By Kathleen O'Dell
From the "Springfield News-Leader" - Springfield, MO.
Monday, June 19, 2000
Civil War re-enactor the Rev. Alan Farley mixed 1860's history and old-time religion during a Sunday morning church service under a tent for about 300 fellow re-enactors and spectators of Wilson's Creek 2000.
Farley, from Appomattox, Va., lived as a re-enactor and camped in an autherntic site with his wife and two children. Friends and associates from as far away as West Virginia and Kentucky were also in attendance -- Brother Japher, C. H. Jackson, and fellow Virginian, Rev. Josephus Peachblossom.
His hour-long service included old hymns accompanied on a wooden field pump organ, an offering dropped in soldiers' hats, lighthearted stories and a kilt-clad re-enactor's rendition of "Amazing Grace".
Farley, who dressed as a re-enactor preacher in black pants and white shirt, told his Sunday congregation, "I'm not just putting on a show for the re-enactment. I'm here to deliver a message. Friends, this is real. There's a battle going on at this moment," he said, and reminded the crowd of the battle for souls waging between God and Satan.
Throughout his sermon, re-enactors and spectators sitting and standing side by side shouted, "Amen!" and "Praise God!"
As the service concluded, Farley conducted an altar call, and a blue-clad Union cavalry trooper left his place to join Farley and embraced him.
Weaving in the historical backdrop for visitors, Farley said the North put all Southern religious materials on the contraband list, fearing someone would smuggle arms in boxes labeled "Bibles", as John Brown did at Harper's Ferry.
As a result, Southern prayer books were simple paper leaflets, or "tracts". To answer the soldiers' hunger for religion, the U. S. Christian Commission produced tens of thousands of gospel tracts and distributed them in the field.
Farley had been a Civil War re-enactor for four years, he said, when he realized he and other re-enactors hungered for church services during their events.
He began portraying a preacher, alternating between a Confederate chaplain and a U. S. Christian Commission delegate.
He began the ministry full time in 1991 and was ordained in 1994.
Now, as the "Re-enactor's Mission for Jesus Christ", the Farleys travel more than 30,000 miles a year, conducting revivals and services at re-enactments nationwide. They home school their two children, who accompany them on the re-enactment circuit.