The Ferndale Fortitude (Vol. I No. I, June 3, 2021)
Ferndale is the way it is today because of the way it was yesterday, and the way it will be tomorrow is determined by the way it is today. That is to say, current residents of our Victorian Village received Ferndale’s culture from those who came before them, and they will hand over a particular culture to future citizens. There is a word for this. It’s called tradition.
Baseball is an American tradition. The annual Christmas Tree lighting at the end of Main Street is a Ferndale tradition. Attending the Humboldt County Fair is, for many, a family tradition.
Traditions can be good or bad. In my work as the pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church (795 Berding St.) I am aware of the traditions of the congregation, and I strive to strengthen the good and refute the bad.
The Greek word for tradition is paradidomi and its most literal translation is simply, “to hand over.” The apostle Paul handed over to the church in Corinth as of first importance what he alos received (1 Cor. 11:23).
Christians have been handing over the good news that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world for millennia. Likewise, ever since Seth Shaw built his cabin and called his home Ferndale, every settler of our community has participated in handing over Ferndale’s tradition.
Clear evidence that our Ferndale forefathers understood their place in the line of cultural tradition can be seen in what the first editor of the Ferndale Enterprise published in May of 1879. William Gaston Jones, co-founder of the newspaper wrote:
We want to live in peace with all, and will if possible. To chronicle fully and faithfully current events; to praise the good and denounce the evil; to advocate educational enterprises and all industries; in short, to oppose everything that will retard the growth and prosperity, and advocate everything that will develop and build up valleys and towns, has been, and shall continue to be our desire and aim.Ediline, Ferndale… The Village: 1875-1893, 24.
W.G. Jones, along with his brothers James and Archibald, declared just what kind of Ferndale tradition they wanted to hand over to the readers of their newspaper. Communities, families, and individuals hand over ideas, values, behaviors, and customs to those around them.
The question is, what Ferndale tradition will we hand over?
The handing over of Christian teaching was apparent in Jones’ quote above. We don’t need to know that the founders of the Ferndale Enterprise were the sons of the local Methodist minister, Rev. Charles P. Jones (Edeline, Ferndale… The Village: 1875-1893, 23.). Williams words alone, “We want to live in peace with all, and will if possible,” reveal that our first newspaperman received what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:18,
The Christian traditions of peace and personal responsibility that were handed over for some 1800 years, from Paul to William, are easily recognizable to the Christian because they are the same traditions that were handed over from Paul to us, in our village, country, and across the world. Rev. Jones came to Ferndale to hand over the apostolic tradition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is what pastors do. We teach the Christian traditions to those we live among, not only for them but so that the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ will be handed over to the generations to come. By the grace of God, through the Holy Spirit working among His people, Ferndale received a minister in Rev. Jones, and as an added blessing, through the entrepreneurial spirit of the pastor’s children, our predecessors also received a newspaper.
The Christian upbringing of the Jones brothers was, no doubt, behind their desire for the paper to praise the good and denounce the evil, an enterprise dedicated to building up our town and opposing any efforts that would tear them down. The Jones brothers knew next to nothing about the newspaper industry before they opened the Ferndale Enterprise. They embarked on the adventure anyway. In a similar spirit and in accord with the tradition they aimed to hand over, as cited above, I have published this little pamphlet and by God’s grace I hope to print future volumes of the Ferndale Fortitude.
Ferndale is our home. Safeguarding our local culture is our duty. Will we hand over a culture of peace and personal responsibility where residents praise the good and denounce evil? Do we still know the difference? Will you oppose the disintegration of our historic traditions and the Christian values that inform them and contend for the good of all your neighbors? I truly hope so.
If you’d like to further discuss the connection between our local traditions and the Christian traditions known to our Ferndale forefathers, I can be reached via the contact [page].
Your servant in Christ,