invitation and 27 came forward. We dealt with them, had them take seats in the audience and gave a call for the church membership and 22 were received for baptism. The benediction was pronounced without lesson study or preaching service.
Mine is the largest record of ministry in Arizona. At time of retirement, I had preached in all of our Baptist churches as well as in a number of churches of other denominations, including Mormon. I spoke in Negro, Mexican, Indian, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, and Four Square churches. In mission work we organized 10 Baptist churches and 10 Sunday Schools, one of which we organized in front of a store on the sidewalk. As an interim pastor, I served all of our churches, but 4, in the state. I have supplied 5 churches since retirement.
A 1953 photo taken on the church grounds of Reverend Vanderhoof and Hopi Indians. Probably Mary Lou Van Slyke in front.
The last church we served as pastor was in Chloride out toward the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. I called a meeting of the church to accept our resignation but the folks said, “No motion will be made. We are not going to accept it.” We settled on a supply pastor for the church and have been back twice to preach for them. Once we helped in a 10 day meeting and it was 300 miles from my home
It is touching that Reverend Verner A. Vanderhoof ended both his history of FBCS, January 20, 1954, and his personal history, June 15, 1956, with nearly identical paragraphs about Jane. The 1954 version ends this electronic portion of our history.
Jane Phoebe Martin and I graduated from the Tempe Teacher’s College in June 1897 and were married June 30, 1898. She was a better teacher than I, a wonderful companion, a tireless worker and much of my success was due to her help and council. We were both members of our State Board for years and helped to organize our summer assembly in which we both taught. We have our Diplomas, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd certificates in Christian Education. She passed to her reward on March 26, 1952. I am thankful to God that she lived to assist me to the end of my active ministry. Without her, I could not have conducted Vacation Church Schools as we did for years, as many as 5 in the vacation season. There were many decisions for Christ.
Rev. Verner A. Vanderhoof and Jane Vanderhoof in front of their “modern” home about 1950.