"Whereunto shall we liken the Kingdom of God? Or with what comparison
shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it
is sown in the earth, is - less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
But where it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs
." (Mark 4:30-32)
This "Mustard Seed" was first sown
in Kentucky at Stewart, near Perryville, in 1876 by Levi Skeels. A minister
of The Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, Bro. Skeels and his family
originally came from Columbus, Ohio.
Bro. Skeels decided to migrate from Indiana to Tennessee
and was in transit when a daughter became sick, detaining him at Stewart,
KY. While he tarried there he redeemed the time by preaching the gospel
of the Kingdom. Large crowds attended his ministrations. Many substantial
men in the community, interested in the message of life Bro. Skeels so
aptly proclaimed, induced him to abandon migration to Tennessee and settle
It was in July, 1876 that Bro. Skeels with his family
started southward to Tennessee in a house he had constructed on wheels.
He tinkered with clocks and mended tin ware to pay his way and support
his family .
He scattered the word of the Kingdom all the way to
the Ohio River. On September 3, 1876 they crossed the Ohio River; passing
into fields where the "Kingdom" was called "A new and strange
On September 21, 1876 they drove up to a country store
(Stewart, KY) where there stood a Union Church. Having gone into the store
where quite a few people were gathered, he was told that the Church was
open to all denominations. Upon hearing this he announced that he would
speak there that night.
As the meetings went on night after night, crowds increased
to hear the new and strange doctrine until the house would not hold the
crowds. Some drew back from the light of the gospel, saying it disturbed
their sleep. Others were delighted to hear the scriptures explained to
them in such simple words as Numbers 14: 21, "As truly as I live all
the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."
Bro. Skeels taught the simple truths contained in God'
s word. Following Jesus' example he began at Moses and all the prophets,
and expounded unto them the scriptures the things concerning the Kingdom.
(Luke 24: 27)
Many came to Br. Skeels little wagon home to ask questions
about the Bible. This is like unto Paul ' s experience. Many came to him,
to ask questions. He expounded and testified the Kingdom of God; persuading
them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets,
from morning till evening. Some believed the things which were spoken and
some believed not.
Bro. Skeels continued to scatter the "Mustard
Seed", here and in neighboring counties, until his death in June 1893.
His loving wife had passed away two years before. He said that the greatest
tribute that could be paid to his memory would be the words, "Truly
said, he died in the Lord."
Several were obedient in baptism and he lived to see
the results of the words he spoke. Some of the seed fell on good ground
and brought forth fruit.
During all these years the body did not have a church
building to meet in. Services were held in the church members' homes, in
schoolhouses, and sometimes in a grove in front of Bro. Skeels home.
A frame church building was erected in 1915. The work
was done mostly by the members and friends of the church. Bro. R. G. Huggins
of Cleveland, Ohio preached the first sermon in the church in March 1916.
The seed sown by Bro. Skeels was watered and made to
grow. God gave the increase through the further efforts of Br. J. F. Wagoner
and Bro. J. S. Hatch, both of Indiana. Bro. Wagoner baptized several; the
fifth generation now living are active members.
Other brethren who spoke the Word before we had a church
home were the following: Bro. W. H. Wilson (Chicago, Illinois ), J. W.
Williams (Michigantown, Indiana ), and D.C. Robinson (Salem, Ohio). Those
brethren who came after the church was erected were: J. H. Anderson (evangelist
from Virginia and Indiana), Eugene Miller (Cleveland, Ohio), Cantwell Drabenstott
(Hartford City , Indiana ), and Vaughn Long (originally from Hartford City,
Ind.). Bro. Long has been Pastor of the Church for over 40 years.
The frame church, being over forty years old, was quite
difficult to keep comfortable in cold weather. It was decided by the members
to build a new building rather than to try and fix the old one so that
it would be pleasant to worship in.
In May 1963, the old church was removed and a brick
building with full basement was erected. Again the church met in the homes
of the members in order to worship from May 25, 1963 to October 20, 1963.
Dedication services were held on June 14, 1964. The
following ministers took part in the services: Bro. Cantwell Drabenstott
(Pastor Roll, Ind. ), Bro. Walter Weingart , (Pastor Salem, Ohio), Bro
. Allan Grief, (Pastor Cleveland, Ohio), with the assistance of the Perryville
Pastor, Bro. Vaughn Long.
Bro. Marvin Carpenter, Bro. James E. Davis (deceased),
and Bro. Kenneth Yocum began delivering exhortations in 1966.
So, you can see that the "Mustard Seed" was
sown in Kentucky over a hundred years ago. At that time, some of it fell
on good ground and brought forth good fruit . But, as always, some fell
among thorns and stony ground. "Such as hear the word, and the cares
of this world, and the deceitfulness or riches, and the lusts of other
things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. "
(Mark 4 :18-19).
The seed of the gospel has been sown through the efforts
of brethren such as Bro. Skeels. They have left to us the true faith in
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our duty is to hear the exhortation
of Paul: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.
" (Heb. 10: 23)
Levi Skeels was my grandfather.