By Geoffrey Thomas
The Banner of Truth Trust
Building a New Work
By Walter J. Chantry
(Excerpts from an article in The Banner of Truth magazine, October, 2002, used
In the early 1950's Carlisle was a small town in South-Central Pennsylvania.
Mainline denominations had a commanding influence on the religious life of the
Ernest C. Reisinger had a small construction business. He was a member of
one of the Presbyterian churches and preached regularly at that church's Letort
Mission. His boldness to witness to the unconverted put him in touch with
like-minded believers in other congregations.
Ernie was gifted by
the Lord with a combination of outstanding zeal for the Lord and winsome ways.
He was skilled at communicating to others both his love for the Lord Jesus and
his deep concern for the lost. Perhaps it was his own experience of being
in a 'far-distant country', away from the Lord, which provoked his unusual
degree of compassion for the lost.
Many were touched with this evident desire to bring people (especially men)
to Christ and to strengthen them in the faith after conversion. Thus, when
others prevailed on Ernest Reisinger to join them in founding a church that
would be loyal to the Word of God, he brought not only himself, his wife Jane
and his son Don to this group, but he had young men and women to bring along
whom God was pleased to convert under his witness.
When Grace Chapel
first got under way, none of the men in the congregation, including Ernie, had a
well-formed understanding of doctrine. John Reisinger, Ernie's younger
brother, was pastor of a church in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. There, an
older and wiser Christian attached himself to John. He was I. C.
Herendeen, a seller of Christian books through his Bible Truth Depot in Swengel,
Through persistent effort Mr. Herendeen showed John Reisinger the doctrines of
grace. Then Mr. Herendeen and John began to give books to the leaders of
the young Grace Chapel in Carlisle. Ernie was not the first of the
Carlisle group to understand or agree with these old Protestant teachings that
were new to Grace Chapel. While others had their hearts enriched and
warmed by these awesome truths, Reisinger for a while fought them in his mind.
Yet when God opened Ernie's eyes to the Biblical teachings of God's sovereign
grace in the salvation of sinners, his zeal to spread these teachings and his
desire to study theology more deeply were unsurpassed in the congregation.
With a deep and healthy respect for the creeds of Christendom and for the great
theologians of the days gone by, Ernie plunged into dogged personal study of
classic Christian literature. But he also dispensed the literature to
others just as quickly as he devoured it personally. There spread a great
excitement for the treasure-trove of the writings of the reformers and the
It was Ernie who led the way among Baptists in working through the implications
of our newly-discovered Reformed doctrine. By 1959 the church had become
Grace Baptist Church, Subscribing to the London Confession of Faith of 1689.
Ernie spent a great deal of time studying and teaching the biblical message and
methods of evangelism. This in turn led to a new analysis of proper
The years of doctrinal study and refinement of understanding of Scripture did
not make Grace Baptist Church ingrown or less active. Through these very
same years Ernie and other leaders at Grace Baptist intensified their
evangelistic labors with college students at Dickinson College in Carlisle.
Ernie spent countless hours having students in his home for Bible studies or
taking a student or two to dinner or lunch during the week - always with gifts
of well-chosen books. Such discipline in personal work and generosity in
distributing literature deeply influenced the Dickinson chapter of Inter-Varsity
Ernie seemed to be tireless in writing letters, giving out books and taking
young people to lunch to talk about what they read or to give counsel and
guidance in Christian living. One looks back in awe at this remarkable
activity. From it have come missionaries, gospel ministers and strong
pillars in numerous churches - all of whom have had in their hearts a fire of
zeal for Christ ignited by his personal attention and ministry. None would
have libraries without some of the greatest books ever written inscribed as
gifts from Ernie.
Ernie & Walt in Carlisle,
Ernie Reisinger went to be
with the Lord in 2004.
You may order the Reisinger biography by going to
Bible Book Service,