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An Interesting Story from 2BC History by Andrew Nash

This November, I’ll be able to take a deep breath. For the last year or so, I’ve been part of a team writing the 2BC 175th anniversary book.

There’s a story that the book committee and I loved, but it simply didn’t have a home in the narrative flow. It merited one sentence in the previous history books but is pretty fascinating nonetheless. All the credit goes to Eleanor Speaker for the research listed:

After the resignation of World War I hero Dr. George Washington Sadler as pastor in 1939, a subcommittee was organized to make contacts and recommendations for the next pastor. This subcommittee traveled to South Carolina to hear sermons by a pair of ministers who “were considered to be outstanding,” per the Liberty Tribune. They quickly fell for the style of 32-year-old James P. Wesberry, Bamberg, S.C.

They made a recommendation, and the church voted 125-3 to issue the call by the next Sunday.

There’s a catch, though, found on the front page of the Sept. 28, 1939, Liberty Tribune: “… the committee has been unable to contact him at this time.” The committee didn’t actually talk to Wesberry when they heard him speak. Or, as the Tribune put it bluntly, “the recipient of the call was unaware he was being considered as he was not one of the many who had made application and had made no effort to be considered.”

By late October, Wesberry would visit Liberty to meet the church and to speak on “Jesus, the Center of Life and Activity.” The Tribune said, “his voice is not strong but carries well, is well modulated and immediately puts hearers at ease.” At any rate, Wesberry asked for a couple weeks to decide.

Two weeks later, Wesberry asked for yet another week. Two weeks later, the Liberty Advance reported that the church had voted to release him from the call.

While pastors have declined the call in church history, it is strange in modern times to consider how public the process was and how the committee’s lack of direct communication with Wesberry made front-page news.

I hope this whets your appetite for the book this November. Our committee has a lot of work between now and then, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the finished product.

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