Leaders In The Baptist Bible Union -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 07:3 (Fall 1964)
Article: Leaders In The Baptist Bible Union
Author: Anonymous

Leaders In The Baptist Bible Union


Of the leading figures of the movement, Neighbour seems not to have remained long in it. At the organization of the Bible Union in Kansas City, he was apparently shouldered aside and given little notice. Ketcham in conversation remarked on the gracious way Neighbour accepted this treatment and took satisfaction that the Baptist Bible Union was in motion. He was elected to the executive committee, although at the Grand Rapids meeting in June he was elected secretary, often a servant’s position. He took part in the Bible Union’s work that year, and in 1924 was re-elected to the executive committee. It was apparently about this time that he eased out of the movement. Neighbour remained on cordial terms with Shields, occasionally supplying the Jarvis Street pulpit.

Van Osdel

Oliver W. Van Osdel was the one leading figure who was part of the movement from the very first to the very last. He was not as prominent as Shields, Riley, Straton, or Norris, nor was he ever a power behind the throne. Van Osdel was seventy-five when he attended the Indianapolis meeting and there helped found the Bible Union. He had been sixty-two when he began his work as pastor of the Wealthy Street Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February of 1909. He is still remembered to have remarked that twenty-five years ought to be about right for that pastorate—he resigned in September, 1934, and died January 1, 1935. From 1909 to 1917 he led the three hundred members through a large building program.

He planned the building, according to an informant, “on his own drawing board”; it still is a remarkable useful and impressive structure. Beginning in 1909 he published the weekly leaflet, “The Baptist Temple News, “a weekly bulletin of the Wealthy Street Baptist Church and a regular item in the church budget, whose wide distribution gave him a powerful voice in the movement. Van Osdel was no spellbinder in the pulpit, but he can be considered the founder of the Baptist Young People’s Union; he left a remarkably well-instructed church; and he: gives the, impression of having a keen mind and penetrating vision to the last. The only known life of Van Osdel is an unpublished paper by John H. Wilson, “A Study of the Life, and Ministry of Oliver W. Van Osdel.”


William Bell Riley, 1861–1947, was for forty-five years pastor of the First Baptist Church, Minneapolis. Tall and striking in appearance (Massee stood perhaps an inch taller), Riley was a great preacher. During the twenties he debated the subject of evolution so successfully that he had difficulty finding opponents (Darrow forfeited a debate three days before it was to take place at...

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