Reverend Ella Nace
The Rev. Ella Nace, of West Conshohocken, PA, is the first woman to be appointed, officially, as pastor in a Pennsylvania church. She is the only one in the Holiness Christian denomination in the United States. Born in Hamburg, Berks County, in 1867, Sister Nace passed her 75th birthday last July. In spite of her advancing years this servant of the Lord continues to preach to multitudes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. She is known as the Pennsylvania Dutch Evangelist.
Born to a Lutheran family, Mrs. Nace was converted to the faith of the Holiness Christian Church when she was 25 years of age. “I received the Holy Spirit, just as in the day of Pentecost,” she says. For half a century she has brough the Lord’s message to all who would hear it. In addition to her religious activities she has carried on as a member as a mother and housewife, rearing two daughters. She is now a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
Lacking formal training for the ministry Sister Nace is a self-made woman. Unlike many evangelists of the past she does not mesmerize her audience with hysterical gesticulations and flights of oratory. She is dignified, sedate and convinces through her honest sincerity of purpose and devotion. Many of her principles find their roots in “old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch philosophy.” This fact together with her singing of dialectical hymns, has won her title “A Pennsylvania Dutch Evangelist.”
There was a time when she was not welcome in the pulpits of some of the churches of interior Pennsylvania. Those who were opposed to her warned people that she was a “Strawweler”. This was a term of reproach originally used against the followers of the Rev. Jacob Albright and other founders of the Evangelical Association.
Sister Nace relates an incident which occurred in Norfolk, VA. After the sermon one of the male worshippers approached her and planted a kiss upon her cheek. Lasping into the Dutch idiom she declares: “if they didn’t have it on me after that!”
Here are some of the dialect hymns which Rev. Nace sings during her service:
Heiland, fuhr mich; Heiland fuhr mich.
Fuhr mich bei deinre Hand.
Anwarts, aufwarts, anwarts, aufwarts
Bis mer kumme in ferheise Land.
O wie lieblich; O wie lieblich,
Wie lieblich is Jesus,
Er is mein Erlesser,
Mein Herr un mei Friend.