By Raymond E. Harris
Brother Loren N. Raines, after an illness of about six months, passed from this life February 7, 1984. He preached the Gospel of Christ for over 65 years. And even though he became too weak to preach about a year ago, he continued to teach his Sunday morning Bible class until about the first of September, 1983. When his health finally failed, he weakened rather quickly. He was able to attend services only one Sunday after October 30, 1983. During the last three months of his life, he was plagued with pneumonia, a blood clot and heart trouble, which finally caused his demise.
Brother Raines was born July 1, 1895 near Sullivan, Indiana. He obeyed the gospel at fourteen and soon developed a keen interest in Bible study. When about twenty-two years old, he attended a twelve-week Bible Reading under Daniel Sommer and later attended a ten-week study under A.M. Morris. That same year he preached his first sermon in Pratt, Kansas. After spending sixteen months in the service, including a year in France, Raines returned to Indiana and spent the next six years teaching in public schools. During that time, most every Sunday found him filling the pulpit of various surrounding congregations.
Brother Raines married Opal Stivers of Sumner, Illinois on April 3, 1921. Their second son died in infancy. Their first child, Max, is a professor at Michigan State University.
Brother Raines did his first I ‘located’ I work at the Fourth and Lincoln Street Church in Bloomington, Indiana. While in that area, he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Indiana University. In 1932 he moved to Bedford, Indiana and continued preaching there until 1951. During those nineteen years, the old 12th and X Street Church grew till the old building was totally inadequate. In 1950 the congregation moved into a new building at 12th and N Streets. During that nineteen years, brother Raines also worked as a teacher and principal of three Lawrence County High Schools. In 1951 he retired from teaching and moved to Salem, Indiana, where he preached for six years.
Brother Raines, in 1957, at age 62 launched into what might be called a third phase of his life’s work. This last third of his life, was beyond doubt the most fruitful time of his life. The struggle over institutionalism was raging. At a time in life when many are ready to lay down their sword, Loren moved to the 40th and Emerson congregation in Indianapolis. In swift succession, all the congregations on the east side of Indianapolis (except Emerson Avenue) fell to institutionalism. As conservative people in those churches learned that Raines was going to stand four square against all such innovations, they flocked to Emerson Avenue. And so, within a short time, the building was filled to near capacity. He preached eight years there and the work prospered.
Brother Raines at age 70 agreed to go on social security and to preach for a new congregation on the west side of Indianapolis. He continued to preach the next five years there and the High School Road Church prospered. At age 75 he determined to step aside as he felt the growing church needed a younger man. He supposed he would “retire” there. However, within a few months the “Macedonian Call” came again and he moved to preach for the church at Robinson, Illinois. For three years he did his work well there; but, his heart was back in Indiana. So, at age 78 he accepted an invitation to move back to Lawrence County and preach for the Oolitic, Indiana Church. There he labored another five years.
Brother Raines, now 83, thought it was surely time to “retire.” However, during the next year an opportunity came to start a new work in Bedford, Indiana. And so, on January 1, 1980, he became the first preacher for the Midtown church of Christ in Bedford. This was especially gratifying to him because the old church in Bedford that he had labored with back in the 1930s and 40s had long since gone institutional. With tears in his eyes, he related to me that it seemed almost a miracle that he had lived to see a faithful church back in Bedford and that he would have the privilege of being its first preacher.
Brother Raines was only able to continue “full time” work there for five months. However, until his death, he filled the pulpit from time to time, taught classes every Lord’s day and served as a Trustee. In his 88th year, just a few months before parting this life, brother Raines compiled a series of thirty-three Bible study lessons, covering the entire New Testament. The Church here will reap the benefit of these lessons for months to come. Between ages 80 and 86, he wrote two books. The first is entitled What Doth The Lord Require? and the other, a book of his own sermons entitled Partakers of The Benefit.
Brother Raines’ epitaph might well read, “He never found time to retire, he could never lay his sword by.” His life could be divided into three nearly equal parts of 30 years each. And, beyond question, the best was saved for last. Who would have ever supposed that at age 60, brother Raines was on the threshold of his life’s greatest work.
Even though the funeral was on a Friday morning (Feb. 10), the funeral chapel overflowed and several had to sit in side rooms to listen to speakers. Brethren from at least three or four states came to the funeral home. Brothers Dwayne Laws of Bowling Green, KY and Raymond Harris of Bedford, IN spoke at the funeral service; Delmar Winninger conducted the grave side service. Fellow preachers Gary Fiscus, Johnie Edwards, H. Robert Williams, Harold Comer and Olin Kern served as honorary pallbearers. The burial was in Bedford’s “Green Hill Cemetery.”
It seems altogether proper and fitting that in this cemetery, which contains over 10,000 graves; one can stand at brother Raines’ head stone and see the Midtown Church building. Even in death, it is as if he is stationed to watch over the flock, that was so dear to his heart! May his tribe ever increase!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 8, pp. 242-243
April 19, 1984