The Muren Church of God has always been a part of my childhood. They celebrated their one hundred year anniversary in 2010.
Patoka Grove United Methodist was our church, but most of my family and friends attended Muren Church of God. My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin were part of the original congregation. My parents were married there in 1960 and most likely my grandparents were married there. I did spend many Rally Days there by my cousin’s invitations, along with some random Sundays and holidays. I attended long enough at one time when we lived in Muren to be a part of the youth group. I remember those Halloween parties with the cold spaghetti used as brains and the frozen grapes for eyeballs. Then I had to walk home down Muren Hill in the dark. It was probably more like run home with every imaginable monster chasing me! I sent my children to Bible School there and still have a sixteen year old Bible School project magnet on my fridge as a keepsake.
I am now fifty years old and Jocko McCandless was the minister of Muren Church of God most of those years. He just passed away this month to join in heaven his wife, Maxine Bolin McCandless who passed in December of 2010. They were among the nicest people on God’s green earth and will be missed by many. Jocko was the minister at the church from 1958 to 1991. Jocko was my Aunt’s (on my Momma’s side) Brother in law and Maxine was my Dad’s Cousin. Most of us from the Muren area are either blood cousins or married in cousins to each other some where down the line. If your family is from the area you know this and if not you will never figure it out.
Kitty Keeton (1897- 1982 ) grew up in the Muren, Turkey Hill, Aberdeen and Massey areas.. Again that whole married in thing, my first husband was one of his great nephews, making him my children’s great great uncle. He made mention of Muren Church of God in his memoirs:
“Arlo Hurt was another and like brothers we would fight one and another. If anybody would bother the other, they had both of us to whip. He really was a trusted buddy. He married a Russ girl of Muren – Rev. Russ’s daughter. He was the original Church of God pastor of Muren. Muren, Winslow, Oakland City still have some of his following as of now. McCandless, the great grandson is the pastor at Muren. Jodie Davis, another neighbor daughter, Mrs. Claussen, is now the pastor at Winslow and Jewell Morton and I think some more Mortons are still here attending Oakland City Church of God. Jodie Davis, his son in law Rev. Claussen, and Mrs. Claussen, Joda’s daughter, also are pastors of Oakland City Church. All originated by the Russ Family. Another younger daughter of Joda’s married a young man that is a Church of God minister now. Charlie Hume’s, the Muren storekeeper, son Richard was a pastor and miner until he died at maybe in his early 40s. He married a girl named May Whitman. I worked later with Hume at the Muren Mine. Also his father in law Whitman. Then later in the late 1900s, Whitman and I was room buddys at Ingle #7 mine. The McCandless, Davis, Hume, Whitmans, Thurmans, Bolins, Mortons are intermarried so when talking to anyone from Pike Co.—all pretty nice people in all branches of the family.”
I asked Bill Berlin, what he might remember about the old days of Muren Church of God from his grandparents. Bill is in his 80s and probably more computer savvy than I am. His family was also a part of the area. This is part of a story he emailed me:
“My maternal grandfather, Oliver P.M. Agee, (1861-1947) was a farmer and a preacher. I don’t know exactly when he began to preach, but it was before 1900. He and Grandmother Lou Ella (Pancake) Agee became engaged with the Church of God “movement” early in its appearance in southern Indiana and Pike/Gibson/Daviess/Knox counties, in particular. It was called a “movement” because its grassroots-type of approach to church organization, participation and growth, rather than the more centralized, clergy-dominated, bureaucratic forms of other groups, such as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. Their major doctrinal difference that set them apart, however, is their belief in a second work of grace for those who became Christian, the sanctification of true believers.
At some time in the 1880’s, people of the community (including many relatives and their families), built a church house on grandfather’s farm just south of their garden plot. This location is no more than ¼ mile south on State Road 64 where the Scottsburg road crosses it east of Arthur. Because of their belief, just cited, it became known as Saint’s Church. The held outdoor camp meetings in the summer and people came from as far away as Monroe City, Burr Oak, Princeton and Boonville.
Grandfather traveled to these other communities to preach and to hold “revivals,” as they came to be called later. I’m sure he preached at Muren several times during his active years. Even in my time, I remember they were good friends with the Hume family in that community. And I remember when I was a good sized boy, seeing Dickie Hume and wife at their home. Of course, Dickie was much younger than Grandpa- more at my mother’s age-so I know that the folks were close to the folks of the Muren congregation. Incidentally, Dickie went on to become an outstanding minister in the continuing growth of the Church of God.”
They have a beautiful new church on the highway where Kirby’s Drive Inn used to be. There is still a feeling of sadness when you drive through Muren and the Church of God is no longer at the top of the hill.