Notes from the leadership journey!

Adam Hockenberry

I’m on a Methodist history kick these days, writing posts on Strawbridge Shrine, Lovely Lane UMC, as well as posts on the 1784 Discipline (yesterday’s post: Visiting From House to House). I’ve also been re-reading Rev. Dr. W. Lee Spottswood’s book, published in 1888. Spottswood was one of my predecessors here in Clearfield (1858-1860) (see my previous post on Spottswood).

The Centre Grove United Methodist traces its history to 1815 as the first Methodist presence in Clearfield County. By my count, 114 pastors have gone before me (89 in the first 100 years and 25 in the last 97 years). One pastor, Adam Hockenberry, died while serving here.

I recently read about Hockenberry in a book called Crowned Victors: The Memoirs of Over Four Hundred Methodist Preachers (1878). The same obituary appears in The Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1852-1855. Ironically, the obituary was written by W. Lee Spottswood, who came to Clearfield four years after Hockenberry died in 1854.

At age 16, Hockenberry found Christ at a camp meeting in Huntingdon County. Around 23, he began preaching; his appointments included Trough Creek (1849), Alleghany (1850), Sinnamahoning (1851), Warriors Mark (1852), and Clearfield (1853-1854). His obituary states …

In all these appointments the name of Adam Hockenberry is embalmed in the hearts of the people; everywhere he was a noble type of a Methodist preacher, and all bear testimony to his ability and success in the gospel ministry. (368)

Hockenberry was only 30 years old when he died. During his brief time in Clearfield, he married Elizabeth Shafer and had a child. Then, in 1854, “he was arrested by disease.” Hockenberry’s “brief but triumphant career in the work of the Christian ministry” receives the following description …

With deep piety, a burning zeal for God—a man of great amiability and retiring modesty, of sound common sense, of more than ordinary intellect, of superior preaching abilities, and a hard student, it is not strange that Adam Hockenberry was a hero in the strife. (368)

In Brief Annals, Spottswood adds …

He was six-feet tall, spare, raw-boned—something of the physique of Mr. Lincoln. He was one of the most mighty men in prayer, and an eloquent and powerful preacher, swaying his congregation and at times carrying his hearers away as by storm. He was thoroughly versed in the scriptures. He had a wonderfully bright future before him. He died however at the early age of 37 [obituary says 30]. (124)

According to the obituary, Hockenberry’s “sick room was, indeed, quite on the verge of heaven.” As he faced death, he was described as “meek, and patient, and brave.”

Here’s the extraordinary description of his final hours …

About three hours before he died he summoned his friends around his bed, and bidding them an affectionate farewell, he exhorted them to meet him in heaven. He called for his child, and invoked upon it the blessing of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. He then prayed God to bless the widow and the orphan. He requested his friends to sing. They sang the first three verses of the hymn beginning, ‘I would not live alway.’ They stopped. He told them there was yet another verse. They sang it. He exclaimed, ‘What music is that I hear!—don’t you hear it? Why, it is the angels who are singing!’ He said to his wife, ‘I am going home.’ He then clapped his hands, shouting, ‘I have the victory—all is well!’ and in a little while he slept in Jesus.

May God find those of us who follow Adam Hockenberry in Clearfield faithful, as well!

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