[picture of Fay Wheeler in front of Spring Grove. (Side note: The sidewalk to the annex is about six inches lower than the one in front of the sanctuary)]
WOMAN PASTOR - - Rev. Fay Wheeler stands on the doorstep of the Spring Grove Church, near Lane, which she serves as pastor, assisted in all the work of the church by her husband, Rev. Leslie Wheeler, also a pastor.

Woman Pastor Serving Lane


One of the few women pastors in Kansas is Rev. Fay Wheeler, who serves the Spring Grove Friends Church about 3 ½ miles east of Lane. The church is commonly referred to as the Quaker Church. Rev. Wheeler recently observed the fifth anniversary of her service with the church.

Assisting greatly with the church work is her husband, Leslie Wheeler, also a pastor. The couple came to Lane from a charge near Stillwater, Okla.

Services at the church are Sunday School at 10 a.m., on Sunday, worship at 11 a.m., and in the evening, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, and a missionary meeting on the second Tuesday of each month.

The oldest member of the church is Challous Hay, about 70, who can give us some of the past history of the church. The Friends Church is set up so that one church is called a monthly meeting.

A group of monthly meetings makes up a quarterly meeting. Spring Grove is grouped with ones at Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Hesper (near Eudora), and Gardner. The yearly meeting includes Texas, Oklahoma, three in Colorado, two in Missouri, and Kansas with headquarters in Wichita.

Rev. Wheeler is on a salary, called pastoral support, with a parsonage beside the church furnished. She and her husband have worked steadily to improve the church facilities during the five years of their tenure.

At present, the church, although small, presents a pleasant interior and exterior. In 1962, the ceiling was lowered and new wiring and light fixtures installed. In June 1963, work was begun on the annex, which was later finished and dedicated on Dec. 13, 1964.

The next project was the purchase of new pews at a cost of $1,274, with the dedication and program on Dec. 21, 1965. Some of the old pews, made with pegs, are used in the annex. New pews are upholstered for greater comfort.
The church improvements have been made with the cooperation of the members. It is more remarkable because many of the members are non-resident, and too far away to attend often. On Memorial Day, many persons return to the old cemetery which joins the church yard on the east. The whole setup occupies about two acres.

How does the Friends Church differ from other churches?

"The Friends Church is more similar than different from other evangelical churches," Rev. Wheeler said. "The Friends Church does not practice some ordinances such as baptism in the same manner as it believes that it is essential that baptism be spiritual. The church does not forbid outward baptism, but does not practice it.

A question about the separation of the sexes during a worship service drew a smile from both pastors.

They reported that it is not the custom now. They did encounter the practice in one church in Oklahoma. Rev. Wheeler thought he would break up the practice at a service by sitting on the women's side. It had no effect. In fact, after being ignored and feeling out of place, he returned to the men's side.

The Friends Churches of this area are not affiliated in any way with those of the east, and have their own missionary field. Formerly pastors were not formally trained. Often members of the congregation took turns as pastors. Now, however, most are seminary graduates.

The history of the church continues to grow more hazy as time elapses and older members pass on. No real records exist. Rev. Wheeler has looked at the original deeds in the county courthouse, one of which describes lengths in "chains."

A history compiles by Fern B. Cook in the fall of 1939, gives about all that is known of its early existence.

The start really goes back, she said, to the spring of 1855, when some Friends began holding services in a one-room house. Border warfare reduced their numbers as men were called to fight.

A regular monthly meeting was organized in 1859, the second one in Kansas. The first meeting house was built in 1860. Through the years there have been six recorded ministers as told by Fern D. Cook, whose husband, Ellis became pastor in 1950.

For more than a century, the church has carried on its work. Today, in spite of a small membership, it is moving forward rather than receding as many small rural churches have done.

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