At Issue At Issue index   Women in Ministry   Called by God Index   Previous   Next 


by Josephine Benton

We have improved the opportunities
as they came along.

— Minnie Sype, 1908


 Farmer's Wife Becomes Evangelist:

Marinda (Minnie) Day Sype

1869 to 1956

Licensed minister from 1902 to 1956

There was no doubt about it—the Baptists were spoiling for a debate. Minnie Sype sighed. She disliked debating from the depths of her being.

Mrs. Sype stopped by Putnam, Oklahoma Territory, to preach on Sabbath and again Sunday night. She had held tent meetings in Putnam starting May 23, 1902, and God had blessed her with success. By July she was able to invite the conference president to come organize a new Seventh-day Adventist church.

Immediately thereafter she prepared to hold a series of meetings in Taloga, so great was the urgency of taking the good news of Jesus' return to every community. However, when she returned to Putnam to strengthen the new believers, she learned that the Baptists had pitched a tent and brought in a preacher, Dr. Ellison, who intended to show that the Adventists were preaching heresy from start to finish.

Debating religion struck Minnie Sype, a 33-year-old farmer's wife who had been called into the ministry, as the wrong way to approach the right subject. She avoided this kind of public theological confrontation whenever possible. However, the truths that she had been preaching were being attacked, and her converts were the target. Therefore, she prayed for wisdom, and afterward responded that she would stand by what she had taught and remain as long as the doctor did.

The Baptist minister seemed eager to debate. At length, in the presence of witnesses, the two ministers agreed upon the guidelines for their polemic. The Baptists suggested discussing "faith." Mrs. Sype said that she believed in "faith" as strongly as the Baptists; her opponent denied this, but Mrs. Sype thought that she knew best what she believed. In any event, this was chosen as the first night's topic.

The large crowd was electric with anticipation as the Adventist minister showed the importance and nature of faith from the Bible. Then the Baptist preacher rose to make response. At first he had a difficult time proving much wrong with Mrs. Sype's presentation; then he brought out his reserved "ammunition," a letter about William Miller. After reading it, Dr. Ellison condemned Seventh-day Adventists for teaching that the world would end in 1844. He spent quite a while criticizing William Miller's teachings and ridiculing the Adventists. He sat down, sure that his material about Miller had discredited the Seventh-day Adventists.

Calmly Minnie Sype, with her regal bearing, acknowledged that William Miller, while a good man, had like most people made some mistakes. She then went on to point out that when Dr. Ellison condemned William Miller, he was speaking about a member of his own denomination, for William Miller was a Baptist, not a Seventh-day Adventist; the Seventh-day Adventists had not become a church nor started their work in 1844. This information disappointed the Baptist minister while affording some amusement to the listeners.

After several nights, the debaters got to the topic, "The Origin, History, and Destiny of Satan." The Baptist speaker refused to go further, and so the debate closed. He announced, however, that he would continue speaking separately against the Adventist teachings concerning the Sabbath and the immortality of the soul.

Not being able to rent the Baptists' tent to answer their presentations, Minnie Sype announced that she would reserve the local schoolhouse for Sunday evening to review Dr. Ellison's assertions. That summer evening in 1902 the school house in Putnam, Oklahoma Territory, was jammed with people. They listened attentively to Pastor Sype as she defended the teachings of her church against the accusation that they were heresy. This confrontation was used by the Holy Spirit to further advance the work begun by Mrs. Sype in Putnam. Several stood for the truth. Soon afterward the Baptists lost interest and moved their tent elsewhere.1

The little company of believers at Putnam rejoiced in their newfound faith, and the town people became more friendly, some admitting that the Adventist teachings were correct. At the end of this taxing bout for truth, Minnie Sype was still buoyant in her praise to the Lord for His holy Word and its power to prevail.

This gifted communicator of Bible truth did not knowingly set out in life to become a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist. There are few clues from her early years as a shy farm girl to foreshadow that ultimate call, aside from her persistent longing to know God.

When Elias and Mary Day welcomed their first child to the farm homestead near Thayer, Iowa, on April 18, 1869, they named her Marinda. However, "Minnie" seemed more appropriate for the timid, feminine little girl; and by that name she was called throughout her life.2

Because she was the first child of ten, and all the older children were girls, Minnie became her father's helper in the fields. She drove the team to harrow the ground, sat on the corn planter trying to make straight rows across the wide field, and pulled herself reluctantly from the clutches of a warm bed to harvest corn before school on shivery fall mornings. Although life was demanding—Minnie worked away from home on-and-off from the age of 13 to contribute to the family income—the children felt love and security in their family.

Mrs. Day occasionally read the Bible to her children, but Minnie grew up craving more religious instruction. After hearing her mother read the story of the flood from Genesis, Minnie found her mind whirling with questions, questions, questions, for which she could not find answers.

Sometimes as she rounded up the cows on the prairie to bring them home to be milked, Minnie looked up into the blue sky and felt a keen longing to know about God. She wished that people around her would talk about God more. At the age of 10, the child felt herself a wicked person whom no one could understand or help.

When meetings were held in the Brethren Church, Minnie eagerly responded to a call to give her heart to God. Although she felt somewhat better as a result, after the meetings ended she was still dissatisfied because she didn't understand the basics of how to believe in God.

At 13 Minnie was glad that her parents finally consented for her to be baptized into the Christian Church. As she tried to live a godly life, the troubled girl sometimes felt peace. More often, however, she seemed overwhelmed with a sense of her sinfulness. The reassuring knowledge that she was forgiven eluded her.

Mrs. Day longed for her children to receive an education. She taught Minnie to read and encouraged the girl to attend school as much as possible. Eventually Minnie had opportunity to attend normal school for teacher training. From this program she received a certificate that allowed her to start teaching just before her eighteenth birthday.

Minnie Day taught at several schools. For the most part, she was a successful teacher. She did encounter a few challenging discipline problems. On her first day of teaching, a 14-year-old lad asserted his authority over the younger boys in challenge to the teacher (who, you recall, had reached the mature age of 17). Minnie decided that she must give the uncooperative lad a sound thrashing. She kept him after school, closed all the doors and windows, and set to the task with determination. She found with relief that the young man responded by causing no more trouble. All such crises Minnie resolved with creative resourcefulness. She came to regard the classroom an effective training place for teachers as well as students.

Soon after she went to teach in Sand Creek Township, Minnie met an eligible young man of good reputation, Logan P. Sype. One reason she liked him was that he didn't smoke or drink. Minnie had vowed that no suitor would ever puff tobacco smoke in her face.

Logan was a religious person; more specifically, he and his parents were Seventh-day Adventists. This religion sounded strange to Minnie, but she admired Logan's Christian principles enough to be happy to date him. Because he had a splendid voice, frequently he was asked to present a solo or lead the singing for some event, and he would ask Minnie to go with him. They made an attractive couple, she with dark brown hair, tall, he with black hair, about the same height.

Minnie Day and Logan Sype joined their lives in marriage March 6, 1889, a month before Minnie's twentieth birthday. The newlyweds agreed to disagree on matters of religion, she being a member of the Christian Church and he a Seventh-day Adventist. They committed to respect each other's religion and accompany one another to both churches. They had worship together with prayer and Bible reading, carefully staying away from controversial topics.

When Minnie attended Logan's church, she noticed that the members were energetic Bible students. They could cite many texts in support of their beliefs. She began wondering why her husband worshiped on the seventh day of the week while she worshiped on the first day. Wasn't that strange when they were both basing their practice on the same Bible?

Expecting help in finding Biblical support for her beliefs, Minnie went to see her pastor. The minister's inability to comply with this request for Biblical evidence supporting Sunday observance proved a painful disappointment to Minnie; secretly she had hoped that she would be able to persuade her husband to worship on Sunday with her.

Minnie's father-in-law, Mr. J. L. Sype, studied the Bible with her. He had been elder of the Afton, Iowa, church for years and was well prepared to guide his eager young daughter-in-law. Minnie approached the Bible as ravenous people come to food. While washing dishes, she memorized Bible verses. Many times after the day's work was over, her father-in-law would walk over from his farm across the road and answer Minnie's Bible questions until midnight. The millennium, the resurrection, the second coming of Christ, and Bible prophecies for the last days all were investigated. Minnie developed ever greater admiration for God's Word. The longing to know more about God that had pained her throughout her childhood was finally being satisfied.

After several months of intensive Bible study, Minnie saw clearly that the seventh day is the Sabbath. This put her in a difficult position: she had to choose between satisfying her conscience, on the one hand, or remaining in a comfortable tradition on the other.

One Sabbath Minnie worshiped with the little company to which her husband belonged; then on Sunday she stood in her doorway watching dearly loved friends make their way to the church that she had shared with them for years. Her friends were going one way, literally, while she was about to go another. The separation seemed more than she could bear. In her anguish she cried out, "Oh, my God! Do you ask this of me?"

Minnie went into her sitting room and knelt down with her Bible open to the Ten Commandments. She told God that she could not knowingly break one of those commandments while living as a committed Christian. The fourth commandment cried out from the surface of the page, "The SEVENTH DAY is the SABBATH of the LORD thy God."3 She knew that she must keep the seventh-day Sabbath. On her knees she promised to do this, asking God to give her strength.

In July 1889, Minnie Day Sype became part of the body of Christ in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Attending her first Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting, Minnie heard a preacher read from the Bible, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." He continued, "Thou hast in love to my soul . . . cast all my sins behind thy back."4 Then Minnie heard the preacher asking, "Can God tell a lie?" No, Minnie responded, certainly not. God will do His part, the preacher was explaining, which is to forgive our sins. Then we must do our part, which is to believe that we are forgiven. Jesus has purchased our sins by His blood, the minister pointed out; therefore after we confess them, they are no longer ours. If we are still troubled by those forgiven sins, that is Satan bringing them up to try to discourage us.

At last Minnie Sype grasped the assurance that God had forgiven her. The peace and joy that entered her life with that understanding she never lost, in spite of severe trials. Life was worth living from that day forward in a new and richer way.

Furthermore, this assurance of God's love and salvation must be shared. True, there were compelling demands on Minnie's limited time and scarce money. Her domestic responsibilities increased as children were welcomed into the farm home: Ross was born in 1889, followed by a second son, James, in 1892. However, a real burden for souls rested upon Minnie Sype's heart. Because she had earlier longed for Christian help, she vowed that other people would not lack such assistance and encouragement as she could supply.

She recognized that her first mission field was her home. She loved to observe Sabbath on the farm, making preparation on Friday and attending church with the family on Sabbath morning.

Important as Minnie's family ministry was to her, she looked for ways to reach out to others as well. She and her husband found the seven-mile drive to church gave them an excellent opportunity for distributing literature; they saved their church papers and dropped them off in mail boxes along the way. Ross and James liked to save their Little Friends to leave at homes where there were children. The children's interest grew to the point that they sometimes climbed in to attend Sabbath school with the Sypes; the buggy was fairly bulging by the time it reached the church.

Minnie Sype was ingenious at time management. She so efficiently organized her many household duties that she could devote Thursdays to missionary work. Some Thursdays she visited the sick. Other times she sold Adventist books; the profit provided postage stamps for missionary letters—the Sypes had no money for this purpose—while the books and papers took truth right into people's homes. Again, she might make sunbonnets to sell to provide literature for the rack by her door. If detained at home by company, she kept quilt-blocks ready, that she might spend time on these while chatting; the quilts and comforters were sold to support mission work.

On rainy days Minnie wrote missionary letters, enclosing a tract, a poem that she had clipped, or whatever she thought might turn a person's mind toward God. As a result of reading such a letter and the enclosed tract on the Sabbath, one woman resolved to keep the Sabbath day holy. Another woman who was at the point of giving up her Christian life, after reading Minnie's letter and an enclosed poem, was sent to her knees to renew her hold upon God.

To a newcomer in the neighborhood Minnie Sype arranged to give her first series of Bible lessons. When the woman asked that the studies be changed to the evening so that her husband could attend, the entire Sype family presented the lessons. Mr. Sype sang and prayed, Mrs. Sype taught the content, and the children helped by sitting still; their mother even paid them a few pennies for assisting in this way. The couple accepted the truths presented and shared the good news with others.

When Mr. Sype took a heavy load of grain to town, making for a slow trip, Mrs. Sype would go along to sell Signs of the Times magazines and small books to people in homes by the road. She was exuberant as she found ways to serve her Master, who had given her freedom and joy.

Another means of service that occurred to Minnie was that of canning a plentiful supply of fruit to store in the cellar; thus a stranger never needed to be turned away from her door. As she and her husband entertained travelers, they talked earnestly with their guests about Bible truths. Sometimes a guest would later write to ask questions or request more literature. Since Minnie's ability to visit other people was limited, she trusted God to bring to her home people who were thirsting for the water of salvation. She genuinely liked her life on the farm. She enjoyed raising chickens, milking cows, working in the garden, caring for her family, and doing missionary work. She especially wanted to minister to her parents and siblings.5

A little daughter, Anna, was born in 1898, completing the family of Logan and Minnie Sype. Soon afterward an illness caused Minnie to spend time at the Nebraska Sanitarium, which together with Union College was operated by the Seventh-day Adventists in Lincoln. Little Anna went along with her mother. When Minnie became an outpatient, she arranged for a community woman to watch the baby at certain hours; then Minnie studied at Union College while continuing therapeutic treatments at the sanitarium. Thus she returned home better prepared than when she left for the life work that, unknown to her, lay ahead.

Soon after Minnie and Anna returned home, Mr. Sype took employment that required the

family's moving to the Higby mining camp near Sheridan, Wyoming. Against a backdrop of breathtaking mountain beauty, the Sypes found themselves among people many of whom seemed to be without hope or an experience with God. Although existence in a miner's shanty was quite different from life in the pleasant Iowa farm home that Minnie had just left, she focused on the work God made available to her. When cholera attacked the infants in the camp, mothers relied on her bedside care and wisdom.

Minnie conceived a ministry even while Anna was ill for several months due to complications following measles. She invited camp women into her home to sew quilts; as the women quilted, she read to them, planting seeds of truth.

She found herself in situations that caused her to take a stand for temperance, a virtue not commonly championed in the camp. Although she experienced ridicule at first, after a while other mothers, watching Minnie's example, gave up their heavy drinking and took an interest in caring for their families.

With her husband's splendid musical contribution, Minnie conducted both a Sabbath school and a Sunday school. The Sypes also invited the mining families into their home one night a week for singing. Logan led the group in songs full of Advent hope. Afterward people could be heard around the grounds humming or singing snatches of this uplifting music.

The mine work proved detrimental to Mr. Sype's health. At the end of a year, as his father urged him to return to Iowa, Logan and his family decided to make the move. There was genuine sorrow among the camp people when the Sypes departed, leaving a little Sabbath school and a few people keeping the Sabbath. As Minnie corresponded with them later, she prayed that she would meet some people from that Wyoming mining camp in God's eternal kingdom.

Not long after their return to Iowa, the Sypes received glowing accounts from a family who had moved to Oklahoma. Following the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, settlement continued in pulsations through the turn of the century. Mr. Sype thought it would be wise to move to the Oklahoma Territory to homestead on land that was available. Mrs. Sype struggled with thoughts of leaving her beloved Iowa farm. However, as the couple prayed they saw indications of God's leading, such as the rapid sale of their Iowa land. Minnie agreed to move.

Her husband traveled ahead to build a cottage on their 160 acres. When Minnie arrived with the children, she found that Logan, knowing her dedication to study, had included a reading room especially for her! By settling several miles from any other Seventh-day Adventists, the Sypes made sure they would have opportunity to share truth with those who did not know it.

During the summer of 1901 the crops that Logan and the neighboring settlers had planted were prospering. Then in July a miserable, hot wind began to blow. This continued until crops shriveled and corn cooked on the stalk. Livestock, unable to graze, were fed from scanty stores until supplies ran out; after that, farm animals died in alarming numbers. During the devastating winter that followed, hundreds of homesteaders abandoned their claims. So great was the trauma that some who lived through it banded together as Drought Survivors of 1901 and met annually for at least forty years.6

Most of the people around them suffered even more than the Sypes, who kept their courage up by leaning on the Lord and quoting Scripture promises to each other. As she saw her neighbors, Minnie sought to comfort them with her own source of hope. She received invitations to speak to groups of people, to present a message after the Sunday school, to tell a family about her understanding of the Sabbath.

As people's economic status deteriorated, their interest in God increased. The superintendent of he Sunday school and his wife began keeping the Sabbath, along with other members of the community.

During the winter of 1901-1902 the Sypes' dream of starting a church in their area became a reality. They called for the Oklahoma Conference president to organize the Gyp Seventh-day Adventist Church (later known as the Butler Church).

Minnie was surprised to receive from the Oklahoma Conference a letter of appreciation and a check for 25 dollars. Although she had worked without any thought of remuneration, the unsolicited money certainly arrived at an appropriate time.

In the spring the Oklahoma Conference administration invited Minnie Sype to become an evangelist employed by the conference and assisted by her husband.

The Sypes talked and prayed at length about this request, considering carefully the changes that it might bring in their lifestyle. Minnie Sype had not sought to become a minister. Yet she was engaged in evangelism, and now this formal invitation had come. Minnie's sister who had come to Oklahoma offered to look after the children.

Mr. Sype volunteered, "Mamma, if you go into this work, I will stand by you and do what I can. I can sing and open the meetings, and you can tell the people the truth."7

After careful consideration, the Sypes concluded that the call was from God. Minnie Sype entered the ministry in the Oklahoma Territory, assisted by her husband.

Soon thereafter Mrs. Sype traveled by horse and buggy 13 miles to the Ruth, Oklahoma, church to conduct prayer meeting and minister to the believers there. As soon as she arrived, one of the members urged her to speak that night on the law of God. She responded that she was not prepared. The member insisted that she must, because a local preacher had been trying to tear down God's law, and people were eager to hear the subject explained.

Wondering how on such short notice she could do justice to the subject, yet believing that what the Lord wanted her to do she should not refuse, Minnie Sype descended into a large canyon near the member's home to pray and study. So greatly did her concern for lost souls weigh on the one hand, but her perceived inability on the other, that she cried out to God for help.

He heard her prayers; she spoke freely and with conviction. The people were attentive and asked her to return. The new minister went home to prepare. When she returned, a large number of people had gathered. Thus began Minnie Sype's formal ministry, a process of studying further, preaching, relying on the Lord, and being rewarded with his rich blessings. She was 32 years of age.

After the second meeting at Ruth, a young woman came up to comment about the "sermon"; hearing that term applied to her presentation startled Minnie. People who asked her to hold meetings called her the "woman preacher." Being thus labeled disturbed Mrs. Sype for she had developed, she discovered, prejudice against the idea of "women preachers" herself.

This sent Minnie to her knees again. As she thought about the criticism and opposition she was bound to encounter, she cried in despair, "I can never do this!" However, in her anguish she received an impression that she believed was from God: "My grace is sufficient for you."8 The young minister got up from her knees determined to accept whatever work God might ask of her, leaving the results to Him. As she had responded negatively toward women preachers, so other people might act toward her. But she knew that her calling was from God.

Not long after she entered the ministry in Oklahoma, Mrs. Sype experienced prejudice against women in the ministry. A minister of the Christian Church started attacking what Minnie was preaching. When she asked for an opportunity to respond, the man replied that he would never talk in public with a woman. He emphasized the point that a woman should never speak in public.9

Minnie Sype arranged to use the school house the following night. When she arrived, a large crowd had assembled. Minnie had prayed at length about this matter and had sought counsel from church leadership. She asked the Christian minister, who was present, to join her in the front of the hall, for she wanted nothing more than to make peace with him.

Because of his attacks, she proceeded to defend herself. She asserted that she received her commission from the Lord Jesus Himself—that after His resurrection He had commissioned Mary to go tell the brethren that He was alive. Minnie claimed that she was following in Mary's footsteps, telling people that Jesus, who has risen, will be coming Again.10

Mrs. Sype next mentioned Paul's commendation of a number of women workers in Romans, chapter 16, particularly Phebe, a minister in Corinth who had helped Paul, and after going to Rome, was commended by Paul.11 She pointed out that Priscilla and Aquila labored with Paul in giving the gospel.12

She referred to other women leaders of the Bible: Miriam, Moses' sister, worked with him in administration; Deborah ruled Israel as a judge; Anna and Philip's four daughters all prophesied.13

Yes, she agreed, women are told in 1 Corinthians 14 to keep silence to prevent confusion, but men are told in the same chapter to keep silence on certain occasions, also.14

She quoted Acts 2:17, 18, foretelling that sons and daughters will prophesy. She then told her brother in ministry that he was behind the times—that modern civilizations are beginning to accept woman as a helper qualified to labor with man in every good work. In heathen countries, she pointed out, women are downtrodden and treated as inferiors; but the more enlightened the civilization, the better the treatment women receive. While Minnie had ministered in Oklahoma only for the purpose of being a blessing, yet she felt she had been treated as heathen women are treated.

The other minister was looking down by the end of Mrs. Sype's defense. She wished him well and expressed hope that they might be friends. Her appeal succeeded. The man did not publicly oppose her work again, and he treated her as a friend.

During July 1902 the Oklahoma Conference president, Elder G. F. Haffner, visited Gyp and Putnam. At Gyp he visited the first church the Sypes had established. Now, as a result of hard work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit—Minnie's preaching and visiting, Logan's singing and assisting—Elder Haffner welcomed seven converts by baptism and several others by profession of faith, organizing them into a new church at Putnam.

While he was in Putnam, the conference president learned that several ministers previously had tried without success to raise up a church there. They had been defeated by their listeners' inattention and disorderly conduct. The woman minister proved to be the first who was able to deal with the behavioral problems and hold the people's attention.

The conference president departed with praise on his lips for the Lord's womanservant. Elder Haffner expressed hope that God would raise up other faithful laborers on the order of the Sypes, people who would commit themselves fully to the work, not giving up until they saw results.15

It was agreed that Minnie Sype would hold meetings next in Taloga while at the same time nurturing the work at Putnam. It was while she was working in Putnam and Taloga that Mrs. Sype encountered the challenge to debate that was reported at the first of this chapter.

Assisted by her husband, Minnie Sype held three separate efforts in the Putnam area, bringing 42 converts to rejoice in the Lord.

At the Oklahoma annual conference and camp meeting, which the Sypes reached by covered wagon during September 1902, Minnie Sype was issued a ministerial license, as were 18 male ministers.16

In view of the success Mrs. Sype was having in raising up churches, the Conference Committee moved to recognize her ministry by licensing her.

Minnie Sype performed most of the usual functions of a minister. On September 30, 1902, she officiated at a wedding, uniting in marriage W. L. Manfull, of Addington, Indian Territory, and Miss Myrtle Day, of Gyp, Oklahoma Territory. The bride was the minister's sister. Mrs. Sype wrote in her article in the Record concerning the wedding that both the bride and groom were formerly from Iowa, where Mr. Manfull had been "a good, faithful worker" employed by the church.17

A pattern was set up in which Mrs. Sype concentrated on tent evangelism during the summer; then, when the weather became too cold for the tent, she conducted meetings in a school house or in the homes of interested people.

Although her hard work was usually rewarded with noticeable success, there were times when all her efforts did not produce immediate, visible results. In Taloga she experienced difficulty. While her ministry continued to attract new converts at Putnam, Taloga proved strongly resistant to the Biblical truths that the young minister was presenting. After preaching 26 sermons and making 41 visits, Mrs. Sype decided that since no significant interest had been shown, she could close the Taloga meetings and still be clear before God in the judgment. She said of Taloga that the entire neighborhood appeared to be convinced but not converted. Therefore the Sypes went on to Meno, Oklahoma, for meetings early in 1904. It is clear from her letters of the period that reverses did not prevent Minnie Sype from being joyful in the Lord's service.

Sometimes Logan assisted Minnie in the meetings. When he was there he supervised pitching the tents, conducted song services, offered prayers, and helped to look after the children. With this welcome support Mrs. Sype preached, prayed, and visited, engaging in the strenuous work of evangelism. Other times Mr. Sype had the children with him at the Oklahoma farm when he needed to manage the property. After her marriage, Minnie's sister no longer could care for the children.

As a precursor of today's mobile homes, Mr. Sype built a house on a wagon bed; it could be moved on wheels to the meeting sites, allowing the family more conveniences than a tent. Mrs. Sype was excited that the family could be housed together this way.18 When the children were with her, she had ingenious, practical ways of caring for them. She cooked simple, nourishing meals. During meetings little Anna was sometimes put down to sleep behind the pump organ on the platform in easy view of her parents' watchful eyes.

In Meno Mrs. Sype's evangelism produced an increase in church membership from 5 to 29. Others had begun keeping the Sabbath but were not yet members.

The ordained minister who was sent to baptize the new converts at Meno, Elder A. E. Field, was impressed that a 75-year-old man had given up his tobacco and was worshiping on Sabbath. Such visible evidence of the Spirit's work constituted a large part of Minnie Sype's "pay" for arduous labor for which she received meager monetary remuneration.

Mrs. Sype enjoyed organizing a young people's society to help make the church a pleasant and profitable place for youth. A less pleasant, but all too typical, event occurred at Meno when a minister of a mainline denomination opened verbal fire on the Adventists. Because Minnie handled the situation with wisdom, the preacher stopped his attack when he observed that his actions were advancing the cause that he opposed.

In his report at the Annual Meeting of the Oklahoma Conference in 1904, the president reported concerning Mrs. Minnie Sype's work that she had held two successful meetings, bringing approximately 42 people to full acceptance of Adventist teachings. Fifteen were added to the Putnam church, and from the meetings near Meno 25 took their stand for the Lord and were added to the Concord Church. He went on to say that Mrs. Sype had worked hard, preaching 244 sermons during the year, holding 89 Bible readings, making 484 visits, and taking 22 subscriptions for church papers. Looking at reports for all the ministers, one can see that Minnie Sype was being blessed by the Lord as one of the most productive evangelists in the conference.19

Up to this point the Sypes' work had concentrated on evangelism in previously unworked areas. However, in order to provide a church school for their children, in 1905 they chose to accept a call for Mrs. Sype to be pastor in Enid, where the Adventist work was well established. She was excited to see doors opening to the work in every part of the city.

During May 1905 the Sypes enjoyed the inspiration of attending the General Conference Session in Washington, D.C. When they returned, Minnie worked hard in Enid and Meno, assisted by her husband. Between General Conference and the middle of August Minnie's reports showed 118 visits made, 34 sermons preached, 10 other meetings held, and 12 Bible readings conducted.

Supervising the established church and school in Enid, Minnie found that working with brothers and sisters of like faith brought some new challenges. Satan eagerly sought to cause strife and division. Yet with much prayer Minnie brought the crisis to resolution, and the church members set to work to bring converts to Christ.

Mrs. Sype did not hold a regular series of evangelistic meetings in Enid. Instead, she organized her church to work for Christ. The members sold Christian literature, filled reading racks, and ran a Christian aid society. Even the little children sold church papers. Church membership increased at a steady rate.

Two of the Sype children, James and Anna, attended the Enid church school, but Ross was enough advanced to go to Keene Industrial Academy in Texas. Eagerly desiring further education herself, Minnie Sype decided to accompany her son to the Texas school. She was there until the Union Session was held at Keene during the winter. At that time the conference president appealed to Mrs. Sype urgently, "I need you back in the field." Therefore she resumed her work, giving God responsibility for any further preparation that she needed.

At the Oklahoma Conference Session held in Oklahoma City, the work of Minnie Sype and of the other ministers was summarized in the conference president's annual report delivered on August 27, 1905. First, a statement was made concerning the work of each of the ordained ministers in the conference. Then the president reported on Sister Minnie Sype's work: 31 had been added to the church as a result of her labors, most of them being baptized by the local elder; in addition, 9 or 10 prospective members were keeping the Sabbath.20

In the few cases in which other ministers' baptisms numbered more than Mrs. Sype's (perhaps 40 or 50), this represented the work of a team of two or more ministers. Minnie, on the other hand, was typically working on her own, except for the help of her spouse, which help of course all the other ministerial teams had also.

After camp meeting in 1905, the Sypes moved from Enid to Carrier. The Adventist message had been preached there under circumstances that left many people decided against the truth and prejudiced. In this difficult situation the Sypes pitched their tent and started their demanding program of visiting homes during the day and preaching in the tent at night.

In some parts of town the residents were so antagonistic that they would hardly let Adventists into their homes; if they did let them in, they would require that there be no discussion of religion.

Besides the prejudice, the evangelist and her spouse had to compete with carnivals, dances, and shows in Carrier. One show pitched its tent about 50 yards from the evangelistic tent and nightly told people that no meeting would be held at the preaching tent! The Sypes went right ahead under these trying circumstances, and with God's help Minnie Sype preached in total control.

The opposition's next tactic was more direct. Just as she was starting to preach one night, Mrs. Sype and the startled congregation heard large rocks thumping the tent roof right over their heads. Praying for wisdom, the preacher told the congregation not to be frightened. She said that the rocks were aimed, not at the people attending, but at those conducting the meeting. If anyone is hurt, it will be my husband and me, Mrs. Sype remarked. Her listeners must have been impressed to hear her calmly continue right on preaching. Eventually the bombardment stopped.

The next day Mr. and Mrs. Sype counted 35 rocks and chunks of coal that had been thrown. No damage had been done except for a few holes in the tent. They always looked back on that night as a time when it was particularly sweet to trust in Jesus. Rather than being frightened out of town, the Sypes found their resolve to remain strengthened. They continued the meetings until October 12 and then, according to their plan, took down the tent.

Some good results came from the difficult effort in Carrier. One family who had not even been Christians took their stand to obey all of God's commandments and became firm on all points of truth.

After taking down the tent, the Sypes moved the meetings to a school house five miles out of Carrier. Here Mrs. Sype addressed repeatedly a full house of people interested in Biblical truths. She also enjoyed preaching, with the assistance of an interpreter, to the German Adventists in the area.

For five years Minnie Sype worked diligently in the Oklahoma Territory, raising up churches where none had been, enlarging and strengthening existing churches.

However, her health was not excellent. In many places the Oklahoma water had an alkali content, called gyp (from gypsum, common in hard waters), that was very hard on Mrs. Sype's stomach. She suffered frequent, lengthy vomiting spells. Doctors recommended a change of climate.

The Iowa Conference president, visiting the Oklahoma camp meeting in 1905, urged the Sypes to return to their home state of Iowa. The next year, in view of Mrs. Sype's health, the family decided to accept the invitation to work in Iowa. They left Enid the first day of May 1906.

Setting foot on Iowa soil again was an emotional event for Logan and Minnie Sype. They and all three of their children had been born in that state.

Visiting her family, Minnie Sype found a young minister conducting an effort in Afton. The conference president asked her to assist him until camp meeting in June. Here Minnie Sype had first heard the Adventist beliefs. It was a rich experience now to be teaching others in Afton. At the same time, she could visit her family. Minnie was thankful beyond words to see two of her sisters baptized as fruitage from those meetings and from her years of praying and witnessing.

At the forty-third annual session of the Iowa Conference, held in June 1906, the committee on credentials and licenses recommended seven people to be credentialed as ordained ministers; 19 were awarded ministerial licenses, including Mrs. Minnie Sype.21

After camp meeting the Sypes started work in the southeastern part of Iowa at Fairfield. There was an existing church, but members had moved away, and church attendance was not large. Mrs. Sype divided the town into districts. She and the members went from house to house distributing tracts, and on the third visit they asked for the privilege of conducting Bible studies. Minnie preached and organized the work.

The work in Fairfield was in several ways a hard struggle. The splendid new tent—for which Minnie Sype had personally raised the money—was tested when a cyclone struck Fairfield on August 15, 1906. The Sypes awakened about midnight to find themselves in the midst of the most severe storm they had ever experienced in all their tent work. It seemed that tents and people might all be dashed to pieces. However, while trees were being uprooted, houses unroofed, and barns torn down, God kept his precious evangelistic team safe; and the tents suffered no damage except that the very old family tent was slightly torn. People of the town were surprised the next day to see the evangelistic tents standing sturdily after the storm.

Local ministers worked with all their ingenuity against this Adventist intrusion into their territory. One day Mrs. Sype went to visit an interested person in the home and found a minister there trying to keep his flock from disintegrating.

In Fairfield Mrs. Sype had more support than usual, with Anna Camp as the Bible worker and the Caviness family to help with speaking, visitation, and music. Mrs. Sype prepared short doctrinal articles that were accepted by the local paper.

Because people in neighboring Libertyville showed interest in Mrs. Sype's preaching, she began working there as well as in Fairfield. During one invitation that she made in Libertyville, the Holy Spirit seemed very near, and eight people came forward for prayer, six of whom had never lived as Christians previously.

A Swedish Methodist minister studied the Bible prophecies with the Sypes at Fairfield and ordered a prophetic chart. How much Adventism he preached to his congregation, the Sypes could only guess.

Minnie Sype felt a sense of urgency. She did not know how much time would be allowed for human beings to decide for or against the truth. Therefore when converts began to keep the Sabbath and then went on to join the church in spite of the trying circumstances experienced in the town of Fairfield, the results seemed especially sweet. Five people joined the Fairfield church by profession of faith and two by letter on Sabbath, August 31, with three more awaiting baptism. After working early and late, through storm and opposition, Minnie Sype considered that Sabbath a day of celebration. She and the rest of the team could say that though Fairfield presented a grueling struggle, through faith in God they had triumphed.

While she was pastor-evangelist that year in Fairfield, Mrs. Sype led the membership in sacrificing and working until they had paid off their church debt. This relieved financial pressure and allowed the church to move forward.

During the winter of 1906-1907, Mrs. Sype held meetings at Darbyville. When the meetings ended in April, 12 people—mostly adults—united with the church. Several male converts gave up habitual card playing, whiskey drinking, and tobacco smoking; this evangelist was thorough in preparing people for baptism.

Minnie Sype became increasingly involved in the overall work of the conference. In "Our Camp Meeting Symposium," which appeared in the Iowa Worker's Bulletin prior to camp meeting and the conference session of 1907, Mrs. Sype was the only woman to write, along with several male ministers.

One of the conference session meetings dealt with the importance of daily study of the Sabbath school lessons. The printed report told how Anna Sype had learned to study her Sabbath school lesson while doing the laundry, sewing, and caring for her children. By studying this way throughout the week she prepared to teach a class on Sabbath. Only recently she had heard from a former member of her class; this woman, with no Adventists in her family, was keeping the Sabbath because of what she had learned in the Sabbath school class.22

Mrs. Sype was a valued member of the conference ministerial team whose credentialing continued to be that of a licensed minister; and in Iowa, as in Oklahoma, the conference employed more licensed ministers than ordained.

Evangelist Sype moved on to other locations. At Winthrop for a short time she had the help of an ordained minister, Elder E. G. Olson; he spoke of himself as assisting Mrs. Sype.

When she went to visit her sons at Stuart Academy, Mrs. Sype was sometimes invited to conduct spiritual meetings for the students. One day the principal asked her to speak in chapel on the topic of pure, clean living. She didn't feel that she knew what to say to that challenging high-school-age audience. However, she prayed earnestly to God to give her the needed message. He answered her prayers, she spoke freely, and a revival started among the students as a result.

Mrs. Sype could be used by God to reach diverse groups. Children, youth, and adults found her sermons powerful, dynamic, and captivating. People who knew her have fond memories of her person and preaching.23

Mrs. Sype attended the Union Conference Session held at Minneapolis in the spring of 1908, at which the Iowa Conference Committee voted to ask her to move to the northwest corner of the state. Logan's mother, for whom he had been caring, had recently died, leaving him free to move with Minnie.

The Sypes arrived in Hawarden the evening of May 13, 1908, and that same night Mrs. Sype attended a union prayer meeting sponsored by several denominations. She was concerned when she heard one of the four ministers thanking God that there would be a long period of peace before the end of time. Observing these influential-looking ministers, Minnie asked herself, "Who am I, and what can I do?" She was 39 years of age, without formal education, but on fire for God. As she asked what she could do among these ministers who had many advantages, the answer came to her clearly, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."24

The next day while looking for a tent site, Minnie encountered the Baptist minister. He asked, "You make a distinction between the laws in the Bible, don't you?

"We are only practicing what you Baptists preach on the law question," Minnie replied. "You preach the Ten Commandments; we keep them."

The preacher soon switched the topic to the weather, and the relationship remained friendly. Mrs. Sype was invited to speak at the Baptist missionary meeting.

After the Sypes had raised their small tents and were preparing to pitch the large one, a man claimed that he had permission to use that very ground to plant a garden and he wanted to plow it. The Sypes assured him that they had made proper arrangements to use the vacant lot. The disconcerting facts were that while the Sypes had made their agreement with one man, the gardener was dealing with someone else.

Faced with this unpleasant reality, the Sypes prayed earnestly. Then Mrs. Sype met with the real estate man from whom she had obtained permission to use the lot and offered to pay him 5 dollars for the use of the ground; that would pay for the gardener's trouble, she thought, in securing another plot. The real estate man said he would do what he could. A day or two later the Sypes thanked the Lord when they learned that they were to be allowed to use the lot.25

Before long, the big tent stood in place. Raising a large tent was a dramatic event that attracted the attention of the whole community. Alas, the night after the happy tent-raising in Hawarden, a huge storm attacked the area and blew the large tent and one of the small ones to the ground.

The Sypes' attitude was that this was the Lord's work, and if He wanted it done all over again, that's what they would do. Between showers, sometimes working in the rain, they raised the tent again.

Mrs. Sype wrote, "We have been hindered by rains and storms but have improved the opportunities as they came along, and the Lord is blessing us. We are of good courage. The way never looked brighter; and we know Jesus is soon coming."26

In spite of opposition, Minnie Sype started Sabbath services. Her work in Hawarden grew to such an extent that when J. W. McComas, another licensed minister, closed his meetings because of minimal results, he was sent to assist Mrs. Sype for a time.

When the tent meetings closed, Minnie Sype could report nine adults keeping all the commandments of God. She and her assistants held Bible studies in the homes of 28 families weekly. Attendance at Sabbath worship services kept growing. A church was organized in Hawarden and then a church school.

Mrs. Sype baptized at least one candidate whom she prepared for church membership while in Hawarden, Thomas Durst has reported in a letter to the editor of Insight magazine and in correspondence with the writer. Thomas' mother, Lillian Durst, frequently spoke over the years about her baptism in a stock tank by Mrs. Minnie Sype, a full-time minister.27

Possibly because Hawarden was remote from the conference office, located as it was far in the northwestern corner of the state on the South Dakota border, the conference leadership sometimes allowed Mrs. Sype to baptize the candidates whom she prepared, if no ordained minister could be scheduled.

When Mr. Sype's throat condition would no longer allow him to lead the singing for the meetings, he stayed with Minnie's sister on her farm in a neighboring state, taking along James, the second son. During this time Minnie was lonely and greatly missed her husband's assistance leading the singing for the meetings. After a short time she visited her husband and James and told them she thought she would live at the farm, too, in order to be with them. However, both husband and son strongly opposed her giving up her work. Her family, recognizing her gift, always wanted her to be active in evangelism.

Strengthened by her family's support, Minnie returned, determined to do her best. It was a challenge. Often she spent all day in the homes of interested people, believing as she did in the importance of one-to-one contact; but then she would return to her lonely home and cry herself to sleep at night.

By the time Mrs. Sype's work moved primarily to Cedar Rapids several months later, her husband was well enough to join her; James returned with him. Mrs. Sype served as part of a large evangelistic team for a local effort. However, she sometimes traveled to the western part of the state to strengthen the work that she had begun there.

She had always been an effective book and magazine seller, seeking to spread present truth and sometimes to meet expenses. Because of her experience, Mrs. Sype was asked to spend a few days at the 1908 canvassers' institute. Her counsel, both spiritual and practical, concerning how to use Adventist literature in missionary work was much appreciated.

In Cedar Rapids James, whose behavior had given his parents some cause for concern, but who was a compassionate boy nevertheless, had a life-changing experience. He helped a family in which the husband was suffering from a terminal illness. When the man died, James was deeply affected. He told his mother that he wanted to live a better life—that no life except that of a Christian was worth living.

From this point on James held down a night job, and he took pains to repay his mother some borrowed money.

One night as James waited to board the local train, a man who had been drinking got into a fight with several men concerning baggage. In the process the drunken man dealt James a life-threatening blow. The boy lived a few days. On Sabbath in the hospital he asked his mother to pray for him. She did, and he prayed also. Not long afterward he died, on December 10, 1911. How his parents' hearts ached!

Soon after James' funeral, his father became ill and went to be with the Manfulls, Minnie's sister and her husband, in Canada; Elder Manfull thought the Canadian climate might be therapeutic for Mr. Sype. This was a testing time for Minnie.

She also had positive events in her life. Ross, the oldest son, graduated with the first class of Oak Park Academy, June 12, 1912. The Sypes were delighted with their son's scholarship and dependability. Anna was achieving, too, in academy.

The responsibility of providing all the financial support for the family, except for anything Ross and Anna might earn toward their school expenses, provided a constant challenge to Minnie. Now the unexpected addition of debt for a suitable burial for James put Mrs. Sype into a financial stress.

Just a matter of months before this, Mrs. Sype had returned from a trip to find her home and belongings destroyed by fire. While she gave thanks that her loved ones were unhurt, she had to deal with the fact that her wardrobe consisted only of the dress she was then wearing and the contents of her suitcase. Charred beyond usefulness were the new suit and other clothing she had purchased for a church conference.

Replacing wardrobe and other possessions lost in the fire contributed to the financial trauma; Minnie Sype's salary was small, while her expenses seemed mountainous. For a while she sewed and sold sunbonnets to augment her salary. However, she did not like spending time on projects that did not contribute to her work.

Someone suggested that if Mrs. Sype would write down her life experiences, pointing out the ways in which God had led her and had supported her through difficulties, the book could provide inspiration and support for others. After pondering the idea, she decided to take on the assignment. This seemed a suitable way to meet some of her expenses while providing material that could be used by God to help others. Before the end of 1912 her book was ready to distribute. She wrote it while continuing all her regular work; she missed only one appointment because of it, when a deadline was pressing. The title of the book is Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work.28 Conference employees recommended it as an excellent means of teaching members how to do missionary work. The income from Mrs. Sype's book enabled Ross to take advanced work at South Lancaster Academy and Anna to study at Oak Park Academy again for the 1912-13 school year. In 1916 Mrs. Sype revised the book.29

After the major effort in Cedar Rapids, Mrs. Sype was left in charge of the follow-up. She organized the staff and layworkers to distribute Christian literature, give Bible studies, and conduct medical work; baptisms resulted. J. W. McComas, who like Minnie Sype had been a licensed minister when he had assisted her in a series of meetings, by this time was ordained; he baptized the converts. Minnie Sype, being a woman, could not participate in the progression toward ordination as she engaged productively in God's service year after year.

The Iowa Workers' Bulletin for July 30, 1912, contains accounts of two funerals conducted by Minnie Sype. The obituaries that she sent to the Bulletin are well written. She had been called back to conduct the funeral for a Mr. Booton at Fairfield, where she had been pastor. The other person, Mary Greer, had been a convert in a series of meetings that the evangelist had conducted. Mrs. Sype's preaching these two funeral sermons indicates the general nature of her ministry in the conference.

As a result of simply having been given the name of an interested person in Marion, Iowa, Minnie Sype had a Sabbath school going there by October 1912. The way this came about was that as Mrs. Sype went weekly to give Bible studies, the interested woman invited in her neighbors and friends. A Sabbath school with 28 people present at its first meeting resulted. At the same time, Mrs. Sype was holding Sunday morning meetings in the Marion jail, providing articles for the daily papers in Cedar Rapids, and getting ready to launch the Harvest Ingathering campaign. Mrs. Sype made trips around the Iowa Conference, strengthening the churches.

When Elder Schopbach became ill, Mrs. Sype was sent across the state to Carroll, Iowa, to continue his series of meetings. Under her ministry a company of believers was formed at Carroll, and Mrs. Sype began working on providing a suitable place of worship. She helped the membership to institute local Home Missionary and Young People's Societies. By March 1914 a church was organized and a church building dedicated in Carroll.

Evelyn Robeson Faust, who as a child attended the meetings in Carroll, has written concerning the impact that Mrs. Sype's preaching had on her entire family. Her father not only accepted Adventism as a result of Mrs. Sype's preaching, but also became thoroughly convinced of the importance of Christian education. In three houses in which the family lived after that time, Mr. Robeson was willing to forego family use of a room so that a church school could be held in the home. He was committed to make it possible for not only his daughters but also all the other Adventist children in Carroll to have a Christian education.30

During the summer of 1914, L. P. Sype was enough better physically to return from Canada to work with his wife in an evangelistic effort at Lake City, Iowa, in the central-western part of the state. Bessie Scism, a Bible worker, completed the team. The Sypes located a lot near the center of Lake City, a community of about 2,000 people. Nearby were other attractions: the moving picture theater, a chautauqua lecture hall, and traveling shows. But since Minnie Sype and her co-laborers believed that God had a work for them to do in Lake City, they trusted their heavenly Father to send people to them in spite of the strong competition.

Mrs. Sype's preaching generated a rewarding interest. The tent in Lake City was often completely filled, with as many as 250 people in attendance. The meetings were held every night of the week, including the fourth of July. Minnie had never commanded keener attention from her listeners than at Lake City, nor had the literature that she distributed on each topic found greater receptivity. As a result, Mrs. Sype and her helpers started a Sabbath school with 25 to 32 people in attendance.

Mrs. Sype was still in charge of the work in Carroll; Mr. Sype was there, distributing literature. A Bible worker conducted house-to-house visitation in Lake City. And now some members at Grant City implored Mrs. Sype to get the Adventist work revived in that village, near Lake City.

In Grant City Mrs. Sype held meetings in a church yard that adjoined the land of the Pelmulder family. Dorothy Pelmulder, a girl of 12 or 13, accepted the Seventh-day Adventist message in those meetings. She was baptized by Minnie Sype as part of the harvest from the Lake City and Grant City meetings. This baptism was held in the Raccoon River during 1914. Dorothy Pelmulder Blaine Kistler's daughter, Joy Estes, and daughter-in-law, Mariel Jean Blaine, have provided documentation.31 Besides the baptism, another memory that Mrs. Kistler enjoyed sharing was how Mrs. Sype, when she talked about Catholics, she became rather vehement and stamped her foot.

Hazel Halverson, who also attended the meetings in Lake City and the river baptism, described Mrs. Sype as an interesting speaker with an arresting personality, a large and rather prestigious woman.32

By 1914 Ross Sype was a minister in the Iowa Conference in addition to his mother. The conference administration assigned him to work with his mother; the two of them were put in charge of the work in Dennison, Carroll, Lake City, and Rinard, with each of them preaching at two of the churches every Sabbath. In July 1915 Minnie Sype reported an attendance of nearly 300 at the tent meeting she and her son were holding at Rinard.

People were coming to the meetings in automobiles now. At the 1915 Iowa camp meeting, large tents were pitched for the protection of the new vehicles.33

In July 1915, Ellen Harmon White died in California at the age of 88. All of Minnie Sype's ministry up to this point had been concurrent with that of Mrs. White (chapter 7).

Mrs. Sype was not the only woman busy in the organized church work in Iowa at the time. When the election of conference officers took place in 1915, Mrs. Flora Dorcas was re-elected conference secretary, Meta Peterson became field missionary secretary, and the two of them jointly held the position of Sabbath school secretary. The Iowa Conference administrators were open to the use of women's talents in ministry.

Minnie Sype became home missionary secretary for the Iowa Conference in June 1916. Because she wanted to enable people to work for the Lord, she thanked God for the opportunity. In the churches of Iowa she found a willingness on the part of the people to be of service.

Elder W. A. Howe appreciated Mrs. Sype's visits to his home church in Des Moines during this period. Her being a woman didn't seem to disturb the congregation at all. She was recognized as someone with authority.34

After four successful years in the home missionary work in Iowa, Minnie Sype moved west to do similar work in Washington State and then the Upper Columbia Conference, 1920-26.

Mr. Sype, after years of ill health, died in 1925. His widow mourned the loss of her husband and dear friend. The two had shared many sweet experiences in ministry together, had weathered stiff storms of trouble, and had supported one another throughout.

Mrs. Sype moved east to conduct an evangelistic effort in the East Pennsylvania Conference, after which she traveled as circulation manager for the Watchman magazine (Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee) during the years 1926-27. Then she returned to the Northwest and from 1927 until retirement in 1930 engaged in evangelism and district work in the Upper Columbia Conference. At the time of her retirement she was only 61 years of age and was pastoring four churches.

The minister's retirement was occasioned by her remarrying: on November 10, 1930, she married Mr. Atteberry. Apparently church administrators immediately asked for her to go on sustentation, because her application for sustentation is dated a month later, December 13, 1930. Minnie was a bit piqued and had every reason for being so. The following responses on her application form indicate that she needed her salary to continue, and considered herself still able to earn that income.

4. If your compensation was by salary, give last rate per week. $25.00 When? Now. Where? Upper Columbia.

5. What is the highest rate of salary that you have received in this work? $32.00 When? Up to 3 years ago. Where? Washington & Upper Columbia.

16. Do you own a home? No, my husband has 40 acres but no improvements to speak of.

17. State value of property. I have nothing.

18. Do you have an independent income, pension, etc.? No.

20. Miscellaneous Information or Suggestions. Mr. Atteberry is 62. Has a car and 40 acres of land but no improvements to speak of. He loves the truth and is willing to spend his time helping me and selling books.

In answer to the question, "To what extent are you still able to labor in the message?" she wrote, "I think I am quite capable yet."

Following is part of the section of the sustentation form filled out by the conference:

1. When did your Committee or Board conclude that applicant had become incapacitated for active labor? Dec. 9, 1930.

There is no indication that the "applicant" had become "incapacitated for active labor" other than by marrying a husband who the brethren apparently thought should be able to support her. As in the case of Mrs. Williams (chapter 1), remuneration had to do with marital status and was not necessarily payment for the work done. Mrs. Sype-Atteberry, who had been a salaried licensed minister since 1902, was retired at the age of 61, still working and apparently in good health, although the couple did not have any dependable income apart from Mrs. Sype-Atteberry's work. Ten dollars a week was voted for her sustentation income.35

Minnie Sype-Atteberry did not stop doing the Lord's work. Rich memories of her work persist from this period of her ministry in the Northwest, before and after the official retirement.36 Continuing to be licensed as a minister, Mrs. Sype-Atteberry worked in Washington, Florida, and the Bahamas.37

Mr. Atteberry died, and later Minnie married again. One of her descendants remarked that her marriages later in life were entered into primarily to help the person married, and there is probably a strong element of truth in this. Her last ministerial licenses were issued in the name of Mrs. Minnie S. Crippin.

This pioneer minister and resourceful homemaker served her Lord as evangelist, pastor, departmental secretary, and publication circulation manager through 28 years of formal ministry preceded by years of active lay ministry and followed by years of active retirement. She died June 23, 1956, in Portland, Oregon, at 87 years of age. At least ten churches were raised up as a result of her labors.38 She was a licensed minister for 54 years (1902-1956).

In the face of accusations, poverty, and the loss of dear family members, this faith-filled woman "improved the opportunities as they came along." A monumental life work is the result.


1 Minnie Syp*, "Putnam, O. T. [Oklahoma Territory]," Southwestern Union Record (Sept. 8, 1902). (*The spelling of the family name, originally Syp, was changed to Sype when son Ross was in academy, at his request.)

2 Minnie Sype, Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work (Hutchinson, Minnesota: Seminary Press, 1916), 15. Much of the biographical information in this book is based on the autobiography. The Andrews University Library has a copy. The Review and Herald Publishing Association Library has a copy of the 1912 edition.

3 Ex. 20:10, emphasis supplied.

4 1 John 1:9 and Isa. 38:17.

5 Over the years of praying and witnessing, Minnie saw three of her sisters become Seventh-day Adventists. Much later her father also accepted Adventism.

6 Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration, Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941), 241.

7 Sype, Life Sketches, 71.

8 2 Cor. 12:9, RSV.

9 Sype, Life Sketches, 73-76.

10 John 20:17.

11 Romans 16:1, 2.

12 Romans 16:3, 4; Acts 18:18, 26.

13 Micah 6:4; Judges 4:4-9; Luke 2:36-38; Acts 21:8, 9.

14 1 Corinthians 14:34, 28.

15 G. F. Haffner, "A Visit to Gip and Putnam," Southwestern Union Record (July 7, 1902).

16 The Oklahoma Conference at that time had only eight ordained ministers, including the conference president. Therefore in this early period of denominational development, a woman could be one with a majority of the male ministers in credentialing.

17 Southwestern Union Record (Oct. 13, 1902).

18 Sype, Life Sketches, 85.

19 G. F. Haffner, "The President's Address," Record (Sept. 12, 1904).

20 G. F. Haffner, "Address of the Conference President," Record (Sept. 12, 1905).

21 "Conference Proceedings," Iowa Workers' Bulletin (June 19, 1906): 195.

22 "Conference Proceedings, Eleventh Meeting," Iowa Workers' Bulletin (June 18, 1907), 193 ff.

23 W. A. Howe, Hendersonville, N.C., letter to the writer August 5, 1989 (See Appendix A, 2.1); Mrs. Joseph S. (Lorene) Moore, Arlington, Washington, letter to the writer, July 7, 1984 (See Appendix A, 2.2); Dr. J. M. Sorenson, Riverside, California, letter to the writer, July 15, 1984. (See Appendix A, 2.3)

24 Zech. 4:6.

25 This incident illustrates Mrs. Sype's method in working with problems. She first asked the Lord for guidance and help; then she took such action as inspiration and ingenuity devised. Five dollars had greater significance in 1908 than now.

26 "Field Reports. Hawarden," Iowa Workers' Bulletin (July 14, 1908): 2; emphasis added.

27 Thomas E. Durst, "A Real Lady Preacher," Insight (May 7, 1974): 2-3 (see page 2 of this book); Thomas E. Durst, Colville, Washington, personal letter and a general letter sent to the writer, May 28, 1984. (See Appendix A, 2.4)

28 Minnie Sype, Life Sketches and Experiences in Missionary Work (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: The Torch Press, 1912).

29 Minnie Sype, Life Sketches in Missionary Work (Hutchinson, Minnesota: Seminary Press, 1916).

30 Evelyn Robeson Faust, Cerritos, California, letter to the writer, July 27, 1984. (See Appendix A, 2.5.)

31 Mariel Jean Blaine, Redlands, California, letters to the writer July 28 and Oct. 15, 1984 (see Appendix A, 2.6); C. Joy Estes, Los Angeles, California, telephone conversation with the writer, Jan. 16, 1989 (see Appendix A, 2.7).

32 Hazel Halverson, telephone conversation with the writer, June 18, 1989.

33 Iowa Workers' Bulletin (May 18, 1915): 4.

34 W. A. Howe, Hendersonville, N.C., letter to the writer, August 5, 1985. (See Appendix 2.1.)

35 Sustentation Fund Application, Mrs. Minnie Sype-Atteberry, Dec. 13, 1930. (General Conference Archives).

36 Mrs. Hilda West, So. Cle Elum, Washington, letter to the writer, 1984. (See Appendix A, 2.8.)

37 Letter from Minita Sype-Brown, Key Largo, Florida, to the writer, Oct. 29, 1984. (See Appendix A, 2.9.)

38 From a letter from Anna Gregg Hamlin (Minnie Sype's daughter) to the writer July 2, 1984: "Mother raised up many churches. . . . [In Okla.] there were at least 5. . . .[In] Iowa . . .I remember her raising up new churches in Carroll, Lake City, Calmar & Hawarden. . . . She raised up the church at Denison, Ia."

To Top   At Issue index   Women in Ministry Index   Called by God Index   Previous   Next