Welcome to Ulster Worldly, a blog about the history of Presbyterianism. Many of these stories come from my own family, many others come from my own denomination.

Tim Hopper
Raleigh, NC

Eclipse in Congo

The recent solar eclipse reminded my dad that his grandfather had seen the 1919 eclipse in Congo. My great grandfather recounts the story in his memoir:

One day in mid-afternoon I was teaching a Bible class in the grass-roofed chapel. The roof was rather low at the edges, so most of our light was reflected from the ground. It grew darker and darker, until we could not see to read. I told the students we had better get home before the storm broke. We stepped outside, but to our great surprise there was no storm. But it continued to grow darker and darker. There was a total eclipse of the sun.

Mr. Stilz got a photograph showing a perfect corona. Some days later I started on my homeward journey, but I was to go out of my way to visit Bibanga station. I arrived there in four or five days. A few days out from Lusambo a village chief asked me in all seriousness whether it was true, as he had heard, that a white man reached up his hand, and covered the sun.

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The Higgins

My grandfather's brief history of his paternal grandmother's family.   Read More

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Hopper Antecedents

After his retirement (which was in 1986), my grandfather wrote this preface to the genealogical research he did on his own family.

While waiting for Sunday dinner in the home of the Hong family of Oo-nam Myun Imsil County, North Chulla Province, Republic of Korea, we saw a tall stack of books in the corner. The father of our host, an elderly gentleman, answered our question about them by showing us that they were the records of his family going back for over a thousand years. Mr. Hong said that every thirty years, those with his surname gathered and updated this registry. They planned at their next meeting to send a printed record with names and photographs of all the Hong clan members to the national libraries of every nation on earth, so that in future generations their descendants who migrated to those countries could trace their family ancestry.

Unfortunately no such system has been in existence for most Western families, including our own. I never knew my two grandfathers who died long before I was born, and my grandmothers died when I was very young so that I have only the dimmest memories of them. An attempt to trace our antecedents more than a couple of centuries would now be difficult, if not impossible. In our case, interest would center in the family tree of my father (the Hoppers of Kentucky) and my mother (the Barrons of South Carolina), and for Dot that of her father (the Longeneckers of Pennsylvania) and her mother (the Hauharts of Missouri). This would result in a blend for our own children of blood from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland… so far as we know.

One common factor in all of these is that they were strong Christians (at least in recent generations and perhaps before that) and represent Presbyterian, Methodist, and Mennonite backgrounds. Another common feature is that all our ancestors of two generations ago (that of our grandparents) were farmers, living in rural areas, who during their lifetime moved to urban areas. All of them were hard-working, decent, respected members of their communities. There is no record of any “black sheep” nor of any who failed in their family, community, and church relationships.

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Longenecker Family

My grandfather's brief history of his father-in-law's family, the Longeneckers of Pennsylvania.

My grandfather's brief history of his father-in-law's family, the Longeneckers of Pennsylvania.   Read More

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Barrons of Scotland

The story of James Barron, forgotten reformer and friend of John Knox

The story of James Barron, forgotten reformer and friend of John Knox   Read More

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Shorter Catechism Boys

B.B. Warfield: "It is worth while to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God."

B.B. Warfield: "It is worth while to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God."   Read More

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Petition in Blood

A young Korean man writes a plea for entry into Bible College in his own blood.

A young Korean man writes a plea for entry into Bible College in his own blood.   Read More

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Machen’s Autobiography of His Stand for Truth

An account of personal experiences may be interesting for one or two reasons: (1) because the writer is in some way remarkable; (2) because, not being at all remarkable, he may be able to set forth in a concrete way the experience of a considerable body of men.   Read More

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Uncle Joe Hopper

The curious story of Uncle Joe Hopper, Presbyterian revivalist and untrained minster.

The curious story of Uncle Joe Hopper, Presbyterian revivalist and untrained minster.   Read More

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Hart on Machen (Audio)

In 2010, Dr. Darryl Hart (OPC assistant historian and Machen scholar) taught a Sunday school series at Glenside Presbyterian Church on J. Gresham Machen about J. Gresham Machen and the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Camden Bucey of the Reformed Forum kindly recorded the whole series for posterity.1

Here are the lectures:

  1. J. Gresham Machen: Fighter of the Good Fight
  2. What Prepared Machen to Fight?
  3. Machen and the Crisis of Western Civilization
  4. Ecumenism and Intolerance
  5. Liberalism, the Different Religion
  6. The Fight Against False Optimism
  7. The Fight Against Tyranny
  8. The Fight Against Liberalism: Foreign Missions
  9. The Fight Against Sentimentality
  10. The Basis on Which Machen Fought: The Bible
  11. Assessing Machen

Hart’s book on Machen, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America, is similarly excellent.

  1. The quality of the recording on the first couple of lectures is poor, but the improve over time. [return]
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Dunlaps of Kentucky

My grandfather's brief history of his mother's family, the Dunlaps of Kentucky.

My grandfather's brief history of his mother's family, the Dunlaps of Kentucky.   Read More

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Joseph Hopper

Memoir of the early life of Joseph Hopper (1982-1971), Southern Presbyterian missionary to Korea.

Memoir of the early life of Joseph Hopper (1982-1971), Southern Presbyterian missionary to Korea.   Read More

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Gresham Machen on Twitter

I created a twitter account, @jg_machen, to share quotes from J. Gresham Machen. I’d love for you to follow along!

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Bomb to Church Bells

An amazing story from 1950s Korea that my grandfather told. My uncle says, “And you may recall he sent the story to Readers’ Digest, ‘Life in This Wide World’. They published it as the lead story in that section and added a drawing of a genuine Korean bus etc. and sent him $100.”

An earnest young Korean deacon from the country came to me one day with a problem. “We have a 500 pound bomb; can you tell us how to cut it in two to make church bells?”

I replied, “Where is the bomb, and how did you get it?”

“Five years ago the Americans dropped it on a bridge outside our village, but it didn’t explode. We have brought it to Chonju.”

“How did you bring it to the city?” I asked.

“On the bus, of course. It was so big and heavy we had to pay two fairs for it, and even so it smashed the bus steps when we took it off!”

“Was the bomb unloaded?”

“No, we screwed the thing off one end, but we couldn’t get the inside stuff out.”

This was the kind of “hot potato” to pass on in a hurry, so I told him to take it to Korean Army Headquarters, have it unloaded, and then cut it into with a hacksaw. When I saw him the next day, I asked if the army had unloaded the bomb.

“Oh no! We didn’t want to bother them. We found a man who knew how to cut the bomb in two. We kept pouring water on it and sawed it right in two. It was full of little white pellets, and they say we can sell them to fishermen to explode under water to stun fish, and that will pay for having our church bells made!”

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Obituary for Dot Hopper (1920-2015)

Joe and Dot Hopper
Dorothy and Joe B. Hopper

Dorothy “Dot” Longenecker Hopper, age 95, went to be with her Savior on Friday, December 4, 2015 in Hillsborough, NC, surrounded by her children and loved ones.

She was born March 26, 1920 in the Belgian Congo to Jay Hershey and Minnie Hauhart Longenecker. Dot grew up as a missionary kid in the Belgian Congo. She earned her B.A. in English at Queens College and received her Master’s in Christian Education at the Presbyterian School for Christian Education in Richmond (formerly The Assembly’s Training School) with a thesis entitled “The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Second Generation Foreign Missionaries of the Presbyterian Church U.S.” She married Joseph Barron Hopper, whom she met at Collegiate Home in Montreat, NC. She and Joe served as Presbyterian missionaries under the Board of World Missions, Presbyterian Church in the U.S., in South Korea for 38 years before retiring to Montreat.

Dot was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother; a prayer warrior; a painter; and a dear friend to many people around the world. She was known as an excellent storyteller of her childhood adventures in the Congo and her adult years in Korea.

She is survived by her four children, Alice Hopper Dokter of Stone Mountain, GA, J. Barron Hopper of Kingsport, TN, David Hershey Hopper of Greensboro, NC, and Margaret Hopper Faircloth of Hillsborough, NC; her nine grandchildren, Joseph Hopper, Justin Dokter, Betsy Herman, Jacqueline James, Lydia Hopper, Rachel Caughran, Martha Theilacker, Tim Hopper, and Laura Faircloth; and her 11 great-grandchildren.

Dot was predeceased by her husband, Joe; her parents; her stepmother, Ruth Engler Longenecker; her sisters, Alice Longenecker Vail and Roberta Longenecker; and her brother, Hershey James “Jim” Longenecker.

Her family is grateful to the staff at her home, Brookshire Senior Living in Hillsborough, for their excellent care of her in recent years.

A memorial service will be held at Gaither/Graham Chapel in Montreat, NC on Saturday, December 12, at 4 pm, with a reception following. A private burial will precede the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dot Hopper Africa Memorial Fund, c/o Preston Hills Presbyterian Church, 4701 Orebank Rd., Kingsport, TN, USA.

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The Reformed churches have always held the office of deacon as essential to the life of the church. Following the pattern of Acts 6, our churches have sought to find “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” to serve the physical needs of the church so our elders can devote themselves to “to prayer and to the ministry of the word”.

Despite the priority we place on this office, I have found relatively little has been written specifically on the office of deacon. As a deacon, I routinely wish to hear more from the wisdom of the ages on how to serve effectively in my office.

Given this, I started compiling a bibliography of readings in the Reformed diaconate. In hopes that it will be beneficial to others and in hopes that others will suggest other resources that I should read, I share it with you here.

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Mothers with a Triumphant Faith

My great-grandfather Hopper, writing about his mother’s reaction to his only sister’s decision to join him as a Presbyterian missionary in Korea in 1922.

That mother through the years had endured and won in the Christian race, who had a supreme desire and joy in having her children to bear the message glorious, wrote me these words about her daughter’s decision: ‘It is great to have another one of my dear ones called into the Master’s service.’

Mothers with a triumphant faith like this are constantly needed that Christian witnessing may be continued ‘both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’

Margaret Hopper served in Mokpo, Korea from 1922-1940 and 1948-57.

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Played the Coward

I’m reading a history of the Southern Presbyterian mission to Korea (of which my Hopper grandparents and great-grandparents were a part) that my great uncle wrote. He shared a sequence of journal entries written by a young, single missionary:

  • Nov 11, 1896 – One has no opportunity to know a single lady here if one is single without provoking gossip.
  • Dec 14, 1896 – I offered to stay with Miss Davis and Mrs. Drew while Mr. Drew and Mr. Junkin go to Seoul and my offer was accepted.
  • Feb 22, 1897 – Miss Davis is discreet!! Good! … Miss Davis does not say much, but doubtless thinks a lot!!
  • Aug 30, 1897 – Stopped by Drews to return Miss Davis’s shoes and came nearer to delivering my ultimatum.
  • Oct 1, 1897 – Visited Miss Davis and again “played the coward.”
  • Oct 30, 1897 – Bell, Tate and I dined with Miss Davis … good cook.
  • Nov 2, 1897 – While the other were going up the hill for goose and duck hunting, I went after fairer game. For once I played the man. I made the heartiest speech of my life, and thank God, captivated my audience. Miss Davis (now Linnie Dear) said I said as I was about to go without an answer, ‘I love you’ …. For appearances sake, I hurried up the hill after seeing Miss Davis and shot three ducks, sent her one.

They were married the next summer.

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Mr. Culvern interviews J. Hershey Longenecker about his missionary career

J. Hershey Longenecker, born May 23, 1889, was a Southern Presbyterian missionary in the town of Luebo in what is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1917 to 1950. Sometime after his retirement, he was interviewed about his time in Africa. In the interview, he discusses a whole variety of matters, including Witch Doctors, Crocodiles, Hippopotamuses, Cannibals, Missionary Life, Handwriting, and Albert Schweitzer.

Note: The audio quality is bad at first, but it gets better as the video progresses.

Rev. Longenecker’s memoir, discussed in the interview, is available online.

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