Archer Baum, pastor emeritus of the San Diego (CA) Grace Brethren Church, went to be with the Lord Friday, September 23, 2005, after a three-year battle with cancer.
Several years ago a personal memoir he wrote at age 77 was posted on the Internet. Because it involves so many Grace Brethren historical places and people, we share here an edited version. Baum’s memoir is followed by a brief narrative, apparently written by another, about the Baums’ 60th wedding anniversary. The complete version is online at www.eccchistory.org/RevBaum_memories.htm.
As I write, it is Saturday morning, February 5, 2000. On February 23 I will observe my 59th birthday as a born-again Christian. The next day, on February 24, I will observe my 77th physical birthday.
During the early summer of 1939, I had gone to work for Mr. McMahan in his country grocery store and gas station where I was clerk, soda jerk, butcher, gas station attendant and janitor, but mostly as a clerk behind the counter. I was 16 years old.
I continued to go to Wapato, Washington, High School during the school year. At this time I worked 37 hours/week. I had no time for sports (which I loved) nor any other kind of social life. I had no friends with whom I could spend much time. I never set foot in a church. It was a very lonely life.
Though I was happy in my job, I longed for companionship with other young people. At that time, my sister, Beth, was 15 years old. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had told her she could not date boys without first asking their permission. A young boy named Bill Schilperoot (sp?) asked Beth to go with him to a three-week revival meeting to be held at the Grace Brethren Church of Harrah, Washington.
Without asking our parents, my sister told Bill “yes.” When told, my parents said, “no,” but after much persuasion, they relented and said she could go, only if they were accompanied by Archer (me). Glad to have an occasion to lord it over Beth, I agreed to be their chaperon.
Thus I find myself sitting in the last row of the balcony of this little Brethren church. I do not remember the message. I remember only that the preacher seemed to be looking at and preaching to me only (not true of course).
It is February 23, 1941. It is the last night of three weeks of meetings. I had been there on the first night but had not returned until tonight. After three weeks of meetings, not a single person had responded to the invitation to receive Christ.
The minister, Conard Sandy, has preached his last sermon. I am sitting in the balcony, last row. God’s Holy Spirit has brought the conviction to my heart that I need to give my heart and life to Christ the Savior. The last hymn is being sung and with eyes full of tears, wearing shoes with leather heels and steel cleats, I clatter down the wooden stairs to the altar and give my heart to Christ.
My going forward seems to have broken a spiritual dam. About 20 others followed in my footsteps. I consider the decision to receive Christ to be the most important decision of my life. I have never regretted it.
Dedication to the Ministry
Exactly four weeks later, with others of our youth at Harrah, I attended a Christian Endeavor conference in Sunnyside, Washington. In response to a message by the president of Whitworth College, I dedicated my life to the service of Christ. After spending all summer working in a fruit warehouse, I left home to enroll in Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon.
After earning a diploma and marrying my lovely and beautiful wife, Eileen, we, still on our honeymoon, rode a Pullman coach back to Winona Lake, Indiana, where I spent a year as a student in Grace Theological Seminary.
In 1945 and 1946 I spent a year and a summer at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. I then transferred to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, from which I was graduated with a B.A. degree in 1949.
After spending almost two years as pastor of Wishram Community Church in Washington, we (including Eileen and our two little girls, Rebecca and Colleen) returned to Grace Theological Seminary.
While a student at the seminary, I was a student pastor at West Etna Community Church from 1950 until 1953 where I preached and taught the adult Sunday School class. Just as God had blessed our ministry at Wishram with converts, so He did at West Etna. I was among the first to use the baptistery in the then-new McClain Hall at Grace Seminary.
After receiving a Master of Divinity degree from the seminary in 1953, our little family and I were called to the First Brethren Church of San Diego, where I became its fifth pastor. Here we served for more than seven years. Today I have been given the title “Pastor Emeritus” of the church.
As I am writing this I am 77 years old.
After spending 59 years of study in philosophy, religion, and Christianity, I am firmly convinced that in Christ we find truth and life.
With firm conviction, I can say with the apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
60th Wedding Anniversary
Archer and Eileen Baum are celebrating 60 years of marriage on May 14, 2004. They met when they were students at Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon, and married soon after.
With Eileen’s support, Archer pursued his goal of becoming a Christian minister, as he graduated from Multnomah Bible College, Lewis and Clark College, and received a Master of Divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary.
Archer served the Lord as a pastor, as army chaplain, and later in life as a public school teacher. Eileen worked with the Traveler’s Insurance Company. They continue to serve with the Gideon organization.
God blessed them with three daughters: Rebecca (deceased and with the Lord); Colleen, married to Pastor Phil Teran; Deborah, married to missionary Mark Schrock; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Archer and Eileen have been godly role models to all who know and love them. They have provided a rich legacy. Proverbs 20:7 says, “But who can find a trustworthy man? A righteous man who walks in his integrity, how blessed are his children after him.”