Tucked away in our church's history is a College Church pastor's personal story of grief and a sermon preached seventy-five years ago on Romans 8:28--Pastor Moody's text for this weekend. (The following is from A History of College Church by Edith L. Blumhofer.)
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve, 1941, [Pastor] Evan and Evangeline Welsh drove to Indiana for a brief family visit. As they traveld home in the early morning hours of December 31, their car hit a patch of ice, Evan Welsh lost control of the vehicle, and they skidded in the path of an oncoming pickup truck. His wife died instantly, and her mother had to be cut from the vehicle by emergency responders. Evan Welsh and those in the truck were injured less severely. That morning, the headline in the Wheaton Daily Journal read, "Wheaton Pastor's Wife Dies." The city's population hovered around 8,500, and the community shared the congregation's shocked sense of loss.
College Church members gathered as usual for the Watch Night service but cancelled the annual New Year's dinner. Evan Welsh returned to Wheaton on January 2, and on Saturday, January 3, Moody Church pastor Harry Ironside conducted Evangeline Welsh's funeral. The Welshes had two daughters, Joan and Mary, nine and five years old. The next day was Sunday, and the morning sermon at College Church by the Rev. ThomasLindsay addressed the topic "All things work together for good." The next week, Evan Welsh returned to his pulpit to preach "This Is the Victory." He called his evening sermon "New Lives for Old." (In April 1966, another College Church pastor's wife, Jane McClenny, died in an automobile accident. Jane and Dexter McClenny were en route from Wheaton to Kentucky to visit a high school missions team when he lost control of the vehicle on a wet road.)