Great-Great Grandpa Alfred

I never met the fellow. (Actually, I never met his grandson – my grandfather – who perished before I was born.) I love and respect him, and especially the fact that great-great-grandfather Alfred Ellmore felt a keen calling to preach from a young age.

But I would not agree with all of his beliefs.

For someone known as a great Restoration preacher – someone who was pierced by the older preacher Ben Franklin’s personal advice to him to “do all the good you can and no harm” – I think he did harm.

His position on Sunday schools: “It is another society and one of which the New Testament knows nothing. … transfer the Sunday school into the worship and give to every child who is able to read a New Testament … have the bishops and others who are safe teachers to spend fifty minutes, more or less, upon the lesson: continue the worship without intermission to the close.”

His position on mission organizations: “The Lord made the church for this work.”

His position on those baptized, at any age, in any other church: “[they should] be reimmersed for the remission of their sins.”

His position on churches which worship with instruments of music: “If there were but one congregation in the United States which worshiped as did the primitive church, I would hold my membership in that church. And were I so remote from it that I could but seldom, or never meet with it, I would send [it] my fellowship, and my Christian greeting, and do my praying at home. And if there were no such church, and I were a preacher, I would go immediately to work and create such a body.”

His newspaper’s mission (The Gospel Echo, merged with the Gospel Advocate in 1901): “… there are, we believe, two things which have been sadly neglected, viz.: the supporting of true ministers, and the cleansing of the sanctuary.”

The title of his first book, 1877: “Which Is the True Church?.”

I have no doubt in mind or heart that Alfred Ellmore’s mind and heart were zealous for the furtherance of God’s truth. I disagree with many of his perceptions of it.

I believe he was, in many ways, typical of the gospel preachers of his day. I’m afraid that is why I read so much rancor in the writings of their various publications.

If you’re of an eastern philosophy, you might be thinking “Whew! That’s a lot of negative family karma to bear toward the next life,” and I would agree with you.

At the same time, I am certain that Alfred brought many people to know Jesus Christ, and His is the eastern philosophy to which I have given my life.

Whatever else he believed or taught or wrote or did, Alfred Ellmore could also write: “A majority rule is not the rule of Christ. Christ and no man rules in all things in His church.”

His poetry was soulful and heartfelt:

Pray, earnest soul, what hast thou done
In the battle and the strife,
This short expanse from sun to sun,
To scatter seeds of life?
The poor have trod the stony road,
The rich for wealth have striven,
But who has sought to ease their load,
By pointing such to heaven?

– the last stanza of “Sunset” from his Maple Valley Poems

And one of his “Wheat and Chaff” columns from the journal Word and Work wistfully observes: “I suppose every matured Christian in looking back over his life sees somethings he did, which if presented now he would not do.”

Not long ago I observed on salguod’s blog that

“We’re probably always (in this life) going to have … people with vision, charisma, energy and genuine dedication who will try to make good ideas into doctrine instead of just letting them be good ideas.

Maybe they are part of God’s plan for encouraging us to study, think, meditate and pray for ourselves about what’s best; to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”

I seem to remember that Paul was grateful even for those who preached from selfish motives because Christ was preached.

I’m going to have to think about that again for a while!”

I have chewed on it a little since then.

I’m grateful for Alfred Ellmore.

He also did a lot of good.

16 thoughts on “Great-Great Grandpa Alfred

  1. Great post Keith! I needed that one right now. It reminds me of Mark 9 when Jesus tells John, to not stop anyone who is doing something in his name. That is hard for us who know the seduction of being “right”. I find it hard to let my boys screw something up and learn from it. I find it hard to let our congregation do something I know will fail or continue to do something that is obviously broken and not working.a lot to chew on here my friend.

  2. You know I had to refresh my screen to see the new pix. The wonder of cached memory.Some of my favorite people have taken a stance similar to your Great, Great Grandpa. The minister who married me is a prime example. And yet he did so much good and spread so much love, and I know he truly, truly thought he was 100% right. (I don’t think I have ever been 100% right about anything….but that’s another topic.)

  3. LOL–I had to refresh to get the new pic–wouldn’t have recognized you!!I have several Grandpa Alfred types in my geneology–at one time I was not thankful–I could only see what they did as damage to the Kingdom. Like you, I am changing–they served how they knew how–they loved God and passed down a love of God’s Word.Anyway, I may be harming someone–I don’t mean to, but what if I am? Can’t God’s grace cover all of us???JB

  4. I really like your new picture, Keith! You DO look younger. Plus, the new picture shows off your dimple in your right cheek a lot more, I think, and gives you a very cheerful countenance! (Or is the dimple, too, photo-shopped in?!)I like your great-great grandpa, too. Sure he has a lot of different “ideas” and “opinions” than I might about how best to life a Christian life, but he sounds like (from his words) he spent his entire life really living what he believed, sharing what he believed with all he met and doing a good job of it all the way. Plus, in the end he looked back and took inventory of what all he had done and how he had lived and was very cognizant of his own failings and place before God. There is a whole lot there to emulate. So, thanks for telling us about him.

  5. okay, okay… ya’ll stop hitting on Keith, flattering him about his mad skills at wordcrafting, his cute little dimple, and his boyish charm…lol,Brian

  6. The post was outstanding (as usual) and the picture was refreshing. I have no doubt we will have some interesting discussions with ole Alfred in Heaven! đŸ™‚God rest his soul,DU

  7. It can be difficult to make peace with our past and that of our relatives (physical and spiritual). I’m right there with you, Keith.

  8. Keith, this is obviously a random comment long after a post. Alfred is my Great Great Grandpa as well. My mother’s side of the family are Ellmores from Covington, IN. I ran across this blog as I was looking for used copies of Alfred’s books. I am a preacher in a Christian church–he wouldn’t appreciate that as we use a piano–and would love to have his books. You don’t by chance have any ideas as to how to find these books do you?

  9. clemmonspreacher, I’ve only found one listing (I’ve been looking, too, for a couple of years!) and it’s $56 on Amazon: < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Sermons and Silver Chimes<>. I’ve been looking for them as gifts for my mom, and she already has this one and one other (“Wheat and Chaff” – a collection of some of his newspaper columns). Best wishes – I couldn’t get to your profile, so this is the only way I know how to reach you!

  10. Alfred Ellmore is also my great great grandfather. I just returned from a family reunion in Louisiana,of the decendants of Alfred’s daughter, Della Mae, married to Ben J.Elston, my great grandfather. We all have a great heritage, and should thank the Lord for it. We like our fore-fathers, have a duty to teach and spread the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just as Alfred Ellmore, we must study and show ourselves approved unto the Lord. Philip Sims, a faithful minister of today said,”We pray and study the bible to KNOW GOD. And knowing God is what must form, inform, and transform us.” I’ll meet you in heaven. Laura Elston Alsabrook

    • Good morning, cousin! Alfred is also my great great grandfather, and his son Will is my great grandfather. I, too, am so thankful for our family heritage of faith. What a joy that is!

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