Every year on the second Sunday in October, members of the Big Flatrock Christian Church pay honor to one of their own: the Rev. Knowles Shaw (1834-1878) who grew up in their neighborhood, was one of their charter members (1852) and preached his first sermon there (1858). This year is no exception, as this year’s celebration falls on Oct. 13, the 179th anniversary of Shaw’s birth.
Dr. Robert J. Burgbacher, pastor of the church, will be speaking on the life the Rev. Shaw and introducing Shaw’s relatives who will be returning for the morning services. Special music will be provided by Brenda (Ryle) Narwold, pianist of the church. Brenda is the second great-granddaughter of Shaw and will also be leading the congregation in the singing of some of his hymns, the most well-known being, “Bringing in the Sheaves.”
In remembrance of those from the congregation who have passed during the past two years, candles will be lit in their memory. Those being remembered are: Mary M. Hungerford, Dorothy L. Phillips, Roberta S. Cole, Alma L. Haehl and Paul J. Gallimore.
Sunday school services begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the celebration services at 10:30 a.m. with a pitch-in dinner at noon in the Fellowship Hall. There will be no afternoon services.
Memorabilia will be on display of the church’s history and that of Rev. Shaw’s. One of the items on display will be the Centennial Quilt made in 1952 by the ladies of the church. It contains 265 names of persons of the church and the community at that time. The ladies sold spaces for each name for $.25 each.
Friends and former members are invited to join in the celebration services. The church is handicap accessible.
The following article on Knowles Shaw was taken from the Oct. 10, 1940, issue of The Christian-Evangelist, the early Disciple magazine, by L. N. McCash, president emeritus of Phillips University:
Knowles Shaw was the most popular evangelist of the second generation. Like Love Jameson, he was a musical minister of the Gospel. Often in the midst of his discourse, he would walk down the aisle, sing a gospel song or, sitting at the reed organ, play and sing while exhorting his hearers to obey Jesus Redeemer and Lord.
Novel approaches to people he sometimes used. One instance was when he went to a community, where he was not known, to preach a series of sermons. He entered the general store of the village and asked to borrow a shovel. The storekeeper asked what he wanted it for. He replied, “To construct a dam across the creek nearby.”
Some men inquired, “Who is that stranger and why is he making that dam?” No one knew. They said, “Let’s go and ask him.”
They did and he replied, “To baptized people.” He said, “Come to the church tonight, and I will tell you.”
Curiosity filled the church, and many were baptized before the meeting closed.
He wore a heavy black beard, was prepossessing and loved his Lord and the church with such ardor that multitudes heard him gladly. Knowles Shaw’s last words before his tragic death in a Texas train wreck were, “It is a glorious thing to win souls to Christ.” He was best known in Indiana, Ohio and the middle states where his passion for souls glorified his name and by example inspires our ministry even today.