LAJOSE – A LaJose native once tabbed as a “Twentieth Century Prophet” by his contemporaries for his evangelical work had a state historical marker dedicated in his honor along state Route 219 next to Mahaffey Camp on Wednesday.
Aiden Wilson Tozer was born in LaJose in 1897, according to a narrative page from the Clearfield Heritage Foundation historical marker application sent to the PA Historical and Museum Commission. In 1919, without a formal theological education he was called to pastor a small church in West Virginia. From there he earned the praise of his contemporaries, became editor of Alliance Life, a monthly publication for the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, and also pastored churches in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Toronto, Canada.
Tozer passed away 1963.
“I believe A.W. Tozer was one of the most influential authors in my life,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Norris, district superintendent of the Western Pennsylvania District Office of the C&MA.
Norris was one of six people to speak on Tozer’s behalf at the Mahaffey Camp and Conference Center.
Terry Malloy of the Clearfield Heritage Foundation explained what steps the Foundation had to go through to get Tozer a state historical marker. He explained that the program has a three-strike rule; once an application is turned down three times, a potential candidate is no longer eligible for consideration of a state historical marker.
“We thought this would be easy to get approved,” said Malloy.
Malloy added that this was the Foundation’s second attempt to get Tozer recognized. He added that this time around the Foundation challenged the state panel to go into a Christian bookstore and search for title’s written by Tozer. That was just one of the recommendations the Foundation made to the state.
State Rep. Camille “Bud” George D-74 Houtzdale, added comments on the unveiling as well.
“With this unveiling today we recognize the works of this great man will always be remembered,” said George.
Edward Depp, director and developer at Mahaffey Camp and Conference Center commented that Tozer spoke at Mahaffey Camp on numerous occasions in the 1940s and 1950s. Depp also said that Tozer was the featured speaker their 11 times.
Bill Callahan, Western PA community preservation coordinator for the PA Historical and Museum Commission, discussed the importance of historical markers.
“Markers speak to us about a shared history,” said Callahan.
Tozer’s third cousin Arnold Smith spoke about his experiences with Tozer. Smith commented that Tozer was much older than he was. He added that Tozer used to skip school to study the bible in the woods, and that he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse. Smith stated that Tozer spent as much time as he could studying the bible.
“It is a real privilege to stand here and talk about a man who gave his whole life to the service of the Lord,” said Smith.
After everyone spoke, Tozer descendants unveiled the historical marker along SR 219.