Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, March 31, 2008

Mt. Calvary Union Church

My father, Carl Drexler (you can search his name on the web and some of his writings are published) was called to this church in 1944. It was in October. In November of that year there was a bad hurricane that hit the area. I remember that -- me, I was only 1-1/2 and I remember that hurricane. I remember the lighting of the kerosene lamps (I have one of them in my home). I remember being in the kitchen when one of the wild cherry trees fell very close to the house. Dad just kept walking from one end of the house to the other checking windows. Neither the parsonage nor the church suffered significant damage.
Anyway, Mt. Calvary Union Church (pictured above) was where my father spent the rest of his preaching life. He was there for 56 years and if his health had held out, he probably would have been there until he died. As it was he needed a live-in person and that was unaffordable for him or us. But he got to teach after he moved in with my sister in North Carolina. Her son Jamie would sit for hours talking to dad and learning from him. He (Jamie) still listens to my father's message tapes (they started taping him in the 60s).
Why Mt. Calvary Union Church was named that is not known to me. The "union" part is unique. It wasn't affiliated with any denomination. In fact my dad always told us it was episcomethobapterian. Sound it out, you'll get it. E-pis-co-meth-o-bap-ter-i-an.
I read in The History of Runnemede that it was started by several locals who wanted something other than Methodist -- there was a Methodist church down the pike. At the time the church was built, there were only about 100 people in the whole town of Runnemede. But in those days everyone went to church.
Yesterday was Sunday, and if 100 people were at Mt. Calvary, it would be a very good Sunday. To be fair, the church seats 120 people, and that with extra chairs. It's a very small church, but it's big on the Bible.
What I remember is that the church always had a heart for missionaries. When dad was there 20 percent of each offering went to missions. Dad got paid a percentage of the morning offering. Some weeks it was good, some weeks the pay was not good. Mom was good at saving some out each week, just in case. At the end of her life we found out just how much she had saved out in those weeks.
Some of the missionaries I remember were, of course, my husband's family -- The Hahns, they were missionaries to Kenya. My Aunt Fran and Uncle Howard (Boyll) were missionaries to the people in Bristol, TN. Mr. Zodiatis (American Board of Mission to the Greeks); Anthony Zioli (the elder) -- he was a personal friend of my dad. He was a hell-fire and brimstone preacher, let me tell you. He was a shouter! Mary Teagarten was a missionary with the China Inland Mission and she was in Indonesia. Mary Scippione was a missionary to Italy, but she rarely came back to America on "furlough."
I loved hearing the missionaries and seeing their pictures. No matter what I got a front row seat when there were a missionary speaking in church, except when Anthony Zioli spoke, because he would shout and point his finger at people. So I shied away from the front seats when he was in church. But, I did listen to him. How could one not?
This is the church where I grew up. This is the church where I came to know the Lord in a personal way. This is also the church in which my husband and I were married. This is the church I go to when we visit the east and we're in the area on a Sunday. If you're ever in Runnemede on a Sunday morning, listen for the bell to ring at 11:00 a.m. and visit the church. You'll be blessed.

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