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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Joshua Vaughan Himes (1805–1895)

Joshua Vaughan Himes (1805–1895) was a Christian leader and publisher. He became involved with the followers of William Miller and later became a prominent leader in the Advent Christian Church.

Himes was born in Wickford, Rhode Island. His parents intended for him to become an Episcopal priest, but when a business deal went sour he was unable to complete his education and was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At 18 he joined the Christian Connexion church in New Bedford where he was licensed as an exhorter. In November 1825 he married Mary Thompson Handy, and the following year was ordained to the ministry. Over the next few years he pastored several districts in Massachusetts, before becoming pastor of the First Christian Church in Boston in 1830. There he rose to prominence, reviving a church that was near death, and becoming active in the educational, temperance, peace, and abolitionist reform movements of the day.

Himes met William Miller in 1839 at Exeter, New Hampshire. Impressed, he invited Miller to speak at the Chardon Street Chapel. From these lectures Himes became convinced of the soon return of Christ, and sought opportunities for Miller to preach. In 1840 he published and edited the first Millerite newspaper, the Signs of the Times, in Boston. He led in organizing general conferences and camp meetings, and published hundreds of pamphlets as well as the second and third editions of Miller's lectures. He organized extensive lecture tours for Miller and himself as far west as Cincinnati, brought about the manufacture of the "great tent," at that time the largest tent in the United States, for use on these tours, and established a network of agents, book depots, and reading rooms from Boston to St. Louis. He also published the Thayer lithograph of the first Millerite prophetic chart, designed by Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale. In 1842 he started a second newspaper, the Midnight Cry, in New York City. Himes' promotional work brought Millerism to the attention of the world.

Like Miller, Himes at first opposed the setting of October 22, 1844 as the exact date for the return of Christ, but accepted it shortly before the date arrived. After the Great Disappointment when Jesus did not return on this day, he played a leading role in trying to reorganize the disappointed Adventists around the original Advent faith at the Albany Conference in April 1845. When this failed he became a leader of the Evangelical Adventists and their American Millennial Association (1858), opposing Sabbatarian Adventism and their understanding of the sanctuary as well as those who believed in conditional immortality and the re-establishment of Israel before Christ's Second Coming.

In 1863 Himes accepted the doctrine of conditional immortality, joined the Advent Christian Church, and moved his family west to Buchanan, Michigan, assuming a prominent leadership role among Advent Christians and starting a newspaper, The Voice of the West (later Advent Christian Times). In 1865 he was the founding president of the American Advent Mission Society, and was further planning to start a college in Illinois.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 11/24/2009

The Reverend Joshua V. Himes, the pastor of the Chardon Street Baptist Chapel of Boston, happened to hear Miller preach at a religious conference. Himes immediately accepted Miller's millennial ideas and became Miller's publicity agent, manager, and promoter. Himes happened to be a religious entrepreneur par excellence, and he invited Miller to speak at his Chardon Street Chapel in December of 1839. The Chardon Street Chapel is remembered today primarily because of a comment Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote after a November 1840 meeting there when the Chapel housed a "Convention of Friends of Universal Reform." Emerson described it in these words:

If the assembly were disorderly, it was picturesque. Mad Men, Mad Women, Men with beards, Dunkers, Muggletonians, Come-outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh Day Baptists, Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians, and Philosophers, all came successively to the top and seized their moment, if not their hour, wherein to chide, pray, or preach, or protest.

With functions such as this in his Chapel, it is understandable why Himes loved crowds, revivals, camp meetings, particularly the exhibition of fear and repentance which were the trappings of emotional religion.

Himes not only arranged Miller's revivals for him, but he edited journals which promulgated Miller's ideas such as the Boston Sign of the Times, the New York Midnight Cry, the primary papers of the Millennial movement. In 1836, sixteen of Miller's lectures appeared in book form as Evidences from Scriptures and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year 1843. As with the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith, Miller's writings needed editing by a more literate individual, a service which Himes provided for William Miller.

By 1842 at least fourteen itinerant lecturers, urged on by Himes, were swarming over the Burned-Over area of New York State promulgating Miller's ideas. Then, as a confirmation of Miller's predictions, from February 18th until April 1, 1842, a brilliant comet burned nightly on the horizon of the sky. It fulfilled the prophecy that the Lord would be "Revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not the Lord." Miller grew even more inspired as 1843 neared, lecturing more than three hundred times in six months on the theme: "Are You Ready to Meet Your Saviour?" In the summers of 1842 and 1843 there were one hundred and twenty camp meetings whose preaching centered on the coming Millennium.

Miller was not a ranting revivalist, for his sermons were given in a serious and convincing tone. Thousands had to be turned away from his tent rallies as interest in his preaching and predictions surged during what was evidently the last year of earthly existence. In 1843 as Time neared an end, Himes moved their headquarters to Rochester, New York, to be in the heart of the Burned-Over District. On June 23rd of that year Himes had a great tent erected in Rochester, one which could hold three thousand potential converts to Millennialism. Two weeks of meetings, prayers, preaching, and forecast of the coming Millennium proceeded.

Not everyone believed as Miller and his followers did, and books and pamphlets both for and against the prediction of the imminent Millennium poured from the presses. Many clergymen of more moderate persuasion condemned Miller's ideas as erroneous, and at times mobs even tried to break up the meetings at which he spoke, and Miller was pelted with rotten vegetables. But still his converts increased. Himes, ever the public relations man, estimated that one million people had been converted to Millennial beliefs. This is the usual problem with such estimates made by those most concerned with the success of a movement in which they are involved. At best, there may have been some 50,000 individuals who succumbed to Miller's predictions, and most of them remained within the churches to which they had previously adhered.

- from Saints, Sinners and Reformers The Burned-Over District Re-Visited, by John H. Martin, 2005

Skilled in methods of promotion, Himes took Miller out of the rural areas and small towns and placed him in the great cities — the communication centers of the nation. Operating chiefly out of Boston and New York, Himes established strategic outposts in such places as Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Rochester. Newspapers were established in each of the above cities, most notably "The Signs of the Times" (later " The Advent Herald") in Boston and "The Midnight Cry" (later "The Morning Watch") in New York. Books, pamphlets, tracts and other publications flowed from the presses in the thousands. Preaching and lecture tours for Miller and others were organized. Conferences, tent and camp meetings were employed to promote the cause and the message. Book depots and reading rooms were opened from Boston to St. Louis. J. V. Himes was the chief promoter, organizer and publicist of the Adventist cause—the man whom William Miller said did more than any other 10 persons to arouse the world to his message of warning and hope.

- Jenks Collection at Aurora University

Other than Miller, the man who likely contributed most to the success of the Millerite movement was Joshua V. Himes. Pastor of the Second Christian Church of Boston when the advent message came to him in 1839, Himes soon threw all of his many talents and energies into the task of propagating the advent message. Himes was a powerful preacher, and a man of deep spirituality and perfect integrity. His personality was attractive and he had a gift for popular, appealing presentation of his message. His ability in the pulpit was outshone only by his unusual gifts as an editor and an organizer. Soon some of the best publishing facilities in the country were enlisted for the publication of the numerous papers, tracts, books, pamphlets, songbooks, charts, broadsides, and handbills issued under his direction. When an evangelistic series was conducted in New York City, Himes started a daily newspaper, the Midnight Cry, to publicize the advent teachings. For a time ten thousand copies a day were sold or given away on the streets.

It was Joshua Himes who was responsible for drawing Miller out of the small towns and villages into the large cities, and his promotional ability provided more openings for sermons than could be filled. Tens of thousands of persons attended the camp meetings Himes organized and managed, and more thousands were added as the movement spread beyond his personal supervision. “In approximately 130 camp meetings held in 1843 and 1844 between 500,000 and 1,000,000 were estimated to have attended—and the total population of the States was only 17,0000,000.”


Joshua V. Himes became the leading voice among the open door Adventists. He rapidly concluded that nothing had happened on October 22, 1844. Holding that they had been correct as to the expected event (i.e., the second coming of Jesus), he reasoned that they had been wrong on the time calculation. On November 4, 1844, Himes wrote that “we are now satisfied that the authorities on which we based our calculations cannot be depended upon for definite time.” Although “we are near the end, . . . we have no knowledge of a fixed date or definite time, but do most fully believe that we should watch and wait for the coming of Christ, as an event that may take place at any hour” (MC, Nov. 7, 1844, 150). Under Himes’s leadership this group took steps to organize itself into a distinct Adventist body at Albany, New York, in April 1845. By that time, in order to escape the fanaticism of some of the shut door Adventists, Miller had moved to the open door camp (see MF 267-293). - by George R. Knight

Adventists pay homage to early leader while celebrating mortgage milestone

The headstone was covered with 115 years of moss and lichen. The old, pitted surface, now scrubbed clean, was inscribed with faint words: Who shall roll us away the stone. Mark 16:3. Joshua Vaughan Himes, Born May 19, 1805. Died July 27, 1895.

With a tiny brush, a painter refreshed the etching Friday while half a dozen members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church talked in hushed tones nearby about the man buried there, an organizer who helped lay the groundwork for what became the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The forgotten and neglected grave marked with two boulders on a grassy knoll in Sioux Falls is a modest recognition of a charismatic life, said Don Johnson, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sioux Falls. He studied Himes in college and located the grave a few years ago on the advice of Kathie Gulk, an elderly church member. Renewed interest in Himes was generated by the upcoming mortgage burning and dedication of the church Saturday. Himes, a minister, was active in the Millerite movement of the mid-1800s. William Miller, leader of the movement, thought that Jesus was coming to cleanse the Earth by fire on Oct. 22, 1844, Johnson said.

Miller's teachings gained momentum, and the movement swept the country, attracting followers even in Europe. Himes was fascinated by Miller and helped spread the word by organizing speaking engagements for him and arranging huge camp meetings. At least 54 revivals were held in 1844, captivating thousands of followers, according to Himes holds the record for organizing the biggest tent event. The tent was 120 feet in diameter with a 55-foot-tall pole. It seated 4,000 people, with another 2,000 who crammed in the aisles. As fall approached, Miller's teachings reached fever pitch. When Oct. 23, 1844, dawned and the world was still here, disappointed believers drifted back to their own churches or turned away from religion completely. Still others became Adventists. "Twenty years later, the Seventh-day Adventist denomination formed," Johnson said.

Now 16.3 million strong, they believe in the second coming of Christ and honor the Fourth Commandment to rest on the seventh day, Johnson said. "We attend church on Saturday." Not to be waylaid by a scrubbed second coming, Himes migrated west and ended up in South Dakota as pastor at an Episcopal church in Elk Point. He also was a prolific author and publisher and developed several magazines and newspapers throughout his lifetime. Himes died of cancer at 91 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on a bluff facing west and overlooking the city. "We were really excited to find that a part of our history was in Sioux Falls," said Cathy Cottingham, church secretary. "If it wasn't for this person, our church may not have developed as it did.
We're so pleased to be able to pay back our respects."

- Dorene Weinstein, - September 19, 2010