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Last updated November 24.

March 8, 2010 issue

Virginia quartet led move into radio

Book remembers Crusader musical journey 60 years ago

By Rachel Bowman Harrisonburg Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG, Va. — In the fall of 1950, four young men from Eastern Mennonite College were embarking on a mission.

The Crusaders Quartet at their last public program in 2007: Aaron King, Eugene Souder, Paul Swarr and Roy Kreider. — Photo provided by Eugene Souder

The Crusaders Quartet at their last public program in 2007: Aaron King, Eugene Souder, Paul Swarr and Roy Kreider. — Photo provided by Eugene Souder

Problem was, the endeavor had not been embraced by the leadership of the Mennonite Church. But the four men, members of the Crusader Men’s Quartet, trusted in God, as they had since they joined together to spread the gospel three years before.

Roy H. Kreider tells the story of the genesis of the radio show The Mennonite Hour and other stories in a booklet he wrote, He Keeps Me Singing: Journeying with the Crusader Men’s Quartet, 1947-1951.

Kreider, 85, of Broadway and his wife, Florence, are enjoying retirement after spending more than 30 years in Israel through Mennonite Board of Missions. The parents of three children, with 11 grandchildren, the Kreiders also served a ministry counseling at Cornerstone Mennonite Fellowship in Broadway. But Kreider doesn’t consider himself a high-powered, charismatic sort.

“I had no ambition, no high vision,” he said. “I felt [I] was in the right place at the right time and followed where God led.”

Being in the right place at the right time, following God’s plans, is what He Keeps Me Singing is all about. Kreider met Eugene Souder, now 82, of Grottoes, along with Paul Swarr and Aaron King, both of Harrisonburg, as freshmen at Eastern Mennonite College (now University). But conditions were already in place that prepared Kreider and his compatriots for the four years ahead. All had been involved in some aspect of church leadership in their home congregations, especially the music ministry.

“Singing was a large part of our growing up years,“ Kreider said.

So it just made sense that Kreider, Souder, Swarr and King should meet up. At that time, the Mennonite Church seemed receptive to innovative ways to spread the gospel, Kreider said.

Students were ready: Having assumed leadership roles in their home churches, students were mature and prayerful, willing to go where God led and work together to meet the needs they saw before them, Kreider said.

In this case, he said, all four men had prayed to meet others who desired to blend their voices and spirits in common mission, and the quartet came together soon after they arrived at EMC.

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