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The Gate Seldom Found
by Raymond Reid
This historical novel, drawn from actual incidents and real people, dramatizes the true story of a little-known house church fellowship that flowered late in the 19th century. The saga opens in southern Ontario during the blizzard of January 1898.
Resolute men and articulate women play out challenging roles in a world of candlelight and kerosene lamps, of weather prediction by signs in the heavens, of cures by poultices and plasters. Tramps are invited to the table and the hired man takes his place among family festivities as the novel interweaves the textures of farm and village life, showing portraits of marriage, birth and death, youth and age in a rural society before the mechanization of agriculture.
Alistair Stanhope, one of the main characters, is shaken by the finality of his friend's untimely death after a desperate battle with galloping consumption. The pain of this sudden loss causes Alistair to question his own faith. Unable to find the depth of spirituality that he is seeking within his church, he and his wife, Priscilla, turn to a close circle of friends for support.
Disenchantment with organized religion and a thirst for more intimate fellowship inspire them to worship in their own parlours. Realizing that God doesn't live in structures of stone, they jettison former rituals in their quest for a deeper Christian life. As time passes, a few of these friends choose voluntary poverty, sell all of their possessions and give the money to the poor. When they travel to various settlements as itinerant preachers, they encounter violence and opposition to their simple message.
This historical novel engages the reader in 504 pages of challenging reading. A glossary of historical terms and a map circa 1898 round out the saga. A Reference section details nearly 500 biblical passages that guided the group as it matured and developed.