The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine
Bro. B.A. Warrender
If you close your eyes and use your imagination you might be able to take your mind back in time to picture a shed at the back of the Wolfe property in Pomona, California during the early days of World War Two. If your imagination is strong you’ll hear the old press clacking away as the pages of a magazine is being printed. The shed is a beehive of activity as the entire Wolfe family works together to get the magazine out on time. If you imagine long enough, you might even hear the British accent of an older gentleman speaking to Bro. Wolfe. If you can imagine this scene, what you’ll hear will no doubt be words of instruction and encouragement.
Producing The Christadelphian Tidings magazine in the 1940s — or rather the Junior Christadelphian as it was called back then — would have been quite a chore. Articles had to be solicited, collected and proofread. The layout of the pages had to be determined and the type had to be set. The pages required printing, folding and assembling into a magazine. Then the finished product had to be distributed by hand locally or through the mail for distant subscribers. The task would be made even greater by the editor’s efforts to keep subscription costs down by doing most of the work in-house. Fortunately the editor of the Junior Christadelphian, Bro. Carl Wolfe, got a lot of assistance. Teenage Sunday-school students like George Patterson, Kathryn Tomlinson and Virginia Brinkerhoff helped him report the news, Robert Cochran and Bill Stocks helped him with the editing and his entire family helped him print, assemble and distribute the magazine.
As much as Carl must have appreciated all this help, there was someone that the first editor depended on more than anyone else: a brother named B.A. Warrender. To those who didn’t know them well, Bro. Wolfe and Bro. Warrender would have seemed to be very dissimilar men. Carl was in his early 40’s while B.A. was nearly 70. They came from different California ecclesias: Bro. Wolfe from Pomona and Bro. Warrender from Glendale. They were born in very distant parts of the world: Carl began his life in Texas while B.A. had been born in Britain. They appeared to have little in common except two truly consequential things: a deep love for God and a burning desire to do His work.
These commonalities made B.A. Warrender Carl’s close friend, but Bro. Warrender was much more than that to Carl. Just as David had Jonathan as a mentor and Timothy had Paul, Carl had Bro. Warrender. B.A. was a rock that Carl could lean on. When Bro. Warrender died eight years after Carl began the Junior Christadelphian, Carl shared his love for him in an article he published in the magazine.
“It is with a feeling of irretrievable loss that we have to report the sudden death of our beloved brother B.A. Warrender, co-editor of the Junior Christadelphian, and well known and loved throughout most of the world for his unselfish and energetic work in the Truth.”
“Brother Warrender was a very kindly man, yet he could be firm and relentless where a principle of the truth was concerned. Never afraid of a fight for the Truth, his actions were always tempered with a love and tenderness that will always be remembered by those who knew him. The place he took in the work of the Junior Christadelphian will be hard indeed to fill, and the fact that he took a subordinate place in the work, when both in age, experience and knowledge of the Truth, he was far my superior, revealed his ability to work for the cause, without thought of personal popularity or prestige. When a mistake was made, whether it be a small typographical error, or some serious thing that was dangerous to the Truth, he would speak of it firmly and certainly, yet these things never affected his warm devotion and firm hand-shake each time we met. Living as he did some thirty miles away he could not do as much of the work as he would have liked, such as proof reading and editing. When we would meet he would warmly shake hands and say: ‘Good morning, chief’, when he knew full well that he should have been the editor instead of myself.” 1Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
The editor of the Berean magazine, for which Bro. Warrender wrote many articles, also spoke of B.A’s character in a special obituary that he wrote:
“Bro. Warrender was widely known for his service in the Truth; accepting it 55 years ago in Birmingham, England. [Sept. 24 1891]. He contributed many articles on the Truth for publication; was associate editor for the Junior Christadelphian at the time of his death; although ailing, Bro. Warrender delivered two public lectures less than one month before his death… We are all deeply feeling the loss of the company and helpful counsel of our beloved Bro. B. A. Warrender…Bro. Warrender was always anxious to do his best in the work of the Truth and as a lecturer was in very great demand in Britain before he went to the U.S.A. He had a clear and logical style and we have heard of many who acknowledged indebtedness to him for helping them to see the Truth. With all his work he had the saving grace of humility. His joy was in the service he gave.”2Editor of the Berean Magazine, March-April, 1947.
Before the Junior Christadelphian
Benjamin Albert Warrender was born July 6, 1871 in Brierly Hill, near Birmingham, England, and was a son of Brother Benjamin and Sister Eliza Warrender. He was the eldest of five children (his siblings were Lilian, George, Ellen and Walter), all of whom became baptized Christadelphians.3Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
It seems likely that the reason the younger Bro. Warrender went by the initials “B.A.” was because his father was also named Benjamin. The senior Benjamin Warrender was a first generation Christadelphian who was baptized at 30 years old in 1879 at Brierley Hill. A year later he was submitting the ecclesial news from the Brierly Hill Ecclesia to The Christadelphian magazine. In 1883, he and Sister Warrender moved to Birmingham and joined the ecclesia there. Bro. Benjamin Warrender became an accomplished and popular lecturer, once even standing in for Robert Roberts when the latter needed a break from an overactive schedule.4Christadelphian Magazine, October 1893
Benjamin Warrender’s son seemed to have inherited this same talent. In the September 1908 Christadelphian, the Bath Ecclesia reported, “On Sunday, April 12th, we had the company of our brother B.A. Warrender, of Birmingham. In the evening our brother delivered an excellent lecture.” From that time on, Bro. B.A. Warrender’s name began to show up regularly on the lecturing circuit, joining other well-known Birmingham Christadelphians of the time such as C.C. Walker, Henry Sulley and Frank Jannaway.5Christadelphian Magazine, August 1915, May 1916
It was in Birmingham that B.A. Warrender would be baptized and come to know Brother Robert Roberts. It seems quite likely, based on what B.A. Warrender had to say about him, that he saw Bro. Roberts as his mentor. Bro. Warrender wrote a three part series about Robert Roberts in the Berean magazine in 1943. It’s very interesting that B.A. noted some of the same characteristics in Bro. Roberts that others saw in Bro. Warrender, as are evident in the following gleanings from those articles:
“We first saw and heard Bro. Roberts in 1883, and from then on until his decease in 1898, at San Francisco, it was our great privilege to hear him on numerous occasions… In person, Bro. Roberts was of medium height and at middle age was rather broad shouldered and somewhat heavy. He was good-looking, and his deep-set eyes and the high dome of the forehead denoted the profound thinker and capable man of affairs. In repose, his face was stern, but in conversation it lighted up with a pleasing smile and his aspect was very attractive.
“He was a gentleman in all his ways and much preferred the warmth of the social circle to the asperities of debate, which it was his misfortune (in the personal sense) to be involved in so frequently.
“As a speaker, he had his drawbacks; his delivery was rather staccato and his voice was not very strong, as he had some bronchial weakness. For the first few minutes of a lecture one had to listen carefully in order to hear all he said. After that he would open up and at times a dramatic climax would be reached which could be heard to the end of the hall, and possibly even outside. ‘R. R.’ had no regard for mere rhetoric; it was the idea rather than the words that he strove to bring out; and in this he was without a peer. Such was the attention of the listeners that in the pauses one could almost hear a pin drop. ‘R. R.’ did not require the aid of notes in speaking; he had the rare faculty of being able to think clearly and speak concisely in the extempore method, and we also know that he needed no Concordance in order to find any required passage of Scripture. Added to that, his vocabulary was very extensive and we never knew him to be at a loss for the right word.
“The greatness of Bro. Roberts is shown especially in that he ‘knew no man after the flesh.’ Although he was warm and genial in disposition, no one dared to be flippant or unduly familiar with him; he had an almost uncanny perception of the manifestations of the Flesh, however well concealed, and better still, he had the courage to rebuke them, whether in friend or foe.
“We cannot forget one of the last meetings in Birmingham, when he was about to leave for Australia, when some lamented that we were about to lose ‘our leader.’ Bro. Roberts rose, and sadly shaking his head, he said, ‘I am not your leader; we have only one leader, and that is — Christ.’
“His energy and capacity for literary work was amazing; for many years he was lecturing nearly every Sunday and oftentimes during the week, in addition to his Thursday evening duties as first speaker. At the same time he was writing editorials for The Christadelphian and contributing serial expositions, which afterwards became standard works on the Truth. To him we owe the ‘Bible Companion’ and, to a large extent, the hymn book also; to say nothing of a multitude of valuable pamphlets covering many phases of the Truth.”
B.A. Warrender, who also kept a very busy schedule, was baptized on September 24th, 1891 at 20 years old. It was not surprising that Bro. Warrender became a Christadelphian based on what Bro. Wolfe wrote about him:
“At a very early age in life he was asked what he expected to do when he grew up, and his reply was typical of his entire life: ‘I think’, he said, ‘I shall be a preacher of the gospel’. Everyone who knew him can testify to the accuracy of that prediction. At the age of sixteen he suffered an attack of rheumatic fever, and this close brush with death caused him to intensify his study of the Truth, which he embraced at Birmingham, England in 1891, and for 55 years preached to all who would listen the glorious gospel of the kingdom.” 6Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
Bro. Wolfe also wrote about B.A. Warrender’s marriage and children.
“On November 2, 1892, he was married to Helen Sturgess, daughter of our late brother T. Sturgess, which happy union lasted 53 years. Besides sister Warrender, he leaves to mourn his passing, ten children, six of whom have embraced the Truth, and nine grand children, who are as yet not old enough to follow in his footsteps, although most of them attend Christadelphian Sunday schools, either in England or here.”7Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
“At a very early age in life [B.A. Warrender] was asked what he expected to do when he grew up, and his reply was typical of his entire life: ‘I think’, he said, ‘I shall be a preacher of the gospel’…”
Helen Warrender was the daughter of Bro. Thomas and Sis. Phoebe Sturgess, who were baptized together in the Birmingham Temperance Hall Ecclesia in December 1878. Bro. Sturgess became the Recording Brother in Birmingham in 1886, a position he held until he moved to Derby in 1894. Sis. Sturgess died in 1905 and shortly after Bro. Sturgess moved to the Spalding Ecclesia. In 1912 he sailed for Los Angeles planning to retire in California. Thomas Sturgess’ immigration to America set the stage for Bro.Warrender to become the Assistant Editor of the Junior Christadelphian because subsequent events in Bro. Sturgess’ life allowed Bro. Warrender to move to California in 1922.
Bro. Warrender to California
Bro. Sturgess had purchased land in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, on which oil was later discovered.8Christadelphian Magazine, 1928Brother C.C. Walker mentioned this in his 1928 series in The Christadelphian entitled ‘California and Back’:
“In a few miles thereafter came in sight of the sea at Huntington Beach. Here there was a forest of derricks among the hills; and here some time ago brother Sturgess had been fortunate enough to buy a lot. He had worked upon it in well nigh impossible conditions, had lived in a shanty upon it… when oil was struck in the vicinity, and a company sought the right of boring on the lot. Arrangements were completed and they did so, soon striking oil. Three wells were working on the lot when we were there, all yielding oil.”
Income from this oil was offered to the Warrenders as an enticement to move to California and so they immigrated to Los Angeles bringing with them the younger number of their ten children in 1922.9Personal email from Sis. Susan .Roy (B.A. Warrender’s granddaughter), March 15,2017
The following was written in The Christadelphian magazine when the Warrender’s left Birmingham:
“On Friday, August 11th, brother and sister B. A. Warrender and five of their family sailed from Southampton for the United States, intending to join the ecclesia at Los Angeles, California, where they will find many old friends from Birmingham. Brother and sister Warrender have been connected with the Temperance Hall ecclesia from childhood, and brother Warrender’s departure will leave a gap in our speaking and presiding lists that will not be easy to fill. His services will be missed also in many ecclesias outside Birmingham. The loss of his services as organist will be very much regretted. Sorrowing for ourselves we commend him to the brethren at Los Angeles as a faithful and earnest worker in any branch of ecclesial ministration.”10Christadelphian Magazine, 1922
Six years later the Warrenders returned to England. Their stay there was temporary and after another six years they would return to America for good, as Bro. Wolfe described in his article about Bro. Warrender’s life:
“In 1934 they again came to California where he spent the remainder of his life in such active service to the Truth, that it was amazing in view of his advanced age. Several times he wrote that he thought that month would be his last to send in his article on the Signs of the Times, yet the last that he wrote just a few days prior to his death is printed elsewhere in this issue, a tribute to his faithfulness and love for the Truth.” 11Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
In 1937, Bro. Warrender, along with Bro. Edgar Round, helped form the Glendale, California Ecclesia12Personal email from Robert Lloyd, January, 2007(now known as the Verdugo Hills Ecclesia) and was its first Recording Brother.13Berean Magazine, February, 1938A young brother from Texas named Robert Lloyd, future editor of The Christadelphian Tidings magazine, would join the new ecclesia four years later. One of the members of the Glendale Sunday school at the time was a young lady named Peggy Carter. In 1946, Bro. Warrender would officiate at the wedding of Bro. Bob and Sis. Peggy14Junior Christadelphian, September, 1946— the last of many weddings he performed in his life.15Personal email from Robert Lloyd, January, 2007
When the magazine began in 1939, the editor, Bro. Carl Wolfe, was assisted by Pomona Sunday School teenagers Bob Cochran and Bill Stocks. As their personal schedules became too full to continue the work, Bro. Warrender stepped in, becoming the Associate Editor by 1941. During the war, with younger brothers away at conscientious objector camps, Bro. Warrender became a critical part of the magazine, writing a number of articles as well as serving as assistant editor.
Even after taking on a time consuming role with the Junior Christadelphian magazine, Bro. Warrender continued a heavy lecturing schedule and wrote numerous articles for the much more widely circulated Berean magazine. Here’s an example of his writing at the time for that publication:
“The position of believers in relation to the war is that of watchmen. We watch from day to day to ascertain, if possible, the bearing of current events upon the end of Gentile times and the advent of Christ and the Kingdom. This is our primary concern, but it is good also to note the more proximate causes of the conflict, that we may better realize how the Deity uses human ambitions to further the Divine purpose.”16Berean Magazine, February 1941
In the November 1939 issue of the Junior Christadelphian, Bro. Warrender wrote his first “Signs of the Times” article for the magazine. The article focused on the new war in Europe and was entitled “Dr. Thomas’ Exposition Vindicated by Present War Developments”. His Signs of the Times articles would become a monthly series beginning with the October 1940 issue. Bro. Warrender, who was around 70 years old when he began writing these articles, also penned a monthly series on First Principles for the magazine.
Talents and dedication to the truth
B.A. Warrender was a talented man who in addition to many articles in the Junior Christadelphian and Berean magazines, wrote poetry and musical compositions including the words and music to hymn 158 in our current hymn book (“O Lord above, look down in love”). Bro. Warrender’s father, also named Benjamin, possessed this same talent: “A frequent contributor of poems to the The Christadelphian during this period [the early twentieth century] was Benjamin Warrender (1849-1931), whose poem “Father, whose depth of love unknown” [current hymn 332], published in the 1932 hymn book, quickly became a favorite for baptismal services.”17The Hymnody of Christadelphians: A Survey of Hymnists and Hymn Collections, Wesley Roberts, July 1997The younger Bro. Warrender, wrote an exhortation for the Berean magazine entitled “Let’s Tune Up” that showed his own deep interest in music:
“At some time, probably, most of us have heard an orchestra tuning up, prior to a performance. The medley of sounds seems meaningless for a time; but at last, ‘middle A’ emerges as the prevailing note: the true standard by which the correct ‘pitch’ of every instrument is determined; and which is indispensable for the harmonious combination of all, in a symphony or some other form of musical composition. Left to themselves, all instruments get out of tune, and although they may be nearly correct, this will not suffice: they must blend perfectly with the note, as given out authoritatively by the organ or other instrument. Dear brethren and sisters, the human mind is somewhat similar in relation to things divine. We earnestly endeavour to conform to the heavenly standard of the life of Christ; but we get more or less ‘out of tune’ during the week, and we need the corrective influence of collective worship, as derived from the reading of the Word, and our meditations thereon, together with the other exercises in which we engage at our morning Meeting. In verse 8 of the 55th chapter of Isaiah — which has been read; it is declared that the thoughts and ways of God are higher than ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth. This is true: we know from experience that only by keeping in constant touch with the mind of God, as expressed in the Scriptures, and the faithful expositions thereof to be found in the Truth’s literature; can we even approximate to the standard set by our Elder Brother. So on these happy occasions, we once again tune up our instruments to concert pitch, and blend with the divine harmonies that will at last fill the earth with gladness.”18Berean Magazine, September, 1946
Bro. Wolfe finished his article on B.A. Warrender’s life with several paragraphs on the talents and spiritual dedication of Bro. Warrender.
“Besides his many services in the Truth, brother Warrender was a man of many other accomplishments. Literature, architecture, science, world affairs, and music were some of the things of this life in which he excelled, and he lived with a zest and enthusiasm seldom found in this life of sorrow and trouble. He wrote several musical compositions, among which are the music to hymns …and was organist at the Temperance hall, Birmingham [for 20 years19Berean Magazine, March-April, 1947], and gave several organ concerts there. Upon the suggestion of a sister in Santa Barbara, we hope, God willing, to assemble some of his outstanding writings, a biography of his life, and perhaps some of his musical works, and incorporate them in a book, that his work, so much valued when he was alive, may continue to strengthen and encourage the brotherhood in the days that may remain until the master returns.
“Significant of his life was the company that gathered to pay a loving tribute to his life and work. Although there were almost a hundred and fifty present, there were fewer than ten who were not brothers and sisters. He sought no company with the outside world, but cast his lot wholeheartedly with those of like precious faith.
“Funeral services were held in Pasadena on Saturday, January 4th, at which time brother Edgar Round spoke words of comfort to those assembled. He was sorrowfully laid to rest in the Mountain View cemetery, where he awaits the call of the judge of the quick and the dead, who will reward every man according to his works. May the example he left be an inspiration to each of us that we may be able to reunite with our brother and all the faithful when that great day comes. As expressed by a brother who wrote us concerning him: ‘We have parted from him with the sure knowledge that we shall see him again if we but conduct ourselves according to the precepts he lived up to so well, and which were so clearly laid down for us by our Savior. The comforts of the Truth have taken on a fuller meaning for us all.’
“Although his work will be irreplaceable, yet it was his wish that we carry on as he told me so often, and God willing we shall do our best to do so until the Master returns.”20Junior Christadelphian, December 1946-January 1947
If we look around us today, or even in the past, we will find those in the Truth that we can look up to and even pattern our own lives after. While, as Bro. Roberts said, no one can take the place of Christ as our pattern, we can profitably imitate those who imitate Christ. Bro. Warrender’s life of dedication to his God and service to his brothers and sisters would certainly be a fitting one to emulate as we carry on toward the Kingdom of God.
News is to hand of the death of bro. B. A. Warrender, of Pasadena, Calif., U.S.A., on Jan. 1, aged 75. He was baptized at the Temperance Hall in 1891, and left for U.S.A. in 1922 with his wife, who was a daughter of bro. Sturgess, one-time recording brother of this ecclesia. Both had been connected from childhood with the Temperance Hall, as the notice of their departure in The Christadelphian records. He served as a speaking and presiding brother and helped also many ecclesias outside Birmingham. He was one of the organists for many years.
The Christadelphian, 1947 P. 41
The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine