Charles E. Orr

Charles Ebert Orr

Charles Ebert Orr wrote the lyrics to several Evening Light Songs that were set to music by others. For deeper insight into C. E. Orr’s history, I will begin by quoting Pastor Steve Williams of Gospel of Deliverance Church, Apache Junction, Arizona, who has obviously done some extensive study regarding C. E. Orr’s life. He says:

“Charles Orr was born on May 5th, 1861, in Williamsburg (spelled Williamsburgh until 1893), Ohio, which is about thirty miles east and slightly south of Cincinnati, and about eight miles east of Batavia, which is the Claremont County Seat. Williamsburg is situated on the banks of the Little Miami River, the quaint village at the time of Charles’ birth was nearing six-hundred folk, his parents were Lorenzo Orr (born 1822) and Rachel Riggs Orr (born 1825), who had married on August 11, 1844. 

“Charles Orr married Minnie M. Rucker (born July 24, 1864) on June 17, 1886. Minnie and Charles would have five children, Ethel, born in 1887, then born in 1891 Charles H., Lena was born in 1892, Victor in 1895, and Berti or Birdie in 1901. Minnie passed away on August 3, 1911. On August 29, 1912, Orr married for the second time, to Miss Madora (Dora) Conover of Coalfax, Washington, in Cayuga, Indiana; S. P. Strang officiated, and Orr’s daughter Lena was in attendance.

“Charles Ebert Orr was an unusual man of God, a prolific writer, yet considering that his first book was not published until 1897 at the age of thirty-six, his output was outstanding. … In addition to his own writing, Brother Orr began working at the Gospel Trumpet, a Church of God publication in 1902. Exactly how long he worked is not explained, but the position he held would have been one of three: Contributing Editor, Managing Editor or Office Manager. Orr’s trail in service to Christ took him from east coast to west coast, South America, the West Indies, Jamaica, Scotland, pastoring, evangelizing, often teaching a Sunday School class, preaching then in the main service, and leading those that were interested in being a Christian in study, referred to as an inquirers class. …

“The primary focus of Charles E. Orr in ministry was holiness. Even the titles of most of his books, reference a righteous lifestyle. It is not surprising that his teaching ‘precipitated a divisive crisis in the early twentieth century Church of God.’ With this said, the Tagline of the Gospel Trumpet, when Orr began working there in 1902 was: ‘Sanctification – Oneness in Christ.’ The atmosphere with which Orr started with the Church of God was one of holiness, he just did not change as some others wished to do. …

“I believe a Christian man should be given the opportunity to explain himself or describe himself, the reader affording his historical statements weight as we judge his fruit, thereby giving us an understanding of who he was. I can find no better idea of who Charles Orr was than by these his words: ‘I have my heart and soul in the work of God.’ Regardless of what we think of Orr now we need to remember that we are looking backward, from an obscured vantage point. With that said, I don’t believe that anyone can question Orr’s sincerity, or his love for Jesus Christ.

“Beyond his desire for holiness, Charles had a heart for youth, desiring to uplift them above the moral station that the world was providing. He was a man ahead of his time racially speaking, in that he preached to anyone, any color, anywhere, including mixed-racial churches. Truly, C. E. Orr was a man not confined to his beginning situation, nor slowed by adversity. His ministerial outreach was in small towns, never holding a large pastorate, yet he did the work of God, whether troubles arose from within or without, through deaths survived, and heartache much, Orr persevered.

“Orr was at the first assembly meeting of the Church of God in Jamaica in the winter of 1908, Charles preached; but this stay was but a part of a South American tour which Orr had been invited to, including other stops in the West Indies, and in South America proper. In June of 1913, Brother Orr was preaching in Anderson, Indiana, at the annual Church of God Camp-Meeting, where he talked regarding unity. In July of 1913, Orr sailed from New York to England, with his wife Dora, and did not return until January of 1914. By what is mentioned in a Church of God camp-meeting book, he had been residing in Aberdeen, Scotland. What works he was involved in may be lost in time.

“Mr. and Mrs. Orr resided in Anderson, Indiana (1914) but Orr’s ministerial duties had him moving frequently. … Eventually (1917), Charles took a pastorate in Everett, Washington (Church of God), some twenty-eight miles north of Seattle. Dora [his second wife] died there in 1919, and Charles moved back to Anderson with his children.

“Charles Ebert Orr, wrote more than fifteen books, most of which may be found in digital form, with several titles reprinted and a few of those first editions might be available. Orr was a talented teacher, no doubt a gifted communicator and a dedicated man of God, and I without reserve refer to him as a Trailblazer of the Church.” – Steve Williams, April 15, 2020.

At some point of time, C. E. Orr married a third wife. Her name was Sadie. Bro. Fred Pruitt writes as follows on page 235 of “God’s Gracious Dealings”:

“It seems good to us to insert in this Part Four a picture of Bro C. E. Orr and his wife, Sadie, for so many have read, and are still reading his books, pamphlets, and tracts. Although he has been physically dead for more than twelve years (Fred Pruitt wrote this about the year 1945), yet many are feeding their souls upon his writings in which he expresses the inspiration of the Spirit working in and through him. This picture was taken of him in his late years when he was very feeble in body. It does not show the spry, active man that he was in former years.”

C. E. Orr and wife, Sadie

Fred Pruitt continues, “There was a blending of our spirits from the first time that I met him in this life, and that oneness and fellowship increased as years came and went. Bro. Orr was a very quiet, unassuming man and his words carried deep thought, and left impressions upon one’s soul that there was more than human in the man. I feel that I have been benefited much in soul by associating with this dear man in this life.”

In the March 1961 issue of the Faith and Victory paper, Fred Pruitt’s son Lawrence wrote:

“Bro. C. E. Orr, one of the pioneer ministers who stood for the original teachings, began publishing the paper, Herald of Truth, in California after 1910.  Later, during the First World War, the office of the paper was moved to Carthage, Missouri, and placed under thirteen trustees scattered over the country.  It operated there about five years and suspended publication in the early 1920s.  In 1927 this writer attended the last camp meeting held at Carthage, Missouri.

“In the issue of March 1928, of Faith and Victory, Bro. C. E. Orr announced his burden to edit a paper especially for children and young people, entitled The Path of Life.  He began publication immediately here at Guthrie, Oklahoma, but the same year (1928) he accepted the pastorate at Hammond, Louisiana, where he continued The Path of Life until 1932 when he merged it with the Faith and Victory and assumed the editing of the last six pages until his death in September 1933.

“Bro. C. E. Orr writes in the year 1933: ‘I became connected with this reformation 43 years ago [in the year 1890].  Very few, in fact none now living, have been more closely associated with D. S. Warner than this writer.  He has heard him preach hundreds of times; been with him in a number of revivals; had him for months living in my home and being with us in our family altar.  For a considerable time, we lived on the same campground, and I was with him through his last illness and up until within a few hours of his death.  I know well what he taught, and what he practiced.”

Obituary of Charles E. Orr

     “Bro. C. E. Orr was born in Ohio on May 5, 1861, and passed to his heavenly reward on September 22, 1933, at the age of 72 years, 4 months, and 17 days.

     “He leaves to mourn his passing, his wife Sadie E. Orr, and five children: Mrs. Ethel Andrews of Ohio, Charles H. Orr of Washington state, Lena Belle Conrad of Stockton, California, Victor Orr of Long Beach, California, and Birdie Wells of Los Angeles, California.  He also has a host of warm friends living in different parts of the United States.

     “For the last five years Bro. Orr has been pastor at Hammond, Louisiana, where he also edited a religious paper, The Path of Life, which was recently combined with the Faith and Victory.  In August of this year, he and his wife, and Sister Alta Williamson came to Oklahoma City to the state camp meeting.  Soon after the meeting ended, he took sick with hemorrhages of the lungs and was removed to our home at Guthrie, Oklahoma, 924 W. Mansur Ave., where he lingered in sickness nearly four weeks and then passed quietly out of this earthly tabernacle.  Bro. Orr was very patient and rejoiced to think of soon departing to be with Jesus.  The Lord truly ‘made his bed in his sickness,’ as He kept him from suffering to any great extent and his mind was clear up to the last.  Just a few days before he departed, he was dictating the purchase of Sunday school supplies and, after he was through, he said, ‘Now let me get off to Glory.’ I said, ‘That would be nice, I know.’ He said, ‘Won’t that be wonderful!’ The ‘hope of glory’ was bright in his soul.

     “Brother Orr was a pioneer minister in the Reformation and labored with Bro. D. S. Warner and other pioneer preachers.  He traveled extensively in his ministerial duties, having been a minister in the Church of God for over forty years.  He is the author of ten or twelve books, together with numerous pamphlets and tracts, leading a very busy and useful life in the gospel work, and a multitude of souls have found Christ through his labors.  His personal work and writings have won a warm place in the hearts of the saints throughout this country.  Truly, his passing is a great loss to the church; but his deep Spirit-filled life will live on in the minds and hearts of the people, for his works do follow him.

     “Funeral services were held in the Saints’ Chapel at Guthrie, Oklahoma, by the writer on Sunday afternoon, September 24, and the body was laid to rest in the Summit View Cemetery near Guthrie.  Text: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7.”

Fred Pruitt at C. E. Orr's grave
Fred Pruitt standing at C. E. Orr’s grave just a few days before his own departure for the glory world. On C. E. Orr’s tombstone is the inscription: “Thy memory shall ever be a guiding star to heaven.”