Pentecostal Pioneers: Joseph Harper Rose

Pentecostal Pioneers: Joseph Harper Rose
Bt Trejetta Streley

Joseph Harper Rose was born April 12, 1892, in Wellsville, Ohio. His parents, William and Matilda Tarr Rose, had four other children: Mary, Ella, Cora, and Harry.

Young Harper learned meat cutting from his father, a butcher. Mr. Rose got sick in 1904, and at twelve Harper shouldered the burden of the Richmond, Ohio, butcher shop and slaughterhouse, and took over the cattle buying. He and his sister Mary ran the family peddle-wagon route as their father lay dangerously ill.

Being a violinist in a group of music makers earned Harper entry to dances, socials, and parties in several nearby towns. One of his acquaintances, Earl Van Allen, offered a bulldog for sale that Harper decided to see. From that first visit to the Van Allen home grew the romance of his life. Joseph Harper Rose met Lottie Louella Van Allen, and they attended the Lisbon fair on their first date in 1912. They married in Chester, West Virginia, December 23, 1914, then set up housekeeping on Walnut Street in Richmond. Harper returned to the family meat market.

In September 1915 the newlyweds moved to the family farm, and with a single cow and a few sheep, began farming. Butter sales became a mainstay of the family budget and remained so through the arrivals of Ella May, an anniversary gift on December 23, 1915; Edith Marie on November, 17, 1918; and Dorothy Jean on September 6, 1920.

Early in 1923 the Rose brothers, Harper and Harry, bought an established butcher shop in Jewett, Ohio. The farm equipment and stock were sold, and the growing family moved to the apartment above the meat market. On March 30, 1923, a fourth daughter, Martha Esther, was born.

A gentle, loving father, Harper Rose worked long, long hours and often saw his daughters only in their beds at evening. He spurned punishment in favor of discipline, seasoned well with prayer and guidance from the Word. Each child felt so special that each considered herself his favorite.

Harper didn’t know how much he wanted a son until July 15, 1925, when Paul William arrived, welcomed by his four sisters. In 1927 the Rose family moved from above the business to a large house on Main Street in Jewett. The slaughterhouse, meat market, and peddle wagon still supported the family. The family enjoyed summertime when the children got to go on the route with their adored Daddy. One night, quite late, Harper Rose returned from his day’s labors to a slumbering house. He and Lottie wakened the children so they could enjoy a special treat– chocolate ice cream and Daddy. Harper Rose found a good helpmate in Lottie. She supported his every enterprise and valued his walk with God, his power in prayer, and his profound knowledge of the Word. If ever she felt he was bordering on error, however, she said so!

In one instance Brother Rose had a tremendous “revelation” and enthusiastically expounded his new “truth.” She listened, then looked up and asked, “Where in the Word did you find that?” Harper looked very peculiar for a moment, then said softly, “Thank you! Oh, thank you, thank you!” Occasionally she reminded him that the Bible says, “Preach the word.” This helped Pastor J. Harper Rose to fulfill his ministry for forty faithful years.

The family altar was sacred. Harper Rose repeatedly told his children that he was leading them in all the light he had, and cautioned that if God ever shed more light on the Scripture, it must be accepted and obeyed. He rarely went anywhere without his Bible. Midday found him at lunch at the back of the butcher shop, seated on a high stool, his meal before him and the Word in his hand. He lived the Word. An acquaintance once asked what he searched for and Harper Rose answered, “I’m seeing if I still love the Lord.” The man demanded a better answer and Harper Rose readily replied, “The Bible says, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’ and so I want to be sure I know them all.”

Into this faithful dedication came the opportunity to serve in greater fullness and truth. While delivering meat to a restaurant in Georgetown in 1932, Harper Rose first heard the message of Jesus Name baptism and the indwelling Spirit of God. Sister Dollie White, visiting from Short Creek, West Virginia, shared the scriptural truth of the mighty God in Christ. Through that testimony has grown the tremendous work in Harrison County, Ohio, and the surrounding area. After carefully searching the Scriptures, Harper Rose accepted the message and was baptized in Jesus’ name by Brother Albert Waite in Bridgeport, Ohio, in 1933. In 1941, Ella May, Martha, Sister Lottie Rose, and Edith received the Holy Spirit. Brother Rose prayed through to the Holy Ghost under the ministry of Evangelist Willie Lane Johnson.

Brother Rose had been a faithful member of the Presbyterian church. After his acceptance of greater truth, he was astounded to find out that his Presbyterian family and friends were not delighted in his experience. A close relative came into the meat market, railing against Harper, declaring him a disgrace, accusing him of heresy, and attacking him physically. Yet Harper never wavered.

Although he had loved and served the Lord from childhood, Harper Rose had been a pouter. When displeased, he clamped his jaw shut and refused to reveal what troubled him. This technique gave his dear wife a sick headache. But one blessed day the Lord took the pout away and put the Spirit in its place!

An extra blessing arrived to the Roses on November 21, 1934, when Joseph Hugh Rose, the delight of his parents, four sisters and brother, joined the family.

Family worship brought spiritual refreshing. I Peter 1:1821 was read, emphasizing the precious blood of Jesus. Brother Rose loved to sing songs that glorified the name, and psalms were sung from the Presbyterian Psalter. Among the family favorites were Psalms 23, 45, 87, and 128. Young Hughie knew that by requesting Psalm 128 he could see the retribution due all his naughty pranks washed away in Mother’s tears. There he also learned that his sins could be washed away in his heavenly Father’s waters of baptism.

The first meeting of the Jesus Name Church of Jewett, Ohio, was held in a renovated barber shop and pool hall on November 4, 1945, under Pastor Rose with eight people attending. About that time D. J.
White of Akron, Ohio, preached a tent revival in town. Mexican railroad laborers worked nearby, and during a service, a message in tongues was brought forth in Spanish. Railroad employees listening outside overheard and interpreted the message.

Brother Rose held meetings in a tent in Cherry Valley and at Leesville, and in a school building in Rumley, Ohio. Betty Yeager discovered through these meetings that there were other Jesus Name
believers in Harrison County and became a part of the congregation of believers in Jewett. She and many members of her family are still a part of the church today.

God has blessed this congregation with growth since its beginning. Occasionally, however, no one but family sat before Pastor Rose as he preached. On one occasion as he preached to an empty church, a small girl asked, “Were you practicing, Mr. Rose?” But the original sanctuary soon overflowed, and they needed Sunday school space. The Jesus Name Church of Jewett was renamed the Apostles’ Doctrine Church and affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church.

Brother Rose instituted an annual celebration of the Feast of Pentecost in 1953, a time of warm fellowship and food. He was a man of prayer, and the altar at church was his workbench and his resting place. He often wept and prayed all night.

The sweet rain of the Spirit nourished the seeds sown in tears by this great pioneer. As the seed bore more fruit, he began to search for more suitable property, which resulted in the purchase of an acre of ground just outside Jewett. On May 25, 1969, Pastor J. Harper Rose snipped a yellow ribbon opening the new building and a new chapter in the history of the church in Harrison County, Ohio.

The history of this assembly is the history of Brother Rose, for the work of the Lord was his life. Always the needs of the church were considered in the family budget. While he never neglected the house of God, Brother Rose was often impatient with his own physical limitations. He always wanted to do more than one day’s hours and one man’s strength permitted. When he had his tonsils removed, he boarded the train in the morning, underwent surgery at midday, and was home by suppertime. Yet with others in illness, pain, or distress, he was deeply caring and extremely patient.

The saints reflected this spirit of giving. The church at Jewett became known as a giving church, and a large missionary commitment grew ever larger as God blessed. Pastor Rose found a box about the size of
an orange crate. This he called the missionary box, and he desired that it literally overflow with offerings for world evangelism. To those with nothing to give, he frequently advised that they look into the box and see the vacant space so that they would “know the need.” God rewarded the saints’ faithful giving, and in 1973, less than five years after occupancy, the new facility was paid for, and Pastor Rose held a mortgage burning service with great rejoicing. This was one of the last services in which Pastor Rose was able to minister actively. How great was his rejoicing as he led in praises to God for His great blessings!