Wednesday, September 14, 2011

John Wanamaker (1838 - 1922)

The founder of John Wanamaker and Company, originally a men's clothing business, was a pioneer businessman who established one of the largest department stores in the United States.  Wanamaker became the U.S. Postmaster general between 1889 and 1893. This financier pioneer businessman made numerous advancements in the retail industry. He ran full page mercantile advertisements in a leading American newspaper. Wanamaker was the founder of two magazines carrying advertising copy which became the forerunner to the mail-order catalog. 

Each year during the Easter holiday his Philadelphia store would display two magnificent paintings of Christ. He purchased a 33,000 pipe organ that played every business day.

John Wanamaker was the founder and senior elder of the Bethany Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. He personally led a John Wesley Class Meeting.  Wanamaker was an active Sunday school superintendent for 65 years in which the attendance grew from 27 to over 5,000 persons.

At a prayer meeting John Wanamaker declared:

“I like to be present at the meeting, in the middle of the week, feeling, as I sit among the people gathered, some of them deaf, hearing hardly a spoken word and others with failing sight, that as the Lord passed around amongst them He might give me a blessing too.”

John Wanamaker prayed:

"Ever-living God, our Father, we have come into Thy house again through Thy mercy which has kept us alive. We would worship Thee with reverence. We hallow Thy name, O God, our Father, the name which is above every other name. We worship Thee, O Christ, God manifest in the flesh."
"We hear Thee speak, O Christ, who walked the pathways of this very earth and talked and did things like a man, and left the earth richer for the charity of thy words and the work of Thy dear, kindly hands. Thou hast written Thy name on so much of daily life that we cannot walk or talk or open the doors of our homes without thinking of Thee and Thy ways in Galilee."
"Oh Lord, Thou hast told us how to pray. Help us to shut the door, shutting out the world, and the enemy and any fear or doubt which spoils prayer. May there be no distance between our souls and Thee."
“Our Father, we have come to sit down together to rest, after a busy week, and to think. We are not satisfied with ourselves for we all, like sheep, have gone astray. What we have done is what we ought not to have done. We are stung to the quick with disappointment, sorrow and desolation. It seems as though there were a cankerworm eating at the core of our hearts, and there is no rest for our souls day or night. Have pity on us, Lord, and cut us not down in Thy displeasure. We confess our sin and bring it to Thee. Let our prayers prevail in heaven and do Thou heal and help us to a new life in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

He fervently declared:

“I cannot to greatly emphasize the importance and value of the Bible study – more important than ever before in these days of uncertainties, when men and women are apt to divide questions from the standpoint of expediency rather than of the eternal principles laid down by God Himself.”

The Eighth Annual Conference of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor met in Philadelphia on July 9-11, 1889. John Wanamaker proclaimed the statement that follows:

“I came only to salute you, as one working with you, and as one in sympathy with you. Whatever skepticism of the day may say, there is a power in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep uppermost the profound conviction that it is the Gospel that is to win the heart and convert the world. The things that were sweet dreams in our childhood are now being worked out. The procession is being made longer and longer; the letters of Christ’s name are becoming larger and larger.”

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