Tag Archives: writing

Tis the Season of Hope

Here’s the transcript of my thoughts I shared at “The Service of Hope” held on December 16th, 2018.

img_0851I’m here this afternoon because like many of you I have experienced the loss of someone significant in my life. My father passed away in 2005 and my mother in 2016. The pain of loss is real and no one is immune to its effects—even those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Followers of Jesus don’t need to apologize to anyone for their pain and sorrow in that regard. One of my favorite passages of scripture is the 11th chapter of John, which gives the account of the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus. In that story Jesus is moved by the sorrow of Mary and Martha as they mourned the loss of their brother. The words, “Jesus wept,” serve to remind me Jesus knows and understands the pain and sadness we feel when we lose someone we love.

Dad was 69 when he died of prostate cancer. Growing up I idolized my father. By the time I graduated from college he didn’t seem that important to me. I had a life of my own. Yes, we gathered together at family functions but I wasn’t that connected to him anymore. When I reached my 40s, having established my family and a career, an unexplained desire emerged to get to know dad better. Looking back I see it was God who gave me that desire and I’m glad I acted on it. I recall praying God would show me something we could do together to connect with him.

Family genealogy turned out to be the vehicle that joined us together. Dad and I quickly became hooked on it. My wife Patty and I made a number of trips together with my parents to Pennsylvania as we researched our family tree. Not long after we connected dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It turned out to be the aggressive sort and 9 months later he died. I believe God wanted dad and me to be together as he struggled to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. When he could no longer pray, I prayed for him.

God prompted me to do something else when I learned dad wouldn’t be with us much longer. He inspired me to write down my thoughts as dad and I walked through this ordeal together. Perhaps some of you have read these thoughts in the book, Junior’s Hope. It was a book that almost wasn’t published. I figured it was my therapy, you know, something to help me cope with losing a father, my namesake and friend. I wanted to chronicle my life with him and create something to remember him by. But as time passed after his death I believed my writing had served its purpose and it didn’t need to be printed. Then one night, which happened to be exactly one year to the day after his death, I saw my father in a dream. In that dream I saw dad as a healthy man in the prime of life. We exchanged a few words and then he was gone. The dream was so real it filled me with hope and inspired me to get the book published. I remember thinking, okay Lord you made your point.

My life changed after dad passed away. I now had one more person to care for, mom. While I deferred to Patty to take care of mom’s physical needs, I focused on helping mom with whatever else she needed. As it turns out the book I almost never published became a source of hope for her. She was so proud of me that she had to tell everyone she knew about it. We can never fully understand the purposes of God. He accomplishes them on so many different levels.

Mom lived 11 more years without dad. Family, friends and Christmas were the joys of her life.  During her life, mom dabbled in writing poetry. I usually don’t dabble in poetry but the time I spent with her inspired me to write a handful of poems on her behalf. When I showed them to her she’d say, “Bill that’s exactly how I feel.” One of the shorter ones is printed on the back page of your bulletin.

Storms

During the closing months of her life we liked to exchange a couple of phrases. I wanted to reassure her she was truly loved so I would say to her, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” To this she’d reply, “I love you, I love you, I love you more!” The second exchange came about out of her concern as to how tired I looked attending to her various personal effects and financial affairs. She’d say, “Bill you don’t have to come see me tomorrow if you’re tired. Stay home and rest.” To this I would say, “I’ll rest when you rest.” We both knew what I meant by her resting. Mom passed away in the summer of 2016.

The pain I felt when dad and mom passed away was so overwhelming it’s hard to put into words. I miss them very much, especially at Christmastime. I have so many Christmas memories.

The reason we gather for a service such as this one is to hear how others have found hope in dark places. I’d like to spend the rest of my time with you talking about how I found hope in a dark place.

I have learned a few things as I struggled to cope with the loss of dad and mom. The first thing that became apparent to me is there is a strong relationship between hope and faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I hope you don’t mind me repeating that verse. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I wear a pendant I found in mom’s jewelry chest to remind me true hope can only be found in Jesus. Inscribed on it are the words, “In Christ alone my hope is found…he is my light, my strength, my song.”

Following the death of my father, I vowed not to be mad at God; I did not want to blame him for my loss. If there was one person who could help me, it was God. I found a scripture verse to remind me that God is always working on my behalf. Romans 8:28 declares, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Instead of being mad at God I chose to embrace him.

I think it was my widowed neighbor that first shared with me the significance of frog. Do you know what F. R. O. G. stands for? I didn’t. It means Fully Rely On God. Someone who fully relies on God is better able to stand on the promises of God with both feet firmly planted. So when a wave of despair wakes me up in the middle of the night, my soul can sing with all its might, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

The last thing I’ll share with you is something I found in the book of Joshua as I was preparing to lead a study on the book Sunday mornings this past fall. Joshua was in the same boat I was in. The beloved leader of the Israelites, Moses, had just died. It was up to Joshua to pick up the pieces and journey on without him. God tells Joshua in chapter 1:8, “Be strong and very courageous!”

Brushing aside my first thoughts that this had something to do with physical strength and metal toughness, I believe God was telling Joshua that hope could be found in strong and courageous faith. God goes on to tell Joshua, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and later, “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” With my whole being I believe these words to be true. God will not leave me and he will not forsake me in my hour of need. He will be with me wherever I go. He will do the same for you. Faith in God is a true source of hope.

In closing, I would add these words penned by the Apostle Peter:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  1 Peter 1:3-6

“Tis the season of hope!

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Fish, part 4 (revised)

The fourth decade of my life could easily summarize in one word, successIMG_0361 My career at the plastics factory sprouted wings soared.  From my humble beginnings as a plastic materials handler, I graduated to operating injection-molding machines, and  changing the heavy steel molds that shaped melted plastic pellets into parts.  This was just the beginning. Within a few years I found myself supervising workers on a packaging line.

Within a couple of years, our company was awarded a contract to assemble disposable, one-time use cameras.  When the economics of reusing these cameras became favorable, our company was asked to start recycling them also.  Our involvement in this business grew to tens of millions of cameras each year. Our company’s success meant more supervisors were needed and managers to oversee the supervisors. Up the corporate ladder I rose.

Too busy to have anything to do with fish now, all my energy was being poured into my career, and finding ways to take it to new heights. Success fueled my competitive fire and I found new avenues of my life to express it.  Competitive sports such as softball, golf, volleyball, and bowling offered just that.  Academics also proved to fuel the fire. I pursued of a Master of Science in Leadership from my alma mater RWC.  The resulting crowning achievement was an appearance in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.  God was with me then but His voice was becoming increasingly harder to hear.  Success trumpeted loudly in my ears, blasting a beautiful melody.  I began to believe that what I had accomplished had less to do with God’s blessings on my life and more to do with my own abilities.

What free time I did have I spent trying to stay abreast of our sons’ ever-changing interests. As teenagers, they were more interested in how fast a boat could travel than experiencing the patience of fishing. Their interests included manning a space shuttle and traveling to other worlds on the starship, Enterprise.  So when we went for a cottage retreat on a lake, fishing was the lowest priority.  Instead, they experienced the thrill of being pulled in a tube behind a speeding boat and chasing after the model rockets launched into the sky’s great expanse. Computers and video gaming were becoming the rage and they fell in love with this sort of technology hook, line and sinker. 

My father never gave up on fishing, however, he continued to fish. His patience and steadfastness were richly rewarded whenever he reeled in a trophy-sized fish.

“Perhaps the most unusual object added to the room was a 40-pound stuffed and mounted Salmon caught by Dad while fishing on Lake Ontario years earlier. It was hung on the wall…and was the first thing he saw when he woke up every morning. It was a trophy that represented the patience, persistence and faithfulness that epitomized my father.” Bill Roushey from the book Junior’s Hope


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I distinctly remember two things of spiritual significance happening during this decade of my life. First, a sick feeling that rose up within me when I realized that unbridled success apart from a close relationship with God rang hollow. In the midst of all my success I can remember at one point wondering, “Is this all life has to offer?” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14).  As a result, I began a period of connecting deeper with God, exploring a call to ministry and listening quietly for periods of time while I prayed. These periods of listening to hear from God led to the second event.

Abraham Lincoln

The sick feeling that I carried around in my being was replaced by an unexplained hunger, a.k.a. the second event.  For some reason I felt I needed to reconnect with my father and deepen my relationship with him.  The feeling grew in intensity and became so strong it compelled me to act on it.  Weeks went by and the feeling never left me.

Dad’s upbringing was grounded in genuine faith in God but due to the rules placed on its members by his (our) denomination of faith it was expressed outwardly as a list of do’s and dont’s, or legalism.  In grade school I was looked at like a child from another planet when I handed my physical education teacher a note from my parents explaining that dancing was against our religious convictions.  I , too, loved God but I rejected that religious legalism as a college student, punctuating my rejection with a fun rebellion.  Somehow rejecting legalism had led to rejecting my father.   I never felt close to him after that.  When the hunger inside me didn’t subside, I prayed for God to show me some vehicle I could use to reconnect with my father.  That vehicle turned out to be researching our family genealogy (see my post Beginning’s).

I rarely fished with my father or father-in-law during this time.  I was too busy wandering in the wasteland of my presumption.  The great fish caught in this decade of my life were not mine. These fish belonged to the faithful who fished with patience and steadfastness, and they were richly rewarded.  In my mind these fish stood as a reminder of how God honored the faithfulness of those who drew near to Him and did not take their faith for granted. (Proverbs 3:1-7)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Dad’s 40-pound trophy salmon stands as a tribute to his efforts.  For the rest of my days, whenever I gaze upon at that fish I will associate it with my father, a faithful man of God. The end of this decade brought me closer to my father than I ever had  been.

But a huge dark cloud appeared on the tranquil horizon.  One that struck fear in my heart…

Fish, part 3 (revised)

saltwater-fish-720
The third decade of my life was the most unpredictable, wondrous and insanely gratifying period of my life. It began my senior year at Roberts Wesleyan College.  The cast of characters in my life remained essentially the same except for the appearance of her.

I was determined to play out my senior year like the grand finale punctuating a fireworks display. Out of the starting gate, I competed on the cross-country team.  We were an unusually close-knit team and often participated in social activities as a group.  Wouldn’t you know it, she happened to be at some of these socials.

I continued to immerse myself in campus life, voted by my peers to escort the homecoming queen and serving as a lead character in the all college play, Cheaper By The Dozen.  My academic pursuits kept me unusually busy,  but somehow I kept running into her.

As the fall semester began winding down, I caught myself taking an interest in her.  She seemed to take her sweet time acknowledging my interest.  Worried that the semester would end before I had my chance to ask her out, I decided to get creative by distinguishing myself.  She committed to going on a date with me if I could run a personal best time in what amounted to our last home cross-country meet. (This meant running a sub 30-minute race over a distance of 5 miles, and faster than any previous attempt).  What had I gotten myself into?

The race itself was a journey to hell and back, as the course punished my body.  The effort helped our team win the meet and secure a winning record for our cross-country team.  The time, 29:46, qualified me for a date with her.

IMG_0409…Maybe it was the anticipation of having to wait a month to go out with her but after that first date magic was in the air. There was no question I was like a deer caught in the headlights, enchanted by the inner and outer beauty of this woman.            

Patty and I corresponded over the weeks separating first and second semester. Our letters deepened our mutual affection, and each of us hinted of a future together. A flame was now lit within my heart and it danced wildly like a flame on the bare wick of a candle fighting to stay ablaze as it burns itself down to the renewing and sustaining body of the candle wax below.

Bill Roushey, from the book Junior’s Hope

I became engaged to Patty in the spring, during my final semester of college life.  Immediately, she was welcomed into my family but I had yet to meet hers. When Patty called home to notify her parents of the news, I can only imagine what thoughts were going through their minds.

“Mom, I’m getting married!”

“To who?” Her mother asked, not expecting any news of this sort.

“Bill Roushey asked me to marry him and I said yes!”

“When are we going to meet this boy?” Her dad inquired, quickly picking up the phone extension.

“We’re coming home on spring break.”

I hadn’t thought about inheriting another set of parents until that moment.  I was in the process of separating myself from my own parents and now I was inheriting another set. Never in my life had I been this nervous about anything, but then again I had never been more in love either.

Sweat pooled under my armpits as I sat in an empty living room waiting for her father to meet me. The sound of  the shower running indicated it wouldn’t be anytime soon. Patty and her mom were off in another room having a mother/daughter reunion.  When her father came out and laid eyes on me for the first time, our conversation went something like this.

“Hello, sir.” I said warmly trying to hide my nervousness.

“You must be Bill,” he responded trying to assess the character of the man about to steal away his daughter.

“I’d like to marry your daughter.”

“Do you have a job? How do you plan on supporting her?”

“Yes. I have one lined up after graduation.”

“We want our daughter to graduate from college. Are you planning to let her continue on with her schooling?”

“Yes sir, that’s important to both of us.”

IMG_0377“Well then, okay,” he said as I felt the tension in the room evaporate.  Then, he added, “… and we’d like to pay for her tuition.”

I realized at that moment what kind and generous parents she had.

Several years later Patty and I had the means to build our own home.  It was during that time we entered into what I call the “Noah’s ark” phase of our lives, acquiring fresh and saltwater aquariums, birds, cats and a dog.

The Lord soon blessed us with two boys, which we taught to fish among other things. They experienced first hand the thrill of having unseen objects tug on their fishing line as they dangled a worm into the watery abyss.  Eyes went wide when they reeled in their prize.

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My freshwater aquarium experience of the previous decade paled in comparison to the unfathomable splendor of gazing into a salt-water aquarium.  The personal cost to acquire and retain such beauty is far greater, the care more delicate and tedious, the hardships more severe, but the final result is breathtaking.  Such is my comparison to my love and my life with her.

My spiritual journey this decade was one of continuance, generation to generation, father to son.IMG_0364  The closer I walk with God the greater my appreciation for His continuance, an eternal God whose love has no limit or end. (Psalm 36:5-7)

For all practical purposes this is a storybook ending, but as it turns out this is not the end.

To be continued…

Your Life, Your Book

book-863418_960_720The life we live is our story, ours alone.  Many, including yours truly,  have chosen to capture part or all of their story in a book.  If you were attempting to put your story on the printed page, how would you characterize it: love story, adventure, drama, comedy, inspirational, or something else?

If you set out to write this book, what words would appear on its pages?  Where would the material or words come from?  What activities, relationships or experiences have you immersed yourself in that have a direct bearing on your story?

As the pages of your book begin to accumulate it becomes evident that the words need to be organized into chapters.  How does one determine when one chapter ends and a new one begins?  In my story, new chapters corresponded with changes of scenery and vocation, or new relationships and responsibilities.  At other times a new chapter began  when my life headed in a new direction.  Directional life changes can be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

The further along I get in my story, the more I find myself putting emphasis on the spiritual chapters of my life.  I worry less and less about searching for some new thing to experience and instead find myself turning to a blank page and engaging the Savior of my life to help me determine my direction.

My you find peace and contentment on the road you travel in life.  May the words of your book be pages of substance and eternal value.  May you find the meaning of life and experience abundant living.

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These are the words of Jesus found in John 10:10, “My purpose is to give them [us] a rich and satisfying life.” NLT

A One-of-a-kind Relationship

 

I have been putting off the completion of a book project for a number of years now. Life’s demands and complications necessitated that I make a few detours.  A project I viewed of paramount importance dropped off my radar. Where did the years go?

Recently, God has reminded me on a number of occasions that I need to finish this project.  The subject matter of the book is near and dear to my heart: Defining a relationship with God.  I hope to illustrate what this relationship could look like using a one-of-a-kind relationship familiar to all of us: one that involves “man’s best friend.”

So, in an effort to raise some interest on upcoming book and hold my own feet to the fire I will attempt to do a weekly post featuring an interesting dog quote.  Here is the first of many.

billings

 

Faith and Writers Conference – Preamble

Why attend a writers conference?ifwc-tn

I am a self-taught writer.  Any one who has tried to write knows it is an experience of the solitary sort.  I seem to be doing pretty well but I’ve always wondered what it would be like rubbing elbows with a room full of others engaged in the same endeavor.  Also, who wouldn’t want to learn a thing or two to improve their “game” from professionals who’ve been around the block a few times.

I love a good writing contest, too.  I sent my “Fish” story on ahead of me to be judged by the conference speakers.  I wonder how it will stack up against other writers in the non-fiction category?

And then there’s the open mic night.  Will I be brave enough to read a 5 minute segment of my work in front of a room full of strangers and see how they react?

My main reason for going, however, is to get an opinion from writing professionals about my work.  I opted for two consultations of fifteen minutes each.  I want to get their opinion and ask for their advice.  It is a given that I will keep writing but at what capacity will I write going forward?

Thursday I hit the road with my Kindle.  I found away to use the “text-to-speech” function on Kindle and pipe it through my car stereo using an ear phone cord with a plug on each end.  It was the strangest thing having my book Junior’s Hope read to me while I drove.  I have to say, hearing it read aloud inspired and encouraged me as I drove.  I arrived safely, thank you for your prayers.

Anderson University is a beautiful place.

Common area between the buildings known as the valley

Common area between the buildings known as the valley

Do you have a skeleton in your closet?

This is the second genealogy article I wrote.  Written one year after the first one,  I submitted it to the same writing contest and received my second award in as many years.  It is funny how God works sometimes.  Had I not received recognition for writing the articles, Junior’s Hope would probably never have been written.  The God I serve knows how to inspire and motivate me.  Reading this story again makes me want to write a couple more articles on Peter’s family.  Could another book could be in my future?  I have stripped the footnotes and references from the article to make it a easier read.  Enjoy.

Heinrich’s Skeleton in the Rauschenberger Closet

IMG_0387My grandfather, Reverend Harry E. Roushey, died a number of years ago. When I think of him, I remember a wise and elderly man with a balding head, a wreath of white hair, and a weathered appearance. Grandpa’s ever-present smile, unwavering devotion to his heavenly Savior, and prayerful decision-making defined his life. What my reflections don’t take into account is that Grandpa was once a boy who passed into manhood only after years of missteps and trials. Yes, even Grandpa made mistakes!

The mistakes we make range from petty, to serious. The more serious ones are often hidden in ancestral closets to hopefully be forgotten. As genealogists, we may stumble on a “skeleton in the closet” during the course of our research. While the skeleton may be a source of embarrassment to some family members, it can be an opportunity to gain an understanding of a dramatic event or fill a void in our ancestry. I found one such skeleton in my Rauschenberger lineage. The grievous mistake committed by my ancestor, Heinrich Rauschenberger, would not be considered criminal by today’s standards but the event carried disastrous consequences for him. I would even go so far as to say that the course of our family history, including our surname, which seemed to have been altered by the incident and the events that followed.

I stumbled onto the trail of Heinrich while searching for convincing proof that the Roushey surname was once Rauschenberger. I had found a vital piece of information that linked my 4th great-grandfather, Peter B. Roushey, to the Rauschenberger surname in an article on Moravian Cemetery records of Hope, New Jersey. Peter Benignus Rauschenberger and Peter B. Roushey shared identical birth dates and were both born in the same area of Sussex County, New Jersey. Since I didn’t have a document stating that Peter Roushey was born Peter Rauschenberger, I sought additional evidence. The same article mentioned that Peter had six brothers, so I set out to find information on any one of them to strengthen my case.

The Internet proved to be a good source of information about the Moravian faith, including where I could find genealogical information such as birth, death, and marriage records. I learned that the Moravian Archives building in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was the central repository for early Moravian records. My first few trips to the Moravian Archives were frustrating, because the records were written in the old German script. To overcome the language barrier, I began to systematically search for my ancestors in the church record books until I found a name I recognized with a date. I then went to the corresponding church diary and searched a number of pages before and after the date given to see if there was additional information written about the person.

Each trip to Bethlehem resulted in pages of mysterious German text requiring translation. Faced with the financial nightmare of having stacks of pages needing translation, I learned the value of networking with others. I was directed by one of my historical society contacts to a German translation website. Members of the group are able to have one image (one page of old German text) translated at a time via the Internet free of charge.

On one of my trips to Bethlehem, I returned home with a number of church diary pages with Heinrich Rauschenberger’s name on them. As each page was translated, a story began to unfold. Heinrich was the third of seven male children born to Frederick and Anna (Boeckel) Rauschenberger. He was born on December 29, 1776, in the Moravian town of Hope, then Sussex County, New Jersey. His mother no doubt welcomed his birth with joy because his unnamed brother born the previous year was stillborn. Young Heinrich was likely raised in typical Moravian fashion, living with his parents as a small child and attending school and worship services daily in the church-owned town. When he was old enough, he would have been admitted to the Moravian Little Boys Choir.

Moravians organized their parishioners into groups called choirs, by age, sex, and marital status. Each choir lived, ate, worked, and worshiped together apart from the other choirs. As children in Moravian settlements aged, they passed from the Little Boys or Girls Choir to the Older Boys or Girls Choir where they were given the opportunity to learn a trade of the church elders choosing. Unlike his other brothers who were taken by their father to other Moravian settlements to learn an assigned trade, Heinrich remained in Hope and became a blacksmith.

The more I researched my Rauschenberger ancestry, the more I saw how much the Moravian Church influenced my family history. Three generations of Rauschenbergers lived in Moravian

Hope map Church-owned towns, typically closed to non-members back in the 1700s. Heinrich’s grandparents immigrated to the American Colonies; Johann Friedrich emigrated from Germany and Maria Barbara Goetschi from Switzerland. They were founding members of the Emmaus, Pennsylvania settlement where they served from about 1747 until their deaths in the 1780s. Heinrich’s parents, Frederick and Anna, both joined Moravian churches as children and later became founding members of the Hope, New Jersey settlement, serving there until the late 1790’s when Frederick died. Virtually all of Heinrich’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers were involved in one Moravian settlement or another. They chose to live as Moravians, acquiring no land or homes to pass on to future generations. On January 27, 1791, Heinrich was accepted into the Moravian congregation of Hope.

Six years later in November of 1797, Heinrich, now in his 20s was faced with the death of his father. It seems likely that his father would have asked him to look after his mother, Anna, and younger brother, Peter, before he died. Heinrich must have been burdened by the responsibilities he carried during that long winter following his father’s death. Would there be someone in his future to take away his loneliness?

Even though the Moravian Church frowned upon fraternizing between choir groups, somehow Heinrich managed to find a love interest during this time. Catharine Digeon, of the Single Sisters Choir in Hope, captured his heart. There is no mention of when this relationship began or how it was kindled. I wonder if it was the secret or forbidden nature of the romance that fanned its flames. In my mind I envision a relationship between two young people, stealing glances, passing notes and perhaps arranging secret rendezvous, all at the risk of being caught.

Though I have not been able to determine Catharine’s ancestry, she was born November 29, 1775 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, according to Moravian records. I was able to learn that she lived with the Kampman’s family in Hope, and cared for their children. I later learned were Prior to coming to Hope, Catharine was part of the Moravian congregation in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She was accepted into the Hope congregation as a Single Sister on May 4, 1794.

In a sudden turn of events on January 22, 1798, Catharine and Heinrich’s world was overrun
with trouble and embarrassment, when their romance proved too difficult to remain secret. Catharine revealed to someone in the community that she had secretly promised herself in marriage to Heinrich, and because of their sworn covenant to each other (which presumably they refused to renounce) they were both expelled from the fellowship of the Moravian brethren. Being expelled from the church meant they were also required to leave Hope, because the Moravian Church owned the town and everything in it. Heinrich and Catharine had no home, land, or business to sell to raise money to take with them. They had to leave Hope immediately in the dead of winter.

Banishment seemed like an awfully harsh punishment for two young people whose crime was to secretly express their love for each other. Today, we might jump to the conclusion that they were caught in some compromising situation, but there appears to be no indication of this in the church records. I turned to books on Moravian culture of that time period to try to gain a better understanding of why they were expelled.

Each Moravian settlement had a set of rules that were established to help govern its parishioners. Members of the church settlement were asked to sign their names to the document stating that they had read the rules and agreed to live by them. One of the rules addressed the matter of marriage and required that members first seek permission from the church elders before any ideas or plans were made known to the general congregation. I am of the impression that from the Moravian point of view, any marriage should be in the best interests of the church, the community, and all the people involved. Often young widows or widowers were paired with emerging men and women who had demonstrated the ability to sustain themselves and were interested in starting a family. If there were any uncertainties about a potential marriage from the elders or other parties involved, the matter would be subjected to a Moravian decision-making tool referred to as “the lot.”

“The lot” followed the Biblical practice used by the Apostles in the Bible in which a matter was presented in prayer, followed by drawing a response from a hat. “Yes” or “No” responses were written on small slips of paper and placed in the hat. There were also blank slips of paper added. A “blank” response meant a delay and the matter required more time and prayer before a decision could be Bank_Of_Hope_in_Hope,_NJmade. A “no” response was final, meaning the couple couldn’t seek permission again, even at a later date. We will likely never know why Heinrich and Catharine chose to keep their relationship a secret, but perhaps it had something to do with “the lot.”

The humiliation and embarrassment of the young couple’s expulsion was met with immediate support from Heinrich’s mother, the Anna. The Hope Moravian Church Diary records that four people were lost to the fellowship, including the widow Anna Rauschenberger and her ten-year-old son, Peter. It appears that Anna chose to stand by her son in his hour of need rather than continuing on in the Moravian settlement. Six days after they were expelled from Hope, Heinrich (Henry Roushebre) and Catharine (Katy Disyoung) were married in a neighboring town by the Justice of the Peace. Immediately obvious to me was how Heinrich’s surname was recorded in the Sussex

County, New Jersey records now that he was outside the German Moravian influence of Hope.

I was surprised to learn that the Hope Moravian Church Diary continued to comment on the Rauschenbergers even after they were cut off from the church. I was able to learn that in the first year after his expulsion, Heinrich was renting a blacksmith shop about 12 miles from Hope in the town of Knowlton, New Jersey. By the end of 1798, Catharine was pregnant with the couple’s child. Anna found companionship with a former Moravian and family friend, widower Richard Whitesell, marrying him on April 3, 1799. Young Peter, my 4th great-grandfather, at age eleven, no doubt had found a new hero in his big brother Heinrich.

On June 8, 1799, about a year and a half after the Moravians expelled Heinrich and Catharine, Pastor Reincke of the Hope Moravian Church rode out to see the Rauschenberger family when he discovered that Heinrich would appreciate a visit. “Heinrich was especially pleased by the Biblical passage that was read to him, which concerned the joy of the Savior who had found a lost sheep. He declared that he was resigned to the will of the Savior, and that as an unworthy sinner, he hoped Christ would not despise him” (translated from the old German script). The pastor also noted that Heinrich had, for a considerable period of time, labored hard to the point of exhaustion at his blacksmith enterprise.

Just when it seemed that this embarrassing incident would finally have a happy ending, tragedy struck the Rauschenberger family. A translated passage taken from the Hope Moravian Church Diary reads, “In the morning (June 29, 1799) was the burial of the remains of Heinrich Rauschenberger, who was brought down on the 8th to his mother and the following day passed away unexpectedly after he had shortly before asked those surrounding him to pray for him.” His death occurred a month before his child was born. Heinrich Rauschenberger (II), son of Heinrich and Catharine, was baptized shortly thereafter by Pastor Reincke, though Catharine and baby Heinrich were not members of the church.

Heinrich’s expulsion from the Moravian Church grew to a pinnacle of importance because of the dramatic events that followed it. I wonder if Heinrich’s mother or his wife harbored bitterness towards the Moravians, which they once served and loved so dearly. Many years after Heinrich’s death, Anna briefly rejoined the Moravian Church in Schoeneck, Pennsylvania, prior to her second husband’s death in 1819. I suspect that she did this to honor her husband’s wish to die a member of the Moravian faith. There is no mention of Anna in the Moravian Church records following the death of her second husband, Richard Whitesell. In addition, I have yet to find any more information on Catharine Digeon Rauschenberger (a.k.a. Katy Roushebre) or her son Heinrich (II).

The once dominant presence of the Rauschenberger family in Moravian churches throughout the northeast evaporated quickly during the early 1800s. I do not know how big a role Heinrich’s expulsion and subsequent death played in the exodus of Rauschenbergers from the Moravian Church. Of six Rauschenberger brothers, which included Peter and Henry, only Jacob Rauschenberger remained in the Moravian Church his entire life.

My personal interest in these events is tied to how they affected my 4th great-grandfather, Peter Benignus Rauschenberger (a.k.a. Peter B. Roushey). Just two days after Heinrich’s burial, eleven-year-old Peter was taken to the Moravian town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where the Moravians admitted him on probation for six months. His mother thought perhaps this was the best place for Peter, having witnessed the death of his father and his brother in a span of less than two years. Peter remained in Nazareth for about three years, just long enough to learn the tailoring trade from the Moravians before leaving on his own accord without an explanation. He returned to the Knowlton, New Jersey, area where his mother and stepfather were living, as evidenced by his marriage to Rebecka Wolfe in 1809. Peter’s marriage record bears the surname Roushberry, which in later documents would become simply Roushey. I can’t help but wonder if Peter chose the surname Roushberry as a tribute to his brother Heinrich.

After spending a couple of years researching my Roushey heritage, the question that gnawed at me the most was why my ancestors permitted our Rauschenberger ancestry to be forgotten. Peter B. Roushey, our patriarch, was born a Rauschenberger, yet the information about his lineage was not passed down through the generations.

Additionally, in a biography written about his son, William Carr Roushey, which speaks of his father’s birthplace yet never mentions his Rauschenberger ancestry. Having uncovered Heinrich’s skeleton in the closet, I now wonder if Peter was determined to wash away the events of his childhood by changing his name.

My grandfather, Reverend Harry Roushey, never knew of our Rauschenberger connection because it wasn’t discovered until after his death. Being a man of deep religious faith, I am certain that Grandpa would not have been embarrassed by Heinrich’s expulsion from the Moravian Church. He would have been overjoyed to learn that our family’s rich Christian heritage extended back many generations. After all, who doesn’t make mistakes? I would not have the definitive proof I sought of my Rauschenberger heritage without discovering Heinrich’s skeleton in the Rauschenberger closet, and for that I am grateful.