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Sergeant Elijah P. Marrs – Artillery NCO, Educator & Minister

Elijah P Marrs was born into slavery in 1840 in Kentucky. His mother was a slave and his father a free man. He grew up in Simpsonville on the Robinson Farm near Louisville. In his youth he worked as a house servant and a field hand. At a young age he took it upon himself to learn to read, and got his master and the white boys to teach him. He began to learn too about Christianity. At the age of eleven, after a series of encounters, Marrs began to seek God earnestly. He and his young master went into the fields to work and spent the whole day discussing Christianity and prayer. The next Sunday he went to Church and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized in 1851. It was against the law in Kentucky in those days to teach a slave to read and write, but the Robinsons ignored that law and encouraged every boy on their farm to learn how to read the Bible. Marrs became active in the Church from that day forth.

At the beginning of the war, Marrs remained on the Robinson farm. He acted as clerk for all those slaves who had enlisted in the Union forces before him. Rebels in the community had threatened to take action. Marrs decided to join the Army and invited his comrades to join him. They elected him their Captain and 27 strong they marched to the Union lines around Louisville. Once there, it wasn’t long before the officers heard that Marrs could write and appointed him as Third Duty Sergeant, Co. L. 12th U. S. Heavy Artillery. His brother was appointed as a Sergeant Major. While stationed at Camp Nelson, he and Sergeant Major George Thomas started a choir for the men. During his service he was involved in several minor engagements. A regiment of Confederates once surrounded his company . His officers surrendered on terms that they would be directly paroled. Marrs' service as an NCO was excellent, and was appointed to the position of the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

After the war Marrs taught elementary school and Sunday school. He was often accosted by the local KKK and in his autobiography tells of the many incidents where the KKK raided his home. He was the first president of the local Republican Party. He was active in fighting for the rights of freedmen against laws like the “Whipping Post Bill”. On the 9th of June 1873, he preached his first Sermon, and from that point on dedicated his life to Christ in preaching the Gospel. He entered into Seminary in 1874, and was ordained a Baptist preacher in 1875. He was the first pastor at the Beargrass Baptist Church and continued to teach school. He was active with other ministers in his community in promoting temperance. He joined with his brother to establish the Baptist Normal and Theological Institute in Louisville in 1879. In 1883 he was examined by the Jefferson County Board of Education and given a four-year teaching certificate, causing quite a sensation in the city of Louisville. He continued to work for his people’s education and salvation until his death on August 30, 1910.

Elijah P. Marrs, b. 1840 ; Life and History of the Rev. Elijah P. Marrs, First Pastor of Beargrass Baptist Church, and Author. Louisville, Ky.: Bradley & Gilbert, 1885.

Elijah P: Marrs Camp, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War:

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About the Order of Centurions

The Order of Centurions is a non-denominational fellowship open to all baptized Christians. The motto is "Fear God and do what is right” In Acts, Peter’s said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. [Acts 10:34-35]

The purpose of the order to emulate the devout life of Cornelius, the faith of the Centurion of Capernaum, and the witness of the Centurion of Calvary. The Order seeks to encourage a belief and practice of worship that was held in the primitive Church - like that which the early centurions would have encountered. The Order’s objectives are reflected in its Rule and Vow and include:

 Encouragement of regular reading of and meditation on Holy Scripture [2Tim 3:16],
 Prayer [1Thes 5:16-18],
 A fear and love of God [Rev 14:17],
 Right and just acts as Jesus commanded in the Summary of the Law [Matt 22:34], and
 Witness of the Faith in words and deeds [Matt 5:16].

The beliefs of the order are what the One Church under Jesus Christ has always held, and are summarized in the passage: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" [2Tim 3:16]. The Order recognizes a statement of beliefs that was used by the Early Church before 340AD: the Forma Romana Vetus. It is likely that this form, or a very similar statement of belief, was held by centurions of the Early Church as a prerequisite to baptism. However, any Christian confession of faith or creed that contains the essential elements of the beliefs of the Universal Church is acceptable.

There are two symbols of the Order. One is the Labarum with the CHI-RHO at the top of a spear and the initials IHSV for “Under this Sign Conquer”. St. Constantine ordered the Labraum to be fabricated and carried before his legions when he marched against and defeated a much larger force under the pagan Emperor Maxentius at the battle at Saxa Rubra a few miles north of Rome. Another symbol is the Gladius-Vitis, containing two Roman short swords (Gladius) and a vine staff (Vitis). These appear as centurion’s stacked arms under the Crown of Thorns and the initials INRI (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews) [John 19:19]. Below the arms is the motto of the Order, Timet Deus et Operatur Iustitiam meaning Fear God and do what is Right.

The Order seeks to highlight the lives of faithful Christian soldiers throughout the ages – including this era. Today many of the heroes of our culture are products of the marketing efforts of Madison Avenue, Hollywood and the music industry. By focusing our attention on our Brothers in Arms who have fought the good fight and succeeded, we may learn from their walk. The Prayer of the Order reflects this objective:

Almighty God, our Sovereign LORD, who called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles, who healed the servant at Capernaum in accordance with the Centurion's great faith, and who inspired the Centurion at Calvary to glorify Jesus; strengthen us in our faith that we might follow their example to love, serve, and glorify you as faithful members of the Church Militant, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Anyone who is interested in more information about the Order of Centurions should visit its web site at

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Alvin C. York – Christian Hero of the Great War

Alvin Cullum York of Tennessee was the most famous American Soldier of WWI. His accomplishments as an infantryman in the 82nd All American Division are astounding. Virtually single-handedly he captured 132 German soldiers, eliminated 28 machine guns, and killed 25 of the enemy. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, Croix de Guerre, and The Congressional Medal of Honor.

A most remarkable aspect of this Centurion’s story is his coming to Christ. His movie shows that he had an Epiphany experience not unlike St. Paul’s. He credits his mother’s urging with the motivation that brought him from a carousing ruffian to a leader in his local church. When called to active duty he had to struggle with his beliefs about the Bible and the Six Commandment, vis-à-vis his service to his country as a patriot combatant. After the war he refused to have his name used for commercial purposes and returned to his native hills to continue his work for the Lord. He farmed a nice piece of land donated by the people of Tennessee. He was a leader in his church, a started a school in his community to help the mountain children to prepare for life and to open up their eyes to the outside world, and did many other good works. He returned to the service of his country in WWII and traveled around the country to rally support for democracy. One of his major contributions was his technical assistance in the movie Sgt. York released in 1941.

The most entertaining way to become familiar with this great soldier and Christian is by watching the Sergeant York movie staring Gary Cooper. I’d also recommend this site published by the York Institute where you’ll find a short biography and his diary. I enjoyed reading Sgt. York, His Life and Legacy or read this Sgt. York and His People online. If you are down around Pall Mall, Tennessee be sure to stop in and see the Alvin C. York Historic Park.

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CS Lewis, 20th Century Centurion

Clive Staples Lewis is truly a 20th Century Centurion and the most popular and influential Christian apologist of our times. Today, in the 21st Century, his legacy continues and millions of people are influenced toward orthodox Christianity through his works and those of his companions, JRR Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers.

CS "Jack" Lewis attended University College, Oxford and there joined the Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. After four weeks of training he was sent to the front under fire in France at the age of 18. Shortly thereafter he came down sick with trench fever and was hospitalized for a short time and then sent up to the front again. This time however he was wounded and again evacuated from the front after he received three shrapnel wounds (the round killed a man next to him.) While convalescing the war ended. Lewis returned to Oxford and completed his studies eventually becoming a Professor and Fellow at Magdalen College in Oxford.

His "conversion to Christianity occurred over a period of several years – from 1926, the year Dymer was published, when he began to believe in a nebulous power outside of himself, to 1931, when he became a believer in Christ". The writings of GK Chesterton had a great influence on him, as did his conversations with Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. It was during a late evening conversation with these men on September 19, 1931 that planted the seed. Three days later, while Lewis was riding in the sidecar of his brother’s motorcycle, he accepted Christ

His first Christian publication was Pilgrims Regress in 1932. He continued to write Christian works throughout his life. In 1941, with England at war with Germany, C.S. Lewis was engaged by the BBC to give four broadcasts concerning the "Law of Nature", "Objective Right and Wrong" specifically addressed to the British military. His popularity was remarkable, and he was soon thereafter engaged again to broadcast talks on "What Christians Believe." His style of lecture and succinct lectures appealed to all Christians regardless of denomination. His last three broadcasts were entitled "Beyond Personality: The Christian View of God." During this period, he started the Oxford Socratic Club where atheist, agnostics, and Christians would gather to discuss the hard questions of faith. Here, he refined his method of counter-attack to become the Century’s foremost Christian apologist.

There are many resources concerning Lewis available on the internet, one of the best that I’ve found is Into the Wardrobe, another is 20th Century Christian Knight; I heartily recommend it and the books Mere Christianity, the Abolition of Man, and God in the Dock to all (available on the website).


Sayer, George; Jack, CS Lewis and His Times; 1988, Harper & Row, San Francisco

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Joshua – Faithful Warrior
Fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth

In the 24th Chapter of the Book of Joshua, Joshua calls all the people together and recounts their history from the time of Abraham until their conquering of Canaan. He calls upon them to “fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth.” He then challenges them to choose between the True God and the false gods.

Joshua was the first great battle commander-in-chief of the Hebrew nation. His armies took the land of Canaan in accordance with God’s promise in a series of stunning victories. However, during his campaigns, the people fell away and began to assimilate with those they conquered. Joshua’s admonition to “fear God, and serve Him in sincerity and truth,” is like the statement of Peter concerning Cornelius when Peter said, “he who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” Both statements place the fear of God before all else. This is essential and proceeds the second part of this formula. It is necessarily so, because unless one has a fear of the Lord, it is impossible to do what is right and true, and anyone who fears God and does what is right, surely does serve God in truth and sincerity.

In the late 1800’s there was a German philosopher by the name of Nietzsche's. He was a nihilist who proclaimed “God is dead” and taught that old values were continually being replaced by new correct ways of thought. Many Nazis who were affected by Nietzsche’s philosophy could easily adjust to the killing of millions of innocent people and the invasion of their neighbor's land, for Hitler and the Party would tell them what was right and wrong. Stalin and his atheist empire had a very similar situation in Russia with the Communist Party. It established the new good, the new right and wrong, for the workers of the world, thereby replacing God and Church.

Our situation today is not far different. There are many people in America who are very much concerned with those whom they call “Fundamentalist" - those who believe the Bible is true. There is a new standard of what is right and wrong emerging. For instance, if the Bible says that homosexuals are an abomination and have no place in the Kingdom of God, and if Christians believe that and act accordingly concerning homosexuality, they are labeled “homophobes.” The new "goods" include: Homosexuality, Abortion on Demand (the most dangerous place for a child is its mother’s womb), one-parent families, illegitimacy, the denial of any Evil or Satan or Hell, pornography, violence, sloth, reality TV with Machiavellian types of behavior, and other hedonistic types of behaviors – along with the denial of personal accountability (let's blame it on "society"). If they can discredit or discount the Word, they can do away with the fear of the Lord, and then all of these behaviors are not Evil, but “wholesome and good” (as many the Episcopal Church labeled their homosexual Bishop who left his children and wife and took up a partnership with a man).

This is not the example we see in Joshua. Joshua is the Faithful Warrior. He puts his whole trust in the Lord and boldly implements tactics and strategies to accomplish what God has ordained. He loves, fears, reveres, and obeys the Lord. He holds his people accountable for their actions and deeds and calls on them to turn from their false gods and follow the True God, to turn from their sin and serve God in truth and sincerity.

Joshua’s words are as true today as they were 3,700 years ago. His challenge is with us today. Will you follow the Lord and serve him, or will your follow the false gods set up by the world? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”


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