Music + Three Teens = 130 Baptisms

Dad and Mom Herr (pronounced “her”) married in 1915 and settled in McClusky, N.D, a community of about 800. By 1935, they had 10 strong, healthy children. They worked hard and worshipped together at the Evangelical Reform Church. The oldest, Ted, enjoyed a special closeness with Dad.

One Friday evening, two teenaged girls, members of the McClusky Adventist Church, invited 16-year-old Ted to sing hymns with them. He accepted, and they met for several weeks. One of the girls suggested they sing at their church.

After they sang for the service, Walter and Alma Kruger asked Ted to join them for dinner. During the meal, Walter asked, “Ted, why do you go to church on Sunday?”

“It’s in the Bible.”

“Where?”

Promising to find it, Ted returned home and read every verse about the first day of the week, including Matthew 28:1: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week…” Like a lightning bolt, the Bible’s clear distinction between the Sabbath and the first day of the week hit Ted. He showed his mom, who assured him they worshipped on Sunday to honor Christ’s resurrection, but Ted never found the verse to confirm it.

Finally one Sabbath, Ted took a deep breath and spoke. “I’ve decided to keep the Sabbath.”

Dad’s face flushed with anger, and he replied, “As long as you put your feet under my table, I’ll be responsible for your religion.” Ted walked out of the house.

Soon, resentment and discord replaced harmony in the family. Ted was accused of being lazy. After one Sunday service, Dad broke down and cried. The new doctrine that thrilled Ted’s heart had become bitter poison to Dad.

As time passed, Mom became sympathetic towards Ted’s conviction. Two sisters began keeping Sabbath, and even John avoided work on Saturdays. Finally, in protest, Dad declared, “I’m not going to work on Saturday if no one else does.”

At 17, Ted yearned to attend an Adventist boarding academy. Seeing a chance to rid his family of the Adventist influence, Dad readily agreed. But weekly letters from Ted detailed the Sabbath sermon. Dad read each one.

After graduation, Ted and siblings Lydia, Elsie and John convinced Mom and Dad to take their first vacation in 26 years by visiting family in Jamestown, N.D, strategically during the week of an Adventist camp meeting. Ted prayed Dad would attend the meetings, but upon their return, Dad didn’t mention anything.

Soon, Ted left to work selling Adventist books door-to-door. Months later, the news he’d only dared to dream about came from his sister: “Come home. Dad and Mom are getting baptized.”

For 37 years, Dad remained a zealous member of the Adventist church. All 12 of their children (2 more arrived after Ted went to college) were baptized and went to Adventist schools. Eleven graduated from Union College, four became pastors, two entered the medical field, one became an Adventist teacher, while another worked as a Book and Bible House manager. Today, 130 family members have been baptized as a result of two girls’ invitation and one boy’s conviction.

November 01, 2003 / North Pacific Union
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