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Sunday, July 6, 2014

The John Kline Memorial Riders

The horse without a rider reminds us of the local minister killed 150 years ago.
June 15, 2014, was the 150th anniversary of the violent death of the renowned Brethren Elder John Kline. On that Sunday morning three weeks ago a dozen members of the John Kline Memorial Riders arrived at the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren near Broadway to take part in their worship service, just one part of a June 13-15 weekend commemoration of Kline's life and martyrdom.

The John Kline Riders, founded by Emmert and Esther Bittinger of Bridgewater eighteen years ago, have gone on a horseback pilgrimage each spring to some of the many communities Elder Kline traveled as a preacher and practitioner of herbal medicine prior to and during the Civil War. As a man of peace, Kline was falsely accused of being a traitor to the Confederate cause due to his continuing to minister to people on both sides during the Civil War and making regular visits to churches in the North as well as the South.

Kline was fatally shot in the back June 15, 1864, by a group of vigilantes while riding home on his faithful horse Nell that had just been shod by someone in the Turleytown area north of Singers Glen.

He and his wife had donated some of the land from their Broadway area farm to the Linville Creek Church for its first meeting house, and they are both buried in the cemetery there.

Elder Kline wrote the following prophetic words in his diary prior to the Civil War, on January 1, 1861, "Secession means war; and war means tears and ashes and blood. It means bonds and imprisonment and perhaps even death to many in our beloved Brotherhood, who I have the confidence to believe, will die rather than disobey God by taking up arms."

John Kline truly embodied that kind of faith and faithfulness.

photo by Emmert and Esther Bittinger
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