Wesley Center Online

Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer (1869-1947)

"Converted at 16, E. E. Shelhamer early felt called to preach.  He studied three years at Wheaton Academy where he became acquainted with and joined the FMC, partly through the influence of Harriet Arvilla (“Auntie”) Coon.

Shelhamer was sanctified holy under the ministry of Vivian A Dake and soon joined Dake’s Pentecostal Bands (PB). As a PB leader, he held revivals and helped to found a number of FMC churches, mainly in Pennsylvania and Illinois.  At 22, he was divinely healed of tuberculosis. Tall, decisive, and striking in appearance, Shelhamer was viewed by many as Dake’s natural successor when Dake died in 1892, but this role was filled by Thomas Nelson.  When the PB became independent of the FMC in 1895, Shelhamer remained with the denomination, becoming an ordained FMC minister.  His wife, Minnie (Baldwin), also a former PB worker, was a noted evangelist and street preacher, especially recognized for her prison ministry.  The Shelhamers planted churches, pastured, and engaged in evangelistic campaigns.  They opened FMC work in Georgia and Florida, laying the basis for what became the Georgia-Florida Conference and the Florida Spanish Mission.

After Minnie Shelhamer died, E. E. Shelhamer married Julia Arnold (1903). Together they continued the evangelistic work and published many books and pamphlets, which had broad circulation. E. E. Shelhamer traveled widely, holding evangelistic meetings in South America, Africa, Australia, Aisa and Europe.  He taught divine healing as well as conversion and sanctification.  For several years, the Shelhamers based their ministry at God’s Bible School.  Among the books Shelhamer wrote or edited were Life and Labors of Auntie Coon ( 1905), Heart talks to Ministers and Christian Workers (which included selections by John Wesley, H. C. Morrison, and Richard Baxter) , and Finney on Revival (Published in various editions). One of his most widely circulated pamphlets was Five Reasons Why I Do Not Seek the Gift of Tongues.  His autobiography was published as The Ups and Downs of a Pioneer Preacher (1915), later as 60 years of Thorns and Roses, and after his death as A Spartan Evangel: Life Story of E. E. Shelhamer (1951). Always committed to radical holiness, Shelhamer autographed his books and photos: “Yours for a clean, rather than a big work.”" 1

1. William C Kostlevy, ed., Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, (Lanham, Maryland, and London The Scarecrow Press, Inc. , 2001.  230-231.