The Last of the Circuit Riders
Note: My younger sister, Heidi, presented the following tribute to Dad at his funeral, who truly was the Last Circuit Rider.
One of the legacies of the Salmon Methodist Church, where Dad served and our family worshiped for so many years, was the rich history of the circuit rider who founded that church in 1873 -- William Van Orsdel, known as Brother Van.
Dad's ministry was very much like that of the old circuit riders -- he took the Gospel to remote places where there were people, trveling by car, jeep, horse, or rickety cable car to cross rivers. To many, he has represented the fine tradition of the Circuit Rider, and has sometimes even been called the Last of the the Circuit Riders.
For many years, it was the tradition to honor Methodist ministers by placing bronze replicas of Circuit Riders on their gravestones. The program was discontinued some years ago, and at a meeting of the United Methodist National Board of Archives and History at Drew University, it was brought up that there was just one marker left. Lila Hill, the archivist from Idaho, said, "I know who should have that!" She brought the marker home, and privately presented it to Mother at one of Dad's book signings a few years ago. This marker will eventually be placed on his gravestone.
In a final tribute to Dad, who truly deserves to be remembered as The Last of the Circuit Riders, may we rejoice in his homecoming to the Lord he served so faithfully by singing "Harvest Time" -- better known to the Methodists in Brother Van country as "The Brother Van Song."
[I hope to find a version of "Harvest Time" to post sometime in the near future]
While I am still trying to find a recoreded version so you can hear it, I do have the words: