Left, first parsonage, Wheeling, John in foreground.Second parsonage, Jane's father, G.I. Anderson in front.
From A Brief History of the Stivers
We were eight years at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Elm Grove, Wheeling, West Virginia, from 1951 to 1959. Our moving van from New Orleans put our furniture at the back. On the way, a car ran into the back of the van, destroying most of our furniture. It was a difficult situation. We did not have a refrigerator. John Mark was only a year and a half and we needed one. A nearby Episcopolitan church loaned us one.
These were growth years in Wheeling, just after World War II. At. Mark's had a phenomenal growth. In these eight years, the congregation doubled from 600 to 1200. During this time I baptized 466 children and others and welcomed into the congregation 656 new members. Our average attendance on Sundays with our two services were between 500 and 600. In 1956 radio station WWVA our Sunday morning service [at the time WWVA was one of the most popular radio stations in the three state area, especially for its legendary Jamboree USA].
In the second year that we were here David was born. We brought him home to the parsonage on Columbia Avenue. He was baptised before the altar and the beautiful stained glass window of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
In the early 1950s, the congregation decided to sell the parsonage on Columbia Avenue and purchased the house beside the church, almost in the front yard, to be parsonage. It was on Kruger Street. We were also just across the street from the elementary school that John and David attended [now a model train museum].
In this house was a nice basement in which the boys could play and was quite comfortable. Being just next door to the church made it easier to go out the door and not too many steps to your office or meetings.
During these years I became active in the Kiwanis Club and attended the over 100 member downtown club. I served as president for a year. One of our big programs was Advertising Day. For years it was a big success.
Through the Wheeling Council of Churches, there was on the NBC TV station a Sunday afternoon program called Faith in our Valley. I was chairman of the endeavor.
One Sunday afternoon in 1958, when John was six and David was four, we were on this prrogram. The program centered around family devotions. Jane and I and the boys were demonstrating this. Unknown to Jane and myself, while I was talking John and David were pushing and kicking one another with their feet. Of course the camera was not on us, but under the table on the feet of John and David.
When I received a call to serve St. Mark's in Claremont, I thought the Lord was calling me and that there would perhaps be less activity. That was certainly not a true premise.
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