In Journeyings Oft Chapter 10

Mr. Gilbert’s sister, Mrs. Robert Irvine, said that Mary Ann could make her home with them. One other Gilbert sister, Mrs. James Humphrey, also lived in the same apartment building. Mary Ann would be surrounded with relatives. It was decided that she would move there after school was out. Chicago would be Mr. Gilbert’s home base again, although he expected to travel much.

But what of the Christians that he had been teaching in Tucson? Could they carry on? After a baptism, twelve or so met in the Gilbert’s home to break bread. Now they wanted to remember the Lord on a regular basis. Mr. L. C. Donaldson and his wife began meeting with the group and were a big help. The Donaldsons had been missionaries in Africa but had returned home for her health. They were a godly family and knew the Word well. Mr. Gilbert felt better about leaving the work with them involved in the shepherding of the little flock.

He felt happy too that Martha Bailey, who was like a part of the family, was engaged to be married to a young contractor named Kermit Oestrich. Both Kermit and Martha were active in the assembly and later their home became a blessing to many. She would not be deserted by their moving to Chicago.

After spending some time with Mary Ann in Chicago and seeing her settled, he revisited areas where he had worked previously. For some years now Mr. Gilbert was marked by a restlessness. He had no real home and by being very busy he could forget his sorrow and loneliness. His hair had turned white. Friends said it seemed to turn white overnight when he lost both his son and wife. But he was possessed by boundless energy and was on the go constantly.

That summer he revisited Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Then he headed back to Tucson for the fall and winter. It was good to see the little flock again. They were going on for God. He became active again in radio work and Bible classes.

Mr. Gilbert did much driving during these next eight years. Usually during the winter he tried to spend several months in Tucson to encourage the work. The rest of the year he would spend in other parts of the country and had a special concern to help and to encourage younger preachers who were trying to start new works. His rather brusque manner hid a heart of gold. Often a struggling young preacher would receive a check in the mail from Mr. Gilbert, tangible proof of his love and concern. He would average at least 30,000 miles each year. He was a fast driver, but stayed within the speed limits. He used to say, “If you keep ahead of the pack, you won’t get hurt!” He was careful and the Lord watched over him.

Many of these summers he had tent meetings in Indiana with his brother Jim. Mary Ann would spend her vacation with them and accompany the singing on a pump organ. He loved to encourage her to use her talents for the Lord and was so happy to have time with her. Father and daughter were very close to one another.

During 1938 he began the work of compiling a new hymn book. Elma had loved music and this book would be a memorial to her. He consulted with others back and forth across the country choosing hymns and tunes. It was decided to call it “Choice Hymns of the Faith.” This work took several years to complete. Also during 1938 he felt constrained to revive the workers’ conference which had a beginning in Knox years before. Certain assemblies in St. Louis agreed to host such a conference and announcements were sent out. It proved to be a time of encouragement and challenge to all who came. This conference has continued through the years, being held in various parts of the country. Mr. Gilbert loved to go to these, missing only the one in 1970 because of ill health. His constant prayer was, “Oh, God, raise up new workers!”

On his trips back and forth he was sure to stop in Chicago. Mary Ann was often reminded that her father loved her. She was his daughter and his heart yearned over her. But she also knew that he loved God first of all. She grew up realizing God’s things come first.

In 1941 “Choice Hymns of the Faith” was published. The dedication page said: “Dedicated to the Memory of Elma Doehring Gilbert, who gathered many of these hymns before departing to be with Christ whom she loved and served.” It is a selection of 545 hymns and choruses for general Christian singing. Through the years it has seen a number of printings and been widely used by many churches. Mr. Gilbert set up a trust fund, presently called “The Gospel Perpetuating Publishers,” to print the books. Some monies his wife had inherited helped start this fund. Any profits from the books were to be used in the propagation of the Gospel. Lloyd Walterick and his wife were a tremendous help in this whole venture. His printing skills and business experience were invaluable. A fund also was begun, the “Christian Workers’ Fellowship Fund” to distribute money to Christian workers.

Later a need was felt for a hymn book with songs especially suited for Christian worship. The other book had a very strong Gospel emphasis but was weak on worship hymns. Mr. Gilbert began to work on this and was tireless in consulting with men across the country. A. P. Gibbs, Harold Harper, George Landis, William Pell, and many others were consulted and gave suggestions. Finally in 1945 the new book was ready and was called “Hymns of Worship and Remembrance.” It contains 350 beautiful hymns especially suited to meditation and worship. The following is a sample:

Savior, we remember Thee,
Thy deep woe and agony,
All Thy suffering on the tree.
Savior, we adore Thee.

S. Trevor Francis, 1835