By Pastor Mark Woodward
Maple Leaf Parish Churches: Spring Valley: Faith, Cherry Grove, Fountain, Preston
One of my hobbies involves history. In this article, I’d like to lift up an inspiring Methodist Circuit Rider by the name of John Lewis Dyer. Rev. Dyer was affectionately called Father Dyer by those who knew him. He was a determined evangelist, deeply committed to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Father Dyer was doggedly committed to building up there Body of Christ in the world in which he lived. He started several churches in Southeast Minnesota and eventually traveled most of the way on foot to Breckenridge, Colo. Dyer was a man of vision, commitment and faith who lived out the meaning of his calling as a circuit riding pastor and preacher.
As we approach All Saints Day Sunday on November 5, I want us to be aware of the powerful faith of those who came before us…. the men, women, boys and girls who lived and shared their commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives. Father Dyer passed away in the early 1900s and the inspiring song, “How Firm a Foundation” was sung at his funeral. This powerful hymn dating from 1787 brought tears to my eyes during my devotion time. Here are some of the words from this magnificent hymn:
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say than to you he hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? When through the deep waters I call thee to go, for the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”
So, I write this devotional in memory and in thanksgiving for the ministry of Rev. John Lewis Dyer and all the saints who have given so freely of themselves in building up the Body of Christ. We have so much for which to be thankful as we cherish the lives of the Saints who have gone on before us.
How firm a foundation we share in our relationship with Jesus. We give thanks for the Saints who have gone before us and we give thanks for the Saints of our present day as we work together to build up the Body of Christ in our world.
To God be the glory!
(The Reverend John Dyer was the founding pastor of the Lenora and Preston United Methodist Churches. Today his image is visible in a stained glass window in the Capitol Building in Denver, Colo.)