This rock includes a plaque that shares the story of brothers Noah and Enoch Byrum of the Gospel Trumpet Company arrival in Anderson. According to this interpretation, the two bothers knelt down and dedicated the land behind this rock to God. The two brothers arrived looking to expand their small religious publishing operation, The Gospel Trumpet, which had previously operated in West Virginia. This land later became the site of the Church of God Camp meeting was for over one hundred years, as well as Anderson University. Pioneer Rock commemorates the arrival of the Byrum brothers and also the beginning of the Church of God's involvement in Anderson, Indiana.
Backstory and Context
In 1906, The Gospel Trumpet Company, a small religious publishing company organized by the Church of God Movement came to Anderson looking to expand. Before coming to Anderson, the growing company had moved around the Midwest. After a difficult spell in Moundsville, West Virginia, the leaders of the Gospel Trumpet Company had an interest in relocating the operation to Indiana for two main reasons. First, the publishing company would be where the movement was growing the most. Second, it would move the operation more central to the population of the nation. A company delegation visited central Indiana and fell in love with the city of Anderson. The company leased a building downtown in the meantime, while a home, campground, and publishing house was constructed on newly purchased land just east of the city center.
Before any construction was started on the newly purchased land, brothers Noah and Enoch Byrum knelt and dedicated the beautiful rolling land to God. They were the company men who had visited the land in Anderson before it was even known that it was for sale. They believed that the Lord had led them to this place. To commemorate the moment the Gospel Trumpet published: “As the sun was nearing the horizon in the western sky, there in the evening of the day, we knelt and asked God to sanctify that place to his service and for his glory, to aid in sending the gospel to all nations.” Little did Noah or Enoch know that on that site the publishing company would operate for over a hundred years, the annual Church of God Camp Meeting would take place at this site which would also be home to Anderson University.
The first thing constructed on the new land was the Gospel Trumpet Home. Twenty carloads of lumber were purchased from the closed World’s Fair buildings in St. Louis, Missouri and a gravel pit was opened on-site to help supply materials. The labor consisted mostly of volunteers who worked around the clock through the spring and summer. The 114 room structure was completed on December 12, 1906. The Trumpet Home was used as a residence hall and dining facility for the Gospel Trumpet workers. A permanent publishing building was constructed in 1910 just south of the Trumpet Home.
A year after the Gospel Trumpet Company moved to Anderson they used their land to host an annual Camp Meeting. With their central location, they were able to attract larger crowds than in their previous locations. Eventually, a permanent tabernacle was constructed to host the Camp Meeting services. The construction of the Gospel Trumpet Home and the Tabernacle solidified the Church of God’s permanence in Anderson.
In early 1917, a managing committee to plan for the launching of an educational effort was created. It was chaired by J.T. Wilson. On October 2, 1917, Anderson Bible Training School opened in the Gospel Trumpet Home. The principal was J.T. Wilson. The school was established under the same ideas of the Church of God movement, which were the elimination of sectism in churches and belief in the Holy Trinity. The movement was open to everyone who professed their faith in Jesus Christ; no formal membership was required. For the first several years, the faculty and students were related to the Gospel Trumpet Workers. As the school expanded, the Gospel Trumpet Home became the hub of the school and was renamed to “Old Main.”
Since Noah and Enoch Byrum dedicated this land to God, the Bible Training School became a University that educates thousands of students a year. Furthermore, the Church of God Camp Meeting was hosted on the ground for over one-hundred years. This rock commemorates the night the Byrum brothers dedicated the land to God, but more importantly, the beginning of the use of the land as the hub of the Church of God Movement.
(View from the rock if you are standing on the stone pavers facing the rock. The red brick building straight ahead is the Nicholson Library (named after the University’s third President). If you look right you will see a modern looking building, which is the building that replaced the Gospel Trumpet Home in the late 1960s. A white house stands behind you. That is the house of the first president of the University, John Morrison.)
Callen, Barry. The Guide of Soul and Mind: The Story of Anderson University. Anderson, Indiana. Warner Press, Inc, 1992.
Strege, Merle D.. The Desk as Alter: The Centennial History of Anderson University. Anderson, Indiana. Anderson University Press, 2016.
Graeme States (Photo Taken 7-1-2020)
Graeme States (Photo Taken 7-1-2020)
Anderson University and Church of God Archives