Pastorate of A. David Thaeler


In 1892 Calvary Chapel got its first minister, the Reverend A. David Thaeler. While assigned virtually full time to Calvary, he was technically an Assistant Pastor of the Moravian Church in Salem. (Thus, while pastoring at Calvary, and assisting at Home, he helped start “a new and earnest congregation at Wachovia Arbor.”) Dr. Thaeler’s first sermon at Calvary was on July 3, 1892. In his memorabilia of that year, Bishop Rondthaler reported “the Moravian Church of Salem now consists of a Home church, with Calvary, Elm Street, East Salem and Centerville chapels, all forming one membership…”But with a pastor assigned to the Church, the pace of organization quickened. An “Advisory Committee” composed of W.A. Walker, C.A. Hall and C.E. Johnson had laid the groundwork well, and on April 20, 1893 the congregation of Calvary Church was organized at a lovefeast. About 35 members were present, including charter members Mrs. Ellis Shelton, Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Clinard, Mrs. Zacharias Hege, Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Foltz, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Hall, Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. C.T. Fetter, Mrs. M.C. Prather, Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Walker and Mr. and Mrs. N.G. Stockton. Later Mrs. F.G. Schaum, the “Granny Schaum” of the early congregation, joined them.

To recapitulate, Calvary Church, located in those deep woods of the Moravian reservation, became the first effort of the Salem congregation to expand into Winston—an effort envisioned by Bishop DeSchweinitz earlier in 1877.

The new church had a dynamism of its own. The first confirmands were Ernest G. Hege, Henry F. Hall and Henry B. Shelton. Bishop Rondthaler in the memorabilia of 1893 noted that this newest congregation was rapidly growing and that more than 30 communicants who lived in Winston and formerly were members of the Home Church congregation had affiliated with Calvary.

A pastor needs a parsonage. In 1894 the parsonage, on Holly Avenue beside the sanctuary, was built and its first occupants were Dr. Thaeler and his new wife, the former Ruth C. Shropp of Bethlehem. The records do not disclose when Dr. Thaeler got married, but we would surmise that his new status would have spurred the new congregation to provide a suitable parsonage. Meanwhile a substantial addition to the sanctuary was built.

Five years later the records of 1899 note that the interior of the Calvary sanctuary was remodeled and “new and convenient chairs and been placed in the auditorium.” We have no record of the original seating. Obviously the congregation was yeasting and expanding. 1

The work at Calvary and other extension projects of the Salem congregation had proven so successful that a “chapel” status (under which the extension congregations would still be provided aid and other support from the mother congregation) was no longer necessary. The rules and organization of Salem congregation were changed and, in 1901, Calvary became a fully established church.

In the summer of that same year, however, the little congregation suffered a blow when Dr. Thaeler was called to a pastorate in Bethlehem. Dr. Thaeler had become such a beloved pastor that the congregation was desolate. On August 12, 1901, 53 members appealed to Bishop Rondthaler to stop Dr. Thaeler’s call to the Northern Province, pleading “can he not be given back to us?” The loss to the congregation, they urged, would be “irreparable.”

Unlike other denominations, though, a Moravian minister is virtually bound to accept a genuine call no matter where to. Calls are issued by the Provincial Elders Conference itself, in the name of Christ, our Chief Elder, and are not lightly contested. Dr. Thaeler accepted the call.

Bishop Rondthaler and the Provincial Elders Conference moved quickly to fill the post at Calvary. On September 5th, Bishop Rondthaler advised that the Reverend Edward S. Crosland had accepted a call to move from Bethania to Calvary, and reassured Bethania “we want on our part to give Bethania the best supply we can” during the period before the Bethania post could be filled.

  1. Dr. Thaeler made pastoral calls over a wide area. One day he was given some chickens by a rural member of the congregation and, of course, put them in his buggy for the ride back to Holly Avenue. The chickens were a bit noisy due to the bumpy ride of the buggy. It was dark when he got home and a few moments later a policeman showed up. The policeman had tailed him, convinced he was a chicken thief!

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