Golden Lampstands of Iowa - Waterloo


In 1898 a small assembly of believers were gathered for the first time In Remembrance of the Lord in the breaking of bread. They gathered in the home of E.G. Mathews; later other homes shared in this and still later, rooms were rented in public buildings. Special meetings were also held in gospel tents by brethren J. Blair, C.W. Ross, Harcus, O'Brien, Sroadfoot, and others. Souls were saved and added to the assembly. Soon a small beginning of a few devoted believers who sought to please the Lord and further His work in Waterloo (a city at that time of 30,000 Souls), many were reached by the Grace of God.

In 1909 the believers had their first yearly conference. There were only some 75 who attended. The first conference was held on Commercial Street and meals were served in the Friedl Cafe across the street.

In 1915 Mr. W.J. McClure, a well-known evangelist, was exercised about Waterloo. He wired his old friend, Mr. E.G. Mathews of the city, telling of his desire for meetings. Mr. Mathews was a godly man of wise discernment; he promptly replied, "Come on." He arrived shortly after, and prepared for a series of meetings, putting up his chart. He found a ready ear with many of the townspeople coming nightly. Souls began to be awakened and soon a number were saved, giving the believers much encouragement; and the ministry of the Word was a real feast.

Oliver Smith, a young farmer living a number of miles out in the country, not long saved, attended these meetings; and to this young believer the ministry was wonderful, giving him a real lift heavenward in his early Christian life. He wanted others to hear the same precious truths, so Oliver Smith rigged up an old hayrack wagon with seats and appeared every night at the Gospel Hall with twenty to thirty people packed in his homemade means of transportation.

The Waterloo Assembly was Oliver Smith's home assembly and a few years after these meetings he was sent forth of the Lord to preach the unsearchable riches found in Christ to the farming areas of Northern Iowa. He was wonderfully used of God in the salvation of souls. Thus precious fruit was gathered in.

In these early 1900's, God was doing a great work for His glory in Northern Iowa. The Holy Spirit was convicting "of Sin, because they believe not on Me, of Righteousness, because I go to my Father and ye see me no more, of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." John 16:9, 10, 11. There was a great ingathering of souls in the Manchester, Clayton, Garnavillo and Stout areas. These newly born-again believers were happy in the fact of sins forgiven and eternal security. They were like-minded and loved fellowship; thus by 1924 when the picture shown here was taken, the conference had grown to be very large. Travel became easier with the introduction of automobiles.

Well does the writer remember the conference of 1942 held in the West High School. It was one of two outstanding conferences of 45 years of conferences for me. I went to this Waterloo conference, a young Christian saved only four years--discouraged and disappointed-especially with self. It seemed to me as if there was nothing for me to do that was of much value; I had not stopped going to meetings - in fact, I went to all, as if nothing was wrong. I had no fault to find with the brethren, I was just down and discouraged. At this conference one of the speakers gave a message that reached my heart. It was a message on jobs, or things for Christians to do at different ages in their Christian life beginning with what a young Christian could do to please God at one year, then at five years, on to 10, 20, 30, 40, and on to 50 years. I went home from that conference happy, encouraged and ready to go on, as I saw that there was work even for me to do. Now I could do something to bring honor and glory to the One I so dearly loved.

The picture shows the front of the new hall on Western Avenue. It was built in 1922, constructed to hold large audiences. The brethren have kept the commodious hall in excellent repair and it is still, after these years, a fine place for the meeting of the saints who happily fellowship there.

In 1985 the Waterloo Western Avenue Assembly, which began in 1898, is in their 88th year and goes on very happily. The believers use the talents given them by God," - even to every man according to his several ability." - (Matthew 25:15) They are fewer in number, yet bound together in love to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ; they are seeking to maintain the simple plain path of obedience to the Word of God and to their risen Lord. May the lamp stand remain till our Lord shall come again.