History of the Berean Bible Society


Sections:


Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
Founder, 1940-1993

Pastor Paul M. Sadler
President, 1987-2016

Pastor Kevin Sadler
President, 2016-Current

History of the Berean Bible Society

The Berean Bible Society was founded over seventy-five years ago for the sole purpose of helping believers understand and enjoy the Word of God. Our Organization holds without apology to all the fundamentals of the Christian faith and is evangelical, that is, we believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone on the basis of the shed blood of Christ.

We also emphasize the importance of proclaiming the whole counsel of God in light of the Pauline revelation. Insofar as Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles, it is our firm conviction that in his epistles alone we have the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny for the Church, the Body of Christ, during the dispensation of Grace.

When did the Berean Bible Society actually have its beginning? Interestingly, it began in a two-room school house in Preakness (now Wayne), New Jersey. Here a group of believers began to see the importance of understanding the “the mystery” revealed to Paul, and the urgency of proclaiming the unadulterated “gospel of the grace of God”. It was Pastor C. R. Stam’s first pastorate: the Preakness Community Church.

When the school house had to be torn down, the little group felt led of God to launch a building program, even though they were in the depth of the Great Depression. The builder was our beloved Herbert Birchenough, though other members helped put in the basement and served in other ways. In this church the Berean Searchlight was first published.

It was not long before Pastor Stam was addressing a well-filled church each Sunday, with Mr. Ernest Ulmer the Superintendent of a growing, enthusiastic Sunday School. Brother Ulmer’s fervor and godly life were an inspiration to these young people and many of them gave their hearts and lives to the Lord.

Later, in 1945, Pastor and Mrs. Stam moved to Milwaukee, where he joined Pastor Charles F. Baker in establishing the Milwaukee Bible Institute. The Berean Searchlight, however, and Pastor Stam’s broadcast and wire recorded Bible lessons continued from a rented office. It was not a pretentious headquarters, but it was light and roomy, with plenty of storage space.

Pastor Stam recounts:

In September, 1944, the Board of Directors of Grace Gospel Fellowship, after months of prayer and discussion, felt led of God to establish a Bible Institute in Milwaukee, hopefully with Pastor Charles F. Baker as its president and me as its dean. The need was indeed great for a dispensational Bible Institute, and the time was ripe. Thus Pastor Baker and I agreed to meet in Milwaukee the next year to prepare a curriculum and attend to other details connected with the opening of a Bible Institute. Pastor J. C. O’Hair put himself into the promotion of the school, and Mr. T. R. Huston, of Milwaukee, contributed generously toward the financial needs.

Thus the Milwaukee Bible Institute opened its doors for classes on September 15, 1945, with Charles F Baker as president and instructor in Bible Doctrine, and C. R. Stam as dean and instructor in Bible Exposition and Dispensationalism. Other instructors taught other courses, including some being offered at a local evening school by the same name, already in operation at Pastor Baker’s Fundamental Bible Church.

These were days when we were indeed overworked, for the Berean Searchlight, our wire recorded Bible lessons, our broadcast and the other ministries begun in New Jersey could not be neglected. In addition to these duties I soon had 13 hours of teaching weekly (that’s at least 39 hours of work!) and two weekly Bible classes in the Chicago area (both of which eventually became organized churches).

But the most difficult of all was the breaking of new ground in most of my courses, for there were virtually no textbooks which taught these courses from a dispensational, much less a Pauline, point of view. But God was in it, for as a result five of our books came into being: Man, His Nature and Destiny, True Spirituality, The Two-Fold Purpose of God, our four-volume set on Acts Dispensationally Considered and The Fundamentals of Dispensationalism  (now Things That Differ). These first appeared as Milwaukee Bible Institute courses and were later published as books by Berean Bible Society. It has been a singular cause for thanksgiving to us, that the book written under the greatest stress, Things That Differ, soon became and has continued for almost 40 years to be our best seller by far. As we look back at all this we exclaim “what God hath wrought!” For under God, it was these and other of our writings especially the Berean Searchlight which brought about all the other ministries of Berean Bible Society.

How we enjoyed sharing the truths in these books — and others — with those dear students at Milwaukee Bible Institute! Still, much as we loved them, and enjoyed the fellowship with Pastor Baker and the other members of the faculty and staff, it became necessary, after almost five years (we had promised two), to say farewell to Milwaukee Bible Institute and give all of our time to Berean Bible Society again. The work had kept growing despite our inability to give it the needed attention.

Growth in Chicago

In 1953 the Berean Bible Society was moved to Chicago, the center of Fundamentalism in America at that time. A building only two years old, well built and situated on one of Chicago’s main thoroughfares (Belmont Avenue) was purchased for only $38,600. Now the Berean Searchlight would at last be published in a building of its own!

By 1958, however, the building BBS had purchased was already too cramped for efficient operation and had to be enlarged. As the ministries of Berean Bible Society kept growing, the building had to be enlarged again in 1967.

Now the Berean Searchlight, our taped Bible lessons, our publication of Bible study books, our telephone messages, and all our other ministries emanate from this building — again used almost to capacity!

Our Relocation to Wisconsin

BBS Headquarters, Germantown, Wisconsin, 1996-Current

In the fall of 1993 the Board of Directors began diligently working on a much needed expansion project. Our Chicago facility had served us well for over 50 years, but it was time again to expand our horizons. Thus, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to relocate the ministries of the Berean Bible Society to a northwest suburb of Milwaukee. With the Lord leading the way, we erected a new facility in Germantown, Wisconsin which is better suited to meet our needs. In a sense we are returning home to our roots. The reason for this move was manifold:

  1. EXPANSION OF OUR BOOK STORAGE AREA:
    Our storage area in Chicago had been filled to capacity for some time; consequently, we were storing approximately 20,000 books in other places. This problem would have only grown more serious as new volumes were published. Our new facility has over double the storage space, which should alleviate this problem for many years to come. Also, a large enough parcel was purchased for future expansion to avoid being hemmed in by houses or other businesses as we were in Chicago.
  2. STAFF:
    We have long had a problem encouraging grace believers to join the staff of BBS in Chicago. Between the high cost of living, traffic and crime, most were very reluctant to even entertain the thought. After many months of deliberation, the Board of Directors agreed that BBS should remain in the Midwest since it is the heart of the Grace Movement. The state of Wisconsin was chosen simply because it has the highest concentration of Grace believers in the country. In fact, we had a new staff on line months in advance of our move.
  3. AN AGING FACILITY:
    Needless to say, the Chicago facility was beginning to require more and more costly repairs due to its age. We need not remind our readers about the nightmare of having a flat roof it was one repair after another, and it still leaked! Furthermore, the building had been built back in the days when little or no insulation was used; so you can imagine how costly it was to heat and cool. On the other hand, our new facility is maintenance free with a PITCHED ROOF! In addition, it has two-by-six insulated walls with high-efficiency furnaces, which has cut the cost of our utility bills considerably. In fact, we have been saving approximately $600.00 per month during the heating season.

We are looking forward to serving the Lord in our new location for many, many years to come. May God richly bless His Word as it goes forth to the praise of His glory. If you have any questions regarding the ministries of the Berean Bible Society, please feel free to contact us using the contact information at the bottom of this page.

After over 75 years, by the grace of God, we have never wavered in our stand for the truth of Paul’s gospel. We are grateful to all those who have stood with us in the faith and prayed for us without ceasing. May God help us to remember our past accomplishments for Him, our present responsibility, and the ways in which we hope to serve Him in the future should the Lord tarry.

Back to Top

The Berean Searchlight, 1940 – Current

A Fruitful Church Bulletin

To explain the emergence of the Berean Searchlight, I should go back to the years in New Jersey.

I had asked the board at Preakness Bible Church to let me use the back of our weekly bulletin exclusively for Bible studies. This they gladly granted and almost immediately the idea took hold. Spontaneously our people were distributing copies of the bulletin more widely. A milkman in our congregation left them with his milk deliveries; a member of a big city sewing group took sixty for the members there, others took quantities for other purposes, until soon we had a list of 700 to prepare each week for distribution. This soon grew to 1600, and when I left Preakness we had a mailing list of more than 7,000 names….

One Sunday a committee of six of the church brethren called on me to ask whether I would be willing to begin publishing a small Bible study magazine if they supplied the needed funds. This was a wonderful challenge, which I accepted without hesitation. We got two small presses, and two young men from the congregation, Hampton Auld and Sam Harding, did a “bang up” job of printing the first issues of the new magazine. But remember, in those days the type was set by placing one letter at a time in a receptacle made for the purpose, so, after two years, the Lord graciously provided the funds to send further copy to the printers for typesetting and printing.

The women of the church were a big help too, for as our mailing list kept growing they took the responsibility of addressing and sending the magazine out each month and taking care of all changes of address…

I have never considered myself an outstanding writer. In fact, writing has always been difficult for me, but I do love the challenge. It is a great joy to search that blessed Book, and to try to express one’s findings in the clearest possible manner.

—Pastor C. R. Stam

The Berean Searchlight is the official organ of the Berean Bible Society, and is sent free of charge to any who request it. It is published monthly (except July).

The Berean Searchlight is sent to every state of the Union and more than 40 foreign countries. It is also available to read on the BBS website. You can sign up to receive an email notifying you when it is posted to the BBS website.

Back to Top

Pastor Cornelius R. Stam — Founder, 1940-1993

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:1,2).

Pastor Cornelius R. Stam

On Sunday, March 9th, 2003, Pastor C. R. Stam was promoted to glory at the age of 94. Pastor Stam was born in 1908 to Peter and Amelia Stam who emigrated from Holland shortly before the turn of the last century. Even though times were hard, the Stams managed to raise a family of eight children, all of whom faithfully served the Lord with a full measure of devotion.

In his early years, Mr. Stam worked closely with his father who founded the Star of Hope Mission in Paterson, New Jersey. Mr. Stam’s conversion came in 1922 after hearing a convicting gospel message by the late T. Houston. Shortly thereafter, the Stam family was introduced to Pastor J. C. O’Hair, who was holding meetings at a nearby church. It was under the influence of Pastor O’Hair’s ministry that Mr. Stam came to embrace the distinctive apostleship and message of St. Paul, which he ably defended until the day of his homegoing.

As Mr. Stam prepared for full-time ministry, the family received word that his brother, John, and his wife, Betty, who were serving as missionaries in Tsingteh, China, had been summarily executed at the hands of Chinese communist bandits (1934). The family’s unspeakable grief quickly turned to concern for John and Betty’s 3-month-old daughter, Helen Priscilla Stam, whose whereabouts was unknown after the death of her parents. Thankfully, Helen Priscilla escaped the tragic fate of her mother and father. By the grace of God, she was rescued from the Stam’s residence where she had been hidden by her parents. Pastor Lo, a former co-worker of the couple, transported the little orphan in a rice basket over 100 miles to a Christian Hospital in Wuhu, where she was eventually reunited with her grandparents.

For years after the tragedy, Mr. Stam shared the story of John and Betty’s martyrdom up and down the east coast. But it soon became evident that the Lord had called him to preach Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the Mystery. With a strong desire to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery, Pastor Stam accepted his first pastorate at the Preakness Community Church located in Preakness, New Jersey. It was here that a small group of believers saw the importance of Paul’s gospel. This gave birth to the Berean Bible Society and the nationally acclaimed Berean Searchlight magazine under the leadership of Mr. Stam in 1940.

Later, in 1945, Pastor Stam and his first wife, Henrietta, moved to Milwaukee where he joined Pastor Charles F. Baker in establishing the Milwaukee Bible Institute. At the Institute, Mr. Stam served as the Academic Dean and Instructor in Bible Exposition and Dispensational Studies. During this period, the publication of the Berean Searchlight continued from a rented office in downtown Milwaukee. Around 1953, the Berean Bible Society was moved to Chicago which, at the time, was the heart of Fundamentalism in America. The new headquarters was now the home of the Berean Searchlight, Bible Time Radio Ministry, Conference Ministries, a national newspaper column called Two Minutes with the Bible, and a wide array of Literature to help believers understand and enjoy the Bible.

Shortly after the passing of Pastor J. C. O’Hair in 1958, the call was extended to Mr. Stam to pastor the North Shore Church in Chicago where Brother O’Hair had served as pastor for over 35 years. This would be quite an undertaking considering that this was one of the largest Grace assemblies in the movement at the time. Pastor Stam agreed to accept the call for a period of two years with the understanding that he would still fulfill his responsibilities at the Berean Bible Society.

Another traumatic event entered Mr. Stam’s life in 1971 with the death of his beloved wife, Henrietta. He was now without his faithful companion who had labored tirelessly at his side in the things of the Lord. But the Lord is good. Five years after Henrietta’s homegoing, Mr. Stam married Ruth Wahlstrom, who had also lost a spouse five years earlier. Ruth truly loved the Lord, and her radiant personality won her the affectionate nickname, “Sunshine.” But she, too, would precede Mr. Stam to glory in September 1998.

Perhaps the greatest contribution Pastor Stam made to the Church was through his prolific writing ministry. During his 70 year ministry, he authored more than 30 books on numerous biblical subjects. Now in its 15th printing, Things That Differ was by far Mr. Stam’s most popular work. In fact, it continues to be the best-selling volume at the Berean Bible Society. Those who have a knowledge of the Word of God, rightly divided, whether directly or indirectly, owe Pastor Stam a great debt of gratitude. With God’s help he has brought light and blessing to millions through his insightful writings.

Due to failing health, Mr. Stam retired in 1993 to the Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois where he remained active in the Lord’s service until he was called home. Of course, Pastor Stam would be the first to say he was merely an instrument in the hand of God. While this is indeed true, God first needs a willing heart. This measure of devotion Brother Stam gladly gave, and God used him mightily to make known the riches of His grace.

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (II Cor. 4:15).

Back to Top

Pastor Paul M. Sadler — President, 1987-2016

Pastor Paul M. Sadler

Nestled in the hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stands my boyhood home. Back in those days my family rarely attended church, although I am grateful that I was raised in a home where there was a high standard of moral conduct.

I am thankful for a godly aunt who lived next door to us. She saw to it that I was in Sunday School every week. She prayed faithfully for my salvation and took advantage of every opportunity to tell me about the Lord as we clattered along in her 1927 Plymouth on the way to church.

As the years passed I was drawn into the clutches of worldliness, which caused me to become more and more indifferent to spiritual things. But the effectual fervent prayers of a godly aunt availed much!

Shortly after my wife, Vicki, and I were married the Lord brought us under deep conviction of our sins. Having a sense of urgency to escape the wrath of God, we immediately went back to the Baptist pastor who had married us. He graciously explained the way of salvation, and both of us were gloriously saved that day in his office. The pastor later commented that in all his years of ministry this was the first time he had ever had the opportunity to lead both husband and wife to the Lord at the same time. And he added: “Apparently the Lord has something very special for you to do in His service.” We shall be eternally grateful to my aunt and to this dear man of God.

After having attended and graduated from Berean School of Bible and Theology I accepted my first pastorate at the Grace Christian Church of Independence, Kentucky, and after a two year tenure there, I received a call to pastor the Falls Bible Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Vicki and I had the privilege of ministering the good news of God’s grace there for nine years.

In December, 1987, we moved to Chicago, having been called to the presidency of the Berean Bible Society which is an international organization for the promotion of God’s Word, rightly divided, ministering regularly to people in every state of the Union and more than 40 foreign countries.

Paul M. Sadler faithfully served as the president of the Berean Bible Society for 29 years, from 1987-2016. On March 31, 2016, Pastor Sadler went home to be with his Savior.

This soldier for the Lord Jesus Christ was a tireless worker in the ministry who had a tremendous impact on the lives of many. His dedication to the Word of God rightly divided, consistent soundness in doctrine, valued writings, teaching, preaching, and wise counsel greatly honored His Savior. His example in godliness, graciousness, and faithful service to the Lord Jesus Christ is one we can and should seek to follow in our own lives. Pastor Paul Sadler’s life and ministry was about love for his family and the saints, faithfulness to the truth of the Mystery, and a life lived for the glory of God. His legacy continues through the books, booklets, and charts he has written to help others understand the Word, rightly divided, and “see what is the fellowship of the mystery” (Eph. 3:9).

2 Timothy 1:8: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”

2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Back to Top

Pastor Kevin Sadler — President, 2016-Current

Pastor Kevin Sadler

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I grew up in a home where the grace message was taught to us by my father and mother. And I heard the truth of Paul’s unique apostleship and message constantly from my father’s ministry as a pastor at his local churches. I was saved at an early age. The thought of Hell scared me to death. I reaffirmed my salvation many times during my youth. I was always asked if I was going to be a preacher when I grew up and my answer was always the same, “No.”

I grew up traveling and going to grace conferences, and hearing many faithful men preach the Word of God, rightly divided, and stress the need to stand for the truth and make it known.

From my dad’s ministry as President of Berean Bible Society, I knew Pastor C. R. Stam well. We visited him at his apartment often. I’d see him after church on Sundays at BBS. I talked with him on the phone during the week, when he called my father in the evenings. Pastor Stam always encouraged me to consider going into the ministry one day. God blessed me with a solid biblical, grace foundation for my life.

After a rough number of years spiritually in high school and after, I came to a place where I hit a wall emotionally and spiritually at a BBF conference in Cedar Lake, Indiana. One evening, I prayed underneath a big cross overlooking the lake. And I just very simply prayed: “Lord, take my life and use it for you.” That was a turning point for me. I believe the Lord has worked in my life through that prayer.

When BBS was moving the headquarters from Chicago to Germantown, Wisconsin, my father asked me to join the staff as the graphic designer for the Berean Searchlight and BBS’ books and booklets. I accepted. My first day on the job was the first day BBS was open for business in our new location, February 21, 1996.

Berean Bible Society founded the Berean Bible Institute in the fall of 1996. I was in the first class. There were eight of us for the first year. We all believed we were like the eight who boarded the ark. And we were flooded with homework!

I met my wife, Jessica, this same year, at the BBF conference, where I gave my life to the Lord a few years earlier. We were married the following year. We now have four amazing children.

I continued to attend BBI. As our children were born, and not wanting to be gone too much from my family, I just took a class or two at a time. It ended up taking me 15 years to complete a 3 year program!

The Lord really used BBI in my life. Through the teaching of the Word, BBI changed my outlook on life and my worldview and taught me to look at this world with Christ’s heart. It helped me to know Christ more deeply, and who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing today under grace.

Since I gave my life to the Lord it’s been an amazing journey of grace: working for Berean Bible Society, graduating Bible school, speaking at churches, conferences, and camps all over the country. I became pastor of a local church, performed weddings, went on a mission trip to the Philippines. I’ve had the privilege of leading adults and children to the Lord.

It’s different for everyone, but the Lord has always worked in my life very gently. I didn’t have a Damascus Road conversion or calling into ministry. It was very quiet. And each opportunity He’s given has come very gradual and simply when it’s placed before me.

In 2006, I was asked and became the Associate Pastor at Kettle Moraine Bible Church in West Bend, Wisconsin. I served under Dr. W. Edward Bedore until I became the Senior Pastor in 2011. I continued to work at BBS as their graphic designer as well as pastoring the church. I grew to deeply love this assembly, and I still do (2 Thes. 1:3). I stepped down as pastor in May of 2016. We still attend as a family and are actively involved at KMBC.

In 2009, I became a board member of the Berean Bible Fellowship. From June 2014 to June 2016, I served as the President of BBF. I still currently serve on the BBF Board.

On February 12, 2016, at an emergency BBS Board meeting, because of my father’s health difficulties, I was formally installed as the President of the Berean Bible Society.

It was an honor to be asked. We are and have been invested in the ministry at BBS. I am burdened for it and its future, and for what it stands for: the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25) and to help people understand and enjoy their Bibles.

As I have looked back, I’ve seen that God has worked in our lives through the experiences we’ve had, to bring us gently to this door of opportunity. I felt the call and burden to walk through it. God has a plan for each of our lives, and we believe this is His plan for us.

1 Thessalonians 5:25: “Brethren, pray for us.”